Interview: Black Peaks

When someone in the music industry as influential as Zane Lowe says he’s been waiting for a band like yours for ten years, then you have some pretty big shoes to fill. Thankfully for Brighton quartet Black Peaks, they have the songs and talent to back up any hype that has been created in recent months.

Having originally gone under the name of Shrine, Black Peaks are set to have a busy summer. They’re currently on tour with Arcane Roots before playing a whole load of festivals. With appearances at NASS, 2000 Trees, Y Not, Hevy Fest, Arctangent and Reading and Leeds lined up, there is no excuse not to catch Black Peaks. Their brand of powerful prog-infused heavy rock makes the quartet one of the most exciting UK bands right now. And they’re yet to release their debut full-length. Nevertheless tracks like ‘Glass Built Castles’ and ‘Crooks’ showcase their musical versatility as well as the extraordinary vocal talents of Will Gardner.

Already Heard spoke to Will and guitarist Joe Gosney at the recent Hit The Deck Festival. The pair discussed the reason for the name change, the importance of radio airplay and playing festivals, their tour with Arcane Roots and their drummer challenging skateboard legend Tony Hawk.

AH: I know you were originally called Shrine. Was that name change due to a change in style?
Joe: Well bascially we went on a little run of shows the year before last in Spain. There was some press out there, a newspaper article, it was for a show we were playing and there was a picture of another band called Shrine. That was the start of us realising there were a lot of other bands out there called Shrine. It got to the point where we need to change it now or not change it and pay a lot of money for a copyright for the name. So we bit the bullet and changed it. It’s done now.

AH: Also easier to find on Google and all that.

Joe: Exactly.

Will: There were so many. We’d be on the fifth page on Google. All the other Shrine’s would come first. We spent a long time on finding a new name, then got into having the name Black Peaks. We were very happy when we go it.

AH: You’ve had some BBC Radio One airplay. How important is that for a band like Black Peaks?
Joe: It’s been amazing for us. Totally out of the blue especially with the sort of music we play. It’s been ridiculous. We’re so happy with all that. It’s helped generate a load of people who wouldn’t usually listen to our music but now do.

AH: Speaking of Radio One, I heard Zane Lowe gave you a call and said “I’ve been waiting for your band for ten years.”

Joe: Yeah that’s true. Where did he call you?

Will: I was in Lidl doing some shopping with my girlfriend. He called me up; “Hi is that Will?” and I’m like “yeah?” (laughs). “Will I’m really sorry to be cold calling you like this” That’s a really terrible impression but he was like “I absolutely fucking love the new record! It’s amazing! I’m going to play it now.” We were not ready. The song (‘Glass Built Castles’) wasn’t even mastered but they just heard (it) through our managers and stuff. They heard a version that was kind of ready and they were just “yeah we’re going for this.” We had to a shoot a music in four days. It was amazing but pretty nail-biting. Exciting stuff.

AH: Do comments like that add a weight of expectation especially when you’ve just got the one song out there?
Will: That is a very good question. Yeah I think so. People say we’re like a “hype” band and stuff. I guess there is an expectation for us to maybe be a mainstream band or to be something, but I think because our music is quite varied and really heavy live, I think people will often be surprised but in a very good way.

AH: From reading previous interviews, you seem the type of band that doesn’t stick to a certain formula and keep people guessing?
Joe: Yeah I guess so. Especially since Radio One decided to pick up ‘Glass Built Castles’ and play it a fair bit, we’ve had a few people ask us “do you write to a specification? do you write in order to get these songs on radio?” and honestly that has never been the case.

Will: We’ve got lucky man.

Joe: We’re four really good friends. We will just go into a rehearsal room and we write music that makes us happy and makes us excited. That is always the formula and if that ever changes, then there probably wouldn’t be a Black Peaks because that is the way we write music.

AH: So is the album done, ready and recorded?

Joe: Yeah it is. It’s finished. We can’t wait to get it out. There’s a few more things to be done but the music is recorded, everything is done.

AH: Hit The Deck is the first of many festival appearances?
Joe: Yeah we’ve been lucky. We’ve got a lot of cool festivals coming up.

AH: How have you found Hit The Deck?
Joe: Yeah it’s been brilliant man. It’s a really well organised festival. There are some great bands here and some cool people we’ve met as well.

Will: Good vibes.

AH: How important is it for a band like Black Peaks to play to new crowds at a festival like Hit The Deck?
Will: It’s integral. It is literally like the most important you could possibly do. I mean radio is amazing for getting your music out there to people, but touring and playing festivals, especially when you’re billed with similar kinds of bands its integral. It is the only way really. You could be played on the radio tons and tons but if you never play shows to people, those people will never see what you are actually like. But the radio does help us a lot to get out there.

AH: You need to perform live to get that connection with people.
Will: Yeah totally and then meet the people and find out what they do. One thing we’ve always tried to do is chat to people in the crowd and find out who they are, what they do, if they liked it, and all that.

AH: How do you think your set went today?

Joe: It was really fun.

AH: I enjoyed it but I was disappointed because it was busy at first but I don’t know if Cancer Bats were about to play but the crowd got smaller.
Joe: It’s definitely not the easiest spot of the day to play inbetween Monuments and Cancer Bats but we had so much fun.

AH: Going back to playing numerous festivals. You’ve got Arctangent, Hevy, Reading and Leeds.
Joe: Hevy for us, line-up wise, is super special.

Will: It’s sick! Dillinger, Thrice, Coheed.

Joe: Reading and Leeds as well…

Will: We’re going to be on the same stage, twice, with Mastodon and Gojira. For me that is more than a dream come true. They are literally our heroes. We actually met them (Mastodon) last year at Sonisphere. We hung out with Brent Hinds (Mastodon guitarist) for about 10 or 15 minutes before their set while they were watching Krokodil. He’s a super nice guy so hopefully we get to meet them again and hang out a bit more.

AH: With playing a festival as big as Reading and Leeds, is that something off your bucket list?
Will: Definitely! (laughs) I thought we would never even get close.

Joe: I actually went as a festival-goer 10 years ago to watch Mastodon, and now 10 years on we get to share a stage with them. That for me is the biggest thing that has ever happened. I feel quite lucky and privileged to do it. It’s going to be really fun.

AH: There’s some great line-ups all over the place this summer.
Joe: Hevy is going to be rad.

Will: 2000 Trees as well and NASS festival as well in Bristol. That is going to be sick. Liam (Kearley – drummer) is challenging Tony Hawk.

Joe: Liam is actually going to have a one on one battle with Tony Hawk to see who can land the 900 again. We think Tony Hawk is a bit over it.

Will: You can’t say that! (laughs)

AH: Well he must be in his fifties now?
Joe: Well you know he’s had his day. But yeah the only reason is going to NASS is the skate festival, and we’re pretty sure Liam is going beat Tony Hawk doing a 900.

AH: After this you’re heading out with Arcane Roots.
Joe: They’re really nice guys. They make awesome music.

Will: They’re becoming really good friends of ours. We fucking love Arcane Roots. They’re the nicest dudes you can possibly imagine. They’re really lovely and they’re such an inspiring band to watch and play with.

Joe: Yeah they’re good lads and very talented at playing their instruments.

AH: For our readers who might be thinking of coming to a show, why should they come?
Joe: Because it’s going to be fucking awesome. You get to see Arcane Roots! We’re going to play a load of stuff off our album that we haven’t played before, that is exciting for us and hopefully for everyone else that comes. If I was to go to that gig, I would probably just got and watch Arcane Roots to be honest. They’re going to be awesome.

Will: For us as well I think what is annoying is that people hear a name and not really any association, so for readers, if people who like Mars Volta, Mastodon, Thrice, Tool and a bit of Oceansize, and you mash them all together and try and make that work, we sound like that. So that might be peoples bag. (laughs) I think that is a good bit of persuasion.

Joe: And we’re going to be giving out Skittles.

Will: What!?! I can’t afford that.

Joe: That’s the word on the street anyway.

AH: So the next six to nine months you’ve got the tour, festivals and then the album will hopefully be out after?

Joe: Fingers crossed! We don’t have an official date but we’re really hoping to get it out this year.

AH: Are there any headline touring plans in the works?
Will: We’ve got some headline dates on this tour.

Joe: Yeah when we got the tour dates through, and obviously we rented the van and we’re out on the road anyway, there were a few dates that were free so we asked our agent to book them all up so we’ve got some headline dates. But hopefully around the album we will go out on a joint of headline shows but nothing is booked yet.

AH: Any closing comments to finish off?

Will: Come and see us live. Come and have a beer and chat. Go and see Mastodon. Definitely come and see us at Hevy Fest, definitely come and see us Reading and Leeds, and if not, and you can make it before it, then definitely come to the tour because it’s going be fucking awesome. We can’t wait to meet all of them.

Black Peaks links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

May
Tue 5 Arts Club, Liverpool*
Wed 6 The Boileroom, Guildford
Thu 7 O2 Academy 2, Oxford*
Fri 8 Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
Sat 9 Deaf Institute, Manchester*
Sun 10 The Think Tank, Newcastle*
Tue 12 The Tunnels, Aberdeen
Thu 14 Attic @ The Forum, Hatfield
Fri 15 The Great Escape, Brighton
July
Fri 10 NASS Music Festival, Somerset
Sat 11 2000trees Festival, Cheltenham
August
Fri 14 Hevy Festival, Hythe
Sat 22 ArcTanGent Festival, Bristol
Sat 29 Reading Festival, Reading
Sun 30 Leeds Festival, Leeds
*supporting Arcane Roots

View more of Already Heard’s content from Hit The Deck 2015 here.

Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)

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