Interview: Defences

Hot on the heels of releasing their latest single “Over” last month to critical acclaim, Hertfordshire based five-piece Defences have gone from strength to strength. Signed to Enso Music Management, Defences have had airplay on Kerrang Radio and Radio One, as well as TeamRock with their take on alternative metal. Good things are going to happen for this band and I for one will be keeping an eye on them. Good luck to you, Defences, and see you up north in Glasgow one day soon.

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

We’re primarily centred around Hertfordshire/North London, with Will and Cal being the outliers in South West London

How long have you been playing together as a band?

The band officially formed in 2014, but we’ve only been going seriously with (mostly) this lineup since our album release in 2017.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

We like to experiment with a lot of different subgenres that fall under the “alternative” definition. Which means our songs take on a lot of different styles and flavours that we hope to ensure there’s something for everyone, whether they’re a regular in the moshpit or someone that wouldn’t typically give something metal-related a chance.

You have recently released your single “Over”. How does it feel to get the new single out there for the masses to hear for the first time and how have the responses been so far?

It’s amazing. We’ve been excited to release “Over” for some time now, as to us it feels like a sing-along single that also tries a lot of different ideas musically. The feedback and responses have blown us away, it’s definitely been our most unanimously positively received song to date!

Being active for a few years now, how would you say it compares to that of your earlier material and do you think you have found the sound you strive for or will Defences continue to keep experimenting?

It’s always quite hard to judge, to be honest. For us, we feel that this new material is a marked improvement on anything we’ve put out before, we feel we’ve really grown as songwriters and personally and that’s reflected in the music we’re putting out now. We’ve hit on a mix of elements in our music that accurately represent us as artists and we’ll be pursuing it for our next release

How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio? Where do you get together and record?

We tend to rehearse intensively before a grouping of shows or heading out on tour, aside from that we devote our regular meets to writing. We’re writing at least 2 days a week, but we’ve been known to do up to 4/5! Our drummer Kyle has a studio which we tend to use for demoing, and for recording songs for release we go to Daniel Kerr at Avenue Studios for one of the most relaxing yet high-quality recording experiences any of us can remember having.

How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is Defences a band where all members contribute to the songs?

Our songs tend to start with Calum, Ian and Kyle getting together to form basic instrumentals as a foundation for Cherry and Will to come in and start developing with vocal ideas. Once we’re out of that initial stage, it’s all hands to the pump as we develop on motifs and themes throughout the song and carve out something we can all be proud of.

Being a five-piece and having different musical influences within the band, was there sometimes a lot of negotiating in the studio or do you feel you are writing the music you want to for the band?

After we changed direction a bit following the album there was an element of negotiation as everyone came to terms with what we were going to be doing moving forward. Since then however we’ve been on the same page and have come up with a streamlined process to ensure that we’re always just striving to write the best song we can in the style we’ve established.

Is there a main lyricist within the band? What are the lyrics for the single “Over” based on?

Cherry has typically been the main lyricist in the band, but the addition of Will last year has seen more of him in each single. Lyrically, “Over” came from a few different places. It talks about the end of a longstanding friendship and the differential mentalities of two people. It acknowledges some of the internal struggles one can go through when something like that happens, but also gets quite confrontational at points which we haven’t really done before. It also talks about being grounded by something, the thing which stops you from spiralling or going over the edge when things are tough.

How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs? Do you have plans to go on bigger tours and further afield in 2020?

It’s never easy having to juggle work and touring, we just try and save holiday for shows and then schedule tours over days where we’d naturally be off. We make it work one way or another! Regarding 2020 there’s a lot that’s being booked right now but nothing that’s close enough to being confirmed to share. We’re looking at options to head further afield for sure, but with Brexit it’s quite hard to plan as nobody knows what’s going to happen. We’ll have to wait and see what the final outcome is!

How hard is it for a metal band like Defences to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?

It’s very hard, especially as the bigger and better you get the higher your overheads are as well! Touring is our favourite part of being a band so we don’t mind having to tour lots, but you then have to be selective about what you do as the wrong tour can be financially ruinous.

You are now on the Enso Music Management roster. How has it been to work with them and what are they doing to help push Defences to the next level?

Enso have been great to us. Elliott has been exceptionally hardworking, involved and useful when it comes to both his contacts throughout the industry and making plans with us going forward. We’ve found before that some people in the industry will tell you whatever you want to hear, whereas Elliott tell us the reality and it means that we have a very clear and precise working process.

Before the internet, magazines and fanzines were the places to find out about new bands and trends. Now publications are replaced with thousands of websites catering for all genres. Do you think that some of the passion has been lost or do you think that the internet has been a good thing for music and Defences?

I think the Internet has changed the face of music and the experience of being a band. If you look at it in terms of numbers and the size of the audience you’re reaching, it has multiplied the audience beyond belief, albeit losing the charm. I think the main reason some of the passion has been lost however is the file-sharing culture that has developed, which in turn led to the streaming culture. There is now far less money in music, which has made it a far more professional industry to be a part of as people all struggle for the same prominence and same money. I think over the last 10 years fans have had a heightened sense of that, which perhaps has made it less romantic than before. The flip side of course is that there are now more artists than ever before, with the Internet and home studios massively reducing the cost of making music. Overall, I’d say good for the artistic side, bad financially.

What are your plans for 2020?

Our first half of 2020 is looking quite busy on the touring front. We may be releasing another single or two, and we’re hoping to get into the studio at some point to record what’s coming next.

Being from the London area, are there any other bands from your local scene that you would like to give a shout out to?

As Everything Unfolds, TheCityIsOurs, The Raven Age, Blight, The Uncharted, Palmist and loads more that I can’t think of right now (sorry)!

A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

Seeing as there’s 5 of us I guess that’s one each? Cherry would bring Billie Eilish’s album. Calum would bring Introspective by the Pet Shop Boys. Will would bring Altered State by Tesseract. Ian would bring Amo by BMTH. Kyle would bring Jungle by Jungle.

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! You’re clearly interested in us as a band and we appreciate you. Now go listen to our new single “Over” and check out the video on YouTube!

“Over” is out now

Defences: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube | spotify

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