Edinburgh based newcomers Woes are making quite a name for themselves in the UK pop-punk scene lately. Having toured with the likes of Neck Deep, Seaway, and As It Is already in their thus far short career, the boys are clearly a highly sought band.
So, with so many milestones being achieved as of late, what better way to celebrate last month’s release of their new EP ‘Self Help’ than to open the Signature Brew stage at one of the scene’s biggest festivals, Slam Dunk.
After their killer set at the North date of the festival in Leeds, we sat down with bassist Sean Duddy and drummer Ryan Neish from the band to discuss Slam Dunk, touring with some of the best in the genre, progress on their debut album, and being more than just your typical pop-punk band.
DP!: Afternoon, guys! So, how was your first time playing Slam Dunk Festival?
S: It was great. We really loved playing our set. When you play first on the first day, you’re always a bit worried if there’s going to be anyone in the crowd, but it was actually really great and loads of people showed up for us. Even the artist liaison guy for our stage said to us, “Damn guys, there’s quite a lot of people here!”. We couldn’t have asked for anything better really.
DP!: How do you find festivals in comparison to being on tour? Do you prepare for festivals in a different way?
S: That’s a good question. I always say the same thing: it doesn’t matter where you play, if it’s in front of five people or five thousand people, you’ve always got to put on the best show that you possibly can. The only thing that you have to be aware of at festivals is making your set sound the same as it normally does, but you’ve just got to play the best you can. If you just do a little bit of tweaking and take a little more time during sound checks, then you can go out and smash it every single time.
R: For me, personally, I practice on my drum pad for a while. When we get in our tour van for a drive, I usually just do the same and then get here and just set up everything the same as I would normally.
DP!: You guys are one of a few Scottish bands representing your country. Do you find much of a contrast between shows in Scotland and England?
S: If I’m being honest, I don’t really think so. I think they’re both pretty rowdy if I’m being honest. People always talk about the Scottish energy at shows, but we get a lot of love in England as well. That’s not to take anything away from the Scottish guys, they go absolutely boosh! It’s really just brilliant wherever we go. We have quite a few people who have followed us down to Slam Dunk from Scotland, and we’ve got so much love for those guys. If you’re all reading this then thank you very much!
DP!: Having an early set means you have a fair chunk of the day to check out who’s at the festival. Do you have any bands you want to watch this weekend?
S: My personal pick for Slam Dunk is Knuckle Puck, but we missed them. Stand Atlantic are playing later as well, so I’ll probably go along and say hi to them.
R: Can’t Swim as well. They were on the Signature Brew Stage just after us, and they are so sick. Good Charlotte are on later tonight.
S: Yeah, so are Jimmy Eat World. Well, I’ll go to Jimmy and you go to Good Charlotte! (laughs) It’s just hard because there are so many bands here that you really love, but it’s also not knowing where the day will take you. Like, you could be four beers deep and wind up in some place you didn’t even know was there seeing a band you’d never intended to and absolutely love it.
DP!: So your van must be packed full of Tennants in preparation for a Slam Dunk like that then, right?
R: No, actually! We actually hate Tennants! (laughs)
S: To be honest, we’re not like super-heavy drinkers at all. Our van is actually packed full of Monster Energy! Like absolutely stacked full of it (laughs) Other than that, our van is just full of healthy snacks. That’s the key to a successful tour actually. You can’t be eating shit and drinking all the time.
R: Yeah, you’ve got to keep your energy levels steady. If you eat loads of crap, you’ll just feel like crap.
DP!: Outside of this weekend’s Slam Dunk, you guys also announced that you’ll be heading out on tour with State Champs in Autumn. How excited are you for that?
S: Yeah, that’s true! It’s a great line-up as well. It’s funny really, we were talking to our manager about the tour and we just sort of realised how everything we’re doing just seems to be mental these days. We’re just sat there like “Holy shit, another amazing tour”. It’s just mad. We were on the biggest UK pop-punk tour of the year last year with Neck Deep, and now we’re on the biggest UK pop-punk tour of the year this year as well. It just never fucking slows down. It’s mental. We’re really, truly blessed.
DP!: In other news, you’ve also recently signed to UNFD. How’s life been on the new label?
R: Yeah, it’s been excellent. UNFD are a label that’s different to the normal pop-punk bands, and they really take a lot of pride in us. They give us a lot of time, they chat to us, and they’re really great.
S: It’s different. So, rather than them just giving us some money for a record and saying “just go and do what you want”, they prefer to actually sit down and chat about things, so we’re all in it together. What I like a lot is that we’re not ever a million miles away from the anybody at the label. I could just quickly give my label rep a call, and he actually encourages that we communicate. He’ll say to me “Mate, I don’t feel like we’re chatting enough. Why don’t we arrange calls every fortnight or so to catch-up?”, and that’s sick. They’re a very artist-focused label, and that’s not to say that other labels aren’t, just that UNFD are more so. Ryan’s right. They do really take pride in us as their flagship pop-punk band, especially in the UK and Europe. But, it’s also us wanting to do good for the label. They put a lot of trust into us, so we want to ace it for them.
DP!: Not long after signing with UNFD you released your new EP, ‘Self Help’. How did you find the reception to the record?
R: It’s been brilliant. We were surprised by the reception really, as we had released four singles before the release of the EP, so when ‘Self Help’ came out there was only one new song left that we hadn’t released. Luckily people really loved the track that they hadn’t heard, so it sort of rounded off the record for us.
S: Yeah, totally. You don’t want to take the piss with people by releasing single after single after single. I was kind of worried that people would be telling us to “Get over the single thing”, but thankfully the response was great and nobody seemed to mind that we’d dropped a lot of singles. What we really wanted to do was to use the EP as a platform for an upcoming album. The EP has been great, with a lot of singles that will tie us over until the summer, and now we want to lock ourselves in a room and really prepare ourselves for writing the best album we can. But yeah, the EP’s been fantastic, so we’re now just looking to take the energy from that and build on it.
DP!: Speaking of a new record, is there anything you can tell us about it?
S: Yeah. We’re kind of just figuring it out ourselves now, to be honest. One thing that I’ve really been focusing on currently is asking myself is “How can we be different?” Like, I think the reason that a lot of people like us so far is that they hear elements in us that are different, but we’ve kind of been staying in the pop-punk safety zone. Or, rather, we’re so used to writing in that zone that we struggle to leave these lanes, right? Yet, the more we write, the more we get to know each other, the better we get our production, trying this and that. I think that ‘HLB2’ was a good example of this. We asked ourselves “What happens when we do something ever so slightly different?” I do quite a lot of the production on our stuff and experimenting with a lot of hip-hop beats, producing vocals in weird ways, listening to a lot of new artists and feeling inspired in different ways. I’m really excited to see what happens with the album, because we don’t know what it’ll turn out like yet, but I can tell you that it’s not going to sound like our last two records.
R: I think we’ve got to try and take the band to whole new level. We don’t want people to think “That’s Woes – the pop-punk band” but more “There’s Woes – they sound like a new band.” We want to try and open peoples’ minds to music, and not be so restricted to just be like “I listen to pop-punk and eat pizza and wear shorts,” but instead be more like, “Oh my god, I’m going to go and get a face tattoo!” (laughs) We just don’t want to be stuck in a loop doing the same stuff.
S: Yeah, and that’s just from a creative standpoint. From a business standpoint as well, why should we do something that has already been so perfected by bands like Blink-182, or even Neck Deep? People have already heard it. The most successful bands are the ones who go out and carve their own path. So, not only do we want to creatively do something different, but also for the sake of the band and for being a successful band, we need to do something different. We won’t grow if not. I mean, maybe we’ll play Slam Dunk once every three years or whatever, but ultimately we’ll need to be doing something different, and that’s what we hope to achieve with the album.
DP!: That sounds excellent! Have you begun writing anything for the new record yet?
S: We have. We took a week off and went to Holland in between the Frank Carter tour recently where we rented an Air BnB and just took our laptops and interface and just sat there and wrote. You don’t need a full studio really to write these days, you just need a guitar, a laptop, and a microphone and you’re away. Then, after Slam Dunk, we’re away to go and do the same thing in Wales where we’re going to see our old producer, Seb Barlow, who did the mixing on ‘Self Help’, and he fully produced our first self-titled EP too. Seb is a wonderful songwriter, and we just love him and his style and influence. Everything he touches turns to gold, so we’re really excited to go there and write some songs with him and make something really cool and different. That’ll be the next batch of writing. Then, after playing Download and our Scottish headline tour in June, we’ve got a little bit of time off before the State Champs tour in October. So, we’re just going to go and sit in a room and write, write, write, and aim to achieve everything that we want.
The band’s EP, ‘Self Help’, is out now through UNFD.