Having taken the British music scene by storm in recent times, Black Peaks returned to Manchester last week with new album ‘All That Divides’ after what can only be described as a raucous few years for the band. Our Station Manager Callum went down to Academy 3 to have a chat with lead singer Will Gardner about the wonders of touring and a lot more…
How’s everything been with the tour so far?
Having seen you at Reading Festival in 2014 and then at a much smaller venue in Leeds a couple years later, the crowds differed so significantly in how responsive they can be. Do you find that’s a big thing when you’re going from city to city, especially at festivals?
100%. But we never know what’s going to happen, especially with festivals. It completely differentiates every time with a totally different vibe. Like when we go back to the same festival and it’s totally different. Leeds a couple of years ago was absolutely amazing, yet we came back this year and the weather was dreadful. It was not the best for us this year, various issues occurred and quite a few people missed our set. Just the rain, the misery and the sadness.
With the success of ‘Statues’ and everything that came from that, how did you find the recording process for the second in comparison to that? Does it add pressure to yourselves?
In terms of pressure, we put a load more on ourselves with the first one. Definitely, we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. As a band, we had some fun doing it but there was just so much guest work and silly arguments over things on ‘Statues’. We took a long time over every little bit of it. Even after putting out our final submission, we were still trying to fiddle with things. Whereas this time we did a load of pre-production, we knew the songs we were going to do and were just a lot more clearer about the whole thing. Working with Adrian Bushby (Muse, Foo Fighters, Everything Everything) this time was ridiculous. He gave us a lot of confidence in ourselves with his experience. A lot of the time we asked him if we could do certain stuff and he’d be very complimentary about it all.
Did you find you had more ideas going into the second album because of that? Were you all more for furthering your sound with different ideas or more of a progress from what you’d put out with ‘Statues’?
It’s more that it’s a bit of all of that really. I think we had more of a vision with this one, we wanted to be concise and quite punchy, whilst staying progressive with the same sound.
Personally I always found you to be one of the best alternative vocalists within Britain, especially when it comes to structuring your voice from something quiet and solemn to being able to fill a room. Could you fit that in the same way for the second album?
For me, it’s always about the songs. It’s like whatever me and the guys write, especially after going through so many riffs, so many bits and so many verses for songs; we’ve got a really good ear for when something kinda slots into place as a song. My role, even for the most complicated bits is just to make it all tied together. Not even from a catchy aspect, some of the more technical and complicated sections. Putting the vocals in the gaps to make it a complete song for people to listen to, the whole thing is meant to be one immersive thing that you absorb. That comes down to all of our songwriting together.
So you don’t want to be able to listen to a song and think we should have had something like more percussion or stronger sounding vocals?
Not at all. It’s always about making the best sounding music that we possibly can. It might sound weird but just the concept of it being one thing. It has to suit the purpose of the song.
Over the last couple of years there’s been some major deaths of rock artists, with the likes of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington sadly passing. With being away from home for so long and touring for extended periods of time, how do you alleviate any mental health problems you might have whilst on tour?
I think we’ve all learnt A LOT from the first tours in terms of what and what not to do. I think we’re a lot nicer to each other now in many ways. We’re much more aware of what makes each other tick, when to leave each other alone and give ourselves space which is so important. Personally, I’m definitely the most sensitive one to tiredness and everything like that. If I’m tired, I can be quite emotional. Something I’ve found that has completely saved my arse is just getting out to the countryside and going walking. Fresh air and swimming every couple of days, just doing some proper exercise. The sauna or steam room really helps my voice, a combination of all that. It’s just really fun, everything we’re doing right now and being comfortable around that in what we’re doing. As people, we’re all in a MUCH better place.
For finding time and helping with boredom before shows start, is everything you’ve just mentioned the best way to sort that?
Honestly, there isn’t half as much time as you’d think. We’re always busy. Especially at this stage of things we’ve got a lot to do, which includes a lot of press. I do go and do that swimming stuff when there’s time. Often it’s the only two hours I’ll get to myself. Like I said, there’s not much time to be honest even though we’re waking up on the bus each morning in a different city. We’ll all get a coffee and breakfast together, do some admin work and the little things. By that time it’s 1 in the afternoon and we’re loading in with a busy evening ahead until the show.
Just finally, how were your best memories of being a student before the band started?
For me, I had the best time being a student. I studied Jazz at Middlesex in North London and met lots of amazing people. The main thing was just having such a big group of friends, we had a group that eventually grew to about 50 people that was our crew. We used to go and play football on the weekends, such a dynamic and great hang. Just a lot of cool stuff, which I do really miss quite a lot. I’m actually very jealous of students now!
Black Peaks’ latest album ‘All That Divides’ is out now.
Words by Callum Sheppard.
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