Gearing up to release sophomore album ‘Greater Than‘ early in November, Shvpes accompanied Hawthorne Heights for a UK tour and hit Birmingham’s Flapper venue at one of these dates. I was pleased to learn of such information and made sure I was present for the energetic and captivating performance they put on, leaving me more excited than I already had become to see them progress as they are deserving and cause a splash with this project.

Before that though, a friendly and congenial Griffin Dickinson stopped with me outside for chat about the band, the album, diss tracks and jalapenos!

Shvpes

Grant Leo Knight (left) Griffin Dickinson (middle) and Ryan Hamilton (right). Photo: Stephen Keay

The new album Greater Than I’d say is quite a diverse collection of music, how would you best describe the sound of the album to someone who hasn’t heard Shvpes?

Diverse but heavy. I don’t really like describing music cause it’s a bit of an impossible task, like trying to describe a colour you know.

You were originally intending to release a series of mixtapes; why the decision to change this and release an album instead?

So when we first got the album back, it was pretty clear that it’s quite different to the last one and we figured if we released on just the fans we had already garnered it was at risk of falling on deaf ears and wouldn’t really be appreciated so we felt we had to drip feed it out – this lead to the mixtape idea which played on the diverse nature; the hip-hop elements for example.

Yeah okay, I suppose it splits up well into sections if you wanted to do it that way:

Yeah exactly we did have it split up like so and had a fucking awesome rollout for it however, once we released ‘Undertones‘ the band basically jumped up way more popularity wise you know getting lots more Spotify numbers, but we weren’t going to have the whole album out until next year so as things developed it wasn’t working out the way that we saw it happening. So, with tail between our legs we went back to the conventional album idea!

Unfortunately, when you are a band of our size you don’t really get that roll out idea and naturally it was hard for the powers that be to get behind something like that. If we were The 1975 or something it would have been a great idea but it wasn’t to be! So yeah going with the conventional album means we get all the music out quicker.

I for one am certainly glad to have all the music available quicker – it was a good day when it popped into my inbox. One of my favourite tracks is ‘Rain’ which features Matt Heafy – how did this come about?

He took us on our first European tour about eighteen months ago now and I had known him prior to that but rather than being acquaintances as we were, we became good friends through the tour and at the end of the tour he said if we ever wanted a feature if it’s vocals or guitar just to let him know as he’d be happy to. So we had a couple things written but there just seemed like nowhere a feature was really gonna fit on the album – I didn’t know where to put him, then I saw the While She Sleeps track that features Oli Sykes you know there’s a break in the music first, similarly in the video he walks into the shot and you can almost hear the verse coming through seeing him. I didn’t want to do it conventionally where I did a verse then he comes straight in after – if we were to do it live, I’d like for him to be able to walk out on stage – sounds more natural.

So when writing the track our producer suggested putting in a bit of a breather section to have Matt come in after that, I thought it would be really cool to switch things up a little – put him on the most metal track, but on the hip-hop bit of that track.

What would you say is the mission statement for Shvpes with this record?

To bring people who like heavy music into liking other genres of music because I feel although it’s gotten better there is still quite secular in the sense those that like heavy music stick to that and to each other whereas people who don’t like it, like everything but heavy music. So I want to bridge that gap – when I was growing up I loved Christina Aguilera but at the same time I loved Slipknot you know, I never saw the difference I just saw them both as good music. To remove the counterbalance between heavy and non-heavy music is the aim.

Cool; that links into another of my questions cause I’ve seen you speaking about metal elitism before and that classic nuance of metal fans looking down on or not being open to other genres – personally I am a being of half and half as 50% of me loves metal and 50% loves hip-hop, one thing I always say about these two genres is I feel they share a lot of the same energy and it’s a similar cathartic release; would you agree with that?

Oh absolutely, I think heavy music doesn’t necessarily always mean metal – look at dubstep for example there’s no guitars or real instruments there but it can be heavy as fuck – if you were to transpose that on to a guitar it would be heavier than Meshuggah! I feel that heavy music can come in so many different shapes and forms, a guy rapping on a barebones kick and snare can potentially be heavy as fuck.

For sure, so I think when bands do as you are striving to by merging genres a bit it can yield some really great results and as you say hopefully bring people together more.

Twenty One Pilots just released that ‘Jumpsuit‘ song which I think got to #1 in the US, and it’s got screaming in it! People are very quick to write something off if they hear screaming, even people who like metal will hear a scream at the beginning and go “nah” but, Dave Grohl screams in Foo Fighters yet people don’t consider that the same way cause you’ve heard his voice with the rasp so it sounds more like he’s singing really hard and yelling. I want to get a point where people can listen to someone scream and not overly judge it or be scared about it cause at the end of the day it’s a great tool – it’s an expression of emotion.

So you’ve mentioned how Greater Than has some moments that metalheads will love and some they won’t be so hot on, which tracks are you most excited for people to hear?

I’m excited to get ‘I’m Stuck’ out there because I feel that song has potential to stand on it’s own on a platform like GRMDaily so it could really turn some heads, then people would check our other stuff and be like ‘oh what they’re a metal band!’ (laughs). ‘Two Wrongs, No Rights’ I’m also excited for people to hear – both of these songs are gonna rile some feathers also these have gotten good responses from some of our friends who don’t really like heavier stuff so we are crossing boundaries with them.

Similarly, which tracks do you feel will surprise people the most?

I think ‘Renegades‘ will do that. It’s kind of a poppy track and is somewhat mainstream but halfway through the song it switches up like if you thought we had sold out or something, the song cuts and throws that whole mentality out of the window to then develop into a Rage Against the Machine-esque vibe. There are so many little sprinkles and ornaments throughout the record that I just can’t wait to get it out!

Jason Butler, formerly of letlive. and now tearing it up with The Fever333 is a big inspiration for you vocally right?

Yeah I mean I’ve always liked his music and his stage persona, I don’t think I ever actively tried to emanate what he does but people keep saying it to me leading me to think about it and I can kinda see where they get that from. I’ve just been playing around with my voice for a couple of years and this is how it sounds now!

Do you think his stage persona, his hectic actions and ballistic performance style is an inspiration to you at all?

We did that shit for a while when we first started out and I think part of it for us was trying to cover up the fact that the music wasn’t that good so you go out and do fucking crazy shit! I think it can just get a bit gimmicky is the problem and you establish a bit of a reputation for doing stupid shit that people get hung up on expecting from you, we don’t want to be a band that people come to see under that sort of premise. If in the heat of the moment something crazy happens that’s fine but I don’t want it to be paramount that we’re a band who’s definitely gonna damage ourselves on stage haha.

Beefs and disstracks are quite commonplace in rap and I was wondering what would it take for Shvpes to write a diss track?

A reason! That kind of mentality would certainly hot up the world of metal a bit, it would turn into fucking Heat magazine you know. Metal Hammer and Kerrang and the like would bloody love that, if you do it you’re basically guaranteed to get every publication out there going nuts and reposting stuff. We’re not about to start kicking off just to get some promo though you know, there’s been few bands that piss me off that much and if they do you just tell them to fuck off! Treat them like a dude in front of you – you wouldn’t be like ‘fuck you dude in the pub I’m gonna go home and write a song about you!’ (laughs).

I have heard you are something of a jalapeno fan, on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate them?

Ten. It’s a crucial food!

Excellent well I have some good news for you Griffin; right here I have brought with me a jar of jalapenos for you!

The sliced green Tesco ones! Yeah they’re one of the top jars, Mellis is the best brand though. I’m not gonna have any of these now cause I’m singing in a bit and don’t want to fuck my voice (laughs) but I will take these to Europe with me! On this subject, I wrote a letter to Santa Maria who are a mexican brand that used to have the best jalapenos but they lost what I call the crunch factor.. They told me it was a particularly wet season that year so that might be the cause but I’ve found a lot of them are squidgy these days – so yeah Mellis are the one; they got the crunch, the spice and the brine. That’s the thing about these Tesco ones, the brine isn’t all there but they do have good crunch and spice.

Do you think one day you might become a jalapeno farmer?

I genuinely considered being a jalapeno farmer at one point, I’d need to go to Devon to do that though. They grow some of the hottest chilli’s in the world there and that’s where the world chili festival is – watch it on youtube it’s fucking savage! There’s people bleeding out the mouth and it’s always some elderly Filipino woman who sits there with a blank face that outdoes everyone!

Shvpes

This was a thoroughly enjoyable chat for myself – particularly the jalapeno fanboying..

All photo credit goes to Stephen Keay.

Shvpes new album ‘Greater Than‘ is out on 9th November via Search and Destroy Records.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.