Fast, gritty, and heavier than an obese elephant, it’s Swindon’s very own Ursus; the most devastatingly weighty band to grace your earholes this year so far. The group are hot off the release of their most recent single, “Hallowed Shakes”, and we here at The Moshville Times were lucky enough to get a quick word and a brief insight into what makes Ursus tick. Let’s dive in!
First things first, where are you guys from?
We’re all based around Swindon in Wiltshire. We’re all dotted around that area so we consider that to be our ‘home town’ for shows.
Where did you meet?
Aaron and James met over Facebook and started jamming together, and then Ryan met us when he responded to an advert we posted online looking for a bass player. Joe came into the fold a bit later. We met him first when he filled in for us after we parted ways with our first vocalist. Then after the same thing happened with our second singer he finally agreed to join as a full time member, which is what we had wanted the first time he filled in.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Technically just under three years but after we got our new line-up we consider that to be almost a new band because it’s so much better. With our current line up, it’s been about 6 months since we started doing shows. Probably about 3 or 4 months since Joe joined officially. We deleted all of our old music so it really is like a new band. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the name.
Where did the name come from?
The name was thought of by our original second guitarist. It’s a Latin word associated with bear. We’re not sure what prompted the idea, but there’s not really any great meaning behind it. We just liked how it sounded.
What are your influences?
For this band, Structures and Thy Art Is Murder are two of the big ones in terms of musical style. Really, it’s [Structures and Thy Art Is Murder] just two bands that have good songwriters. We all listen to a lot of different music, but that’s the one thing we all agree on. Those two bands are both very technical but never at any detriment to the song itself. Writing a great song start to finish is their goal and the technicality is a by-product of that. This is what we strive for as well. It’s very easy to just bash together a few riffs but we want to write music that people will remember.
Describe your musical style; why do you play the way that you do?
We would say that we sit in the gap between metalcore and deathcore. There’s definitely a lot of influence from both with all the melodic sections and breakdowns which I really think people can hear. We try and avoid sitting right in the middle of anything that’s been done before. The reason we play this sort of music is just because we play what we want to hear. We all listen to mostly heavy music so naturally, that’s the kind of music that we write.
Do you have any lyrical themes?
Lyrically we just write about anything that we find interesting or inspiring at that particular time. Usually, the feel of the song influences where the mind goes and then we write from there. It’s all about trying to take the picture that is in our heads when we hear the song and then put it down in lyrical form. Therefore because of the style of the songs it’s usually quite dark topics.
You recently released your single “Hallowed Shakes”. Did it feel like an important or special piece of music to the band?
It’s important in that it is basically a completely fresh start for us. We have a new line up, a refined sound and now we’re moving forward with this band in a much more serious manner. It’s still fun but its not just ‘for fun’, if that makes sense. “Hallowed Shakes” is our rebirth and we’re just going to keep going from here.
Was the single meticulously planned, or were you more free-form in your writing process?
Our song writing process is all very planned. There’s no getting in a jam room and bashing out ideas, it’s all done on a laptop and then we meet up to go over song structures and possible variations. We find for this type of music because of the complexity it’s not the kind of thing that can just be done in a room. Not many people can just come up with incredible, complex riffs on the spot. It takes planning and careful writing for a lot of our parts.
Is there an upcoming album? If so, give us some details.
There isn’t going to be any extended play but we will be releasing a few singles through the year. The first one should be coming out around March and the opening riff that James wrote is probably the best one we have. It follows on with a more melodic style, similar to “Hallowed Shakes”, but it’s a bit more aggressive and a lot faster.
What are your live shows like? How many have you played?
The Ursus live show is dark, energetic, and aggressive. We strive to make the show as much of a visual experience as an audible one. When you come to our show you’re seeing us performing to the best of our ability and we’ve tried to make it an all-round experience for the people watching. We’re not just going to stand still and play the songs; we’re going to put everything we have into them, every night.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen at a live show?
Techabilitation in London, there was some interesting stuff. We didn’t play, but in the crowd there were people doing row boats in the middle of the pit, push ups in circle pits, and a lot of very drunk people. That made for an entertaining show. Especially when From Sorrow to Serenity came on, it went nuts after that.
What, if anything, are you plugging at the moment?
Our new single “Hallowed Shakes” is out now on youtube with a music video (check it out below!). It’s also on all the digital platforms if anyone wants to pick it up. The best place to go is weareursus.com where we have all of our music and we’re adding some new merchandise to the store over there as well.
What are your plans going in to 2018?
2018 is going to be a great year for us. We’ll be releasing a lot of new music and playing as many live shows as we can manage. It looks like there’s some touring getting lined up as well, so we’ll get to play in a lot of new places which should be great.