2014 has been a great year for Mallory Knox; between their numerous festival appearances and their sophomore album Asymmetry reaching number 16 on the UK album charts. To end their successful year, the band went out to conquer mainland Europe with their support slot for Japanese rock band One Ok Rock. We were lucky enough to have a brief chat with guitarists James Gillett and Joe Savins after their set in Amsterdam.
HTF: Congratulations on your new album Asymmetry; it reached number 16 on the charts, which is pretty impressive considering not everyone purchases music nowadays. How was the recording process for this album different to Signals?
JS: We recorded Signals like a year before it was released, so it’s felt like a long time to us even though in the public eye it seems like a quick follow up. The main difference in recording was this time we had time to actually perfect the record instead of booking two weeks into a little studio.
HTF: You worked with Gil Norton, didn’t you?
JS: Yeah, we did. His CV sort of speaks for itself: Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Pixies – it’s endless, really. He gave us time to actually make a record instead of just record 14 songs. Do you know what I mean? There’s a massive difference between sonically creating something that will sound great in ten years’ time as opposed to just recording the songs. We had four months this time to really hone it, trim all the fat and make it sound the best it could. We have grown and changed, but at the same time we always knew where we were going with our band. I think it feels quite similar.
JG: Yeah, I don’t think we’ve changed that much, it’s literally just we’re a year or two later down the line so it’s going to sound a bit different. For me personally, on the first record, I still felt like the new guy to the band. I was holding back on certain things, I’d play things other people told me to as opposed to bringing my ideas in. Whereas with this record, we had a new space to write songs in as well, which I think massively helped. We were all together, every time. We had band practice everyday at 11am, and we’d be there until 6/7/8pm. We were just writing songs and we were all together. With Signals we had to rush certain things. I mean, we’re completely happy with the record; there’s nothing we’d change about it but with this record, we had so much time. We had time to go in the live room and think about what we wanted to do.
HTF: Speaking of growth, you had Frank Iero support you on your last headline tour. How would 15 year old you react to that fact? That’s kind of insane.
JG: It was mental, to be fair.
JS: It was mad.
HTF: How did that come about?
JS: Basically, our booking agent and we decided we wanted to put together a lineup we were a fan of. I think some bands just take on other bands that would shift the most tickets or whatever but we wanted to take bands we like – bands like Moose Blood, Fort Hope and obviously, Frank because he influenced our band. Perhaps not directly, but he influenced a few of our members over the years with the stuff he did with My Chemical Romance because obviously they were a massive band when we were growing up. If you had told 15 year old me that he would be on our tour, I’d probably freak out. However, it was amazing how quickly he just became a mate that we made on the road. It honestly took like one show for him to stop being Frank from My Chem and for him to be just Frank.
JG: He was so sound as well, you know? You’d imagine because he’d been in that band that he’d be done with socialising and all that. Literally, the first day we were there he came over and went “Thank you guys, I’m so happy to be here.” That was it, in that moment he was, as Joe said, Frank from My Chem but after that we were just complete mates with him. He stayed on the bus a few times because they were in a van. It was just so cool, and on the last day at Electric Ballroom I went into his room like: “Mate, it’s been such a pleasure having you with us,” and he said: “No, thank you.” It’s cool, because I like to think we’re like that with every band. We’re all in it together, you help each other out.
JS: Frank didn’t get special treatment, and he was sound with that because he knows how it goes and he’s been playing music for ages. He was really grateful. I’m not saying he should be grateful, but he was grateful that he got to do the tour. By the end of it, he was just another really cool guy on the tour.
JG: 15 year old us was definitely at Brixton Academy seeing them live.
JS: On the Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge tour.
HTF: Awesome. So, what was the first record that you ever bought?
JS: First record I ever bought was Fat Of The Land by The Prodigy, and Parklife by Blur. Double whammy. I went into the Virgin Megastores, as it was called, in the Grafton centre in Cambridge – if anyone in Cambridge is reading this. They were my first ever two records; I was four years old.
JG: Mine was The Offspring – Americana. I got it and felt like taking it back because there were too many swearwords on it. I felt bad.
JS: I remember, my dad took me to buy these records and I got home with this Prodigy record, because my aunt loved them. As I mentioned, I was four and the first song on the record was called ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.
HTF: How do you even go out and buy records when you are four?!
JS: Pocket money. My granddad used to give me two £2 coins a week. He gave me £4 a week and I saved it up. I saved like 20 quid because I wanted to buy these mint records.
HTF: You were a smart four year old.
JG: I didn’t buy much music when I was younger, to be honest. We were having a debate in the other room – for us, Oasis was such a big thing. I listened to a lot of the music my dad listened to; like The Corrs and Roxette, all that kind of stuff. I’m so into the old stuff so I never really bought my own music.
JS: I was handed down stuff like Oasis and The Clash, Sex Pistols; all that sort of stuff.
HTF: To develop on that; how do you prefer your music – on vinyl, CD, digital, or cassettes are making a comeback?
JS: Vinyl’s lost for me, because I don’t have a vinyl player even though I think it does sound cool. When I did have a vinyl player – my dad had one – I used to ruin more records than I listened to, because I didn’t know how to put the needle on right when I was a kid. That’s great but they wear out. For me, it’s all about the CD. I do like having the physical package; I like having the artwork and stuff. As a kid I used to buy records and have the booklet out. While the CD was having its first spin, I was reading along to its lyrics and stuff. I still think CD beats it. Like, mp3s are instant and it’s great but you can’t beat going into a store and buying an actual physical copy. To be honest, I think most people would say that but we’re very lazy aren’t we? So I guess mp3 is always going to win in the long run.
JG: I’m so lazy I don’t even get the mp3s now; it’s all Spotify and stuff, which is bad I think. It’s cool but you know, it isn’t benefiting anyone when you’re not buying the music but it’s just more about that for me.
HTF: We’ve noticed that you guys face a lot of misfortune. From the studio you were recording in catching fire, to your bus breaking down on this tour. What’s the worst luck you’ve ever had?
JS: Obviously, the studio burning down was an absolute nightmare. I think that’s the worst thing that’s happened, but the worst luck was we once had two cases of bad luck in 24 hours. Once we were on tour and we were in Bristol with Birmingham to play the next day. It was the first show ever where like Kerrang! and Rock Sound would have reviewed, all these magazines. Jägermeister were there to give us an endorsement at this Birmingham show so it was quite a big one for us at the time. So, in Bristol our van completely broke down to the point of no return. We got towed back and we must have gotten back at nine in the morning. I didn’t sleep, I had been up all night ringing hire companies. We had no money, we could afford way less of what a hire van actually costs so I couldn’t get any sleep. This guy drove from Brighton to get us and it took him ages and stuff. We were going to miss soundcheck, but we’d never cancel. We got about 40 miles from Birmingham, and his van broke down.
JG: So two vans in one day. We were so defeated.
JS: We had to cancel the show.
HTF: Maybe you should get a bus now.
JG: We ARE in a bus, this is the bus that broke down. It broke for 33 hours – we timed it.
JS: I was in the Alps for 33 hours with no heater.
JG: We broke down in the Alps, and we got a van believe it or not. It turned up and I was a bit worried that one might break down. We’re back on the bus now, so happy days.
HTF: I’m keeping fingers crossed this won’t break down again. Anyway, you’ve been doing quite well in the UK; you’ve headlined a couple of times and sold out a few shows. At tonight’s show, the crowd was really good. I saw you out with Finch early last year and the comparison to that show is crazy. How are things looking for you to finally headline mainland Europe?
JS: If we’re being completely honest, it’s not a number one priority because we still feel like we’re a support tour away from doing it. This tour has been really good for us. We haven’t really toured Europe before. Obviously we did two or three shows with Finch and with Tonight Alive we did two shows in Holland. So this is the first time we’ve done it properly. We’re thinking maybe one more support and then a headliner. I think we’ve done really well with this tour. I think a headliner is on the horizon, because things are moving quite well for us and our record comes out in Germany in January so hopefully with that will come more publicity.
JG: We just need to make sure that we come at the right time. We don’t want to come too prematurely and not have people at the show. Today was a lovely surprise, we got off the bus and there were actually people to see us. There have been a few people every night but it shows that doing the support tours are definitely paying off. We’ve been here more than anywhere in Europe so when we came out today we were meeting people who saw us when we played with Tonight Alive a couple of months ago. Doing the support shows and gaining new fans is a priority. We just want to make sure when we finally play here it’s going to be good for everyone. People don’t want to come see us in a 200 cap venue and there’s only 50 people there. It’s just all about timing really, but we will definitely be here at some point.
JS: It’s not going to be in the next six months, but we would love to come back. When we feel we can put on a show that everyone will enjoy, then we’ll be doing it.
HTF: You are on the road quite a lot, what do you do to keep yourself occupied when you’re on tour?
JS: A lot of FIFA, a lot of movies, a lot of riling each other up. We always give each other shit. It’s a pretty constant thing, but it’s all affectionate.
JG: You have to be thick skinned to tour with us. On this tour we’ve got a couple of guys we’ve not brought out with us on tour before, like the sound man and the merch guy. They get so much shit from us but it’s all banter and I like to think that everyone has a good time even if they are getting the end. Especially with the Europe shows, the drives are so long anyway so it benefits us to have a tour bus. We literally play the shows and meet some fans afterwards – sign a couple of things and plead them to come watch us when we come back. Then we get on the bus and we go to bed, and there’s like a seven hour drive. It’s tiring but it’s not like we’re ever bored or not have anything to do.
HTF: What has been the highlight of your year then? It’s been a good year for Mallory Knox.
JG: It’s been a very good year that’s why it’s kind of hard to pick one thing.
JS: Reading and Leeds, always. It’s such a special thing. I grew up going to Reading as a kid so that’s always great. Releasing the album in the UK was the biggest thing because we moved up to a major label, which was big thing for us. Then to get number 16 was a relief, and everyone was happy. We made the step up and we sort of justified it. That was probably the best thing that happened this year.
HTF: You’ve proven that rock music is not dead.
JG: I think it’s definitely not. I think the only thing that’s dead is listeners of music don’t really know how hard it is being in a band and trying to live. There’s not a lot of money in music these days, because it’s so easy to get free music. You can still love a band, and illegally download it. The stats just don’t add up these days. You can have 100,000 likes on Facebook or something but only sell 3,000 records. How does that work? It’s because all the others have downloaded it illegally. It kind of swings in roundabouts because then people still do want to see you live and buy merch. You earn your money the other way.
JS: All music suffers, no genre is safe. Even Taylor Swift‘s releasing records and if she had sold that many in the 70s she wouldn’t even have a Top 40 album.
JG: The worst thing that could happen is for bands and artists to not be able to do it, then everyone will suffer. There would be no music and that sounds like a really daunting thing. Genuine fans of music still put the effort in. We get people that buy our album two or three times. They buy the album, the deluxe and the vinyl. I think those kind of people are such good role models for other music listeners. I think the majority of people in the world, if they love the music they will pay for it. If they’re not they’ll buy something else and help in some way.
JS: Music isn’t a right, do you know what I mean? If someone creates music it isn’t your right to own it, it’s a product that someone has made. Always try to buy as much records as you can. I get that some people don’t have the money but if you download it illegally, come to a show. That seems to be what’s happening anyway. They’re taking away from one and giving in to the other.
JG: Nowadays you just have to deal with that. I remember on our headline Mikey [Chapman, vocals] went: “Who’s got our new album?” and everyone’s cheering. Then he goes: “Who downloaded it illegally?” and everybody’s going” “Yeeeaah.” At least they were at the show, you know? That’s where it’s give and take.
HTF: Next year you’ll be headlining Takedown, have you got a rough idea of what else you’ll be doing in the new year?
JS: We immediately go to America in January to tour with Pierce the Veil and Sleeping With Sirens and PVRIS. That takes us up to Takedown. I think that’s two days after the tour finishes. We’re going to land in London, get in a van and go to Takedown. Then we’re doing Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, which will be cool. We haven’t looked much further than that. Obviously our booking agent and our management are having conversations about what they’d like us to do but nothing’s set in stone yet. We’d like to do Europe again, we’d like to do a UK tour again, we’d like to maybe do Australia or Japan. These are all things we’d like to do but we haven’t had any offers yet. It’s something we would try to work out as the year progresses.
JG: How the year is looking, it’s going to have to be a busy year. We’ve got a few announcements coming up.