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Interview: Sonic Boom Six (HTF Exclusive)

We caught up with SB6 ahead of their Manchester show to chat new album, wrestling themes and space suits. Read our exclusive interview here!

Following the release of their self titled forth album Manchester’s Sonic Boom Six have been laying waist to venues up and down the country on their current UK tour. Now in their tenth year of being a band, September saw the much anticipated release of their latest album. The album marked a new chapter for the sound of the album, we caught up with the band to get the story behind how the new album came to be, how their tour has been going so far and what would happen if they decided to opt for a career in the world of professional wrestling.

HTF: So you guys are getting to the end of your tour now, how’s it gone so far?

Barney: We’re about 9 tenths of the way through, yeah it’s been amazing, it’s been the best tour we’ve ever done. It’s only been about 8 quid to get in at most gigs and we’ve been amazing!

Laila: I think what’s made this tour is having an amazing support band, Imperial Leisure have just been making our lives easier. Going on, hyping up the crowd ready for us.

HTF: Any highlights so far?

Barney: London was last night and it was sold out, they were hanging from the rafters. We were firing live musical rounds, stumbling out of the building, they didn’t know what hit them. We didn’t sell much merch but I think that’s because they were too stunned by what they’d just seen. They needed to absorb it and get some fresh air.

HTF: So the new album marks quite a departure in terms of your sound, what sparked the reinvention?

Barney: I don’t think departure’s the word, I prefer evolution or progression. The whole thing was our old guitarist left and we were like do we want to carry on, or do we want to draw a line on what we used to be. But we knew we were a band with a certain number of fans and we couldn’t make the same album again and be a tribute to ourselves. That would have just been boring, we’d done what we’d done as that. Sonic Boom Six the band from the punk scene that had added all these other genres. But with the new album we were like no let’s give it a shot, none of us are getting any younger and all this work we’d put into this brand and we’ve got a certain amount of legacy and a certain amount of fanbase. So why don’t we just try to shoot for the stars and take this further, we’ll keep this completely real and completely true to the roots of where it’s from but also address the other level of the band in terms of let’s not write it for 18-25 year old white males but for everybody. So the whole thing was looking back at our old music and deciding on a style that was uniquely us and we thought even though we used to play a hardcore song or a ska or a hip hop song there was a Boom sound. Certain songs like ‘Danger Danger’ on the first album and ‘Arcade Perfect’ on the second album and ‘Road To Hell’ on ‘City Of Thieves’, we had this mixture of ska punk with drum and bass with rapping. So we thought let’s just mash that together, let’s boost up the electronic aspects, let’s boost up the production of it and let’s create that and make it a rock band rather than a punk band that fits into this certain scene. Let’s see if we can get out of our own little niche and use the aspect of our sound that was really unique. Other bands did bits and bobs of it but that’s the part of us that we really innovated so let’s do an album of it and see what happens. It’s fun and it’s better being a band that does one thing well I think.

HTF: At the moment, while there is still those that nitpick, there seems to be a lot more open mindedness when it comes to music.

Laila: Music’s changed as well, when we started there wasn’t that many guitar bands mixing rock music with electronica. While now you can put the radio on and there’s a lot more of those electronica and dance elements in other things.

Barney: I think it comes in circles though, because our lineage was bands like Senser and Pop Will Eat Itself and all these bands but while there was a huge indie scene in the early 90s I’ve got a big sister so I know little bits and bobs, but there was a huge dance rock movement in the early 90s also. Definitely the internet has made people’s tastes more eclectic but the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though we get played on Kerrang TV and kids are like “this isn’t rock”, you’d be surprised how much the boundaries are still there. I always say that we weren’t a catalyst for change but we were still certainly a symptom of it, and you can see what we were doing in 2003 and what Enter Shikari were doing when they came out. It was almost the same thing they were just bigger or seen as more commercially acceptable, they were really good at it but it was a similar thing to what we were doing. You used to go in a rock club and they’d only play The Prodigy and people will dance, but now they’ll play Dizzee Rascal or Chase & Status that doesn’t even sound like rock music like The Prodigy does. So I think boundaries have fallen but I thought they’d fallen more than they actually had judging by twitter.

HTF: We remember seeing you a few years ago and you guys have always had a really diverse crowd, is it something you’ve always strived for?

Barney: Yeah that’s what we’ve always been about, like I said we’re not just for white males of a certain scene. As with anything to get a point across you exaggerate it but we always had a really diverse crowd. We’ve always had a lot of lesbian and gay fans for some reason especially in Manchester.

Laila: And Leeds.

HTF: So you guys had the album ready to go for a while before it was released, how was that waiting period?

Laila: We had to sit on it for a couple of years because we wanted to sort out a label for it. Sorting out a label before you know it a month turns into 3 months, then du de du from this label wants to see you so you have to play a gig, oh but du de du wants to see you as well but they can’t make it.

Barney: You’re on their clock.

Laila: So we gave ourselves a timeframe and we hit it and decided on the label, and it was the best decision we ever made because Xtra Mile have been perfect for us.

Barney: I don’t think it’s lost anything in its immediacy all the issues we talked about are still relevant. Maybe if a new leader had been elected or there was a social revolution maybe it would seem out of date but it’s still the same. We talked to a lot of bigger labels that had infinite money to spend but we kind of knew to a certain extent that you’ve got to have the clout to say now or never or you’re on their clock forever and not a priority, they’re cracking the whip and you’re jumping. Basically it came down to Visible Noise or Xtra Mile and they are both labels who have a history of bringing through big artists but are smaller labels that have a more close knit, sort of family style vibe. We love Visible Noise but in the end we signed with Xtra Mile and like Laila said it was a really good decision and we’re totally happy with what those guys have done. We could have signed with someone else, basically there was a big label that was very interested in signing us which was the main reason why it took so long. We didn’t end up signing with them and as soon as we signed with Xtra Mile it was announced that the A & R for them, the guy that was courting us had been usurped anyway and someone else was in, which is always the danger with big labels.

HTF: It seems a good time to be on a label like Xtra Mile, when this year an artist like Frank Turner played Wembley.

Laila: Yeah that was massive.

Barney: Yeah that was at the time as well, while it was not Xtra Mile that got him there, it was him and his fanbase and his talent that got him there, Xtra Mile have got the infrastructure to keep up with that, that’s what you need.

Laila: They’ve dedicated a lot of time, focus and energy on Frank Turner.

Barney: And planning and decisions, I’m not saying it’s not their expertise but it wasn’t down to financial clout getting him there. It wasn’t like these bands that are on a label that’s got funding from a corporate brand like the label we were talking to. They’ve got bands that are very good rock bands that are massive now and in Kerrang every week but that’s from spending and spending. Xtra Mile and Frank Turner wasn’t like that, it was good planning, efficient use of resources and ultimately that means you owe the label less because if they’ve spent less on you to get you there and the decisions have been made right. If the labels just throwing money and throwing enough until it sticks, which has been the case for a few rock bands in the UK recently, then you owe them a load of money and you’ll never see a penny yourself.

HTF: He’s not an artist who’s been rammed down your throat.

Barney: No it’s been very organic, I saw him a few times when he started because my mates were in to him and I had those first few EPs but then I saw him about a year ago at the academy in Manchester and I was like wow. He’s really good and he’s really raised his game and deserves every bit of success he’s got. We played with him the other night and to see the passion of his fans and how much they love it, you can’t be jealous or anything but proud and inspired by it.

HTF: Just a few more questions we want to ask, what’s the story behind the space suits?

Barney: Our old mates Adequate 7 who were really good and in that sort of ska punk scene where we kind of came from. They had a poster for one of their tours and someone had drawn them in spacesuits looking at the sky but it was much better than the cover they used for their album which was this woman in headphones. I asked them why they didn’t use it and they said it looked too cartoony, but we’ve never been afraid of being cartoony. I emailed them because they split up in 2007-2008 asking if we could use that idea, and they said yeah just give us a little credit so it came from that. We were story boarding it and talking to Guy Mitchell who ended up doing an illustration for the back, I always wanted it to be like the poster for Blade Runner. But I always had that poster in the back of my mind, he was sending bits back and forth but there was never anything that was perfect and I thought we might as well push the button and do the space suits thing.

HTF: Finally I know you guys are wrestling fans if Vince McMahon offered you a WWE, what’s your entrance music?

Laila: Mine would be ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ by Guns N Roses, sorry that would be my entrance music.

Barney: I don’t know you’d need something English because you’d have to be an English character, like maybe a coal miner. I always liked the 80s wrestling gimmicks where they’d have like a plumber, or the guy that’s an ice hockey player that just happens to be wrestling. So I’d have coal on stage, and overalls, and a hard hat with a light so I’d need some coal mining music like Brassed Off, or like the Warburtons advert. My finishing move would be called the canary in the coal mine and I’d fly down off the top rope.

Interviewer: Gavin Lloyd

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