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Area 11 – Slam Dunk Festival 2017 | Interview

We had a chat with Area 11 at this year’s Slam Dunk festival and learned a lot about their musical inspirations, favourite songs, spoons, and much more!

Area 11

Source: Promo Image

Area 11 are one of the most intriguing up and coming bands in the UK rock scene. Consisting of singer Sparkles (aka Tom Clarke), guitarist Parv (aka Alex Parvis), bassist Kogie (aka Jonathan Kogan) and drummer Leo Taylor, they’ve had a dedicated fan following for a few years and played several headline tours but have only recently started to emerge onto the festival circuit. We caught up with them at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival to see what we could find out about them.

Mosh: Are you guys excited to be playing Slam Dunk?

Sparkles: We are beyond excited at this point. This is our first proper festival! We can’t wait. We’re really glad to be here.

Mosh: Are there any bands you’re particularly looking forward to seeing?

S: Plenty of bands! We just saw our friends Fort Hope out there and they were great. They supported us on our last tour I think. They were slaying it.

Leo: I want to see Neck Deep and I think we all want to go see Shikari and Don Broco.

S: I might see a little bit of Crossfaith.

Kogie: A bit of Less Than Jake too, lighten the mood!

S: Definitely Vukovi as well, they supported us a bunch of tours ago and now they’re doing great so we’ll check those guys out, see how they’re doing.

Mosh: What bands would you most like to play with, in the whole world?

K: The Mamas and the Papas, reunited.

S: Crowded House.

Parv: I’d go for Metallica.

S: In an actual serious sense, At the Drive-In. But also kinda not, because I’m such a fan that I’d be frightened to be in the same room. Their new album is amazing. But a serious answer would be Fall Out Boy, I’d love to tour with them. Or Twenty One Pilots.

Mosh: What are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

S: Influence-wise, we absorb as much as we can.

L: It’s very much a week-to-week thing. Like this week I’m into Manic Street Preachers, and then the next week I’m into something else.

K: It’s almost a daily thing, I’ll wake up in the morning and go “Right, I’m gonna be a pop punk guy.”

S: I think it’s self-evident in our music, in the fact that it’s so chaotic genre-wise. We don’t like to stick to one style. I’m listening to a lot of Spoon at the minute but that’s gonna stop tomorrow because I’ve over listened to it now, so I’m probably gonna listen to the second Jamiroquai album for a bit and then that’s what we’re gonna sound like.

K: I think it’s time for an R.E.M. phase.

S: Maybe it is! In fact, me and Leo actually listened to a bunch of Out of Time a few days ago on vinyl because we’re hipstery as f***.

Mosh: So your next album could be R.E.M. inspired?

K: No, no, no. Not “could be”. It is.

Mosh: Speaking of which, are there any current plans for new music?

P: We’re currently collating and whittling down our demos for the next album. Whittling them into very stylish wooden spoons that will then be on sale for everyone.

S: I told you, we’re not doing the Spoon album, remember? It’s R.E.M.!

P: I thought you were serious about the Spoon album! OK, they’re not gonna be on spoons, they’ll probably be on CDs. Maybe a free spoon with the CD?

S: Yeah alright, I will compromise on that. We are indeed whittling, and we indeed have some songs. We’re not setting ourselves any hard deadlines because I think it’s got to be right, first and foremost. But I think we’re going to do things a bit differently this time. Firstly we’re not gonna wait as long as the gap between our first and second records. But also we’re gonna try and work with a producer. Up to this point it’s been me, trying to work out how to mix and engineer the record and write it and sing on it, and I find that it’s a little bit too much of me. And also it’s good to get someone else’s opinion in. So once we’ve got our demos together we’re hopefully gonna start looking for producers we want to work with and get someone with experience in to tell us how to whip our songs into shape.

Mosh: You released your second album Modern Synthesis last year. What aspect of that album are you most proud of?

L: I think how well it stepped away from what we were, in a way that we wanted it to. On the first album the songs were all rigid concepts, and then we made an effort to move away from that with the EP in between. And then Modern Synthesis just took it a step further. And I think we did it as well as we could’ve done at that time. So I think I’m pretty proud of that conceptually. And I think in general the songwriting has leveled up.

S: We set the bar pretty high for it. It took a long time because we spent a lot of time trying to write All the Lights in the Sky 2, or at least I did. And then it just wasn’t fun anymore to write songs about anime. I do remember discussing making an EP that was gonna be a taste of what’s to come and then segueing into an album, and it all kind of worked out. So I think that’s what we’re most proud of. I think Modern Synthesis is always going to be something for us that was a success in a vision of modulating the band into a new place, and I think the next record is going to be the celebration of that.

Mosh: Is there a particular song on the album you’re most proud of?

K: Red Queen’!

L: I think we all have a different one. I likePanacea’ personally.

S: I’m with Leo, I think ‘Panacea’.

K: That’s probably my second favourite.

Mosh: That song’s pretty special because you gave fans who pre-ordered the album the chance to sing backing vocals on that track. What gave you the idea to do that?

P: What the fans don’t actually know is that Sparkles re-recorded all the vocals trying to impersonate their voices.

S: That’s not true! I remember thinking we wanted realistic goals, but things that fans might want, so we came up with this idea that they could sing on it. It wasn’t the most ambitious fan project we ever did, which was the “who the hell do you think we are?” gang shout from ‘Giga Drill’ which took me a couple of days to collate. We had something like 100-200 audio files of people saying “who the hell do you think we are?” and I had to cut them up and time them all. It’s crazy, just to hear that in isolation, all those voices.

Panacea’ was special because three of us wrote it. We all write, but this was the only time where three of us have written a song almost with equal share of the original idea. Kogie had this intro which I then added the melody to. Leo had the middle section which he wrote as a separate song, but it worked. And then I took the last bit from another song I wrote,Processor’, and then the whole thing was arranged and it became this collaborative effort. I think that was exciting, and probably why we like it.

K: Some of my favourite lyrical phrases are in there as well, on the verse.

Mosh: Do you have a favourite song to play live?

P, K, L: In the Blind’.

L: I really have fun playingNebula’ on drums. It’s just so wild, I get to move around loads. It’s loads of fun.

S: What they said, apart from ‘Nebula’ which is grueling to sing.

L: We play rock, paper, scissors before every show to see if we get to play it or not.

S: I likeDream & Reality’ still because it’s really fun to sing and all of our fans know it. It’s got this great call and response, which is great because I can just let the crowd sing a bit of it. And obviouslyAll the Lights in the Sky’ as well. I have fun doing that one because I just get to stand on stage and play acoustic guitar and people sing and it’s easy and fun.

Mosh: You’ve recently announced your first ever German show, do you have any other plans for European gigs?

K: That’s still being worked out at the moment. We’re trying to work out the best way to tour and visit all our European fans we’ve not had a chance to play to yet.

S: The room full of monkeys on typewriters who figure out where we tour are currently plugging away. It’s a little bit out of our hands at this point, we’re not the best people to book a European tour. None of us have even been to half the countries in Europe. We have people that we trust who do that stuff and hopefully, soon they’ll let us know what they’ve got in the oven. Because it’s smelling good!

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