Two years ago, Birmingham based band, Light You Up, recorded their first full-length album at The Panda Studios with Sam Pura (Basement, The Story So Far, State Champs) in Fremont, California. At the beginning of the year the band finally released their debut album 'All We've Ever Known' to a warm reception. Following the release, the band embarked on the Pure Noise Records tour alongside Forever Came Calling, Hit The Lights and Four Year Strong. We spoke to Tom Napier (vocals), Drew Masters (guitar) and Rob Taylor (guitar), about their time with Sam Pura, their thoughts on meet and greets and all things tour related.
HOW ARE YOU GUYS TODAY?
Tom: The whole tour thus far has been sweet. It's the fourth day and I feel like we've been doing it for two weeks. We’re absolutely knackered but we finally got a good night’s sleep last night. Glasgow was a messy one, there was a lot of floor sleeping and stuff like that.
WE’RE REALLY INTERESTED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR TIME WITH SAM PURA, WHAT IS HE LIKE?
Drew: He’s like the most unique person.
Tom: He’s super, super passionate about making a perfect record. It was difficult sometimes, he was like ‘yo, come on, we've got to get this done’ but it definitely pushed us to get the best sort of sound. Pre-production was really useful as well and not really something we’d done before with previous records and stuff. So the song, All We've Ever Known sounded hella different to what it does now. Like now, it’s got quite a traditional song structure, whereas beforehand there was some like weird bridge between and a couple of verses before a chorus would come in and stuff and Sam was just like ‘yo, guys this doesn't make any sense at all’. So there was kind of a lot of passing the songs. He was like ‘this doesn’t need to be there and it’s kind of irrelevant’ and whatever. So that was a real big learning curve for us.
Drew: That pre-production side where we spent a week going through the songs ripping them apart, we’d never had someone external, as in someone not in the band, who comes along and gives their opinion into our dynamic which was great. He made a big difference. The album wouldn't sound how it does without Sam. Sam’s definitely got his way of working which we kind of had to learn and work together in getting at. We’re really proud of how the album's come out, a big part of that is him. On top of that, it’s not that publicised that we also had Romesh a guy from Wales. He mixed the record and he also had a huge impact in making the album what it is. The combination of those two were a perfect storm for us. So it was really cool.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT PICKING WHO YOU WORK WITH? DO YOU PICK THEM OR WILL THEY COME TO YOU?
Tom: We picked, kind of I guess. It was a case of we were looking at doing the full-length or whatever and we we could have gone with Romesh. A big part of it for me was that I wanted to record somewhere out of the country because I wanted to be away from home-life distractions and stuff like that and really immerse ourselves in the recording process. So, being in a different country was kind of the big selling point for me.
Drew: That ended up becoming a really important element, being away. We lived in the studio for a month so it meant that even when Sam would go home, we would still practise until like 4 or 5 in the morning and we could because we were there. Whereas, we’d normally go home if we were back in England. That was really important. At the same time, once we’d kind of shortened down the people we’d like to work with, the thing that really stood out about Sam was that he really, really wanted to work with us. As a young new band you don’t know if you’re ever going to make a record and when you do you don’t know if you’re ever going to make another one. So we wanted to make this one everything it could be and we wanted to work with someone who wanted to work with us and Sam really stood out for that, you know.
WHAT WAS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE LIKE AT THE PANDA STUDIOS? WAS EVERY DAY DIFFERENT?
Tom: Yeah definitely. The whole thing was a wicked experience. Sam would take us to go and see some cool places around the city and stuff. In the evenings he would be really conscious of if we wanted to stay and write or if we wanted to go and have some down-time and have some beers and see some cool places and whatnot. There was definitely no routine and I thrive off that sort of thing.
Drew: It was an energised environment. We were so excited to be there. Sam was hyped on the songs. During pre-production, we were in a room together playing the songs, recording the album live at the time so that we could listen back and kind of tweak things and change parts of the songs. You've got Sam like jumping around the room in excitement and you just feed off the energy, it’s an amazing thing. So we did have some kind of routine in a way, that about 7 in the morning, every morning, he would burst into our room and dive on all of us and wake us up, singing songs, singing our songs to us. So I think that vibe is something that we’ll never forget. He’s the most energetic person I have ever, ever met.
Tom: From sun up, till sun down he was jacked up.
Drew: While there was some sort of routine, it was the most unpredictable atmosphere I've ever been in. Which made it another cool experience.
DID YOU GET TO SEE A LOT OF THE AREA WHEN YOU WERE OUT THERE?
Tom: Unfortunately not, we saw bits but the studio was in Fremont which is like the country side of San Francisco. So it was a good hour, hour and a half to the city center. But he took us out we saw some cool places and stuff. I think if I went back there’s definitely a lot more of the city I’d like to see but that definitely didn't dampen the mood of the recording process for sure.
Drew: What we did see was awesome. Over near Fremont there’s like San Jose and Palo Alto. There’s Google and Pixar. It’s a really amazing place to be. Twice a week we’d maybe drive into the city and go to a bar or something. We didn't get to see as much as we’d like to, but we weren't there to do that. We tried to make the most of that but we were also trying to make the record but it just cool to be in such a different environment.
DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD WORK WITH SAM AGAIN?
Drew: We've talked about bringing him over here to make a record and I think we maybe know a bit more about what we want now. I think he helped guide us really, really well to get to what the record ended up being but I think we know about more about what Sam is now and a bit more about what we’re about, so I think we’d be able to use Sam a bit more to our advantage as well as him helping us so much.
Tom: It’s almost been two years since we did the record, so I think we've all grown up a lot since then and personally I think I just want to keep on working with different people. There’s a lot of awesome producers out there at the moment who I think it would be really, really cool to work with. So, as and when the time comes and if it does, to record album 2 then I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it.
Drew: We’re already writing for the second record but once we've kind of got an idea of when that will be, we’ll figure out who’s best to facilitate that with us. But Sam’s definitely always going to have a place in our hearts.
Tom: I’m not going to forget the guy for sure.
WHO ARE YOU GUY’S FAVOURITE UP UK POP PUNK BANDS?
Drew: We do listen to pop punk but we listen to a lot of rock bands like Decade, who we think are fucking awesome. I don’t know if you would say that’s pop punk? But the UK rock scene is great right now. Decade great band, Verses great band. I mean, we’re good friends with a load of other UK pop punk bands but we’re more towards the Decade side of things, than the As It Is and ROAM side of things. However, they’re all great bands.
Tom: They’re all great bands, don’t get me wrong.
Drew: I think it’s one of those things where it’s great to be involved in all of those things right now. There’s loads of good bands, loads of good dudes, right? I’m trying to think of who else. Like Lonely The Brave.
Tom: That band man, are so good. Their most recent album is just wicked. I did a little run down on my favourite albums of last year and I’m pretty sure I put those guys at the top.
Drew: Yeah, I think you did.
Tom: Yeah that album is just really, really something special. His voice is really something.
Drew: And his style, the way he stands away from the front of the stage.
Tom: Yeah man. It’s cool, it’s really about the music, which I’m really on board with.
Drew: Moose Blood are cool, I like Moose Blood.
Tom: Definitely not a pop punk band but there’s a band called Black Peaks and their getting a lot of hype on radio one at the moment. If you don’t know that band they are weird as fuck but they’re cool. I get behind that a lot.
Drew: We do this thing where we have 10 songs each or something or 10 records each that we kind of throw around to each other, obviously not all pop punk, and it means it gives us all a chance to broaden our musical horizons so we all know the musical page each other is on. But right now, I would say there’s a lot of British bands. The British scene is really healthy right now. So we’re happy to be whatever part of it we are right now.
IF YOU COULD TOUR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHERE WOULD YOU WANT TO GO?
Drew: I really want to go to Japan. We have a label in Japan who look after us really well. We can go there when we’re ready to go there. We've had a few tour offers there and we’re just waiting for the right time. Now that the records out I think hopefully we’ll be going in the foreseeable future and also the states I guess.
Tom: I would love to do the States. I think there’s so much to see and there’s so many different vibes and different cultures within one place. I’d really love to do that. Australia would be wicked to see. I just want to see lots of the world and meet lots of different people. It’s great that we can do that with the band and that would be awesome.
IS THAT ONE OF YOUR MAIN GOALS, TO TOUR AND SEE EVERYTHING?
Tom: Yeah pretty much. Personal goals, I just want to see the world and I love playing music so if we can do both of them at the same time, that’s great.
Drew: I mean, we’re not expecting to make millions doing this; we just do it because we enjoy it and it’s something different and interesting. It’s helped us as people. So I think travelling is a massive positive part of being in a band and I think we’ll always try and get to wherever we can.
DO YOU THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE MISINTERPRET WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING IN A BAND. FOR EXAMPLE, PEOPLE OFTEN THINK BANDS MAKE A LOT OF MONEY..
Rob: 100 percent.
Drew: I think that’s changing though but yes in general, the way I looked at bands when I was going to shows at 15, 16 to then realising that many of those bands that I loved and sang every word to, I thought they were rockstars, but they were actually struggling financially.
Tom: Your idea of making it changes so much. Like, from when I was a kid going to shows and stuff, if I was to see myself now I’d be like ‘wow dude you've made it, this is so crazy’ and yet I’m 24 years old and I live at home with my parents and I make fuck all money from this band. But, we make enough to put back into the band and to a degree, we’re self-sufficient. So I guess in that sense we've made it. I think that view's always going to change. Once you've got to the next level, you realise exactly where you’re at. I think the main thing for us is people giving an interest in our band, that’s the most important thing. It’s about getting your music out there and sharing it with as many people as possible.
Drew: I think a thing we've seen over the last few years is that, for some reason or another, bands seem to want to guard this rockstar lifestyle-like façade because they think it effects how people see them as successful or not, whether they’ll get into your band and maybe if you’re super, super young you might think differently; ‘well they look like rockstars, so they are rockstars, I want to listen to them rather than someone who doesn't’. Whereas, part of our thing that we do is that we want to let people know that the sole reason we do this is because we love to play music and there isn't anything else that we’re getting out of it other than interaction with the people that want to listen to us and enjoy playing music. Obviously we’d love to be comfortable financially but right now that’s the sole reason why we do it so why hide that, we’re proud of it.
Tom: I don’t ever want to be something we’re not and pretend to be something we’re not. My favourite thing is to come outside before shows and after shows and hang out with the people. The patrons who pay money to come see us, I want to give them something to take home. I want to get to know those people. I’m awful with names but I’m good with faces and there’s been people that, you know, have come seen our shows over the last 2, 3 years or whatever and we actually hang out as friends. They dig our band and stuff like that and I’m interested in what they do. There’s some people that we met 2 years ago who were in college, who are now going to university, following their dreams and stuff. That’s important to me too.
YOU GUYS SHARED SOMETHING A FEW MONTHS BACK ABOUT HOW FANS CAN COME AND MEET YOU FOR FREE, DO YOU GUYS HATE MEET AND GREETS?
Tom: Don’t get me wrong, I do understand meet and greets and stuff. Like Four Year Strong are doing a really cool thing this tour. It is a meet and greet, but also an additional performance, doing an acoustic set beforehand so that’s like an extra show, so I can make my piece with that kind of thing. But it’s the meet and greets where, I’m not going to name and shame any bands because I’m not about spreading hate, but there are bands who charge fans obscene amounts of money..
Drew: To have a picture where they’re an arm’s length away .
Tom: Two or three seconds of their time, that makes me sick because I don’t think you have to pay to meet someone at all. We give a fuck about the people who care about our music so we’re never, ever going to do that meet and greet thing.
Drew: The fans or the people that listen to your music, are the people that care the most about you. There’s a fine line between them supporting you and you taking advantage of that support and I think if you’re straight up with your fans or with the patrons that come listen to your band, they’ll always help you. I think that type of arm’s length, meet and greet type of thing is covering up the fact that the band is trying to maximise the amount of money they make out of it just because it’s harder to make money in the music industry now. I understand from a business point of view but there’s ways to go about that in a better way for your fans, the people that put you there in the first place. I think Tom feels very strongly about it as we all do. The post that we put out about the meet and greet was in response to seeing a lot of other bands totally unconnected with this scene, it was devoid of any emotion, of anything else apart from the fact that they wanted to make extra money.
Tom: It was like ‘oh you like our band? Sick, give us loads of money’ and that’s it.
Drew: It’s not all bands, we understand that we’re super young and naïve and as we get older we’re going to have to become more independent and I guess there’s more pressure on supporting yourself and sometimes there’s that fine line.
Tom: From a business perspective, it does make total sense in maximising your profit and whatever but then I think there’s a level of morality and it shouldn't ever be at the expense of the fans. Rou from Enter Shikari put up a really good post a couple of months ago and he was talking about meet and greets and stuff, and he was saying how you should never have to pay for being in the presence of another human being because that’s just stupid, they’re just another human being, just like everyone else. I really back that mentality.
WHEN YOU’RE ON TOUR WHAT DO YOU GUYS EAT? IS IT FAST FOOD 24/7?
Tom: We try to eat as healthy as we can but it’s tough you know. Like sometimes we’ll wake up super late and we've got 3 hours until sound check and the drive is 2 and a half hours or whatever so we've got to smash it on the road and maybe we’ll pass a petrol station and we’ll have a MacDonalds. You’re like ‘we don’t want to eat crap food again but I’ve got to eat’. But there’s times like today we got here a little bit earlier and we had a bit of time to walk around Nottingham and stuff and we get some slightly better food.
Drew: It just depends on the day, we try and eat healthily. Over time we've tried to have vitamins and stuff on tour.
Tom: Berrocas every day, man.
IT’S SO LUCKY THAT YOU’RE ON TOUR WHEN IT’S MACDONALD'S MONOPOLY.
Drew: I think a few people have won some stuff on this tour. Well you know, like a free big mac.
Tom: Do you remember back in the day when it used to be half a million? Then like a couple of years ago it was like down to 10 grand or something.
WHEN YOU’RE ON TOUR AND STUFF HOW DO YOU WASH YOUR CLOTHES?
Tom: You don’t!
Drew: We try and wash our clothes at friend’s houses and stuff if it’s longer tours. I was lucky enough to do some US tours tour managing for other bands before. It was cool and it was a great experience but touring for like three weeks on this tour it’s kind of like right on the limit of getting by and wearing other band’s merch and going to a launderette maybe once or twice but as tours get longer across the states and stuff, and its hotter and you have to wash your stuff because it’s just not comfortable otherwise. But we survive don’t we? We’re still young.
DREW, DO YOU PREFER BEING BEHIND THE SCENES AS A TOUR MANAGER OR BEING ON STAGE YOURSELF?
Drew: It was a massive learning curve doing the tour managing stuff because I learnt a lot of the politics behind this type of thing. Which has made us, touch wood, avoid some pitfalls other bands fall in to. But at the same time it made me appreciate playing a show even more because I did tours for months on end where I didn't play.
Tom: You get the itch right?
Drew: Absolutely. Because you see people play every show and singing along to those words and you want to be part of that. Especially when you feel you have an outlet for that but it’s not there yet or not ready yet. So now we've obviously worked on this band and we’re pushing it and that’s what we do now. It’s fulfilling and fun. Spencer who’s our tour manager, we kind of do everything together and I co-manage the band as well. I still kind of get to fulfill that bit of the business interest and also get to play as well.
Tom: The best of both worlds.
HOW OLD WERE YOU GUYS WHEN YOU LEARNT TO PLAY GUITAR AND SING?
Tom: Early teens I would say.
Drew: You came out singing didn't you?
Tom: Yeah pretty much. I probably abused my voice in ways that a singer shouldn't but I feel like I get by. I understand my body to a degree. When I was like 7 or 8 years old I was really into Linkin Park and I would just try and imitate Chester Bennington’s voice and I definitely wasn't doing that shit correctly but I think because I've always sung like that my body has kind of adapted to doing that. I came off stage last night and I was like ‘oh no, I can’t speak’ but today I’m absolutely fine so it is just kind of taking it easy and knowing your body and stuff. But, I've been doing this for as long as I can remember. I started playing guitar at like 13. You guys started at about what, 10?
Rob: Yeah I was about 10.
Drew: Tom our bassist and I started guitar lessons, like classical Spanish guitar lessons when we were like 9. We learnt like ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and stuff and after about a year we both gave up because we weren't enjoying that and we both still had guitars and started teaching ourselves. We've known each other for years and I suppose it has just become something we do.
WHAT ARE FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF ALL TIME?
Tom: In recent years, Deaf Havana’s Fools and Worthless Liars. That album came out at the perfect time for me. James’s lyrics had a big impact on me and that has influenced my writing style recently. The Goo Goo Dolls put out a record in ’95. That was the first album that came out and got me interested in music. It’s the album with Iris on, everyone knows that song and it has some wicked other songs as well. Those two records are really important to me even though they’re like 15, 20 years apart. I love acoustic-y rock kind of stuff but I love lots of hip-hop as well and pop music is a big thing for me. I love pop music.
Drew:The Beatles are my favourite band ever. But at the same time that’s part of my growing up and stuff. I grew up listening to bands like that and also soul and Motown. Stevie Wonder and stuff like that. I’d probably say for me in terms of importance in writing and stuff Revolver by the Beatles and Inner Visions by Stevie Wonder are what I remember music as in terms of my earliest memories. I guess as you move towards things that shape us as musicians now, I’d probably say Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World. That was a massive album.
Tom: Page Avenue, man. That record is something weird. I didn't know the guys up until about four years ago and interestingly we were all massive Story of The Year fans when we were teenagers. We watched this DVD they had like to death, all separately.
Drew: And we didn't know each other at the time.
Tom: We've come together and everyone has been able to bond over that stuff.
Drew: Maybe another pop rock album that shaped my song writing is probably Ocean Avenue by Yellow Card. Tom our bassist and I listened to that album to death when we were like 13 and that’s always had the right balance in the way of like pop punk style and also that kind of summery radio rock vibe so that was important. It’s weird because there’s so many different records and we listen to so many different things. There’s always like those foundation albums that are important but we’re always listening to new stuff.
Tom: We just love music, man. The main thing about music is that we just love good music and that’s not genre specific. Make a good record and we’ll appreciate it.
THIS TOUR HAS ONLY JUST STARTED BUT IS THERE ANY SPECIFIC SONGS THAT GET THE CROWD GOING?
Tom: There’s stuff we put out on the Broken Jaw record which we get like a wicked fan response from. Foxfire, which was the lead single from the first EP and we re-did it for the album as well. That’s a big crowd favourite and we love and that’s a good party vibe.
Drew: All We’ve Ever Known, the new single.
Tom: As I said before, we did the record nearly two years ago so we’ve been playing these songs on and off for like the past 18 months or whatever. It’s weird, even before the record came out, because we’d played these songs however many times, people had come to see us and they knew the words before the album even came out.
Drew: We put out like maybe a 30 second preview of All We’ve Ever Known about a year ago...
Tom: On the ROAM and As It Is tour we did last summer.
Drew: And we put a preview out and about two days after we put that preview out, everybody just knew that part of that song when we played it. It was really cool.
Tom: That was crazy.
Drew: This tour’s an interesting one because we've gone from playing tiny venues to no one that cares, to playing tiny venues to a lot of people that care to now bigger venues where we’re playing early and we’re kind of like learning to get everybody into the vibe of the show. That’s a really cool thing for us. So part of it is that crowd response. But it’s also learning the songs that pack the punch in different ways. All We’ve Ever Known is definitely one of those and it’s like a compact rock song.
DOES IT FEEL GOOD WHEN YOU SEE PEOPLE SINGING BACK THE SONGS YOU HAVE WRITTEN?
Tom: Dude, it is unreal. It’s just mental you know. Myself and Drew are the ones who write the lyrics for the band, so some of the songs we write together and some of them we write separately. But the stuff we've wrote on like a balcony in Texas together at like stupid o’clock in the morning or stuff we started writing in our bedrooms just about how we feel about ourselves and the world and these situations. So, to go to these different places and meet people you've never even like seen before, knowing the words and singing the words and singing them with as much conviction as you wrote them with is the most humbling, rewarding feeling.
All We've Ever Known is out now!
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