Slam Dunk festival is one that draws together a wide and strong range of some of the brightest talent in the UK alternative music scene for a weekend jam-packed with quality bands. For the bands, it’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase how you’re Greater Than the competition – so as you can imagine it’s tailor made for metalcore mob Shvpes! Before their crushing performance on the Right Key Club Stage, BG caught up with drummer Harry Jennings and guitarist Ryan Hamilton to discuss touring, Slam Dunk, finding your sound and more!
Hi guys, good to see you! So is this your first time at Slam Dunk?
Harry: No it’s actually not! This is our third time playing here!
Okay cool! So you guys have done a lot of touring recently and hit some festivals, what as a band do you think you’ve learnt from being on the road so extensively?
Ryan: How to be a better band! I think with just playing any show you get better, with festivals especially you learn to not get too stressed about the logistical side of stuff which is always gonna be a bit of a shitstorm you know there’s so many bands playing it can be easy to stress about your performance.
Harry: It sounds so pretentious but you really hone your craft in it, you know the problems you’re gonna come across and kinda know what’s gonna go down so if there are any problems you can use the experience gained from how you handled it last time, like Ryan said you learn new things with each show, and with the fans too. So it’s just about taking away those lessons and implementing them next time!
What would you say, apart from the travelling, is the most different thing about touring in America compared to the UK?
Harry: The food. Definitely the food. There’s a lot more of it!
Ryan: Portion sizes. I was really hungry one day so ordered a side, a salad and a main, and the three plates came out and just took up most of the table (laughs). I didn’t realise it was gonna be so much!
Harry: It’s really hard to eat healthy out there too – for example you want some broccoli, your options are broccoli with butter, broccoli with cheese, with bacon. It’s bizarre! Other than food, the fans and audiences are a lot more supportive. Now I’m not rubbishing UK fans at all, but over there people seem a lot more interested in new bands and checking out new things.
Ryan: You get a lot of people who just go down to their local venue and see a band they’ve never heard of before, so often you get way bigger crowds over there.
Harry: We’ve actually ended up having really good reactions in the States just on that basis of people just coming to check us out.
Was there anything that you missed about the UK while away touring?
Ryan: My girlfriend, obviously! (laughs) Vegetables!
Harry: Just a classic home comforts thing really – being able to sleep in a proper bed.
Ryan: Knowing what things are too, not having to ask a load of questions about everything and feeling like a foreigner! One thing about America though English people are welcomed with open arms, in some places in Europe the English have a bad rep but in America they love it, everyone’s obsessed with the English accent!
Harry: Some of them who’ve never heard an English person before think you might be French or something, everytime I’d tell them my name they’d instantly go ‘oh like Harry Potter’! so that got a bit tiring as you can imagine!
Are there any bands you’re eager to watch at Slam Dunk today?
Ryan: We missed Boston Manor! Hopefully we’ll catch them tomorrow. grandson too – we met at some of the American festivals and got on really well.
Harry: It’s all about Gallows for me today! They’ve been away for a while as well so I’m just waiting for that, and Bullet (For My Valentine) who we played with in Glasgow yesterday are on so we’ll be throwing hands for that!
Ryan: Griffin’s doing a song with Bullet too! This is the thing about Slam Dunk; there’s so many friends and people we wanna see and speak to so it’s good that it’s spread over the two days, it’s a great opportunity to bring together this level of musicianship and there’s a fantastic range of bands here – we’ve got nothing but love for this festival!
No doubt you guys are excited to play today, have you got a favourite song to perform live?
Harry: Counterfeit for me!
Ryan: Between Counterfeit and Afterlife.
Harry: Since Afterlife has blown up a bit online, it’s the last song we play – spoiler (laughs) – but as soon as we start playing it or the intro comes on, people seem to recognise it and get excited which is an amazing feeling for us. I just like playing the whole set! I just love playing so you know whatever song, whatever time I’ll be there smiling while I do it!
That sounds good to me! Would you agree with the statement that you guys found your sound on Greater Than?
Ryan: We’re a lot closer to finding our sound on Greater Than than we were on the last album, the main elements of who we want to be as a band were established on that album but I think we all think we could still go further with it. That’s the next stage for us, finding the bits we loved most from the album and moving forward with those!
Harry: I think it’s also quite dangerous if you say ‘oh we found our sound’ – I don’t think anyone should feel like they’ve found their sound, and at our level in particular you should never be certain that you’ve found it.
Ryan: You can also fall into the trap of writing different lyrics for the same songs you know, finding different subject matters when for example you look a band like Bring Me The Horizon who have basically reinvented themselves every album and each project is it’s own piece of art. Not saying we wanna do exactly the same as that but that’s a really cool model to look at.
Has there been any progress on working on a new album?
Harry: The seeds are being sowed, there’s stuff going on but of course at the moment we’re still working on trying to get Greater Than out to the world a bit more really.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2019?
Ryan: We’ve got a few festivals coming up and a tour at the end of the year but can’t really say much about that one just now! Towards the end of the summer we want to start writing and making progress on the next project.
Shvpes latest album Greater Than is out everywhere now.