Interview: Luke Caley and Lewis Williams of Press To MECO

In a small dingy room filled to breaking point with assorted instruments and accompanying gear backstage at The Concorde 2, Luke Caley and Lewis Williams (guitar/vocals and drum/vocals respectively) are euphoric following their opening set for SikTh on this run of UK dates. Despite having literally stepped off stage 15 minutes ago, they are surprisingly collected but characteristically upbeat and optimistic in talking about the past few shows, the delayed sophomore record Here’s To The Fatigue and their 2018 gameplan.

So how was the show?

Good fun man, we’ve always wanted to play The Concorde 2 because we come here a lot. We grew up coming to Brighton and London to watch shows and this has always been a sentimental venue for us. In my opinion I think this is the best venue in Brighton. The bigger ones are sick but this one just sounds great. I actually saw Manchester Orchestra here recently and the sound was brilliant. We were booked to play here last year with Black Peaks and Krokodil but I got the flu. It was sold out as well! Next year is our eighth year as a band and we’ve only pulled out of three shows in that time!

How has the rest of the tour been? 

It’s been so sick man! When you’re on tour with someone like SikTh, everyone who’s really interested in rock and metal in the UK will at least have heard of them and know who they are. They’re such a huge influence and when I was finding my way as a guitar player, Dan’s playing showed me the way massively. I found them really inspirational and it showed me a bunch of new ways to play the guitar. To even be on tour with them is such an honour. Same with Devil Sold His Soul too. I think I was 14 or 15 at the time when I had their first EP and I really loved it. I was trying to tell them the other day and I don’t think they believed me so I started playing all the old songs from the first album and describing one of their very first shirt designs that I’ve got and they were like “Oh fuck!”.

This tour is a very weird package, what has led you to be here with these guys?

I think it was Dan Weller from SikTh who got us in. We only got sent the poster on the morning of the announcement and we thought “Oh shit, this is going to be awesome!”. We’ve just come off a headline run as well so it’s been cool to come out and play for our fans and now be in front of fresh people and a fresh audience. It’s refreshing having the two opposites as well. A lot of bands want to be doing their own headline runs and that’s all well and good but we have just as much fun playing to new people.

You want to play to as many people as you can…

That’s exactly it.

How was that tour?

Yeah, good. It kind of flew by because there was a lot of commotion leading up to it. We were meant to release our album just before the tour and a turn of events happened and now it’s been pushed back so we were kind of more focused on that and putting the material together so the tour kind of crept up on us really. I feel like we owed it to a lot of people who’ve been following our band for a while and to ourselves to go out and play some new songs. Instead of cancelling the tour, we decided to go out and play some new tunes as a consolation so people know that there is actually an album coming soon. The best thing about that tour was the response we got to the new stuff…

That riff man…

I feel like that’s gonna become a thing now! It’s gonna become one of those songs! I think we knew that when we first wrote it, I remember the first time playing it and we thought “This is going to be in the set for a long time”.

So coming to the album, can you spill what happened?

No! We can’t just yet but we’re literally announcing it in the next couple of weeks. It is for the best though and I think that’s all I can say. Every interview we had on this tour was always going to address that so it’s fine man.

How was working on the new album in comparison to the first one?

We have grown way more as songwriters. The first one was largely us figuring shit out and while I think you never stop figuring it out, like Dave Grohl or Josh Homme for example, this time we had a lot more fun writing it, we had a lot more fun recording it and we’re having a lot more fun playing it. Also, we’ve all been playing in bands since we were 12 years old and the debut was the first time any of us had properly done an album, writing a bunch of material instead of one song every 6 months. It’s better for it as well.

On the new album we worked with someone called Machine out in Texas who’s worked with Lamb Of God and Clutch and all these bands. It’s funny, we actually played a show in Bristol the other night and someone from one of the support bands just brought him up, saying he was getting into producing and that Machine was one of his favourite producers and we were like “Oh shit, he did our album!”. His mind is brilliant and he was so the right guy for the job.

How did he end up doing it?

We got his contact from the label we released the first album on, called Best Before Records and the guy who owns it, Anthony, is a really good childhood mate of his. They grew up doing music in Jersey together, programming beats for hip hop DJs so they’ve been friends forever. When we first signed to Best Before two years ago, Anthony said we had to go out to America and record with Machine and we kind of shrugged it off like “As if that would happen”. We also didn’t realise who it was when he first mentioned it, we hadn’t really checked it out because we thought it was just his mate.

It wasn’t until we were in a position that we could genuinely do it, we’d thought about it and it was just something we really wanted to do. He wanted to do it as well and that’s so important because you need that relationship where the band and the producer are as enthusiastic as each other. There’s always going to be a risk when you work with a new producer as well because you’re effectively taking on a new band member. They have a creative input and to be the best producer they can be, they’re there to make the songs fulfill their potential with you so there’s always a risk. We flew him over to Croydon to do pre-production for a week and you don’t know until they get here how it’s going to go but in the first hour or so we realised he totally got it.

So you’re pleased with the results?

Yeah, we love it.

You’ve got the two singles out already, how were they especially on the headline run?

Good. They’re the first new tracks we’ve had in a year and a half that we’ve actually had in the set. For us as well it feels really good to do something new, it’s a different input for the brain to play new stuff. It’s funny as well because by the time we’re playing them, we’re almost sick of them already but at the same time, to play them live and hear people singing it back, we realise that’s never happened before. We weren’t sure how many people were going to come along to the headline run and have listened to the singles because we only released them a short while beforehand, we were pleasantly surprised though!

There were a few people at the front tonight who were really digging them…

It’s cool because we’re the opening band on this run so if someone doesn’t like SikTh or Devil Sold His Soul, while they’re not gonna spend money on a premium price ticket for those professional bands just to see us, some people have done that and they’ve gotten into Devil Sold His Soul from that for example. A lot of people who are into SikTh are into us as well so at pretty much every venue there’s been some people singing the songs back and it’s so humbling. It’s not our scene or our genre at all but it’s nice that people are still turning up for us. That’s great.

So the new album’s coming sometime next year…?

Yeah, it’ll be early next year. The first quarter of the year.

With the release of the new album and festival season coming round the corner, are we going to see you at any of those?

Hopefully, yeah. Next year, the general plan is to get the album out and just be everywhere. That’s the plan and hopefully we can stick to that.

For people who don’t know the band or the music and will be on this tour here for SikTh, who are a couple of bands you would cite as cornerstones for your sound? You have a heavy side and a melodic side so where does that come from?

I would genuinely say SikTh, Billy Talent and Biffy Clyro too. Maybe a sprinkle of The Beach Boys as well, with ABBA if we’re allowed that! The Beach Boys/ABBA supergroup!

So what else is going down in 2018 for the band?

I mean it’s a generic answer that every band is going to give. It’s the same thing every band strives for. Everyone wants to release new music, everyone wants to tour it everywhere they can, to make more fans and to play more shows. We’re always striving for the same thing until one day we can go home and take our girlfriends out for dinner. That would be sick. It’s a generic answer but we all want the same things, everyone’s in it for the right reasons… that’s not us though, we just want the money! End it there!

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