Three albums in and Mallory Knox are still providing their fans with the anthemic, roaring rock we’ve come to know and love from them.
Out now, and drawing influences from Thrice and Blink 182, new record ‘Wired’ is a rollicking journey from the five piece consisting of vocalist Mikey Chapman, vocalist and bassist Sam Douglas, guitarists James Gillett and Joe Savins and drummer Dave Rawling. We sat down with Mikey and Sam at the illustrious Gibson Guitar Studios in London a week before the release of their new record to find out more…
The album is coming out very, very soon now, how are you feeling about that?
Sam: Pretty good, it feels like it’s been a long time coming now, I was saying to one of my friends the other day that it doesn’t feel like yesterday that we were recording the album and that was in June, so I don’t really know where the last ten months have gone. It’s been a long time coming up to this point, I just want to get it out there now. Next week is one of those weeks that’s filled with so much shit in terms of releasing the album, we’ve got to try and push it as much as we can, I just want to get it out there and get next week out of the way so we can properly enjoy the album.
What are the main themes that run through this record?
Mikey: There’s a few themes but when we were writing it there were no preconceived ideas of what we were going to write about. Each song speaks to you individually and the tone and the themes of that song come from the vibe and the sound – we never sat back and went, ‘We’re going to write about this and we’re going to write about that.’ However when you take a step back away from the music and you think about the themes, I think there’s a lot to do with accountability and growing up on this record in various forms in the music and in our personal lives. There’s a lot of changes happening and realisations mentally about what you’re responsible for, what you’re capable of and what you should be doing as you get older and a little bit wiser I suppose. That’s quite a big thing that runs quite subtly throughout a lot of the songs.
You touch upon mental health on this record too, do you think it’s something that needs to be spoken about more, especially in the music industry?
Sam: I think people need to be able to feel comfortable so that they can say what they want to say without to dilute it or be in fear of getting hounded for the next four months about the same thing over and over again. Obviously because it’s such a taboo subject once we’ve spoken about it I’m fully aware that for the next five or six months, because we’ve released a song which is about mental health, it is a question that we are going to be asked now, it’s going to be one of the main talking points. I don’t know if that’s a good thing because once someone’s said it they might not necessarily want to talk about it all the time, but I think it’s definitely something that needs to be spoken about in a way that people feel comfortable to say what they want to say and in the way that they want to say it instead of feeling like they can’t, or feeling like if they talk about it they’re going to have to talk about it all the time. The weird thing is it’s such a well-known thing now that so many people suffer with but because so many people are too scared to talk about it, it gets talked about by those people over and over again because other people can’t.
Mikey: I was reading some articles recently, I think Stormzy did one, Professor Green and other people like that, who are coming forward and speaking about mental health and it’s a fantastic thing but it’s also a shame that they even have to do that. Our government and our health care system isn’t geared up in any sense, in my opinion, enough to deal with the amount of issues that people are having more and more increasingly as the years go on. I think that people are having to talk about it now out of necessity to bring it into the light instead of the people in power actually doing it themselves. It’s a bit irksome that even has to be done but we’ve addressed it in a song and we’re really happy to have done that and to have hopefully helped a few people.
What music were you listening to when you were making this record and has it bled through at all?
Sam: I think it does, Thrice released their album halfway through our writing process and without that record I don’t think we would have ended up writing two or three of the songs that made the album. Dustin Kensrue’s voice, his lyrics and the melodies he comes up with is something that I didn’t really appreciate when I was 16, but now at 27 I find him as a songwriter just fascinating, so we definitely took a few influences from the Thrice album. We’re all so different in terms of what we listen to, James and Joe are very based at the moment in terms of old school guitar music and I’ve always been an emo at heart. My tastes have got better and matured over the last three or four years from when I was listening to Blink 182 every day, but bands like that still played a huge part in terms of writing this album. There’s still melody lines on the record, like Mother for example, the pre-chorus never would have been a melody I would have written without having Mark Hoppus in my life for the last 12 years. It’s wasn’t even just music it was what’s going on in the world influencing a lot more of the lyrical side of it. In terms of the music as well, the reason there’s so much aggression and attitude into the music was influenced from our actual emotions at the time. I’ve been a lot more frustrated and I almost feel a bit tied down at times when you’re in a band trying to make everything work, but also trying to make being away from home for three months work with what’s going on at home. I guess the reason why you listen to angry music or frustrated music is because it’s suiting your mood at the time, that’s probably why the Thrice album was so good for me.
Do you guys feel like you have a duty to speak out about issues in society?
Mikey: I don’t necessarily think so, I’m very opinionated on those things and I feel like, not that it’s my duty but I like to think that in some way you can enlighten, help and move things along. As much as I say that, I do think you’ve got to think a bit further down the line and you have to think about the people that are listening to your music and the age they are and the age they will be one day, as well as the decisions that us as a nation and global community will eventually have to start thinking about making. To some degree I think if you can eke out a small amount of lessons, notions and ways of thinking in your music then that’s a very commendable thing to do, but music is about what it’s about for you. Some of the most incredible bands in history have been protest groups, people who have made points and stands on love or equality or whatever but at the same time some of the other most phenomenal bands in the world have been about having a good time and getting drunk with your mates. Music is ambiguous in that way and I think it’s certainly not a duty but it is a privilege to do something like that.
You’ve got a very anthemic sound, do you ever listen to anything that’s a bit more mellow?
Mikey: That’s all I listen to! Obviously I still catch the odd banger but it’s really got to hit home with me in that regard. For me I like the singer-songwriter, country folk kind of thing – Sam and I have a bit of a link in that one. Sometimes you can find some fantastic melodies that transpose very well into a larger band format in places you wouldn’t expect, for example some meek, mild country or folky singer ends up having some amazing hooks or some amazing riffs that you can take influence and inspiration from.
What’s your opinion on the Cambridge music scene?
Sam: The fact that we’re taking Lonely The Brave out on tour with us, and they’re from Cambridge as well, I think we do Cambridge alright, in terms of our scene anyway, but we had fucking Pink Floyd back in the day. I think Cambridge, just going back to when we started, was just dead and it was very fucking pop punk and that was the only way forward to do it. Since then though what we’ve realized with Mallory is that you’re not going to get big from being in Cambridge every day you’ve got to go to London and make trips, but in terms of Cambridge as a whole the venues and stuff have got a lot better. I went to The Portland Arms, which was the first ever venue we played when it was all black, it was like walking into a big black box basically, and they’ve done it up so nice now. I’d like to think that that venue in specific has got their fingers on the pulse with up and coming bands. There’s a band called The Amazons that I recently heard of and I’ve been following them ever since and they’re playing The Portland Arms so I want to go and watch that, and that night All Time Low are playing the Corn Exchange and another band are playing The Junction and I’ve never known of that in Cambridge. Normally you’d have to wait around for one good show every three months and now you’ve got three good shows in one night.
Mikey: We’re rooting for it.
That’s such a good thing because everything does tend to be so London-centric…
Mikey: Definitely and with Cambridge itself it’s fed by the outer towns and villages so a lot of the foot fall at shows in Cambridge has to be timed just right. If someone’s got a 30 minute bus ride out of town into the middle of nowhere back home by playing too late it doesn’t happen, or if you play on the wrong day it doesn’t happen, you play in the wrong part of town where buses don’t reach it doesn’t happen, if you’ve got a young demographic where their parents will have to pick them up it doesn’t happen – so it’s not like London or Manchester where it’s fed by the community that lives in the city who can get the number four at any time of the night. It’s a city that, musically anyway, is fed largely by these smaller outer villages and I think until that modernises a little bit it’s always going to be quite difficult.
Sam: If you want to be a musician or if you want to be an actor you move to Manchester or London, if you want to go to uni you move to Cambridge.
Mikey: That’s it! It’s good for a few things.
Because the other guys aren’t here could you give me a little description about them?
Sam: Dave is not too far short of crazy, he’s a ticking time bomb.
Mikey: He’s a sweetheart, Dave. He’s quite big and scary looking but he’s got a heart of gold, he’d do anything for you and he has an energy about him that is quite rare. I haven’t met many people that have an energy like Dave does and it’s always something that can pull you out of a shitty day quite easily with a sentence or two. Joe is sharp as a tack, it blows my mind sometimes just how quick and witty he is, much to my dismay because I like thinking I’m a bit witty, but I’m straight up not. He’s a fantastic musician who brings a great energy to the band and a creativity that I don’t think he even realises sometimes that he does, which is fantastic. James is astute, he’s got a great business mind on him, he understands what it takes to make Mallory and the way all of this functions, he really keeps it all together and keeps it running well. Him and Joe both live and breathe the rock ‘n’ roll notion and this band is certainly a fulfillment of that for them and it’s really nice to watch that bud and grow in them. It’s cool, we’ve got a good little group together for sure.
As we’re in the Gibson Guitar Studios, if you could be any musical instrument ever what would you be and why?
Mikey: I’d be a piano so I could learn myself and I could play stuff like that [gesturing to the piano playing outside the room], I think the piano is so versatile and I’d like to think I could be a versatile instrument.
Sam: I’d say an acoustic guitar because no matter how messy or loud it gets you can always go back to that and it will sound like the original idea as it was supposed to be. That’s a fucking good answer!
What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked but haven’t yet?
Mikey: How did you get to be so awesome? No one’s asked me that and I’m waiting [laughs].
Well, how did you get to be so awesome?
Mikey: No, no, no, see that’s why it’s never been asked because it’s really cringey! I don’t know, that’s a good question.
Sam: Mine’s not even a question, I’d love to be able to do an interview where I get to talk about nothing but the album, song by song, for like an hour. I’d get to talk about each song on the album, how it was written, how it was created, how we processed it, why it was difficult to record and why it was fun to record – I’d love to talk about that side of it for like two hours one day.