It was only a couple of years ago that British conceptually driven heavy hitters Loathe were just another small local band with one self-released EP to their name, but from the beginning their crux was their comfort to be shrouded in mass amounts of enigma, and that steadily started to build them a hefty fanbase. A few months later, the band secured a deal with SharpTone Records.
The re-issue of their EP ‘Prepare Consume Proceed’ became the first release via the label; the new platform opening the gates to a whole new flood of borderline cult followers, thirsty to know what’s behind the Loathe mask (both literally and figuratively) and parched for more.
Now, with debut album ‘The Cold Sun’, the band have delivered on all corners of their appeal in spades. The metalheads have more riffs and breakdowns, those with a penchant for a sing along have sharper hooks, and those who like to analyse and digest have a whole new bigger concept revolving a post-apocalyptic dual narrative to follow.
Just a week following the ‘The Cold Sun’‘s release, which is already pulling in some notable attention from all across the heavy music community, we spoke with guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe to learn more about the album, how Loathe came together, the idea of the mantra to “Loathe as one”, the influences behind their concept dense ethos and identity, and more.
DP!: You guys have just wrapped up a few dates supporting Blood Youth on their album release mini-tour alongside label mates Holding Absence. How was it?
E: It was great. We love both bands, so it was a lot of fun playing a few shows with them, although we do all wish it was longer than 3 days.
DP!: In the grand scheme of things, you guys are still a very new band, coming to life from the ashes of a few local acts such as Our Imbalance. How did the line-up of Loathe come together?
E: We all knew each other from the different bands that we were in, and, once they all fell apart, we just drifted towards each other and decided to make something worthwhile, and something that we all believed in with everything we have.
DP!: You describe yourselves as a very conceptual band, and one that likes to leave a lot of your ideas and material – both in terms of the music and otherwise – out there for discussion and interpretation. Is creating such an ideal a challenge?
E: Not really, we see it as part of the process. As bands have their own ways of creating their art, ours includes every single aspect down to the way the music is released, represented visually, etc. It’s something we’ve considered from day one.
DP!: A phrase that you as a band use often is to “Loathe as one”. Does this revolve around the idea of channelling negative emotions, experiences, and tribulations to create something positive and meaningful?
E: We see the band as more a movement, bringing together like minded individuals who view our music in a similar way that we do. It’s the Loathe mantra.
DP!: Taking a few steps back, you released your debut EP ‘Prepare Consume Proceed’ originally back in 2015, then again back in 2016 with revised artwork following your signing to SharpTone Records. How did the signing to the label and their roster come to fruition?
E: They found out about us through the ‘In Death’ video, and contacted us soon after we released the EP ourselves. From then on, we exchanged ideas and what we had in mind for the future of the band and we clicked instantly with their passion and vision for what we were doing, so it made so much sense for us to partner up with them.
DP!: When it comes to creating these concepts, how do they generally come to be? Does a member or two solidify the main core of an over-arching idea which you then work from?
E: It’s always a group effort, but the music usually stems from one person’s idea which stands as a base for the rest of us to add onto.
DP!: Do concept records and bands as a whole play a part of an inspiration behind that side of the band, such as Coheed & Cambria, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Defeater, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Opeth?
E: Not as much as you would you assume. Our inspiration to create concept records mostly comes from wanting to create our own worlds within the music, almost like looking at the album as a book with separate chapters.
DP!: The world has become an increasingly darker, dangerous, and more heated place over the years; politics, terrorism, global warming, etc. Do these life events play a conscious part in the bleakness that’s projected through Loathe?
E: Again, not really. Our interests lie within the bleaker aspects of life and creative fiction. Although, we do include slight references to what we think of the world’s current social climate, etc.
DP!: There’s also seemingly a bit of a Japanese influence in the artwork and your merchandise surrounding the release. What is it about that aesthetic that is appealing and is fitting around the feel of ‘The Cold Sun’?
E: The concept was heavily influenced by the film Akira, so we took inspiration from the aesthetic aspects revolving around similar works. We have always been drawn to this style, so it was only a matter of time before we created something like this. ‘The Cold Sun’ seemed to us to fit perfectly.
DP!: You headed over to Glow In The Dark Studios in Atlanta, Georgia to make the record. How was the recording process for you? Was it surreal to be making your debut album over in the US?
E: It was a real experience for all of us. Since before the opportunity we had self-produced everything we had done in the past, even in other bands, so it was fantastic to finally go to a studio and work with the producer that we had hoped to work with since day one.
DP!: You’ve also do a bit of production here and there yourself. Did you pick up any tips and tricks whilst you were at Glow In The Dark that you could implement into your future projects, or even back into Loathe?
E: Absolutely. Matt helped me understand a new perspective on my approach to song writing, which I have already utilised on new projects since being back home.
DP!: In regards to production, ‘The Cold Sun’ certainly features a lot more electronic backdrops and a synthetic overlay that you touched upon a little with the EP. Was treading more into this territory a worry at all?
E: Not at all. We had already incorporated electronic elements into our music in the past and we have planned to expand on that with future releases, so it was, if anything, an exciting territory for us.
DP!: There’s also a more notable focus on melody and hook as opposed to aggressive and primal anger. Do you feel that was an important step to take to progress and evolve Loathe?
E: Again, it was something that we had planned to incorporate for a while. Playing and experiencing music together as a unit since the band’s fruition has helped us grow as musicians together, so our wants and needs are slowly becoming singular, and we all knew it was time to focus on melody more so than before with this release.
DP!: Other than the release of ‘The Cold Sun’ and a busy touring and festival schedule, what else is currently on the cards for Loathe for 2017?
E: We’re aiming to travel as much as we can to spread the word further than before, and with the release of the album it seems much more possible at this time for Loathe to grow.
DP!: Any final words?
E: Loathe as one.
The band’s debut album, ‘The Cold Sun’, is out now through SharpTone Records. You can order it online now via the band’s website (here), Impericon (here), iTunes (here), Amazon (here), and Google Play (here).
Interview by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)