Monday 17 February 2014

Neck Deep // Interview & Live Review on the We Are The In Crowd Tour

Neck Deep have had a pretty phenomenal year, and we’re only two months in. As well as a sell-out headline tour they released their debut album to much acclaim. 
Currently on tour, with New York’s We Are The In Crowd, the boys managed to take time out to chat to us. Gearing up to jet off to the US on a headline run they spoke to us about touring,  the full length record and their love for Taco Bell...

Neck Deep take to the stage in Manchester 

To say we’re only just in to the start of 2014 you guys have had a busy year so far; a headline tour, now you’re out with WATIC and then you’re off to the USA. How’s it all been going?
LLOYD [Roberts, guitar] – Yeah, it’s been awesome, tiring though…
MATT [West, guitar] - …Yeah, it’s the first time we’ve done it so relentlessly as well.
LLOYD- Between January and the middle of April we’ve got like two weeks off so it’s crazy. Can’t complain though.

And are you looking forward to getting over to America? What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to that you can’t get over here?
MATT- Well excited…
BOTH- Taco Bell [laughing].
LLOYD- The ones in the UK just aren’t the same. Baja Blast too; a drink that’s like liquidated sweets.
MATT- We only have like about a day off to unpack and repack everything and then fly out. I washed all my stuff before this tour and my mum said she would tumble dry it all and she shrunk everything [laughing]. They all look like crop tops now.

Neck Deep's vocalist Ben Barlow

You’ve only been around since 2012 but there’s a huge buzz around you guys and the album, Wishful Thinking, has gone down incredibly well. Especially in a scene like this where it’s often hard to break out the fact that you’re doing so well is testament to your music. Do you guys put yourselves under pressure?
LLOYD- Because it’s happened so fast we’ve not really had a chance to sit back and take it all in. Doing this album was the first time we’d ever really sat down and thought now we have to make a record and put everything in to it. When we did the EPs, we pretty much just pressed record and started playing because that’s all we had. Going into the album we were just more focused. People are expecting a bit more and we’re happy with it.

Positive word of mouth online, on social media, has really helped you. You also streamed the album online first to fans to give them a little teaser and reward; was it nice to have that opportunity?
MATT- We wouldn’t be where we are now without social network sites. I didn’t even realise the gravity of Tumblr until I saw all the fan accounts and all the Twitter ones that just post our lyrics. It’s the best tool that any band can use.
LLOYD- Streaming the album was cool because it gives people that chance to hear a bit more before it comes out. And we did teaser Instagram videos of it too because we didn’t want there to be silence and then the album come out.

Neck Deep at Manchester Academy 3
Is it good to have the full length out, to give an opportunity to show you as a band?
MATT- I think with the album we’ve nailed our sound 100%.
LLOYD- A lot of people never really took us seriously because they felt like we came out of nowhere and they thought it’ll die in a couple of months. But I think now, even if people don’t like it, they still have to acknowledge that we’ve done an album that’s not completely rubbish [laughing]. It feels good to have a solid release now.
MATT- We did an in-store in Banquet Records and that was the first time we’d seen the physical copy of the album. We didn’t even have it, we had to buy one [laughing].

You seem very hands on when it comes to the creative stuff beyond the music, is that important for you guys and something you enjoy?
LLOYD- Yeah, on everything.
MATT- We always, always said that creative-wise, aside from the music, we want to be in control as much as possible.
LLOYD- We wouldn’t want to give that away. It would make our life easier, but I couldn’t think of anything worse. If we got told; “You can print the worse t-shirt ever but you’ll sell loads”, we still wouldn’t do it. From day one we’ve been like that and we want to continue this way.

The Wrexham five piece storm the stage 
Who inspired you to make music?
LLOYD- I think if you go way back then the collective would be Blink 182, Green Day, New Found Glory - bands like them.
MATT- I think on the album we captured that vibe- 80/90/00s pop punk.
LLOYD- It’s not us trying to be original with it, that’s the sound we’re going for, we’re just doing it. We play what we like. They say we’re generic like it’s an insult.

I guess you’re going to be an inspiration for many people now- is that quite a nice thought?
MATT- That terrifies me [laughing]. As a collective we’re the most stupid idiotic people ever and there’s no point in having an ego about it [laughing].
LLOYD- We’d sit down with anyone and tell them about how we did it, if they wanted to know. To be an inspiration to people that would be incredible.
MATT- It still weirds me out when people ask for a signed photo. You’ve [Lloyd] got it down though, you have a different signature and everything, and I don’t [laughing]. My identity would be really easy to steal as well- I am “Mr Generic Man”; dark hair, beard and glasses. Go to a joke shop and anyone could look like me in five minutes.

I guess this is a big year for you guys- what else have you got coming up/looking forward to?
LLOYD- Yeah, a crazy busy year with loads of secret things that we can’t announce yet. But we’ll be out touring lots. Stuff will all get announced in due time, but it’s going to be good.

Here’s what happened when Neck Deep took to the stage…

A sold out crowd greets Neck Deep when they take to the stage at Manchester’s Academy 2. Half way through the tour and things aren’t slowing down, quite the opposite. They may be the support band this evening but people aren’t holding back their adoration for the band. And Neck Deep give back in equal measure. They come alive on stage and blitz through a set that includes a mix of new album tracks and older fan favourites. The night begins with ‘Kick It’ which well and truly gets things moving. Countless nods towards modern punk bands such as The Story So Far aren’t a bad thing as their success is undeniable, and it would appear that Neck Deep are very much on the same path.

Neck Deep in Manchester, currently on tour with We Are The In Crowd

As the night moves on the Wrexham five-piece step things up with new album track ‘What Did You Expect?’. Indeed the entire album has taken things to the next level for the band. ‘Crushing Grief (No Remedy)’ stirs the crowd and sees them throwing themselves onto the stage to join the band, before hurling themselves back off. Strong percussion and aggressive vocals with an infectious melody, it is a pop punk song to be appreciated.

'Wishful Thinking' the album
It becomes apparent that the crowd aren’t new to Neck Deep; older EP track ‘Over and Over’, raw and fervent, draws the same energy from the packed out room. ‘Damsel In Distress’ encourages yet more crowd participation as crowd surfers flood across the venue, it’s thrashing and fast paced nature setting the tone for We Are The In Crowd’s set. Concluding the set with the acoustic ‘A Part Of Me’, Neck Deep show just how dynamic they really are, and it’s easy to see why they’re hailed as a band to watch out for. They may have “come out of nowhere” but they’re here to stay, and quite rightly so. If anyone was ever in doubt, UK pop punk is well and truly back; this is only just the beginning. 8/10

Photo credit: Danny Peart Photography. 
For more live and backstage shots-
CLICK HERE for the full photo-set

Stay tuned as tomorrow we bring you an interview with We Are The In Crowd who chat to us about getting their second album done, headline touring and mom's lasagne.