INTERVIEW: Black Peaks (04/09/2016)

Brighton’s Black Peaks have been making serious waves this year since the release of their debut album ‘Statues’ and have just set off on a mammoth co-headline run with the ever-terrifying HECK. We caught up with Will, Joe and Andrew from the band to get their account of this whirlwind year.

DP!: Ok! Straight to it! For anyone who hasn’t heard you guys before; can you briefly sum up who you are and what you’re about?

Joe: We’re Black Peaks! We play pretty heavy music.
Will: If you want to pigeonhole it, if you have to pigeonhole it, it’s post-progressive hardcore. Progressive post-hardcore? That’s what people say anyway. It’s like Mastodon and Mars Volta and Tool were having a picnic party together [groans from other members of the band] and invited…I don’t know, Thrice? And just…carried on having a picnic.
Andrew: Is this before or after the long country walk and a pub lunch?

DP!: I’d go for a pub lunch with Thrice. I reckon Dustin Kensrue could put it away at a carvery.
Will: Definitely. He’d have a bit of all the meats and pay extra for a big plate.

DP!: Tell me a bit about the local scene down in Brighton.
Joe: It’s awesome. There’s such a wealth of different types of music. There’s a band called Luo who make great electronic music but done in a live situation. It’s amazing, especially for guys who are really young. Then we’ve got Tigercub doing the whole grunge thing and Demob Happy, Delta Sleep, Physics House Band…there’s just little pockets of everything. It’s really exciting.

DP!: I think coming out of a healthy local scene is the best thing for a band, being the only band in your town would absolutely suck.
Joe: Yeah! It really made us up our game when we were first starting out. You can get a gig anywhere really, but it’ll probably be a shit gig. If you want a good gig you’ve really got to up your game to the point where you’re trying to be at the level of the amazing bands around you. It makes you work harder.
Andrew: It makes you want to work harder, and better yourself. It’s really inspiring being around other musicians at the top of their game and it’s a really healthy thing to be around because it makes you push yourself.

DP!: Agreed. So; tonight is the first night of the UK tour with HECK, but you’ve just come back from Europe. How was that?
Joe: It was amazing, especially Romania and Ukraine. It’s so weird to go to places you’ve never even been to before, let alone played, and have there be literally thousands of people there to see you. It was a real shock.
Will: Ukraine especially there were actually loads of fans. They’d made homemade t-shirts, they had pictures of us to sign, calling our names and we were just like “we’re in fucking Ukraine! WHAT?!” It’s a crazy place.

DP!: How do you find Europe is to play in comparison to the UK?
Will: It’s a different vibe. The UK is a bit more grimy. The hospitality in Europe is phenomenal.
Joe: It’s definitely easier to cross Dartford Crossing than it is to cross from Ukraine into Poland.
Will: Oh god, yeah, that was horrible. We were stuck there for hours. Coming back we just made our flight. Like; just just made it.
Joe: That was only because our driver Oleg, who deserves a mention, just happened to meet the general of the border at the festival, so if we got stopped we would just show a picture of him on his phone and they’d be like “ok”. But it didn’t work at the Polish border.
Will: It looked like they were going to put our van in the chop shop, there were cars being dismantled, we just thought we were fucked. We didn’t have insurance on our flights so it would have costs us thousands, but we made it! And then played ArcTanGent the next day which was amazing. I saw my new favourite band straight after us; Mutoid Man. Absolutely incredible.

DP!: Speaking of amazing shows; I have to talk about Deftones. That must have been unreal for you to have been together for 2 years and be opening for a band like that at Wembley Arena.
Andrew: I’m still getting over it to be honest.
Will: There were so many people it was just a bit like *deranged laugh*. I was only really singing to the first 15 rows because everyone behind them was just a blur.
[At this point in the interview drummer Liam pops in, says hello, has a quick go on a tiny bicycle then pops back off again.]
Andrew: Anyway, yeah, there are no words for it. We are lucky sons of bitches.
Joe: It was something we’ll literally never forget.
Will: They’re really friendly as well. I chatted to Steph Carpenter for hours. Like, literally hours. Got pretty high with him and tried to be really cool trying the whole time not to whitey.

DP!: And then Download a few days later, that must have been an experience.
Joe: Download was so fucking fun. Like, some shows are awesome but Download we just came off and were like “that was the most fun show ever.”
Will: I’ve seen some of my favourite bands on that stage [Maverick Stage] over the years. I saw Gojira’s first UK festival performance on that stage, so being on that stage was sick. The bucket list has been ticked but next time…Main Stage would be unreal. HEADLINE SET, HOOOOO!

DP!: Well when Iron Maiden inevitably die someone has to do it, might as well be you! Right, let’s talk about the album. ‘Statues’ came out earlier this year and people love it. The Independent, of all places, hailed you as the next big thing in heavy music. How do you feel about the reception you’ve been getting?
Andrew: It’s ridiculous really, isn’t it. But I keep saying to people; we’re so involved with what we’re doing with regards to what comes next that it’s been hard to have a moment to let any of it sink in and have any sort of perspective on it. It feels like it came out a lot longer ago than it did, but we still enjoy playing it and we’re stoked about the reception. Hopefully we’ll chat again in a year and be like “yeah those were fucking good times!” but at the minute it’s hard to comprehend it all.
Will: Hopefully it’s not all downhill from here. Like “we were hailed as the next big thing in heavy music, but people were wrong. A lot of people were really, really wrong.”

DP!: At least you could get some really good “Peaked Too Soon” puns in your Kerrang headlines on the next album. But I’m sure that won’t happen. Especially considering you’ve really got your own thing going on musically. You seem to take influence from bands you don’t see mentioned very often, in the UK scene especially, bands like Tool, Oceansize, Cave In, Mastodon. Was it an intentional thing to set out to do something really different?
Andrew: It genuinely did just kind of happen. We just met up in a room and started writing music together that we would want to listen to ourselves. We just write whatever we feel we want to write, I know that sounds clichéd, but there’s no conscious effort to do anything other than just see what comes out when we get together. But it’s really nice to have people say we’re different and original, as a band that’s about the biggest compliment you can get.

DP!: On the album you’ve got a guest appearance from Jamie Lenman from Reuben. How did that come about?
Will: He saw us support Empress and really really liked our music. Came up to us afterwards to say how much he loved our set, then he ended up coming to see us a couple more times. We were a fair way into writing the album and toyed with the idea of asking him to guest on a track. When I called him up and asked him to do it he was ecstatic.

DP!: Amazing. Right then; to finish up – what does 2017 look like for Black Peaks?
Joe: Smoke and mirrors.
Andrew: After this tour there might be some more shows before the end of this year. Definitely more music next year. Bigger and better things. Classic cliché answer I know.
Joe: We have this saying that’s just “next year”. Always looking forward. Some things will happen and some things won’t happen. But just keep going. Next year.
Andrew: Keep working hard, keep having fun, and we’ll see what happens. We’ll take this thing as far as we can.

You can keep up to date with the band online by following them on Facebook (here) and Twitter (here).

Interview by Liam Knowles (@wearefixtures)