Above The Underground are a Pop Punk band from Chester who are a well known band in Warrington, thanks to their catchy songs and reputation for a consistently great live performance. They return to the Parr Hall this Friday (21st February), for the first Futureproof Promotion event, a promotional company set up for youths, to be run by youths. You can find out more information about the show here. But before then, we caught up with Bassist, Nick Barlow and Drummer, Brandon Icely, to talk about the debut Album, Pop Punk and their forthcoming tour of Russia!
[WAM]: The song, ‘I Was Never Lost’ talks about Will’s (Vocals/Guitar) life in a band, and how he contemplated whether it was the right choice, the band has out lasted many others , what do you attribute to that longevity?
Nick: I think mainly it’s been the 4 of us, and helping each other out. It’s great that we’re 4 like minded individuals that want the same thing in life, and this so far is the outcome. I’ve never really been good at much else and the band is where all my ambitions lie, and I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever stop doing. I’m pretty certain the other lads feel the same.
Brandon: The drive that each of us have and the sheer will to want to do well has shaped our band I personally think, Above The Underground would simply not work with any other 4 members, I couldn’t imagine being in a band with 3 other people, Will, Al and Nick are my brothers and my best friends.
[WAM]: You’ve had a busy few months recording your debut album then touring in Europe with Me vs Hero. Which do you enjoy the most?
Nick: It’s hard to decide on which one we enjoy the most, touring is one big adventure and it’s always fun to be out on the road, experiencing different countries, people and cultures. But then again, there’s nothing more fun than the creativity of being in a studio, and hearing everything come together. For me personally, it’s touring. It’s just so much fun!
Brandon: I enjoy both if I’m honest there are pros and cons to them both, I really enjoy the recording process especially after I have done my bits because I can sit back and relax (haha). Touring is so much fun meeting new people is always great playing in different countries is awesome, downfall of touring for me personally is lack of sleep but more with me being a fussy eater I don’t eat a great deal when on tour.
[WAM]: And of course, just back from tour, how did it go, anything unexpected?
Nick: The tour went well, it was great to be out with a band like Me Vs Hero, personally I’d listened to the band for years, so that was fun being out with a band that I personally enjoy too. On tour there’s always the unexpected, Austrian police fining us €500 and a show getting shut down, but it never really comes as a surprise, because that’s all in the small print when it comes to touring.
Brandon: I still find it bizarre when we play a show and there are people who know our music know our songs and stand there singing every word with Will it’s just crazy.
[WAM]: Next up for band is Russia! How did that come to be?
Nick: Our booking agent, Steve (Distortion Bookings) has the same mentality as us. We want to tour, anywhere, and everywhere we can. He just asked us out right if we wanted to do some dates out there, we couldn’t refuse.
Brandon: Steve has always got ideas floating around for us and he basically told us we have a Russia tour so…. We were like! right on! Let’s do it
[WAM]: I suppose a highlight of live shows from a band perspective is when you get that buzz from crowds who sing along, especially when you’ve never played that town or even country before?
Brandon: Yeah like I said previously it’s just incredible that we exist out of the UK because we were so sceptical going out to Europe for the first time but it really excelled all our expectations and more.
Nick: It’s definitely a surprise, but it’s always cool. We go on tour expecting a few people to know us here and there, but when we go to a town we’ve never played and there’s people singing back, it’s always a humbling experience knowing that our music has reached this part of the world, and so much that those people have come out to see us. Just takes some getting used to I guess.
[WAM]: The album (Sonder) really is fantastic, you recorded once again with Matty O’Grady (You Me At Six, Don Broco), how important is a producer to you and does the familiarity suit the band?
Nick: Very important. Matty has always been good for us, pushing us in the right direction and helping us out in the right direction of things. We’ve established a great relationship with him over the years, and I don’t think we’ll ever use anyone else. He knows how we work, and we know how he works and that’s what I like about that whole process. He’s a great guy, and definitely is the right sort of guy for what we do.
Brandon: He is an amazing producer and musician and a great guy to know really. His portfolio as I’m sure many people in the music industry know is incredible and it’s an honor to be in and amongst them bands.
[WAM]: The album was released on Monday (17th), the follow up to the free EP ‘Autumns’, How do you think the band has developed then?
Brandon: I think there is a more mature edge to it and the musicianship shines throughout, I feel that you can tell we have moved on and have grown up a lot.
Nick: It’s been nearly two years since we last released something, we’ve all gone through personal experiences and toured a lot. I think this reflects in ‘Sonder’ itself and even the meaning behind it. I think it’s just knowing how to go about things, and having a lot more time to write, and the outcome was great.
[WAM]: To jump back to that record, touring is expensive then there’s rehearsal rooms, equipment, recordings, what made you decide to release Autumns for free?
Nick: Because we feel like why would anyone want to pay for music for a band that they haven’t heard. I think it’s worked in our favour, especially from the download figures (1500 in a month!). It got people initially interest in our band and then that works in it’s own favour, because then we already have a fan base for when we released our first full length. Just made a lot more to us sense to put it out for free.
Brandon: We’re not in a band to make money we do it for the love of it because we enjoy playing music together for people.
[WAM]: The website Pop Punk World recently discussed what is -pop punk- what does pop punk mean to you?
Brandon: Pop punk was the genre that got me into wanting to play an instrument in a band. It was the likes of Blink 182, Sum 41 and Simple Plan that did it for me, so being able to tour in a pop punk band around the world for me is my thanks to pop punk for dragging me in (haha).
Nick: Pop punk for me is a genre of music, I could say it’s a way of life to maybe. But that’s just what it means to me, I could go into detail, but we’d be here forever.
[WAM]: You must have seen many bands play alongside yourselves, who do you recommend for bigger things in 2014?
Nick: Many bands, but our lads in Fountains, Bison, On My Honor and Me Vs Hero.
Brandon: I believe Roam are an upcoming band we played with them recently in Wrexham they are awesome guys and a great band, also our friends from the Czech Republic called Sky Walker they are incredible and they deserve so much credit I would go as far as saying there one of the best bands I have ever seen live!
[WAM]: Above The Underground return to Warrington this week at the Parr Hall, the town has been good to you in the past, could almost call it a 2nd home?
Nick: Warrington is a place that’s always been good to us, I personally love playing there and seeing the same faces coming out to the shows and growing with us as mates or fans. I’m just very excited for the show on Friday!
Brandon: Over the many years and shows we have played there we have gained a strong following and many friends and of course it’s the home town of our best friend Joey, so it’s always great to catch up with him.
[WAM]: If you could give your younger selves advice, back when you were starting off, would you say ?Nick: Don’t f**k about basically. It takes every band a while to find their feet, just kinda wish we’d wrote autumns three years earlier.
[WAM]: And finally, one of my favorite tracks on EP has been ‘Return to Point Pleasant’.. Where you you like to return to in the future?
Nick: Anywhere in the world, places that have been good or bad to us. It’s always an experience and it’s always great to be in the world. I personally love America, so I think a US tour is on the cards, for sooner rather than later.
Brandon: I would like to return to Knoxville, Clinton, Lake City Tennessee, I have alot of friends there that I love dearly!
Interview by Lee Harman
‘Sonder’ is out now on iTunes and the Above The Underground Bandcamp page here.