Not travelling too far from home for today’s Band of the Day who are celebrating the launch of their new album. Answering our questions is stickmeister/tubthumper Steve Hales…
James and I are from Hampshire, UK and Alistair hails from Bonnie Scotland but lives in Norfolk.
How did you meet?
I met James when I was putting a Rush tribute band together. We’d mixed in the same musical circles but never played together. We met Alistair a year ago when we were looking for a new guitarist for Kepler Ten. He literally answered an ad and we’ve not looked back since.
How long have you been playing as a band?
We started in 2015. It was slow to begin with as it was like our luxury side project while we played tribute shows but it soon took over our time and energy.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Around the time we were looking for a name, Nasa started releasing more information about its search for habitable planets using the Kepler telescope. They had recently discovered a “Mega Earth” orbiting a star called Kepler 10. I like all that stuff so suggested the name and it stuck.
What are your influences?
James loves his Rush, Yes and the Police, real classic stuff. I think we all agree on those bands. I like everything from Alestorm to Abba and listen to a lot of modern stuff. Alistair goes from Cynic to Eric Johnson to Dream Theater and beyond. It’s surprising that we get anything coherent done really.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We just write what we enjoy and the songs go where they go. Once a track gets to a certain point it kinda takes control. It’s a strange relationship. The songs lead you and you follow along giving them colour and life as you go. I guess if you mashed up Dream Theater, Muse and Rush you’d get somewhere close to our sound.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
I’m very lucky that I have free reign with the lyrics, so I get to explore whatever odd thoughts come into my head. The challenge that I have to get the words past James, who has to sing what I write. So if I can sneak strange subject matters past him I’ve done well. So far we’ve had space ships, a grief-stricken hermit, a nervous breakdown, a wasp vs a spider, some juicy metaphors about social science and the planet as well as the odd dig at a few established organisations along the way. Unfortunately there have been some lyrics that didn’t get through. Notably a really good song about a tapeworm. He didn’t like that one much lol.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Our shows are very intense for us but hopefully dynamic and energetic experiences for the audience. We are a 3-piece with a similar stage set up to Rush, so we are all playing several different instruments at various times. It’s very technical for us but the challenge is very rewarding. Number of shows-wise, we’ve done exactly 1 show with this lineup. James and I have gigged together hundreds of times but since Alistair joined we played one show last autumn and were straight into the studio recording the new album. Then… Covid.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Watching Alistair’s guitar playing on stage after one rehearsal. He looks way too chill to have his hands doing that. Seriously though we don’t get to be wild. Too much tech and gear that could go wrong. It’s all mineral water before the show and maybe a glass of vino after. I think the people that come to see us are there for the music. Hopefully the wildness is in that. That’s what we strive for.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Alistair – Kiesel guitars, Line 6 and Hughes and Kettner. James – Status and GB basses, Roland keys and Slate Digital. Me – Tama drums, Paiste cymbals, Korg keys and Alesis Strike.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
The lead track – “Falling Down” – which is out now and was taken from our forthcoming album A New Kind of Sideways which is released on 20th November (today!) through White Star Records.
What are your plans over the next six months or so?
Well, we should be gigging, but if the virus is sticking around we have another couple of singles/videos to release, possibly some virtual gigs and then cracking on with writing for the next album.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Oh man, I think we would all fight with each other over that one. Since you are talking to me though I’m gonna go with Pain of Salvation to headline. What a superb live band. First on is tough though as I don’t want to put anyone I know “below” us. I’m gonna go off-genre and choose my mate Dave Roux’s band The Outlaw Orchestra. Cracking band and he is a hilarious frontman. You’d pay the entrance fee just to hear his stories!