Back when we launched Already Heard in 2012, we took great pride in endorsing a whole host of up-and-coming bands through our “Recommends” feature. Unfortunately, over time our focus has moved away from the feature, that is until now.
Today, we’re relaunching “Recommends” as a monthly breakdown of worthwhile new bands that you need to know about. Every month, we will be introducing you to a host of fresh acts through bite-sized interviews.
Figure It Out
The origins of Figure It Out begin in the backyard of a college party. There, Mike Weakley is playing a show to fellow students. Fast forward six years and a couple of EP’s later, he’s now fronting a band with a proven flair for writing huge, simple pop-punk songs.
Now as they drop their third EP, ‘Silence Isn’t Golden’, the quartet, completed by Jake West (guitar), Sully Doolan (bass) and A.J. Ward (drums), have delivered a solid set of songs that take their cues from anthemic turn-of-the-century punk and irresistible pop-infused hooks. With a wealth of pop-punk bands craving for attention, Figure It Out’s energetic and meaningful style isn’t one to be ignored.
For Fans Of: State Champs, New Found Glory and Sum 41
AH: ‘Silence Isn’t Golden’ is your third EP. Can you give us a quick overhaul on the history of Figure It Out?
Mike Weakley (vocals/guitars): I played a backyard party show at the end of my senior year while attending The University of Arizona and received a lot of positive feedback. After graduating, I wrote ten songs inside of my friend’s garage studio in 2012. From there, I formed a full band and started playing shows around the valley of Phoenix with a couple members coming and going. We recorded two EP’s, three singles, and now ‘Silence Isn’t Golden.’
AH: Besides being four slices of anthemic pop-punk gold, what else should we know about ‘Silence Isn’t Golden’?
Mike: I really wanted a more serious tone to the EP than previous. I’m hoping it can make the listener get a little bit more “feels.”
AH: How do you think the band’s sound has grown on this EP?
Mike: We just went with a more simplistic sound. There aren’t many guitar riffs or crazy breakdowns. It’s very easy listening. It will help take us to the next step when writing a full-length record next.
You’ve played with a mix of metalcore and pop-punk bands. Has playing with the likes of Memphis May Fire, Seaway, Stick To Your Guns, Hit The Lights influenced the EP in any way?
Mike: Not so much influenced this EP, but the alternative scene is a family. All of the bands we have opened for have helped shape an idea of what kind of band we want to be. You don’t learn from a book in this business but by watching, listening and asking questions.
AH: With the pop-punk scene being overloaded with bands, what makes Figure It Out stand out from the pack?
Mike: There are a lot of awesome bands and it take’s time for someone to stand out. I’ve been at it for over five years now and now more than ever, I’m very confident with my voice. I’m pretty well rounded with my mix-belt style where I think it will take us to the next level if I keep working at it. We actually were in the running for a Ryan Seacrest show this summer called ‘Best Cover Ever’ and it really showcased my voice. After making the final round but not the show, we moved on to releasing ‘Silence Isn’t Golden’.
‘Silence Isn’t Golden’ by Figure It Out is out now.
Two years ago, Reading group Echoic delivered their debut EP, ‘Testify’, a collection of bold alt/pop-rock songs that put Connor Turner’s wide, soulful voice at the forefront. Now they’re returning with ‘Shadows of You’.
The five-track effort sees the trio expand their sound, taking in electronic elements, yet songs such as ‘Ghost’ and ‘Next To You’ retains their anthemic hooks quality. While a dark, raw lyrical undertone counters the adrenaline rush that the EP thrives on. The end result is a slick, ambitious and well-executed EP that means Echoic aren’t ones to be ignored.
For Fans Of: Young Guns, Mallory Knox, and Don Broco
AH: It has been two years since you released your ‘Testify’ EP. Besides becoming a trio, what else has happened during that time?
Connor Turner (vocals): A lot of things have happened since 2015. Last Autumn we returned from a headline tour in Europe and festival slots in America. As soon as we arrived back in the UK, we headed straight into the studio to record this EP. This year has been full of a lot of planning and polishing, but more importantly writing for the next record.
AH: Moving on to ‘Shadows of You’, it seems the band’s sound has incorporated electronic elements this time around?
Connor: Yeah, I guess I have pioneered us to becoming more electronic and I have to say it took a long time to produce all the ideas and elements that are present in the tracks. Not many people realise this but there were some subtle electronic sounds and synths in the last EP (‘Testify’) but overall it’s very clear that it’s not as subtle this time round in ’Shadows of You’.
AH: In terms of your songwriting, how do you think it has developed on this EP?
Connor: I’m super proud of everything we’ve released but I believe this EP stands out as the beginning of us finding our sound. In the past, we’ve been critiqued on our sound being fairly undefined, so this time round I wanted to create something that would tackle that kind of feedback in a constructive way. On the other hand, I would argue not much has changed lyrically, whatever I write still often comes from my own raw impulses and emotions and from a place of truth.
AH: From hearing the EP, it seems you have discovered your strong points while expanding your sound pallet. How would you sum up the overall tone of ‘Shadows of You’?
Connor: I’m glad you think so, I would say there’s a dark, upbeat and anthemic vibe musically, paired up to lyrics that uncover the rawness of my own experiences. Without giving too much away, this is about my truth and my story, I hope that by sharing it I could help someone out there as it demonstrates the adversities I’ve faced.
‘Shadows of You’ EP by Echoic is out now.
With the “pop-punk revival” here to stay, Portsmouth newcomers High Down look set to make waves with their debut EP – ‘Moving On’. With their roots in metalcore, the EP sees the quintet embracing anthemic hooks and infectious melodies. With influences coming from a variety of pop-punk high flyers, past and present, ‘Moving On’ is five pizza-sized slices of promising pop-punk. Songs such as ‘Against The Tide’ and ‘Life Lessons’ are larger-than-life and simply contagious. Having already played festivals such as Butserfest and Teddy Rocks Festival, High Down are heading in the right direction.
For Fans Of: Neck Deep, New Found Glory and State Champs
AH: Can you tell us how High Down came together? We hear some of used played in metalcore bands before?
Luke Smithson (vocals): We’ve all been in bands previously, predominately heavier bands. Writing and play this genre of music is new to us, however, it’s something we’ve all always wanted to do. The band originally started with myself and Tim (ex-bassist) as we knew each other through our previous bands. We talked about how we wanted to start a pop-punk project and it kind of just went from there. We met the rest of the guys through friends of friends and from searching for members online. We just got together and seemed to gel really well.
AH: ‘Moving On’ is our first EP and sees your wear your pop-punk influences on your sleeves. How would describe the EP to new listeners?
Well, if you like bands such as Neck Deep, State Champs and As It Is then you should love what High Down has to offer. We believe we have a sound that can only ever be identified as High Down, however, we are still trying to find our sound.
We all have influences and we do stick within the pop-punk boundaries, but we add our own flavour to create something new. Our EP offers various styles with the slightly heavier tracks like ‘Against The Tide’, the powerful punching ‘Life Lessons’ and the more mellow, acoustic track ‘Rescue Me’. This EP will give listeners a taste of the various sounds we have to offer on future releases. This is just the start and we have plenty more in store.
AH: Although you’ve only been together for just over a year, you’ve already made a handful of notable festival appearances and support slots. How have these helped developed the band’s sound and the EP?
Luke: Honestly, not really. The EP was written prior to when we began playing shows and festivals. They certainly helped us build confidence and grow tighter at performing as a band. It’s given us great opportunity to play our songs to large crowds and find out what works well and what doesn’t.
With the pop-punk scene being so crowded, and as a new band, have you found it difficult to stand out from the pack?
Luke: I think in any band of any genre, it’s always going to be hard to get noticed and stand out. We’re happy with the progress we’ve made and the audience we have built so far, however, we understand the challenges we face in the pop-punk scene. In some ways, having all the new, upcoming and established pop-punk bands is building more hype around this type of music making it easier to appeal to fans of the genre.
AH: Beyond the release of ‘Moving On’, what’s next for High Down?
Well, with the recent departure of members, we will be revealing our new lineup shortly. We plan to introduce you to new music, new videos, more festival appearances and a UK tour to follow. Keep them eyes peeled.
‘Moving On’ EP by High Down is out now.
Emerging from Brighton’s ever burgeoning scene comes Chalk Hands. Although they only formed just months ago, the quartet have got straight down to business and have delivered a debut EP. While ‘Burrows & Other Hideouts’ might just be two songs, Chalk Hands still make an impression with their clash of screamo and post-rock. ‘Burrows’ is a ruckus affair with heavy passages and an emotional core. Whereas ‘Arms’ takes a more cathartic route; one moment it’s chaotic, the next tranquil.
For Fans Of: Pianos Become The Teeth, Envy, and Russian Circles
AH: You’ve only been together a few months. What’s the backstory on how Chalk Hands came together?
Tommy: Antoine (Mansion – Guitar/vocals) had written and made bedroom demos for many sections of songs, he brought the band together wanting to make something out of the parts he had written. I’ve been friends with him for a few years now and despite him being in other bands, I know that he had to come out of his comfort zone to bring this one together. My first meeting with our drummer (Sam Barnes) and bassist (Mateo Leganes Fontenea) was our first day in the rehearsal studio. It’s quite a scary thing, turning up in a small room with people you don’t know and playing music. Our first few practices were a tad clumsy but we got on really well. We all like similar music and we were all just along for the ride, happy to see what came out naturally using the song sections that Antoine had brought to us in the first place.
AH: You’ve wasted no time and are releasing a two-track EP. What can you tell us about ‘Burrows & Other Hideouts’?
Tommy: ‘Burrows & Other Hideouts’ is largely about the vastness of life itself, and our minuscule and arguably insignificant part in it. It’s especially about finding your safe place within it all, a place where you can hide from the daunting aspects of life and try to thrive in your own little bubble.
AH: The EP was recorded at the famous Ranch Production House with Neil Kennedy and Daly George. How was the experience working at such well-known studio?
Tommy: The process of recording was exciting; having a chance to listen to the songs in another environment and being able to tweak little sections until we eventually had something that was beyond our expectations. It was also really nice for the band to be away together for the first time, meeting other bands at the studio. It was great getting to hang out away from our busy lives in Brighton.
It was a challenge but also a huge pleasure. Everyone was well prepared for the session. Mateo and Sam got their sections down quickly. We have Neil and Daly to thank for being patient through the tuning difficulties me and Antoine, as well as being professional and easy to get along with.
AH: ‘Burrows & Other Hideouts’ only consists of two songs. Are you working on new material at the moment?
Tommy: Yeah, we are writing at the moment. We aren’t certain what the songs will be for just yet but know that we aren’t looking to slow down any time soon.
‘Burrows & Other Hideouts’ EP by Chalk Hands is out now on Future Void Records.
Meet Ledges. Consisting of high school pals Andy Hoffman (vocals/rhythm guitar), Matt Gregory (bassist/keys) and Alex Hoffman (drums), the trio are based out of Akron, Ohio and have just released their debut album – ‘Homecoming’. Sitting in the indie rock spectrum, the album expands on the foundation 2014’s ‘The Indian Summer’ EP provided, embracing elements of 80s synth-pop. ‘Homecoming’ also sees the three-piece embrace a concept that sees the central character question his beliefs, become infatuated with a girl before she ditches him for a former love and he heads down a dark spiral.
Overall, Ledges produce an intriguing and detailed set of songs that are collectively reflective, demonstrating the trio’s maturing songwriting.
For Fans Of: The Japanese House, From Indian Lakes, and All Get Out
AH: What’s the story behind Ledges coming together?
Andy Hoffman (vocals/rhythm guitar): Man it’s been a long journey! Me, Matt, and Alex have been friends since high school so we’ve been playing music together in some capacity since then. Things started out rough back then and we put out some songs that we hope that no one ever finds, but we’ve stuck with it and over the years as we have matured as people and musicians. I think our sound shows that.
Our good friend John [Merkel] joined the band when we were in college and tracked everything on our ‘The Indian Summer’ EP. He’s a phenomenal guitarist, and a total pedal/tone geek. He was a part of a few songs on this album as well, but part way through the recording process he decided amicably to not be in Ledges anymore. Thankfully our friend Cory Heddleston jumped in and finished the album. He’s brought a lot to the band because he’s crazy good at guitar but also brings a lot with his character and demeanour.
AH: We get the impression ‘Homecoming’ is a concept album revolving around a character. Can you tell us more about the record?
Andy: It is a story that follows a character who is basically a combination of all of us in the band. The album starts with the character deconstructing his faith/worldview. He then meets a girl who then leaves him for someone in New York. After the girl is gone, the character is kind of back to square one and that causes him to spiral to a dark place, but the album ends on an open ended redemptive note; that no matter how low you feel there’s hope even when you can’t see it.
What’s really cool about this album is that not everyone in the band believes the same thing when it comes to faith and love but I think that makes this an album that’s accessible to anyone regardless of their background. We really hope that people relate to the emotional rollercoaster of this album and that it speaks to a situation they’ve been in in the past or maybe something they’re going through right now.
AH: With the album following a narrative of a character, were there any other concept albums or books that influenced you when you were writing ‘Homecoming’?
Andy: Not one album or book comes to mind, but I do think that Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra has been a huge influence on how I write lyrics. His in-your-face yet poetic style of dealing with hard topics is something I’ve really related to over the years. I also think ‘The Season’ by All Get Out was an influence because that album really flows musically and thematically.
AH: In terms of the band’s sound, you fit in the indie/alternative mould but with a hint of 80’s synth popping up through the album. For new listeners, how would you sum up Ledges’ sound?
Andy: I think basically how you put it! We’ve held to the “skeleton” if you will of our indie rock roots but we’ve mixed in a lot more production on this album. A lot of that was inspired by the 80s because it was such a cool era of sounds and audio production. We’ve all been super into that the past year or two.
AH: After ‘Homecoming’, what’s next for Ledges?
Andy: We’ve got some really cool shows coming up in the fall and hitting some cities we’ve never been to before, which we’re stoked about! We also hope to develop, create, and release a lot of visual and live content in the coming months. We’ve been working with some really talented people on a couple projects in that realm, but I won’t give too much away just yet… but we’re doing that because we think that’s a really cool way for fans to interact with a band. Throughout all of that, we’re going to keep writing and working on new material moving forward.
‘Homecoming’ by Ledges is out now.
Brighton trio Puppet Kings don’t need some elaborate back story or image. They simply thrive on straight-up hard rock.
Formed by lifelong friends, Tom Cochrane (guitar/vocals) and Neil Sawyer (bass/vocals) in 2011, the trio, completed by drummer Harry Lehane, have been honing their brand of hard rock through a couple of EPs and support slots opening for Skindred, Black Peaks and more. Their third EP, the satirically titled ‘Very Cool & Groovy’, takes a plethora of influences and put them into a melting pot to create four slices of charismatic hard rock with tight hooks, slick riffs and swaggering grooves throughout.
For Fans Of: Guns N’ Roses, Foo Fighters and Alter Bridge
AH: Can you give us a brief history of the band?
Tomas Cochrane (lead vocalist/guitarist): Me and Neil (Sawyer – bass) were playing in a pop/folk/rock project for about six months and when that ended, we decided to do something a little bit old school and play the kind of music we grew up headbanging to. It all came together pretty quickly jamming some Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains covers with various drummers until Jake Faulkner came on board.
We released a few EP’s with Jake until the toll of playing in a rock band finally became too much. Then Harry Lehane joined us from Deaf Ape Disco. They were one of our favourite bands and Harry wasone of favourite drummers. Apart from being an incredibly nice guy, he has a very refined drumming style and a great singing voice so it was a real steal to get him in the band. This EP is our first with Harry and our first proper release where people are starting to sit up and take notice of Puppet Kings so we are very excited.
AH: And now you’re releasing a new EP called ‘Very Cool & Groovy’. No guesses to how you would describe it then?
Tomas: We hope it lives up to the title! We played a few shows with a band from Norway who described our music as being “very cool and groovy” and the phrase really stuck with us. They left quite an impression on Puppet Kings and often come up in conversation so it made sense. The title is a little bit tongue in cheek, like the video for our single ‘Otherside’, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But when it come to rocking out, we don’t mess around!
AH: From hearing the EP, there’s a definite old school hard rock sound to your style. Who do you consider your influences to be?
Tomas: I think this band has a good education in rock and understands its history. We like a lot of stuff that stretches back to the 70s Sabbath, Deep Purple, Zeppelin to current bands such as Mastodon, Black Peaks, Avenged Sevenfold, and Royal Blood, and everything in between; arena rock, grunge, noughties metal and more.
‘Very Cool & Groovy’ EP by Puppet Kings is out now.