TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Vocals – Jacob Field (The One Hundred)
August 6th, 2017
Over the past few years since their inception, London quartet The One Hundred have managed to surge quite the following thanks to their ability to create some unique and captivating hybrids of genres, pooling sounds and techniques from the corners of rock, metal, hip-hop, RnB, and in turn resulting in a mongrel version of nu-metal that carried hooks, aggression, and creativity in equal measure. Now, finally with a full-length under their belt, sights are set high.
One of the drawing points of The One Hundred‘s craft comes from vocalist, Jacob Field, who is a self-confessed fan of smooth RnB and hip-hop as well as a dedicated metal head. In his role of the band, Field delivers banshee like screams, ogre intimidating growls and grunts, along with some rapped verses and rhymes that could stand toe-to-toe with some of the emerging talent clawing their way through the ranks of the grime scene today.
With such versatility and experience, we caught up with the frontman to discuss his beginnings into being a vocalist, his favourite contemporaries in the scene that helped lead him down this path, how to keep your voice strong and healthy, recovering from vocal damage, and general advice for anyone aspiring to follow in his footsteps.
Sam Carter’s (Architects) technique is fantastic. He has perfect amount of depth and grit. People like Winston McCall from Parkway Drive have proved consistency across ten years of some solid touring and like six albums. I dig Loz Taylor from While She Sleeps, his tone is great. Scott Kennedy from Bleed From Within is a demon, too.
I get so confused when people say fry and false chord screams. If I’m completely honest, it always confused me as 90% of kids doing covers on YouTube would claim they’re using one, but the comment section would claim otherwise. I think that I understand it more now, and I suppose I would be more fry than false chord.
Mike Hranica from The Devil Wears Prada was the first vocalist that I wanted to sound like, and when I felt like I was old enough and knew my voice enough to learn and attempt it, I went for it.
Learn by doing. Practice and learn from your mistakes. Record yourself and be critical, try something different, listen and adapt, and re-learn from it. You’ll do it wrong to begin with no doubt, and I’m sure that you’ll encounter problems, but you resolve them by attempting new techniques and becoming familiar with breath control, the diaphragm, and mouth shape and movement.
Breath control is a big factor, and it took me a long time to realise and gain the ability to use it properly, but it’s a serious game changer.
I always hoped that there was an actual vocalist that could say “Yeah, that’s right, but more like this, etc.”, but you gotta find out the hard way and learn from your mistakes!
Don’t aspire to sound identical to your favourite vocalists. Remember, you’re listening to a studio EQ vocal with compression and, depending on what vocalist, double track and probably attempted 90 times for the perfect tape. A raw harsh vocal just won’t sound the same, so don’t push and attempt something out of your vocal range. You have a tone, so learn to live with that and adapt it to create something unique.
I warm-up for like 30 minutes at least. I’m usually singing all day anyway, so my vocals are usually warmed-up by the time that I’m at the venue. I have my own personal techniques which annoy the band, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
Keep yourself healthy and get a good on-stage sound, and know your limits. I’m a perfectionist, so I am super critical on myself for every note, sound, tone, and section in which I scream. Though that sounds like a great trait to have, it’s not always good because I’m too harsh on myself.
Drink water, breathe correctly, don’t over push even if you can’t quite hear yourself over the rest of the band, that’s your FOH’s job to make sure that people can hear you. If you can’t hear yourself, don’t try to. You’re never gonna be able to compete against instruments.
If your voice is hoarse and/or your vocal chords are swollen, there’s not a lot that you can do. Just vocal rest if it’s sore, it genuinely works, then have honey and drink lots of water. Stay away from coffee or similar drinks and food, as that dehydrates your vocal chords. You need them to stay lubricated, and water is the best option for doing that. Don’t continue if they feel swollen or you’re actually in pain.
Definitely do not whisper. Don’t over push and attempt to do things which obviously aren’t in your range. It’s weird, because my throat never gets sore, so honey and lemon wouldn’t work as they soothe. Your voice is a muscle, so the more that you use it frequently, like during a tour for example, the easier it becomes because your voice basically goes into tour mode. It feels tired because it’s an unnatural thing to do, but take care of yourself and make sure that you don’t get a cold, the flu, etc. If it goes, the show must go on. Every vocalist will or has experienced it. It’s part of the job.
Melissa Cross’ videos are interesting. I actually benefited from them more after I learnt to scream myself, because I could perfect the style and I actually knew what she was talking about. Her style isn’t for everyone, and it’s definitely not for the more extreme vocalists, but as a whole there’s small tips which can really benefit you.
Don’t go onto YouTube. There’s a million kids on there telling you how to do it, none of which are trained, nor live touring vocalists. Some are really good, but it’s different for everyone. You can generate your opinion and learn some hints here and there from YouTube, but I wouldn’t watch all of the tutorials and treat them as gospel. You’ll soon realise they all contradict themselves.
I wish I could say something to motivate or help aspiring vocalists, but all I can say is that if you want to do it, put everything you have into it, make it work, and be passionate and work hard. It will pay off.
The One Hundred‘s debut full-length album, ‘Chaos + Bliss’, is out now through Spinefarm Records.
Are you in a band? Do you own a label or PR company? Are you a tour promoter? Do you run a festival? Want to share your experience and tips with others aspiring to do the same thing? Get in touch with our features editor, Mike Heath (email or Twitter), and we can share your tricks of the trade.