“Major labels are not the cold hard world they’re made out to be…” – hmv.com talks to Mallory Knox
Inking a deal with a major label usually goes one of two ways for a band. It either catapults them into the stratosphere, or, results in a botched album, a decade of apologies and becomes a massive setback. Cambridge rockers Mallory Knox will be hoping that their new deal with Sony results in the former, bigger venues, more fans and even adverts on the Tube.
Their debut album Signals did handsomely, sending the band into venues with capacities in the thousands and yielding a string of big singles. But, the real work starts now with the release of their new album Asymmetry (which you can preview on the right of the page), we sat down to talk to them about making the album, life on a major and why this album’s personal lyrics even took them by surprise.
How long have you had the album finished for?
Mikey (Chapman, vocals): “We went into the studio at the start of the year and came out in about April time, so we’ve been sat on it for a little while. But Signals, our first album, we had that finished for a whole year before we released it, so this is nothing compared to that. We are excited and really looking forward to finally getting it out.”
You recorded down in Bath and in Wales right?
Sam (Douglas, bass): “The vast, vast majority of it was done in Bath, we only had a few bits to do and then the studio caught fire.”
Mikey: “It wasn’t our fault."
Sam: “Nope, we were home at the time, but all of our gear was there so we thought that was gone, it didn’t turn out to be quite that bad, but we had to redo a few of the guitars.”
You worked with Gil Norton, whose obviously worked with bands like Pixies and Foo Fighters?
Sam: “Initially we were nervous, I remember we doing pre-production with ‘Ghost In The Mirror’ and he was being quite strident about a certain section and I thought ‘I need to speak my mind here and hope it doesn’t fall to pieces’, I did and after that everything was fine. But it was hard to tell the guy who’s produced Dave Grohl what to do. But, weirdly enough, he did feel like a friend, I still text him now.”
How did making this record compare to Signals? Are you more comfortable in the studio now? More efficient?
Sam: “A combination of both. We actually got the chance to do pre-production on this album, we’ve never done that before. It enabled us to really know Gil, get to know how he worked, get comfortable, we worked on the songs, worked on our harmonies and it really shows. We made Signals in three weeks, this took four months and it does show.”
Dave (Rawling, drums): “Having two weeks to do drums instead of a day and a half was amazing, it was so nice not to rush anything.”
So when was the bulk of the album written? Because you toured Signals a lot…
Sam: “Well during the period between January 2012 when we recorded Signals and January 2013 when it came out, we didn’t write anything because we were sat on a full album. So when it came round to actually starting to write, we wrote absolute rubbish for a couple of months, finally got into this rhythm and actually ending up writing the album in a month. There’s even a few bits that didn’t make it on to Signals, we didn’t know where to take them then, but they worked this time.”
How does writing work? Is it five of you in a room? Or does it start with a riff or drumbeat?
Joe (Savins, guitar): “Normally everything starts with Sam, he’ll bring in a verse and chorus and bring it to us and we’ll add our own elements to it. A couple were written in rehearsal rooms this time actually, but the majority of the time it comes from Sam.”
Did you feel like you were writing for bigger crowds on this album?
Mikey: “I think we were conscious of that to start with and that really affected how the songs were coming out. We got past that and got focused.”
Sam: “We said to each other ‘Let’s just be our favourite band’ and not try not and make replicas of the tracks off Signals.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
Sam: “It’s an interesting one. It hadn’t occurred to me just how much of the album is about love and loss until I listened back to it. Clearly that was on my mind a lot. Me and Mikey split the lyrics, but that definitely feels like a common theme.”
Mikey: “I’d describe this as an unintentionally honest album. I’m normally quite careful to cloak everything in metaphors, but I actually think the lyrics are a lot more direct this time. It’s quite a cool thing to realise when you sit and look back at the lyrics.”
Where did the title come from?
Sam: “We’d talked about it for a while and we couldn’t agree on it. It was quite low-key, I thought of the word and put it to everyone in our Whatsapp group and everyone went for it. I like it because I feel like so much as happened to the band, we’ve signed to a major label, toured the world and we’ve been through lots personally, deteriorating relationships, keeping up friendships, how hard that can be when you’re away. So to me, the title says we’re still the same people, but our circumstances are completely different.”
You’re on a major label now, how’s the experience been? Are there more people looking after you now?
Mikey: “I feel like any band if you work hard enough, you deserve what we are now getting. This is the culmination of so much work. Major labels are not the cold hard world they’re made out to be, there are a whole lot of people who give a whole lot of shit about music and what comes out.”
What was the song on the album that was the hardest to record?
Joe: “That would be ‘She Took Him To The Lake’, the eight-minute epic. It started life as two separate songs and we wrote a part to connect the two. It’s completely different to what we’ve done before and that was a really exciting feeling.”
Finally, how much touring do you already have lined up?
Sam: “We’ve got a headline tour next month and we’re working to add shedloads more. 2015 is going to be a year full of gigs and festivals. We want to go everywhere we can.”
Mallory Knox’s new album Asymmetry will be released on Monday (October 27th) and can be pre-ordered in store now.
Mallory Knox will be performing a short acoustic set and signing copies of the album at hmv 363 Oxford Street on Monday 27th October, hmv Cambridge on October 28th and hmv Cardiff Queens on October 30th. You can find full details here.