Thanks to Sam and Mikey for taking the time out to talk to Birmingham Live. You started out on your tour with Don Broco last night, how did the first night go?
M: It was crazy! We’ve played Norwich a few times before and it’s always been okay, but last night was the first time we’ve rocked up and the room was full, everyone was really keen and people were even singing back, it was great! Really great start.
So you’re looking forward to Birmingham tonight then?
S: That’s the thing, it’s the first time we’re back here, I think we were supposed to play here January but we had a nightmare day and two vans broke down, and we didn’t actually make it to this venue so it makes it even better that we’re here now after all the stuff that happened last time!
They’ve been !queuing outside for ages too!
M: I know it’s amazing, it’s so cold outside too!!!
For anyone who hasn’t heard of you, can you describe to me your sound?
M: You get a few people that debate this I suppose, I think we’re pop rock. I don’t like to over complicate things. I think thats what we are and I hope we do it reasonably well. (laughs). That’s the main thing, whatever you do, do it well!
Who would you say are your biggest influences are musically?
S: With us it’s like we’re all so different. There are a few bands we all agree on though, like Alexisonfire, Fightstar, Brand New, stuff like that, I guess. He (points at Mikey) could be listening to Mumford and Sons in one corner of the van and Dave will be listening to something else in another corner.
Not One Direction fans though?
S: Oh James is such a One Direction fan!!
Oh my god I was joking about that too!
(all start laughing again)
M: That’s the thing though, that’s how eclectic our music gets!
S: I won’t be happy about it, they’ll be playing it full blast on the stereo.
Really? They don’t even listen to them through head phones??!!
S: Nope, when James gets control of the stereo it all goes wrong!
You’ve sort of been catapulted into the limelight over the last few months after being part of Radio 1’s future festival and them playing songs from your debut album Signals. Is this what you dreamt of when you started out back in 2009?
M: Definitely, hell it wasn’t even 2009, we’ve been doing this since we were like 13 or 14 years old now, it’s absolutely what we’ve been dreaming of, totally.
S: It’s the strangest thing, when you’re driving in your car and the DJ will announce this is Mallory Knox, it’s the strangest thing. It’s different to knowing when you’re gonna be played, when you’re actually just driving along and they play it, it’s the weirdest thing, I don’t think I will ever ever get used to it!
Speaking of your debut album, congratulations on making the top 40 with Signals, it reached No. 33 in the charts and No. 1 in the rock charts. Can I ask you a few questions about the songs on the albums?
The second single to come off Signals is ‘Wake Up’. The line, “We had no chance, when all I could sing was sad songs”….is that how you felt as a band, and is the song a narrative of what you had to do or were doing before writing Signals and your EP Pilot?
M: No, I don’t think so but it’s a very interesting interpretation of it that you have, which is really cool! We like that, we like the ambiguity about it. I think for that it was more about a personal thing, not so much for us but we like to create little stories and little personas within the songs. This particular one was about a kid who was venting, you know, his way to let out his frustrations and anger at the world was via the medium of music. So that was kind of the thought process behind that one.
So is that who the video is about then, that was my next sort of question because in the video, there’s a guy furiously scribbling lyrics to paper in a house that’s falling apart, again was this reflective of that?
M: Thats very astute of you! A lot of the time we get people go, ‘what does that video mean?’ or ‘why have they done it like that?’ or whatever, and a lot of the time it’s a very literal take of our ideas of how the song was written. So yeah that’s very true, that’s right.
Do you get to have an input into what’s going to happen in your videos?
M: we like to stick our nose in now and again!
S: I don’t! Videos are the thing that kind of stress me out the most so I like to stay away!
There are two slower more ballad-like songs on the album (1949 and Bury Your Head). 1949 is a total change of pace from the rest of the album. The lyrics are just beautiful with lines such as,
“So sing yourself to sleep tonight and let your demons go. ‘Cause every word you spoke to me has saved me for so long.”
For me, the song just reminds me of my grandparents who were together like 70 years. Is that what the song is about, it just sounds like its so personal?
S: Well, yeah that’s sort of what the song was about in the end, it kind of worked because I’d had that chorus written for ages, then I showed it to Mikey and he just wrote the verses. And it just bounced off what we wrote, and it just worked. I guess you took the chorus and based the verses on what I’d wrote in the chorus for the basis of the song?
M: It was again, creating a persona or a character, or in this case, a couple of characters, within the song who weren’t perhaps directly related to me at the time, but I suppose they are with every one. Everyones got that cute little gran and grandad somewhere that you’re envious of their love and care for each other of. So, I think in that sense it was a character, but they were actual people, I think every one knows the people in that song.
I also love the song ‘Signals’, the outro is totally amazing, I love having it on extremely loud!! What’s the song about?
The lyric, “There looking at us out here, and watching with a grin and we know how it feels to come and let them in”, makes me think of some kind of secret ‘Mallory Knox’ club and you’re talking about how people are finally getting what you’re all about, is that right or am I way off?!
S: Haha! If you read the first verse lyrics, it’s literally about how me and Mikey strongly believe UFO’s are real!
Really? Oh my god!
S: That is it! About how they’re gonna come down to us, and yeah that was the original idea but then it got more into the…
M: No, that IS the idea and if anyone has a problem with it they can come and have a chat. I’ll set them straight!
S: No, it originally was about UFOs and then it sort of changed into all the stuff that goes on that we cannot control in terms of governments or, all that sort of shit. That’s the best song that we’ve written in terms of what the songs about, that’s why we called it signals.
M: That is a personal one for us, it’s a very personal one.
I heard that you recorded Signals in January 2012 and it wasn’t released until January 2013, does that mean you’ve already started on the next one?
S: We were lazy! We were too busy sulking about the fact that we had to sit on the album for a year!!
M: It was beneficial in the sense that not only for our campaign and it gave it a long run up, but it also allowed us to focus on elements of the band that needed strengthening up and improving before we tackled the next album. So now we’re in a much stronger position to write this album and know that we’ve got decent people behind us that care about the band enough to look after our interest to take some serious time out to write. It was a really difficult thing for us, it was a love hate thing. We were so frustrated because we really wanted to get it out there.
S: When we found out we’d released a little YouTube thing saying the album will be out in May, and we got told in the February that we weren’t releasing it till the next January and I was like what the fuck, that’s a year away? But it was definitely the best decision we’ve ever made, and this has proved it was the right thing to do.
I also saw online that you have a video for ‘Hello’. In case people haven’t seen it, its lots of fans from all over the world who’ve sent in videos of themselves holding up signs saying ‘hello’, how did it all come about then?
M: That was something to do with how we were feeling at the time having not released anything, we really wanted to get some songs or a song out there for people to sort of hear and have an idea of what was coming with the album.
S: It was because we’d waited, we’d released Pilot like the year before and people were starting to ask when are you releasing new stuff, and we thought we’ve kept everyone waiting for so long, let’s just release a new song and get the people who want to hear the song involved.
Because it was a free download as well wasn’t it? Did it go really well?
S: Yeah, it did everything we needed it to do in terms of getting a song out there, I don’t know how many people downloaded it in the end but it definitely did what it needed to do and got a video out there too, and lead in to Death Rattle quite nicely too!
Talking about videos, you mentioned on the Mallory Knox Facebook on Sunday that you just finished making a new video!
M: You are on it, aren’t you?!
I’ve done a lot of research!
Can you reveal what song it’s for, and/or tell me a bit about the concept, I know you probably can’t but I have to ask!
S: Oh… we pretty much can.
M: Yeah, we can.
S: It’s for Beggars.
Oh my god is that going to be your new single then? I love that one!
M: Haha – yeah it is!!
So can you reveal what the video will be like?
S: We can’t I’m afraid but it’s different, put it that way!
M: It was a very stressful day of recording.
S: Yeah, a very stressful hungover day in one of the roughest places I’ve ever been to in my life!
Where were you?
S: I don’t even know
M: It was in London
S: you will see why I was so stressed out when you see the video and see where we were and what we were doing! It’s completely different to anything we’ve ever done before.
You’re off on tour with Finch in the UK and Europe through March this year. Have you played outside the UK before and where are you looking forward to playing most?
M: That sounds so fucking nuts when you say it!!
S: They’re like, one of my favourite bands since I was 14! If you’d told me when I was 14 and I was listening to Finch on Kerrang that we were gonna tour with them one day at the Brixton Academy I wouldn’t have believed you!
M: What It Is To Burn is literally in my top 5, no top 10 songs of all time!
So you’re gonna be proper fan boys on the tour then?!
M: Massively! I keep going over it in my head that we’ll be playing with Finch
S: Its not even just a tour though its that What It Is to Burn album tour, and that fact that we’re the band that gets to support them on it is such a hue honour!
M: The last night we play in Amsterdam, What It Is to Burn playing, I may have to shed a couple of tears!
Are there any plans for a headline tour of your own in the pipeline for 2013?
S: Yeah! Theres defiantly one or two things in the pipeline. One will be a lot later, the other one, its not confirmed yet but somethings gonna happen soon.
Are you doing any festivals?
S: Yeah we’re doing Takedown, there’s a few more but I don’t think we can announce them yet!
M: We just want to get out everywhere possible this year and just get in people’s faces and annoy them really!
What advice would you give any bands trying to follow in your footsteps?
S: Yeah grafting is the one, it’s a weird question because we did what we thought we needed to do, and that was not gig with songs we thought were alright, so we locked ourselves away with the best songs we could possibly write at the time, then we decided to gig, then we released a song. All you can do once you’ve felt you’ve wrote the best songs you can, is to play them to anyone who will listen, and hopefully you will play them to a person who can help you out, that’s kind of what happened to us! You’ve gotta work at it and you’ve got to believe in what you’re playing.
M: We call it the Apprenticeship, because it is. You don’t get paid a lot of money, you get treated like crap some of the time but you learn constantly and that’s the cost, just crack on and get on with it. Just do what you believe is right.
S: And everyone’s got to believe in it. You cant have one guy who cant come to practice because his girlfriends cat’s died or something, you’ve got to all believe in what you’re doing.
Thank you so much for talking to me today, good luck with the show tonight!
Interview by Lucy Pryor