with BEN EDWARDS of
|"...We write hardcore the way Tori Amos writes. We're the metal band you can fuck to..."|
Hi Ben. You are the vocalist from the band called Miocene. By way of an introduction and because there will be people reading this who haven't come across the band before, could you please give a brief outline of who else is in the band and what they do. And when was the band formed?
OK, there's Graham the guitarist who was the founding member, then Leo the drummer came after I joined and after that Alex our bassist joined up. It's been over a period of the last two years, but Graham, Alex and I have been playing together since we were like 16. In fact, I sold Alex his first bass in order for him to join Grahams band. That was a guy who got played right there. He doesn't even LIKE basses. Heheh.
Last year (2000), you have had a release on Infernal Records called 'Refining The Theory'. I personally think that the album shows some outstanding talent and is a fine example of modern metal. For someone who hasn't heard Miocene before, could you briefly describe your music?
Thank you. I guess that on Refining... we just wanted to push the boundaries of what was acceptable for a metal band to do. We kept getting called NuMetal - which was kind of accurate for a time, but as you know, if someone puts a band in a genre, usually they see it as a cage to break out of. That's the way we saw it. So we put strange timings, weird soundscapes, inter-song breaks, jams, trip hop segues on there, see how it went. People seem to like it - I like to think that it proves the idea that magazines are more interested in genres than music fans are.
'Refining The Theory' was your first release, a mini-album which I believe is a compilation of songs that were all written over a period of three years, from when you and Graham started playing music together. It has been out for a while now, but retrospectively, how satisfied were you with it?
I like it, I think that it's a good, raw recording. It felt right to have those songs all together on the same album, you know - felt like we were clearing the cupboard of our old stuff and were free to go forward with the next. I think it's really good - but in retrospect I think that maybe we put too much angry stuff on it. There are a lot of people who come up to me and talk about how they like fighting in the pit and stuff, and it's hard to think that they really understand our message of love and peace, you know? heheh.
How would you do the next one differently and when will there be a 'next' one?
2002 - we take forever to write, and we're only in the middle of doing it right now. It's going to be bigger, more expansive and atmospheric than the last one.
Are you sticking with Infernal? What are they like as a label, like do they look after you? Have you had other offers or interest from other labels?
Right now we're looking to release an EP later this year with all our stranger moments on it - we'll probably release that on Infernal and then head out and see what comes up. I'm very much into independent record labels, I think that they're more astute when it comes to bands.
Finally, on the subject of recording, did the band ever do any other stuff prior to 'Refining The Theory', such as demo's, promo's, an EP or the like?
There was a self-funded demo, it had Rivets, Shine and Pure on it, and it was recorded for about £200. I wouldn't recommend searching for it, it isn't very good.
I am fascinated by the songs you blokes write, they are often quite lengthy and intricate, but never self-indulgent. How does the music writing process work in Miocene? What are the bands primary musical influences and how are they expressed in your music?
We just get together, smoke as much as we can and play what comes out. We try not to analyse it too much but we invariably do. We are into the standard metal/hardcore stuff - Helmet particularly - but generally it's just too macho and repetitive so we try to make it more emotional, more intuitive, more interpretable. We write hardcore the way Tori Amos writes. We're the metal band you can fuck to. Hehh.
Who writes the lyrics and how do they choose the subject matter? Do you find music is a good way of venting your frustrations and explaining the way you feel about something, or do you prefer to be more abstract and artistic?
I don't think that it's really either or. I like to write about things which move me, but that doesn't mean screaming anger all the time. You can write about realistic situations in an incredible way - Tricky and Henry Miller do it all the time. I'm not saying that I'm anywhere near comparable to those guys, but it's where I'm aiming to be.
What exactly does the band (or you), wish to achieve with your music and do you think it can ever be achieved?
I think that having one goal for a band is a little self-defeating - in that situation, either you succeed at your goal [so what do you do after that?]; or you fail at it [in which case you've created something which didn't work]. I prefer less specific aims - for us, we just want to provide a meta-standpoint to the norm. For all the problems that UK bands have, it is a LOT easier for us to be contrary and sarcastic, and as a band that just happens to be what we're good at, so we may as well use it. Hehh.
Basically, while there are bands selling themselves on masks and shit, there'll be cooler metalheads laughing at 'em and they're the people who need representing in my opinion.
Changing subjects slightly, I know that you often use the internet, the band have a website (plug it if you want) and there are also a number of fan-based websites. What effect do you think the internet and mp3's have affected your music and do you accept it as a legitimate form of communication?
Cool, our website is www.miocene.org. I think that for bands like us who're never going to see any money from the industry anyway, the internet is a great medium for distribution.
On a different level, it's breaking down barriers of traditional communication. When you can directly contact everyone within every part of major organisations, it's very useful for bands like us to get a foothold. When we first started out I emailed Ian Camfield at XFM, MaryAnne Hobbs at R1, record companies, publishing companies, everyone. And because I'd taken the time to make my emails interesting and to the point, I got to know a lot more about the industry than I'd have otherwise known. 10 years ago, someone like me wouldn't even have got past the reception desk on the phone.
The traditional methods of communication and promotion are the music press. What is your feeling towards them, do you think that they are good and fair and that their motives are honourable or do you think otherwise? Just what has their support been like for Miocene?
Well, I can't speak about motives - it's impossible to judge anyone's motive, and it's even harder to judge them through their reviews. Obviously higher up the chain, the only reason for a magazine to run reviews is to sell more copies, so at least at that level, one can't be caught up in the idea that they're driven by an altruistic love of bands (for example, in the way that your site is). But for the most part, the press have been very supportive of us - Kerrang! picked up on us very early on, and it meant a lot to us in terms of exposure to have their support, same with Metal Hammer and Rocksound.
The thing is that most journalists are, at base, people who love and adore music, just like us. Most journalists I know are people who've come from the fanzine background, they're the people who run websites and get involved. They're not (generally) the corporate fuckpigs that musicians like to make out.
Okay Ben, coming toward the end of this interview, I have a general question. What kinds of things do you guy's do when you aren't involved with the band? You know what jobs, hobbies, etc?
Well, Alex works 9-5, Graham playtests Sega Saturn consoles, Leo gives drumming lessons (email email@example.com for more info) and I do part-time work, organise tours/press/logistics and general stuff. We all like films, books, art, weed, acid - usual stuff really.
Lets talk about the bands live performances. From personal experience, a captivating live performance was my introduction to Miocene's progressively intense sound, and this made a massive impression on me. Do you still get a thrill from playing gigs and the reaction of an audience, or does everything else that comes with touring (the van, sleeping on floors, etc) spoil the overall effect?
Jesus, no. If there is a band out there who say that gigs aren't enough of a reward for the hard work, they need to be killed. There is NOTHING for me like being onstage, and no problem that I wouldn't happily solve if it got me on a stage at the end of it. Being onstage and singing is the only time I feel alive - if I have to sleep on a floor, drive to venues in a leaky van, load in equipment in the freezing cold while wearing wet clothes, whatever - I'm happy to do so. Has anyone ever answered differently?
[Now you come to mention it, I can remember one band saying that they hate touring, but on the spot, I can't remember what band that was].
Can you remember a most memorable gig or most enjoyable venue that the band has played?
Venue was the Ocean in Hackney. We played there with Shihad on Saturday (09/07/01). It was AWESOME. They have monitors everywhere showing water fountains and stuff, it's 1200 capacity, the bouncers are cool as fuck, the place is clean and the PA is incredible, the lights are frankly stunning and the sound engineers are geniuses.
Most memorable gig will be next week with OMS and Vacant Stare and Charger and Silva in a tiny 200 capacity pub in Fulham (16/07/01). They better have a FUCKING good deal with their insurance company.
Finally, what are the future touring plans for Miocene? I understand there are some dates in July?
There are, we've got Porcelain Roach in support and the dates are up at www.miocene.org.
[July 2001: Fri 06 Fat Paulies, Norwich, Sat 07 Met Lounge; Peterborough, Sun 08 Bivouac@Duke Of Wellington, Lincoln; Mon 09 Little Civic, Wolves; Tues 10 Brighton Pressure Point; Thurs 12 Oxford Zodiac; Fri 13 Woughton Centre, Milton Keynes; Sat 14 Harlow Sq, London; Thurs 19 Leicester Charlotte; Fri 20 King Tuts, Glasgow; Sat/Sun 21/22 Dundee/Aberdeen (TBC); Mon 23 Newcastle (TBC); Thurs 26 Nexus, Southampton; Fri 27 ICA London; Sat 28 Newbury Corn Exchange].
Okay chap, that's all I would like to ask, but is there anything else you wish to add?
Don't believe the hype baby. Heheh.
Cheers. Ben, I would like to thank you for your time and I wish you all the best.
You too man.