INTERVIEW: The Last Alive @ Weatherspoons, Northwich (08/04/2009)

Date: April 8th, 2009
Venue: Weatherspoons, Northwich
Interviewer: Zach Redrup

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The Last Alive profile

You can sometimes find musical talent in some of the most secluded and unknown places. Northwich isn’t a very well-known town in the heart of Cheshire but hosts many talented and locally loved music acts, including The Last Alive. From the ashes of the now defunct I Left You For Summer (previously interviewed by this site), the band meet up with DEAD PRESS! in a local Northwich pub to talk about their upcoming tour, their debut EP release, the previous band, and golden eggs?:


Zach: In your own personal opinions, how would you describe The Last Alive and its sound?
Stu: It’s quite hard to describe, but I’d say the best – you know, to sum it up, is post-hardcore, indie/ambient. We like ambience.
Rob: It’s kind of – it is heavy but without being like, erm – it’s like it’s heavy without metal.
Zach: Without the brutality.
Rob: It’s like heavy bits, but erm, like – kind of like taking a pop song and making it heavy, rather than sort of beating on everyone’s…
Stu: Beating on everyone’s beatdowns.
Rob: Beating on everyone’s beatdowns metal-style, yeah. Kind of – I suppose sort of heavy but not in like a metal way.
Stu: No bree. No bree.
Zach: No bree.
Rob: Bree free.
Stu: Bree free.
Zach: No ‘rape your Nan music’?
[the band laughs]
Rob: No, we’re trying to get away from like the screamo genre aswell, erm, and we’ve done that by sort of not screaming [laughs]. Erm, I don’t know how best to sort of describe it ’cause it’s quite a cerebral sound, erm –
George: I’d say that we’re like kind of atmospheric.
Rob: Yeah.
Stu: It’s just a nice all rounded-off heavy rock.
Rob: It’s just post-hardcore. It’s just rock music, isn’t it?
Stu: It’s lovely, that’s what it is.
Rob: It’s lovely stuff.
Stu: Next question [laughs].

Zach: What would you say are your main influences?
Stu: Ooooh.
Rob: Thursday as a collective.
Stu: Geoff Rickly is sort of like a lollipop that you can’t stop licking.
Rob: There’s loads of bands – there’s tones of bands that we listen to, erm, but –
Stu: Emarosa.
Rob: Nahh, I wouldn’t class Emarosa as an influence.
Stu: Err! I think you would.
Rob: Well, not me. But like, I dunno, I’m really into Circa Survive, and –
Stu: But we’re not.
Rob: We’re into like Thursday and stuff. We’re all into different stuff I think. I mean –
George: I mean I take mine from Taking Back Sunday and The Used. So that’s where I bring mine in.
Rob: I kinda like erm…
Stu: I like erm, Flobots.
Zach: ‘Handlebars’?
Stu: Yeah ‘Handlebars’, brilliant song that is [laughs]. No, our direct influence is probably like Thursday. Our all-in-one influence is Thursday… ’cause of Geoff Rickly, and the lollipop scenario.

Zach: How’ve you developed The Last Alive from I Left You For Summer?
Stu: We –
Rob: Stopped screaming.
Stu: We chose to develop on weak areas, and demolish weak areas. We just thought – we just talked about what went wrong, didn’t we?
Rob: We essentially just kind of thought like every band has like a thing where erm, you’ll have like sort of singing in the verse and then like the screaming in the chorus, and then it’ll kind of break down, and like literally every band does that and we didn’t actually do that well. I suppose it was kind of just we were getting bored of being generic, and –
Stu: Wanted to break free.
Rob: Yeah. We just kind of – all the bands that we actually love and respect like Thursday don’t do that. They all kind of do their own weird thing, and we don’t want to be a band that’s sort of like categorised into one thing.
Stu: Like Geoff Rickly – if he really wanted to – he would go onstage in a goose suit, and he’d pull it off.
Rob: He could pull it off, he could pull off a goose suit.
Stu: Yeah, but basically we just cut out the cheese. Hang on, we have like imposter cheese. Do you know like cheese slices?
Zach: As in the ones that aren’t really cheese?
Stu: Yeah, but I’m talking about proper cheese. Basically we wanted to turn a normal average egg into a golden egg, and we discussed how to do that. It involved gold-plating [laughs].
Rob: We’ve put more focus probably on instrumentation, because the last band was very vocally-driven.
Stu: Yeah, me and Steve decided to lock ourselves in a cave, and in that cave we came up with loads of new atmospheric sort of – we just messed around with delays and… shizzle.
Rob: Yeah, ’cause it was quite – I mean vocals were quite at the forefront with the other band.
Stu: Yeah, everything else was quite basic wasn’t it?
Rob: And everything was – and like I would kind of write things to go on top of their sort of structures and stuff, and rather than doing things that way ’round we kind of – you know, these two locked themselves in a room for about a week.
Stu: We made love several times, but that didn’t come into it.
George: Yeah, I got bumped on the head.
Stu: Yes.
Rob: That’s how we write our songs, with a lot of love.

Zach: Where do you think you’d be now if you decided to keep I Left You For Summer going?
Stu: In the bin.
Rob: In the bin in the back.
Stu: In a really big bin. To be honest, let’s explain the I Left You For Summer thing; it went wrong because, as we’ve already said, we weren’t really into the music anymore in the way that – the whole screamo and generic, erm, traits we were –
Rob: We were getting bored of being labeled as like –
Stu: Well not – not only that, but the whole – you know, we have this, erm – everyone seems to think that we got rid of two members, but we actually didn’t. We actually called that band a day, like we didn’t announce it really, but we called it a day for these reasons –
Rob: ’cause there was loads of other reasons, like we weren’t really – you know, we weren’t happy as a band anymore, we weren’t – nobody was having any fun, and that’s the point of being in a band isn’t it? Just to have fun.
Stu: But we didn’t intend to go – like, The Last Alive wasn’t ever the plan after I Left You For Summer.
Rob: No, no it wasn’t. We’d literally finished – I think we were tracking for an album, and erm, we got – I think we got one finished song done, and you know, we put it out and nobody liked it, and we couldn’t understand why, and we all got –
Stu: It wasn’t that. I don’t think we liked it deep down, well I didn’t anyway.
Rob: I fucking love it. I actually really liked it. No, it’s just like we put this song out and we didn’t get much response from it, and that’s probably our fault for not promoting it, but it was kind of like that sort of –
Stu: Pushed it over the edge a little bit.
Rob: It pushed you, ’cause you know, Stuart mixes and produces all of our stuff, and it kind of like, you know – it just knocked all of our confidence.
Stu: We weren’t feeling confident. It was sort of – that song was the only thing that was gonna save us. If that song was gonna do well we might have been a bit better, but if the band was still here now I couldn’t see much lifespan, because we weren’t into it, and unfortunately – we enjoyed it while it lasted.
Rob: Something would have had to have majorly kicked it off, like – something like, if we had ended up putting the album out, and it was good and it had gone down well, and maybe we’d had some sort of… attention.
Stu: But even then I don’t think the heart was there, was it? We weren’t really into it.
Rob: It was just sort of like really – like I said, loads of bands do the screaming thing, and we weren’t very good at it. Simple as that really.
Stu: Yeah, we decided to call it a day.

Zach: Are you guys planning to play any of the old I Left You For Summer songs live or re-record them at all?
Stu: Ooh no.
Rob: That’s funny though. That’s funny though, because –
Stu: You suggested that –
Rob: I suggested that we sort of re-did one that we had put out.
Stu: It was the last one.
Rob: It’s the last one, the very last song.
Stu: ‘That’s A Stylish Way To Hit The Ground’.
Rob: Yeah, just ’cause I like it so much. But we probably won’t.
Stu: I’m not so sure that we will.
Rob: We’re not gonna do that, but if we were it probably would have been just a re-working.
Stu: Well, like I saying to Rob, I think we want to bury that band now and just move on because although it was brilliant while it lasted, there’s no point you know, reliving what we’ve already done. We may aswell progress.
Rob: And get more than three kids at our shows.
Stu: Hey, we had quite a lot of kids. They weren’t children, but they’re still kids.
Rob: [laughs] Kids are kids.
Stu: I like kids. I mean…
[the band laughs]
Stu: I like anyone who comes to our shows. I don’t care how ugly or old they are.

Zach: You’ve got a new EP coming out soon. What can you tell us about that?
Stu: It’s amazing.
Rob: We’ve just finished tracking it today. Well, tracking not mixing.
Stu: It’s left to me to mix it now, but I’m quite excited about it actually. It’s erm –
Rob: Like I said before, heavy but not in a shitty metal way. Like taking a pop song and sort of making it heavy. I don’t know, it’s definitely – it’s not going to be the same as you’ve heard on MySpace if you’ve even heard it. Like, we’ve put up two tracks on MySpace and they’re kind of like, like erm…
Stu: I class them as the boring ones.
Rob: Yeah they are, they’re the boring ones. It’s going be a 5-track EP. What else can I say about it really? It sounds – I’m really happy with it at least. I mean it’s just –
Stu: I think we all are.
Rob: Yeah.
George: I like – I really enjoy playing all of the songs on there.
Rob: Erm, what else can I say about it really? It’s not a – I don’t think it’s as generic as anything we’ve put out before, it’s quite individual. The feedback that we’ve had so far is that it’s kind of like – like some kids have said it’s – they haven’t heard anything like it.
Stu: They’ve said like that we’re quite original.
Rob: Yeah, originality, and that’s something I think we’ve carried on through the songs. The three songs that you haven’t heard – we’re gonna put one up in a couple of weeks – are probably a little bit more aggressive, but not, you know –
Stu: Not in a heavy way.
Rob: Not in a heavy way. Just in like layering things, and erm, we’ve done a lot of work with the vocals, and a lot of work with the guitars.
Stu: It’s brill.
Rob: Yeah, it’s good stuff.
Stu: Like Brylcreem.
Rob: Like Brylcreem? [laughs]

Zach: Are any of the songs or ideas of the songs taken from what was meant to be the I Left You For Summer album?
Stu: No. A lot of people have said this aswell, no.
Rob: No, they’re not. It’s all new, it’s all new stuff. Yes we had ideas, and yes we probably wanted to take some of them a little bit further, but like it’s a totally different sounding band, and those songs wouldn’t work on what we’ve written. So no, it’s brand new.
Stu: I did start – right, the writing started while that band was still together, but not between the band. It was sort of like new ideas were being made by individuals at home. We never sort of spoke about them because we were still concentrating on the I Left You For Summer album. But then as soon as that was over, we realised that we had this bucket-full of ideas. So yeah, we went ahead with that then, and came up with this beautiful golden egg.

Zach: Would you say ‘This Is Your Escape Route’ is a fitting title for the EP, escaping I Left You For Summer to The Last Alive?
Rob: I never thought of it like that, but yeah. Erm, the title for the – ‘This Is Your Escape Route’ – that is based on, well it’s kind of like a theme that I had in play in a song called ‘Play Dead’, and it’s kind of like giving up something you like doing for like a 9:00 to 5:00 job or something. It’s just kind of like casting away your dreams as it were, and that’s corny to say, but like – I don’t know, that’s what I get from it anyway, ‘This Is Your Escape Route’.
Stu: I’ve never thought about it.
Rob: Well yeah, it can mean anything. Like, I try to write the lyrics so that they’re applicable to anyone.
Stu: Obviously humans.

Zach: What would you say makes you stand out from the crowd from the rest of the Cheshire music scene?
Stu: Ahh, good question.
Rob: Everything, and nothing at the same time.
Stu: We’re quite, erm –
Rob: Song structures out of the window. We don’t have a set song structure, and I think that’s really cool, because like we don’t have verses and choruses, we have like – you’re never going to expect the same thing twice from us I think, in the way that like we’re never going put out a song that’s got like a verse, a chorus, a verse, like an outro or whatever.
Stu: No standard sort of –
Rob: No, it’s crazy stuff that we do like in these songs, like –
George: Everything we do just flows.
Rob: Does it flow though? Well, yeah, I mean –
George: The way that it comes out.
Rob: Obviously we’re not trying to make a mess of the songs, but like we like to keep ourselves sort of –
Stu: Changing things.
Rob: Changing things, chopping and changing things, and like cutting things out and moving it over here –
Stu: And over there.
Rob: Over there. Here, there, and everywhere. I don’t know like, erm, I don’t know how best to put it really, like, we don’t want to be a band that’s sort of like boring to listen to. Like, you can listen to a song once because it’s got like a verse or a set structure, and kind of figure out the song. But I think you have to sort of – without sounding pretentious like digest our songs.
Stu: Like a burger. I think we’re different live aswell, we’re not – we don’’like to be stood still, even if it means at 6′ 6″ you’re the pick-axe.
[the band laughs]
Rob: Oh god, the height issue.
Stu: Yeah, I thought it was a good thing Rob.
Rob: So do I, I think it’s a brilliant thing.
Stu: The pick-axe will come out. No, we like to give a good show, we don’t like to bore people. We like – we aim to come off dripping wet, and struggling to breathe.

Zach: How would you describe the local Cheshire music scene as you know it today?
Stu: Actually, there’s – there’s been some good bands coming out. I mean we’ve got Thought Explode, the new Honour The Fallen, I, Said The Spy –
Rob: There’s quite a diverse range, and like I’m not going to sort of slag off any bands that are around at the moment ’cause they’re all really good at what they do, and the one thing we’re trying not to do though is be part of a scene. The fact that there’s pop-punk, and hardcore and stuff, and like there’s loads of those bands and we’re kind of in the middle doing that.
Stu: I think that – I think for many years that there wasn’t much going on, was there? There wasn’t much decent things going on around the area, but now we’ve had – I think it’s coming back now, I do.
Rob: I don’t think it is. What? Our sort of post-hardcore thing?
Stu: No, I think just generally. Even if it’s not our genre, just decent bands, you know, a more professional sort of approach to things. Even though – you know, even if it’s not our style of music there’s still –
Rob: Yeah, there’s a lot of good bands out there.
Stu: They’re good at what they do.

Zach: Are there any local bands you think people should check out?
Rob: Honour The Fallen.
Stu: Honour The Fallen, Thought Explode.
Rob: Reclamation.
Stu: I, Said The Spy.
George: The Last Alive.
[the band laughs]
Stu: The Last Alive. My mind’s gone blank.
Rob: Who was that really good band from Manchester? Erm… I can’t think of it, erm.
Stu: Some good bands.
George: Just – just those ones, check those ones out.

Zach: In terms of live performance, what can people expect from you on your upcoming tour who are yet to see you in action?
Stu: Ohhh.
Rob: Sweat. Rock and roll, rock and roll.
George: Yeah, I’ll trash myself every night.
Rob: George goes mental.
George: Yeah, my hands on our first practice after learning just ‘This Is Your Escape Route’ as – as our first practice, you know, just to wind-up for it – I blew my hands up doing it. Just they’d all callused up – they all callused up and blistered, but they blew up while I was playing.
Stu: I found one of his fingers stuck on my door. It’d blown out the window.
Rob: The first three practices, all of us got hurt.
George: Yeah, that’s true.
Rob: Like, I don’t understand what happened.
George: Wasn’t one of us that didn’t get hurt.
Rob: Actually I haven’t been hurt. I haven’t been hurt yet.
Stu: Steve got his face ripped off by a treadmill, George‘s hands. There was a heart attack.
George: You [Stu] had a heart attack.
Rob: There’s a blog on MySpace about that. You had pretty much a heart attack.
Stu: And you’ve written a song about it, which is on the EP.
Rob: Yeah. On the EP there’s a song called ‘Cocaine White’, which is about our fun time at the hospital.
Stu: It actually scared me.
Zach: Really?
Rob: I actually had a mint time at the hospital.
Stu: After I thought I was okay, I started enjoying it.
Steve: There’s everything you need there; coffee machines, sweet machines, and beds.
Zach: In America, they’ve got McDonalds in the hospitals.
George: Ah no way!
Zach: Yeah, on Super Size Me they show it. There’s just like a McDonalds inside it. So you know, when your heart is clogging up, just go downstairs and get a McDonalds, you know.
Rob: It was awesome. I mean once you stopped panicking and that, like it was good.
Steve: Once you knew you wasn’t going to die.
Stu: Yeah.
George: That’s just so hypocritical, isn’t it? You know, we’re just promoting health but we’ll shove a McDonalds there.
Stu: Yeah, but it was fun though, I did enjoy it. It was good – it was a good band exercise.
Steve: I was the ambulance.
Stu: Yeah, Steve was the ambulance, Rob was the carer.
George: I stayed at home.
Stu: I was the victim.
George: I stayed at home and cleared up, so that was it.
Stu: George was the cleaner.
Rob: We didn’t get in ’til like 1:00 or 2:00 o’clock in the morning.
Stu: Oh, it was brilliant, honestly.
Rob: It was fucking awesome.
Stu: If I can give you any advice, if it happens, just call one of us up and we’ll come with you. It’s amazing.
Rob: Yeah, there’s a song directly related – well, not directly, there’s other stuff it’s about, but that’s how I wrote the skeleton of the song.
Stu: In the song he tells me I’ve got no chance.
[the band laughs]
Rob: Yeah, you’ll have to wait for that. Yeah, ‘Cocaine White’.

Zach: What dates are you most looking forward to on your tour?
Stu: Academy 3.
Rob: Fucking Academy 3. If you want tickets fucking, you know, give us a call, we’ve got ourselves seventy. Erm, a couple in Glasgow.
Stu: Yeah, we’re looking forward to Glasgow, and Edinburgh.
Steve: The Black Market.
Stu: And The Black Market, yeah. Ever heard of something like that, Black Market?
Rob: Where else? Where else are we playing that’s good?
George: I’m just happy to get out there. Every gig is going to be good for me.
Stu: Really looking forward to getting in our van, and just being the most –
Rob: Being idiots on tour.
Stu: Ahh, we’re just going to – we’re going be in pain the whole time, it’s going to be brilliant. We’re going to write things on the van aswell, and try and get arrested as many times as possible.
Zach: That’s your goal? To get arrested on tour?
Stu: It’s quite an easy goal to reach.
Rob: “Oh, we can’t play the show tomorrow ’cause Stu‘s in a cell.”
Stu: Or, give me a wireless, and I’ll play in the cell.

Zach: Are there any bands or artists that you really want to tour with at some point?
Rob: Thursday.
Stu: Yeah, obviously.
Rob: Erm, it’d be cool to tour with like [I, Said The] Spy wouldn’t it, I suppose?
Stu: They’re not in our –
Rob: Well no, but, they’d be fun guys to tour with.
Stu: We love people who like us, and we like them, so we like to just hang out with… alright, I’m rubbish at this.
Rob: Erm, yeah alright, erm, I’m just trying to think of a good band, like –
George: We want to play with big bands.
Stu: We love people.
Rob: Like, something like – to tour with something like Flood Of Red would be cool, or Yashin, or something like that.
Stu: With someone who’s quite established in our genre.
Rob: Basically anyone really that wants to take us out on tour, we’ll go on tour with.
Stu: Who are nice guys and play decent music.
Rob: Yeah, they’ve got to be nice.
Stu: And we like people who like us, and we like them –
Rob: You’ve said that once already!
Stu: I’m trying to stop being the silent one.

Zach: What are you hoping to achieve by this time next year?
Stu: Oh, I know what I want to achieve.
Rob: I don’t know, erm, I want a good live – like a really, really solid live performance.
Stu: I want to achieve some, erm – I’d like to be a band who could, you know, support ourselves and just keep doing it. It’s so hard to keep doing it.
Rob: It’d be cool if we were like on a bigger tour, or it’d be cool if we – obviously it’d be cool if we got some tour.
Stu: I think it’d be cool if we just got our name out wouldn’t it?
Rob: Yeah, that’s the aim. Just to play shows, tour, and get the name out.

Zach: Any final words that you’d like to say?
Rob: Ribidy-dib.
Stu: Ribidy-dob.
Rob: Fuck yeah, ribidy-dib.
Steve: Close.
Stu: We might sound strange, but we are actually nice guys who love you.
Rob: We just talked over ourselves, like three people.
George: I’d like to see him get that one out.
Stu: No, come to our gigs, have a chat with us, and we’ll probably chat to you back… even though I’ll throw eggs at you.
Zach: Golden eggs?
Stu: Golden eggs! Nah, they’re too valuable. Do you know how long it takes to get a golden egg?

After finishing their burgers and drinks, The Last Alive bid their goodbyes and thanks to DEAD PRESS! for their time before heading for a new promo photoshoot. Local acts are always unappreciated for the amount of effort they need to put into setting themselves up for anything new. The Last Alive have got their heads screwed on, and if luck is on their side the new upcoming EP and tour might score them something they rightfully deserve – even if it’s something as small as a larger and very comitted fanbase.

Written by Zach Redrup