On the evening before their debut album is officially released with 2 sold out nights at Birmingham’s Flapper & Firkin, we are taken back to a cold night in March with Lichfield’s STUBBLEMELT where they are rehearsing for the album launch. Having built up a rather loyal fanbase over the last 4 years, Stubblemelt have not just resided to their music. They have successfully put on their own gigs, created not one, but two festivals in the Midlands for both up and coming acts, and more established acts and they have produced videos for their songs which are being talked about across the nation for their stark originality… Stubblemelt is a name you will know, if not now, but very soon.
In a Working Men’s Club in a Stafford suburb on a cold March Sunday night. Soundcheck arrive as the band are running through a few songs from forthcoming album ‘Gypaetus Barbatus’. It’s fair to say that the band are full of confidence in their performance, but although burning with enthusiasm for the gigs, are nervous behind their chatty and happy exteriors. Stubblemelt are made up of Kyle Perry, Tom Marshall, David Ashford, Mat Giles and Amy Collins. After running through another fab new track from the album, the band take a break from their schedule and open themselves up to some serious grilling.
Soundcheck: The album is finished, how does it feel to have completed it?
Kyle Perry: We were getting quite emotional on the way back last night.
Tom Marshall: You were!
KP: Stop embarrassing me! Stop… stop…!
TM: He was crying in the back of the van.
KP: It was one tear, one tear! It’s not quite relief, more “thank fuck!”
TM: I think it was like the EP, you put it on a pedestal and build it up and build it up and…
KP: You just don’t realise, you think “is that it?“ It’s been a 15 month process for us four. I say “us four” but the process for us three (Kyle, Tom and Dave) started 3 years back when we realised we wanted to work together, did the EP then realised we had these other ideas and just thought “how good would it be to do an album?”
(…Tom interrupts saying “if he’s taking pictures, I’m going to put a hat on so I look fucking class!”)
SC: The album title, Where did it come from?
KP: We wanted to find something that represented us and find something orginal which was symbollic to us.
Matt Giles: The Bearded Vulture!
KP: It’s not called bearded vulture is it? It’s called ‘Gypateus Barbateus’ which is what we’re happy with, but when we were on Tamworth radio a few weeks back, some Latin teacher messaged in saying “It’s actually Jippitus Barbitis (sic)” which is the correct Latin to say it. But we’re happy with ‘Gypateus Barbateus’, it’s ours… So “F. U. Latin”…!
TM: Fuck! I’ve been telling everyone it’s Arabic!!!
KP: In the best sense, I like to tell everyone that we are story tellers to soundtrack music and I think the best way to be storytellers is to have our own symbol and I think ‘The bearded vultrue’ or ‘The Gypateus Barbateus’ represents what we are. That has it’s own mythology and I’d like our storytelling to come across like that.
SC: The Stubblemelt story starts with it’s own legend
Amy Collins: I like that, I’ll keep that!
KP: Fuck off! Everything I’ve just said and you like that?! (Laughter)
SC: So now the album’s finished and you’ve got the launch shows coming up, What can we expect from those shows?
KP: Carnage, absolute carnage!
TM: We played there a few years ago and the people who worked there said they hadn’t seen anything like us for years.
KP: It’s a dungeon!
TM: It is what it is, it’s got the sweaty atmosphere and it’s going to rock.
KP: You get everyone in, make it dirty and sloppy and that’s what we want.
SC: So the process started 3 years ago for you three…
KP: Yeah, when I first picked up a guitar, my first riff was “dun, dun, d-dunn…”
TM: Yeah and that’s in every song now isn’t it (laughter)
KP: Nah, that’s actually in one of our songs called ‘überloader’, I’m all for collaboration in music video and songs. But, since Amy and Matt have come on board, it’s just grown and for me, it’s been such a humbling process.
SC: How did you decide “I know these guys, I want to be in a band with them”?
KP: Well, Matt blew me round the back of a nightclub… (Laughs)
TM: Me and Kyle met through football years ago, and I regret it ever since. Pez (Kyle) was messing about with a guitar and we’d go and see bands and just heckle them really. “We can be better than that” kind of thing. Then one morning we just went “shall we have a go?” And we just did really. We made a prat of ourselves the first time, second time, third time… and then Dave jumped on. It was a bit of a joke with the lads in the football saying “ah you’re in a band” and all that, then people heard our music and started to take it a bit more seriously.
KP: It’s our whole world now.
TM: Especially as we’re doing our own gigs, festivals and the albums going to come out, it’s the icing on the cake really.
SC: Looking back to the early days, how do you think you’ve changed sound and performance wise?
Dave Ashford: I can answer this one… I’m smart.
KP: We have to tell Dave he’s in a rock band and to stop being so happy! He’s the only one smilng, it’s like “Dave, stop grinning! No one else is grinning, stop looking good!”. What do you reckon Matt and Amy? What’s it felt like since you two have come in to the band?
MG: I don’t know where you’ve come from musically, but at the moment I think it’s just varied influences, it’s all come together nicely.
SC: So how did you two become part of the band?
AC: Through a dating website.
KP: Well Matt blew me on top of a hill…
MG: I was having some bad luck with getting into other bands and I was desperate to get in one. I saw the opportunity and just went for it.
KP: We’ve always had an idea of what we wanted, like, “this is what it needs to be and this is what we need”, we had numerous people come in and suggest things and we’ve stood our ground and said “actually, we want this”. Then Matt came on board and bought in to what we wanted to achieve. We don’t try to be like something or copy something, Matt understood that and wanted to have his own approach, have his own input but at the same time, let us express ourselves in the way we needed to.
AC: Sometimes it’s hard to come in to a band and not take away what’s already there. It’s hard to fit in but I think we’ve done quite well.
SC: Being the only female, how are you fitting in?
AC: I’m used to it. As the only girl in the last band I was in, it’s easy. It’s like I’ve got a band of brothers.
SC: What’s the plan of action once the album is out?
DA: We’ve got a few things lined up, in particular, festivals.
MG: I think it’s just a case of getting it out there and getting as many people to listen to it as possible.
TM: The one thing I think we’re good at is the viral approach and interactive social media stuff. Everyone seems to know that we do different things and like it.
KP: The hardest thing for me is trying to keep it “our thing”. We’ve had some record label intersest but they’re trying to push us down a particular route, but we’re doing this our way. The album’s coming out independently so we’re still looking for sponsorship and stuff, it’s not easy.
TM: We know our brand is marketable, it’s half decent. If someone could give us the money to let us do our own thing, we’d be happy with that.
SC: You touched on doing things independently. Last year you set up the ‘Lichfield Rocks Festival’, how did you find that and what’s the plan for this year?
MG: There’s so many festivals out there and we got some offers, but we thought we could do our own thing and the money raised went to a great cause.
KP: We set up the stuff on social media and we’re getting about 20 bands a day asking to play the next one which is happening at the end of July and it’s incredible how it’s snowballed! The people and the crew were fantastic on the day, we raised a lot of money and hopefully it’s something that we can keep rolling on and letting it grow and grow.
SC: Let’s go back to the studio for a moment, how do you set about writing, crafting a song? What is the writing process?
KP: Usually starts with me wanking in to a sock really (Laughter)
TM: We’re quite spontaneous really. Obviously there’s a few songs that have had a lot of thought go in to them, but some have come from a few riffs. I’ve been trying to turn Pez’s amp off at the end of a jam and he’ll be playing a riff. We’ll hold on for a moment, then keep it for the next jam and pick it up again and we’ll add something to it. Then we’ll jam it for 3, 4, 5 maybe 6 sessions just to get it perfect, we won’t put it on the back burner.
DA: A good example there is ‘Madness’, I was playing around with my drum machine and just started randomly playing a sound and I got this very mechanical, industrial sound. Matt put a bassline to it and started doing some bluesy stuff, and it developed from there.
TM: It’s like a click. It just slots in place.
KP: The hooks come naturally to us, I don’t know if it’s natural or if it comes from listening to good music. I could come to a session with something and Matt’s got something so we mash it together, then Dave will throw something in and then Amy will go “here you go guys, here’s a trombone!”.
AC: Everyone brings to the table their own thing, their own influences and puts a stamp on the track.
MG: There’s some really ambitious stuff on the album, we create them in the studio and then think later about how we’re going to do it live. It’s a challenge for us. But we don’t do anything by half.
TM: Yeah in the studio we’d do something and then think “how the fuck are we going to do that bit live?”
KP: I’m scared with this album gig coming up. I said to Dave “We can’t do this, Dave I can’t do it!”
AC: It’s nice to know that we all think how are we going to do this, but then we work it out and have a jam where we think, actually…!
KP: Guys, if this album is shit, we’re really over-selling this!
SC: What’s the mission statement for the end of the year?
All: World domination!
KP: That’s the shortest explanation we can offer and we wont stop until we’ve got it… or we’re dead!
SC: What’s the most rock n’ roll moment you’ve had within the band so far?
KP: I’ll answer this first… a surreal moment, was sleeping in a warehouse, in Central London, cuddled up to Matt whilst two gays were bumming in the tent next door. I think that epitomises… “Our Journey!”
DA: Then I came in to see him (Kyle), dragging him (Matt) out of the tent…
MG: I was out of it completely!
KP: This is a family show Matt!
TM: What about thingy? …York festival?
KP: Oh yeah! We were playing ‘Welcome Back’ for the first time live, the night before we played I think it was the Wheelbarrow in London. It was Camden and it was a class gig and we left about 4.30 in the morning. We travelled straight up North and we had this festival in Cumbria, took us like 5 hours to get there. We got there, no we drove to his house (Matt’s) slept for 45 minutes in Brum, drove to the gig in the middle of nowhere. It was beautiful to be honest, beautiful landscape and there was this circus tent with all these inbred people, we were playing to about 40 of them. We were in the middle of the first track and then this tractor “Beep Beeeeep!” comes right in front of the stage, and this guy sitting in this tractor starts watching us. Cuts in front of everybody and then backs off! It’s moments like that that I want to look back on, and because I’m a storyteller, these are the things which I want to collect.
MG: I was going to go with the London gig to be honest, it was the most surreal gig I’ve had in the band. Just being in the middle of London, in a warehouse, in a tent, and then 2 gay guys next door. Then waking up in the morning, completely zoned out to find myself being dragged out. I slowly came round to consciousness, and was like “hang on a minute… the floor’s moving here!”
TM: Then a month later, we supported JLS! That was another mad one wasn’t it.
KP: Massive rig, massive stage, thousands there…
TM: How good was that? Then there was Trib Fest. We got there, there was a massive stage, and we thought “Yes! This is it, this is what we want!” and then we got up in the morning and we found out we were playing this tiny little one next to it, it was the smallest stage ever! …Next to it! (All laugh)
KP: You know when there’s builders in the street and they put that little tent out? It was like that wasn’t it!
AC: I’d like to think I haven’t had many opportunities to have a really rock n roll moment yet… however, I’ve only played two gigs so far and that’s my favourite part of being in a band, just gigging. I can’t stop that feeling, I come of stage and I’m like “Oh my God, that was amazing!”
KP: I like that actually. I mean we’ve been so relentlessy pushing ourselves, working hard to create this album. It’s nice to hear that that’s Matt’s favourite memory so far, and that Amy likes that aspect. It makes me feel like it’s all worth it.
SC: You’ve played with various people over the years, what do you think is the best bit of advice you’ve picked up?
AC: Personally I’d say just have fun and enjoy it. I know it’s really cliched but when you work with people all the time, 24/7… I see these guys more than I see my family. There can be awkwardness but we have fun and we all want the same thing.
TM: The key word is, we’re “family”. We stick together, we fight, but we have one goal.
KP: There’s not many people out there who want to help, there’s more who want to see you fail. Not just in music but in all cultures. Like with the news, it’s all negativity and not positivity.
MG: It’s not like people will come up to you and say “I think you’re a great band, i’m going to give you a shot, it’s all “What’s in it for me?”
TM: Yeah that’s it, people are like “you’re a good band and you’ll sell tickets, do you want to come and play my gig and earn me some money?” it’s wrong.
SC: Is there anyone you’d like to work with?
AC: I wasn’t prepared for that one.
TM: Hmm… good question. I suppose for me, I know it sounds daft, but someone like Kanye West or Jay Z, I know it’s the old hip-hop thing, but someone who’s had such an influence in music, in that genre, but they’re respected and have worked the craft. Not to collaborate really, more to pick their brains and find out different ways to make the music. It is a business. Someone like Simon Cowell, they know how to sell a product. They know which buttons to push and what works. Someone who’s been at that standard, that level. To pick their brains would be fascinating.
MG: I’d agree with that actually. I think it’s down to hard work, but a knowledge of how it all works.
AC: I haven’t got a name or anything like that, I want to work with people who believe in us, and want us to do well. Not for their own merit or profit, but to help us. There’s a lot of questions and things that we don’t know, and we don’t know the best way around it. To have someone there saying “actually, do this this way” or “go there and do that” for me, that’s who I want to work with.
KP: Mine would be an inner journey, I’d want to work with myself in 10 years time to see what i’ve become and what I could learn from myself.
SC: What are the bad habits within the band?
KP: Matt’s breathing, Matt’s bogies, Matt’s stench…
KP: When we do a late one, Dave’s eyeballs disappear and retreat in to these tiny, little slits.
MG: Everyone can can picky over little things.
TM: I think I can take the band for granted sometimes. There are times I come in from Football or something and think “ah I can do that tomorrow” with something, but then I realise just how crutial it is that I get it right.
KP: …Matt’s inability to get it right, Matt’s eyes, Matt…!
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Stubblemelt release the highly anticipated debut album ‘Gypaetus Barbatus’ tomorrow. Limited tickets are available for the Saturday evening show priced at £4.