Interview: Light You Up

For many bands it can take time to find their feet and for Birmingham’s Light You Up it was no different. Nevertheless the pop punk five piece have persisted and next week they release their debut full-length – ‘All We’ve Ever Known’.

The album marks Light You Up’s growth, both as a band and as individuals. Lyrically the album takes a straight forward honest and truthful approach whereas musically the band refuse to stay tied to the pop punk style, embracing a range of influences such as Jimmy Eat World, Oasis and The Beatles. The end result is a throughly consistent record that goes beyond your standard pop punk album.

The making of ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ saw Light You Up head to San Francisco to work with Sam Pura (Basement, The Story So Far, State Champs.) The move challenged the band yet being away from home comforts and distractions proved to be influential.

With the album set to be released on Monday (January 26th) Already Heard spoke to vocalist Tom Napier to discuss ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ in detail. Napier spoke about the making of the album, working with Sam Pura, the bands lyrical approach, its influences, the current UK pop punk boom and their upcoming dates with Four Year Strong and Hit The Lights.

AH: Your debut full-length, ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ is set to be released very soon. How is the mood in the Light You Up camp right now?
Tom: There’s a lot of excitement right now, it’s been a long time in the making. We’ve had these songs for such a long time, we’re all so pumped to get them out there for people to here!

AH: It’s been 2 years since the release of your ‘Broken Jaw’ EP. How has the band changed during this time?
Tom: Oh man, we’ve changed so much. Not just as a band but as individuals. I joined Light You Up at the beginning of 2012, and until then I had always played guitar in bands; this was the first time I was the frontman. It definitely took me a long time to feel comfortable in that role of the band. Playing live for the first time I realised how much more freedom I had to roam about, haha! I’ve grown a lot closer with the guys too, I didn’t know them at all before I joined. I think we’ve also progressed a lot, musically, since ‘Broken Jaw.’ ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ was the first time we all wrote songs collectively. We poured all our own styles into it, I think there’s a lot of different feels within the album.

AH: Moving on to the album, did you have an aim of what you wanted the album to be about or how it wanted to sound?
Tom: Not as such, we had a sort of sound established on ‘Broken Jaw,’ if anything we just wanted to elaborate and grow from there. We were very conscious about core song writing more than anything else and allowing our own styles and influences to shape the final instrumentation of the songs. We all listen to different kinds of music and it was really great to let those influences loose.

AH: Unlike some bands you’ve bided your time with the making of this album. How vital was it for you to take your time with the record?
Tom: We’ve all been in bands for the best part of 10 years, and whilst we’re still a way from being “old”, we’ve all, to a degree, seen how the industry works. Our first release, ‘Broken Jaw’, went really well but as i said before we were still relatively young in terms of us all being in a band together. We had to grow and evolve, so taking our time creating our first album was something that was real important to us, we didn’t want to rush things.

AH: You headed to San Francisco to record the album with producer Sam Pura. His work with bands such as The Story So Far and Man Overboard has been notable in recent years. What drew you to working with Sam? Was his previous work an influence?
Tom: His previous work was definitely something that drew us there, but ultimately we wanted to record somewhere abroad. This was super important for us because we wanted to be somewhere away from home life distractions and routines, being able to immerse ourselves in the recording process was crucial. Panda Studios has bedrooms so you can literally live in the studio. This was wicked because it gave us so much freedom. I’m so much more creative late at night, so having the opportunity to plug in and write whenever I needed to was wicked.

AH: How did you find the experience of recording overseas? Did being away from home influence the album lyrically?
Tom: It definitely helped with having a clear headspace. Before we flew out, instrumentally, the songs were pretty much there but there were lyrics to very few of the songs and some only had chorus ideas! Being away from my normal comforts and surroundings made it a lot easier to write. And being in CA was fucking awesome!

AH: From having the album on repeat, I’ve noticed the album lyrically has substance and a solid personal touch. I also feel it doesn’t fall into the trap of covering common pop punk themes such as being young and wanting to escape your hometown. Was this something intentional?
Tom: Not at all, we sort of just found ourselves in the pop-punk genre, we never tried to be that sort of a band it’s just what people have labelled us as – the truth be told, we don’t really listen to a lot of pop punk. Personally, I just love good music and that’s not dictated by genre, there are good and bad artists in every area of music. I’m influenced by artists that speak the truth about things that are important, not that leaving your hometown or being young are bad topics to write about but there’s more to a person’s story than just those things. There’s a song on the album that came together from a completely different angle though. I love a good movie, one that can really move you, and putting that into song is something I’ve wanted to do for ages. I got really inspired by the character Dom Cobb from Inception, and his relenting struggle to let his wife go, especially the “You are waiting for train, you don’t know where it will take you…” speech. So the track ‘You Are Waiting For A Train’ is about just that, it’s also the only love song on the record.

AH: Can you talk us through the bands songwriting process?
Tom: How we wrote for this album was – Drew (Masters), Rob (Taylor) and I all started writing songs individually around the release of ‘Broken Jaw’. I actually started writing ‘Monsters’ at the end of 2012. We demoed these songs and ideas on our computers and sent them to each other, we all then learnt them and just before we flew out to record the album we locked ourselves in our rehearsal space and moulded the ideas together. We stayed in Texas for two weeks before we went to Panda and I had my acoustic with me, so Drew and I spent that time writing lyrics to a lot of the songs. We ended up reshaping a lot of the song parts in pre-production with Sam, the song ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ was structurally so different to the final version.

AH: Musically the record at its core is a pop punk record but there are hints of variation throughout. What bands influenced the making of this record? I understand it varies from Blink-182 to Oasis to The Beatles?
Tom: We’re all influenced by so much music. I grew up listening to a lot of alternative bands because of my Dad. He got me into bands like InMe and Fightstar during my early teens, both of whom I still love. Now I listen to a lot of different things. I love heavy music like Architects, or floaty/ambient stuff like London Grammar. I like a lot of hip-hop too, Kendrick Lamar is the man! As well as a lot of pop music, Taylor Swift’s new record was killer! We’re all the same in terms of our influences being diverse, this really shaped how ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ turned out, it’s the most Light You Up we’ve ever sounded.

AH: Outside the band, some of you work in our areas of the music industry. Has those experiences influenced the way the band works internally?
Tom: Oh yeah totally! Drew has tour managed bands for years and Rob has worked in artist management, both of which have been of massive gain to us as a band and our understanding of how that all works.

AH: In comparison to some emerging UK pop punk bands, you have a wealth of road experience. How important is it for a band to get out there and to tour as possible?
Tom: I think it’s the most important thing for a band. Getting experience in whatever field you want to work in is of the upmost importance, how else are you going to truly learn? It makes you better at your instrument and at feeling at home on a stage. Playing shows is the best way to interact with people who like what you do and ultimately it’s people that like what you do that makes a band successful.

AH: Speaking of UK pop punk, it seems it is in a strong state right now following the success of bands like Neck Deep and bands like Roam and As It Is heading to America soon. What are your thoughts on the current UK pop punk scene?
Tom: Yeah, all those guys are killing it right now! And there are other young bands like Boston Manor and Trash Boat that are kicking up a fuss, but the problem is, I feel, that very few UK labels want to get involved with that scene, perhaps because is it a very naturally American sort of sound. All the bands you named have been signed to US record labels, aside from being good bands and working hard I think that it has helped them out for sure. The UK has been crying out for a lot of typically US sounding music for ages now, the underground pop punk culture is huge over here but it’s only been recently that UK artists are getting real backing in those scenes. With the appropriate backing and support I can only see UK pop punk getting stronger over the next year.

AH: The release of ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ will be followed up with a UK tour with Four Year Strong, Hit The Lights and Forever Came Calling. You’ve toured with FYS and HTL before. Are you looking forward to be heading out with them again?
Tom: The rest of dudes (in Light You Up) have toured with those guys in the past with previous bands but I personally haven’t had the opportunity to, I’m really looking forward to it. I hung out with the HTL guys at last years Slam Dunk so it’ll be nice to rekindle that bromance, and touring with FYS will be mad. These bands aside though, the last tour we did was with our mates, Decade, back in October so we are itching to get back on the road and see some familiar faces and meet some new ones too! It’s the first opportunity we will have had to play a lot of the new material from the album as well.

AH: For those who are considering coming out to a show, why should they come early and watch Light You Up?
Tom: Because we have so much fun at our live shows! And if you like what we do then you are just as much a part of Light You Up as we are, so if we’ve got a show to play you best all be there!

AH: Earlier this month, we named you as 1 of our 50 bands to watch in 2015. What up and coming bands do you think we should be keeping an eye on?
Tom: Firstly, thanks for doing that, it’s so humbling to be included in something like that! As for bands you guys need to check out, a couple of our friends put out singles recently, go listen to Nylon Sky (‘The Hare That Bit The Dog’) and Fallow Fields (‘I Was Brave Once Too’) both bands I have a lot of time for, as people and musicians, it would be great to see those guys get some recognition for their efforts. There’s a bunch of dudes from down south called “Midday Committee” who you should look into too, they put out a new record last year which was really cool!

AH: And finally why should Already Heard readers pick up ‘All We’ve Ever Known’?
Tom: Because we’ll be your new favourite band!

‘All We’ve Ever Known’ by Light You Up is released on 26th January through Reclaim Music Group/Ice Grills.

Light You Up links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)

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