|The More I See are the band most rock/metal journalists dream of finding. Possessing a sound made up of ferocious guitar play, dark lyrics, and gritty vocals that come mixed with melody and crystal clear production, The More I See breathe life into the heavy metal of our dreams. They've also got a hot new album a lot of people missed in 2008, which is a crying shame. With last year's "The Unholy Feast" The More I See should have had the success that has been eluding them till now—but better late than never, right? Axeman Gav King does the talking here about his band's album, playing live, and what he got for Christmas. The more you read, the less you will doubt.|
Hello The More I See. Man, I've wanted to interview you guys for so long, goddammit. How are you all doing? Is everyone satisfied with how 2008 has treated The More I See?
Gav King: The beginning of 2008 was great. We got the final mixes of the album finished by Andy Sneap on January two. We had new management and a record label again. It was a buzz. Then in the spring we became the first Metal band to ever give away our entire album for free with the May edition of Metal Hammer two months before the official release date. In July the album, "The Unholy Feast" came out with awesome reviews in all the press but we didn't do anywhere near as many shows as we would have liked to do. Towards the end of the year we filmed a video for the title track, "The Unholy Feast," which looks awesome. We're gonna be releasing that pretty soon so stay tuned. Then just before Christmas Chad (Sutherland, bass) left the band. Fortunately we already have a guy in mind that we've started working with so we're not gonna be off the scene at all.
|Sometimes you need to try something a little different for added inspiration.|
The holidays were good to you? Got anything special for Christmas? Are you too old to be asked questions like this? Sorry.
GK: I got some cool stuff as well as the usual pants and socks!! I got a cactus in a skull!
How did The More I See end up joining the Transcend Media Group?
GK: We met Rob from Transcend at the beginning of 2007. He was into what we were doing and we were into what he was doing with his label so decided to give it a go. With a cool independent label that's also part of our management it's good as we have more control over our product and we're a priority. It was hard to get what we wanted across to SPV and then it was hard to get any answers from them or any action. We were pretty low on their priority list!
I actually learned about the band from the Incoming! Section of Metalhammer's May 2008 issue. I read the interview, checked your myspace, loved what I was hearing, and am now in the process of begging your label for a "The Unholy Feast" promo in exchange for reviews. Anyway, that piece of exposure is a good investment if you ask me (seeing as how it drew me in). But you know, I've been searching for a metal band that plays TMIS's style for some time now. I'm into Thrash, but I'm also into riff-driven, aggressive, Heavy Metal and so few people seem to be playing that style these days. That being said, my question is: Are the foundations of the band's sound—melodic, modern, with clean vocals, crunchy riffs—already in place? Or will TMIS start sounding even more old-school in succeeding albums?
GK: If you'd bought that copy of Metal Hammer from Tesco's then you'd have got our album free with it! There should be one in the post to ya. (ed.: Sad to say I bought mine secondhand in a faraway place outside the UK.)
Yeah, that's the main foundation but when we start writing again it could be more old school. It's hard to say exactly what it'll be like until we've got another couple of tunes under our belt. The vocalist that we're currently trying out has a very old-school voice so we'll see how it develops. But the main nucleus is a heavy, riff driven sound with hard but tuneful vocals. Three of us also have quite a punk rock up-bringing so there's always an element of that attitude in there as well.
In the same Metal Hammer article I just mentioned Gizz described "The Unholy Feast" as "Part cannibalism, part vampirism, part UK government." To be frank, what is he talking about? I know the songs inside it are gritty, but cannibalism and UK government?
GK: Well, the album really began as a concept with an idea about the illogical fear of death. Someone with absolutely enormous wealth, that can buy anything, but there's one thing that still bothers them – they're still going to die. So they have physicians to try to find a secret key to life. It's kind of a horror/vampire story but the album's been three years in the making and we ran into different things along the way. We kept the concept going but we realized that a lot of the songs stood out as their own individual things, some verging into politics.
Mention the phrase "The More I See," even in the context of it being a band name, and what first comes to my mind is the Discharge song from the early 80's whose chorus went "The more I see/the less I believe." I remember it having a great hook, nice melody, and lots of vinegar. Is this where the name of your band came from?
GK: When we were looking for a name for the band we had a list that we got down to two names. We chose "The More I See" because it can be open ended and cause different people to imagine different things when they think about it. The obvious one is "...the less I believe" but it can be taken way beyond that.
It eventually surfaces that your lead guitarist, Gizz Butt, has been doing music professionally for quite some time now, with the English Dogs, Prodigy, and such. How about the rest of The More I See? Any previous bands or projects the world should know of?
GK: Yeah, Gizz just doesn't stop. He has a hardcore side project based in Berlin called Doom Day as well as playing bass in Andy Sneap's band, Sabbat. I first started playing with Gizz in Janus Stark before we formed The More I See. Spike (Smith) even had a brief stint in that. He's done the rounds as well, he's played drums for Sona Fariq, the Damned and toured the world with Morrissey to name a few and is currently drumming for punk anarchists Conflict. And I play guitar in Fields of the Nephilim!
Were budget constraints—or the lack of any budget—the main reason for the gap between your first album and "The Unholy Feast"? And forgive me, but I seem to have missed this detail, but did Andy Sneap also produce TMIS's second record? What's it like working with the man?
GK: There were several reasons. Budget was one thing. We ended up having to pay for all the recordings by ourselves. It was recorded in three main sessions over two years recording four songs per session then the whole lot was mixed and mastered together by Andy at the end. Gizz did most of the production and it was Scott Atkins who recorded the majority of the tracks. Scott's been trained up by Andy so he knows what he's doing when it comes to getting a big fat guitar sound. We had a few other issues along the way as well...
Just after we'd done the first recording session the band went through a very down time with one member having a breakdown and needing some time out, another leaving for a couple of months, another needing time out for domestic family troubles, etc. I began to think that the album would never see the light of day but then everything started to come together, we did a few shows had found management and a label and were a band again...and we got the songs finished.
How did the band go about writing the material for "The Unholy Feast"? What do you usually do when a song you're trying to build up from a riff or a few lyrics isn't working?
GK: It nearly always starts with the riffs. We all write riffs and then compile them. Gizz is the main arranger as he writes the majority of the lyrics and vocal melodies so he gets all the riffs together and finds which ones go best with others and which ones compliment each other the most. Sometimes you can have an idea for a whole song straight off but it's usually from those riffs.
Some songs weren't working for a while, in fact "What is Worse than the Truth" was nearly scrapped at one point! We'd been working on it for a long time but something was missing. One day Gizz and me had a jam with an old friend who had a riff that we ended up ‘borrowing' for the chorus and everything just fit in perfectly after that. Sometimes you need to try something a little different for added inspiration.
Apparently there were some line-up changes between the first album and "The Unholy Feast." Can you be specific and name who went out and who took their place? Does that include you, Gavin?
GK: We had a different drummer on the first album. Spike joined the band as we started writing track for "The Unholy Feast."
How much live experience does The More I See have to its credit? Which gig had you performing to the smallest crowd in your careers so far? Then again, small crowds ain't a bad thing. How about the festival crowds? Done them yet?
GK: Since we started the band we have played all over Europe to anywhere between 20 people to 8,000 people at festivals. We've done some cool festivals and toured with the likes of Stuck Mojo and Exodus. We haven't done as much touring as we'd have liked over the past couple of years but all that will hopefully change this year!
You know, for most musicians its 20, 30 minutes to an hour of performing each night and god-knows-what before and after hitting the stage. What do you and the band usually do on such occasions? You just tweak your instruments pre-gig and then smoke cigarettes post-gig?
GK: I hardly drink at all before the show. With the technicality of the music you need to be really on it. We definitely make up for it after though.
Gavin, how far back does your involvement with the guitar go? You play any other instruments? Who were some of your idols back when you were still mastering the instrument up until now?
GK: I've played a bit of bass here and there but only really filling in. I got my first guitar when I was about 12. I was really into Slash's style and I learnt a lot of Metallica stuff. I was into all that kind of stuff like Megadeth and Prong before I got into the punk scene for a while. I really like Mick Jones style as well. He really knew how to embellish songs with the guitar.
I'm just wondering about Gizz, if he's being served tea by a waiter or receiving mail from the postman, do they go "Here's your (blank) Mr. Butt"? Or is he addressed "Mr. Gizz Butt"? Or is it just "Gizz"? What do people actually call him in real life? Is anyone allowed to mention his Christian name?
GK: He's known by everyone as Gizz. Even his parents call him Gizz nowadays, but yes we are allowed to mention his Christian name…
I haven't seen you guys play live yet. How intense is a The More I See performance? Any of you jumping around and doing flying kicks onstage? Or do you just stand where you're at and rip it? How does your frontman work the crowd?
GK: We are very intense. We move around as much as we can but some of the newer songs are a bit too technical to be doing star jumps off the drum riser and wind milling all the time! Gizz likes to pull a few guitar solo faces as well!
Do you actually think that the economic straits most of the Western world is now in could be reflected in the band's songwriting for the next record?
GK: I'm sure it will even if it's unconsciously. As I mentioned earlier the album started as a concept with a fictional story but the state of the world and Britain could not help but creep into that.
Aside from "The Unholy Feast" what are your top albums of 2008? Disappointments?
GK: My top albums of 2008 include Testament's "Formation of Damnation," the new Metallica and Slipknot albums; AC/DC's "Black Ice" (all the obvious ones), Machine Head's "The Blackening" (OK, this is 2007 but I listened to it a lot in 2008!); and David Gilmour's "Live in Gdansk" was pretty cool as well.
Does a lot of male-bonding go on when The More I See isn't rehearsing a set, writing new stuff, or inside the studio? Is there any pub in particular you all congregate to and get shit-faced in? Will I get slapped in the face if I asked you these rude questions in person?
GK: We try and see each other as much as possible but we're all really busy outside of the band as well so it's difficult. There are a couple of cool bars in Peterborough we go to and a club called "The Met Lounge" that plays rock stuff. We used to go to see bands at the Astoria (RIP) quite a bit and always went to the Crowbar for a few after.
It seems this interview has ended too soon. Unfortunately, we just don't have all the time in the world. Thanks for everything The More I See. How soon before the band is kicking ass live again?
GK: We'll be playing the Hellfire Festival at the Carling Academy in Islington at the end of February!