After a brief pause – in what I imagine is a moment to breathe after a packed out year of new album releasing and relentless touring for Bath based, alternative rock outfit Decade – comes an announcement of an exciting headline show at The Borderline in London. Decade are a captivating live act to watch, with an arsenal of exciting tunes so this show is definitely going to be one to watch! I had a chat with guitarist Connor all about the show, and what Decade have planned for 2018…
SM: You have an upcoming gig at the Borderline in London this month, how are you feeling about the show?
CF: Good – a little nervous just because it’s been so long since we’ve done a headline show in the capital, but mostly excited! We also have some really cool bands playing with us – so a tiny little bit nervous but mostly excited!
SM: How will you guys be preparing in the run up to this show?
CF: Just spending a lot of time in the studio! Alex is currently somewhere in Europe, he’s travelling at the moment and gets back next week so it’s going to be a lot of late nights in the studio, jamming away!
SM: You’ve played a lot of gigs and festivals last year; do you have any stand out favourites?
CF: Hmmmm…. I don’t know, I don’t want to upset anyone by picking a favourite festival! Personally I really, really love 2000 trees, just because it’s quite local to me. And I’ve always really loved Slam Dunk festival – we signed to Slam Dunk records around 9 years ago now – so that’s always been a really fun time there and lots of friends to catch up with, in Leeds especially.
But 2000 Trees has a really unique atmosphere to it, like I said, it’s local to us so it feels special in that regard…because nothing ever happens down in the West Country! It’s almost like a mini alternative Glastonbury that’s yet to really explode – but everyone there is just really lovely, and the vibe is amazing – especially when the weather’s good! It was really good last year – we played the main stage which was wicked!
SM: Do you have any plans for gigging and touring this year?
CF: We’ve got nothing cemented just yet; we’re currently in the process of writing for our next release. We’re going to be in the studio at some point in the next couple of months to get some pre-production done on a new record and then we’ll start working on some live dates.
We do owe our German friends a tour over there, because when we were there last year with You Me At Six – we promised them that we’d be over in spring to do a headline run! We’ve been out to Germany 5 or 6 times as a support act and the following out there has really seemed to pop off which is really strange – we never expected that!
I’m sure by the end of the year we’ll be out there and there are some murmurings of UK tours for later on in the year, but the focus at the moment is working on this new material and getting together a schedule for a new release.
SM: So what is the writing process like for you guys – how involved is everyone in developing a track?
CF: The main visionary has always been Alex; he is just one of those people that you meet that is just sickeningly good at everything – doesn’t matter what he puts his hand to, he’ll be able to master it and he’ll be really good at it…and he’ll make you feel worthless haha! So I’ve always really enjoyed collaborating with him.
Normally he’ll come to me, or I’ll go to him, with a few little ideas for some chords or a progression, a melody – sometimes just a lyric, a name, or concept for a song, and typically what will happen is Alex will spend a bit of time shut away and will come back out with a chorus, or the skeletal frame of a song, which the rest of us will then take it into the studio and will chop and change, move things around. It’s always been the way that we work best – to collaborate on Alex’s ideas. Sort of like editors or curators of Alex’s work because he’s always had such strong visions of what he wants to achieve. When we’ve tried to forcibly include someone else’s vision it can be a case of too many cooks spoil the broth… So the main process starts with Alex and the rest of us turn it into a track.
SM: How do you feel that your sound had developed between Good Luck and Pleasantries?
CF: It felt kind of natural, Good Luck was written 5/6 years ago –I was still a teenager at that point! So it was still a lot of angst and a lot of frustration, our lives now are completely different. There was much more punk rock involved in our band at that point, which was never really something we discussed or decided – just we knew we wanted to write a debut album, and it ended up sounding like Good Luck, because of where we all were in our lives at that point.
It was fast paced and slightly angry, but also emotional – but also kind of happy – just the raging emotions of your late teenage years. The transition into Pleasantries was because naturally throughout life we started to settle down somewhat, just as you get a bit older you sort of calm down a little bit. Especially after a few years of playing Good Luck on the road, it got very tiring, very intense, which was a hell of a lot of fun but when we got back into the studio we just wanted to reinvent ourselves a little bit. And it also developed because what we’ve been through as a band between Good Luck and pleasantries.
Good Luck was released on different label and we had a bad experience towards the end of that, we kind of got shelved. In the last 10 years guitar music has sort of gone out of style somewhat, I could be completely wrong – guitar music could be special and it’s just that we’re really shit haha! But I don’t think it (Good Luck) did the numbers that the label wanted it to, but rather than them saying ‘thank you but we don’t want to work with you anymore’, they didn’t say ‘okay we want to go ahead with another album’. They just kept us in limbo and we were contractually bound to them. After Good Luck we just staggered around and tried to figure out what to do, and what we could legally do! The reaction we had to Good Luck when we released it was largely positive, and with the extra ‘oomph’ that the label gave us we were starting to make good progress. And then after that, we couldn’t move and we couldn’t do anything – it was a hard hit for the band. By the time that we got into the studio to do Pleasantries, the contract had void because they’d taken so long to tell us whether they wanted to do another album or not, and we were so fed up at that point that we just walked away and we went into the studio to record pleasantries ourselves and self-funded it.
So when we were writing Pleasantries there was still anger, angst and frustration over the whole situation that had happened but it didn’t manifest itself in that sort of fast paced, shouty loud music like there was on Good Luck. It was a bit more considered, and a bit darker if anything.
SM: Pleasantries recently turned a year old, what was the overall reaction to that record through the year?
CF: It’s been a strange one. Like I said, we went into the studio ourselves to record it, and then once we’d got the masters back and the record was finished we didn’t want to just release it ourselves. We didn’t want to risk spending all that time and money on something that we were really proud of and really happy with just putting it out ourselves on the internet – We’re not Drake, or Kanye West, we can’t just drop a new mixtape and it explode! We’re just Decade and we’ve got like a few thousand followers; it would just be a fart in the wind!
So we wanted to have some sort of backing behind it, and we’d been speaking with a new label, and they were really interested in doing a licence deal – which after the really contractually bound nature of the deal with the previous label, the idea of a one record licence deal with them was really appealing. They would have the rights to this record for a few years and they would help us put it out, help us publish it, but we would still be largely in control.
As it transpired, it maybe didn’t get as big a push as a UK based record label that would maybe be a bit more clued up of the UK market might give it – I don’t know, I’m just speculating. The general reaction wasn’t as big as what it could have been. I do take time to look at the feedback we get online, on YouTube, twitter, Facebook… and a lot of the things that I see are people saying how we’re underrated or how we should be bigger than we are by now, or how our videos don’t have many views and they could have been given a bigger push. And there are people that I see, even without us ever saying anything, people speculate about how we should be with a better label, and things like this – there’s only so much we can do. I don’t know whether we’re an attractive prospect to a record label or not, and honestly, I don’t really care that much because I just want to write music that I love, and that people might be able to relate to and might get some sort of help from. The reaction has been somewhat subdued. Every time I do hear some feedback about the record, it’s always really strong, really intense and really personal. It’s not like there are hundreds of thousands of people going ‘yeah that’s good’, there are a few hundred people going ‘this is the best fucking thing ever! I’m really grateful that this exists.’ We have very loyal and passionate fans, which is incredible!
I would say as well, we get support among our peers. Since we’ve put Pleasantries out, we’ve toured with You Me At Six, Deaf Havana and Counterfeit, and we’re still friends with some of the bands that we’ve toured with in the past, like Lower Than Atlantis and Don Broco. We’ve been really fortunate to hang out and become friends with these bands who are some of the biggest in the UK alternative scene, and have been for a while – they sort of hold down the UK rock scene somewhat. Some of those guys will message us regularly, saying that we’re the best thing that’s going and the best thing they’ve heard and they cant believe it and they’ll do anything to help. It’s strange, we have the respect of our contemporaries, and respect of people within music and that are in bands, and we have the support of some very passionate and loyal fans – but we don’t have what you would deem commercial success! So it’s a really strange one, it feels good but it doesn’t look good..!
SM: What would you say is your favourite track to play live?
CF: I really enjoy playing ‘Peach Milk’, just because it’s so different from everything that I’d ever played.
I remember the first few times we were jamming when it was in its early days of being written, and it was just so alien to me, it’s kind of a simple song but it’s just so different to my upbringing with music. I grew up in the pop punk world; it was all power chords and very simple structures. So to really push ourselves out there and do something that was just wacky and weird was a lot of fun and I still really enjoy it because I like the jam that people in the room will go on as we play the song. Especially if we’re on a support tour, and have people in the room that don’t know us. It’s one of those songs that starts out one way and finishes another, and there are some moments of real surprise in there. You can tell when you’re seeing people in the room watching you and listening, you can see their minds change and you can see you’re winning them over sometimes – not everyone not all the time, but you can see people cock their head to one side like a dog when you make a certain noise, and then mid way through the song they’ll be bopping their head and there’s no more confusion, you know that they like it.
SM: Do you have a favourite venue to play?
CF: I think almost any venue in Germany is incredible! But if we’re keeping it to the UK, I’d have to say the Key Club in Leeds. It’s run by such a lovely group of people, we’re always looked after so well and it always sounds great. It’s always well promoted and there’s a loyal following of people that will always go to shows there because there are shows on.
They want to support the venue; it’s not about this sort of weird culture that’s come about in the last 10-15 years that people don’t really go to shows unless it’s their favourite band. I feel like it used to be the case that people just have a look at the listings and see what’s on. But in Leeds it feels as though people go to these shows because they love the venue and they trust the booking promoters and agents to put on a good standard of acts. I love it for that.
SM: What emerging artists would you recommend?
CF: The two bands we’ve just announced for out London show – Redwood and Guillotine are exceptionally good! I really, really rate them. We just seem to pick really good bands for supports – we had Wallflower and Big Spring support us on tour last year, I’d say their still technically emerging. They’re two really, really good bands.
SM: If you could describe Decade in one word, what would it be?
CF: Oh wow one word! One word?! Oh my god that’s difficult… It’s got to be a good word; it can’t be a lame word. I’m going to go with a German word – Schadenfreude. Which means to find pleasure in the misfortune of others. Haha! That’s not because we take pleasure in the misfortune of others, mainly because it feels that the music scene is having a great time watching us suffer for nearly 10 years and struggle, and sleep on floors and try our hardest!
I mean I couldn’t spell that for you, you might just have to google it!
GET TICKETS FOR THE BORDERLINE HERE https://www.alttickets.com/decade-tickets
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