Interview: Manchester-based metalcore quartet DEADTHRONE on the process behind new record PREMONITIONS and more.
Today we are catching up with DEADTHRONE melodic metalcore quartet from Manchester, United Kingdom, lining up Chris Bissette at vocals, James Bolton at guitar and vocals, Sam Clough at guitar, Benj Speight at drums. After debuting on the scene with highly acclaimed EP To Hell and Back in 2017, the Manchester-based metalcore powerhouse signed to Arising Empire in 2019 and released their first full-length PREMONITIONS on 23rd August 2019.
Our editor-in-chief Alex is catching up with vocalist CHRIS BISSETTE who took some time out of his schedule to talk through the writing process and the lyrical inspiration behind the new record PREMONITIONS. We got to know the band a little better talking about the band’s journey, sound and influences. We also discussed lead single FEEL, signing with label Arising Empire and future plans.
- Hello DEADTHRONE and thank you for your time. I would love to know more about your background and journey since Chris and Benj met at university and brought the Deadthrone dream together in 2016.
DEADTHRONE came around in 2016 but Benj and I met before that when we were at university together in 2011. We put out a few releases in a band previously, but it was only once we recruited James as a second guitarist and vocalist that we really started to come into our own. James is a phenomenal songwriter and his influence really made us – and continues to make us – what we are musically. We’ve been through a few lineup changes since he and Sam came along – both as that previous band and as DEADTHRONE – but the four of us have been at the core of it for years now and at this point we’re a solid unit.
- Since UK has a brilliant metalcore scenario hosting huge names in the genre, I would love to know what your influences are – in terms of UK and overseas bands.
We all have a pretty diverse taste in music, but where we overlap with bands like Architects, While She Sleeps, and Bring Me The Horizon. For me personally, most of my influence comes from bands like Glassjaw, Converge, Comeback Kid, and The Dillinger Escape Plan, but we’re all into a ton of music that sits outside of metal and the more aggressive genres, too. To give an example, the last two albums I bought were Bon Iver and Lana Del Rey.
- Who are Chris Bissette, James Bolton, Sam Clough and Benj Speight outside of their outfit and how did you come up with your name “Deadthrone”?
We’re all pretty normal guys. We all have normal day jobs where nobody cares that we’re in a band, we have girlfriends and wives who are sick to death of hearing about DEADTHRONE and the album. We’re all driven by a passion to make music, though – and specifically to make this music, in this band. We’ve all been through some shit times over the past few years and this has been a constant for us all that’s kept us grounded. I think we’re all really grateful that it’s starting to gain some traction now.
As for the name, we went through a ton of ideas when we were starting again as DEADTHRONE and nothing really felt right. It was Sam who suggested DEADTHRONE and it immediately seemed to click with us all. It was only after we had all signed off on it that he told us that it’s the title of a The Devil Wears Prada album too! But at that point we looked at all the other names we had to choose from and none of them excited us in the same way that DEADTHRONE did, so we just said “fu*k it” and embraced it.
- CONGRATULATIONS for signing with Arising Empire in 2019. How does it feel like to be part of the family alongside many amazing artists and what expectations are behind this massive achievement?
Thanks! It’s a real honour to be on a label that is home to so many bands that we really love. Bizarrely, one of our first ever shows in the pre-DEADTHRONE days was supporting Polar – a band I’ve been a massive fan of since their first EP – so for me at least it almost felt like coming full-circle to end up as label mates with them.
As far as expectations, I don’t think we’re thinking too far ahead at this point. We’re itching to get out on the road to start playing these songs live, and we’ve already started working on new material, so we’re just going to do what we always do and play it by ear, and see what the future holds when we get there.
- On 23rd August 2019 you unleashed your first full-length PREMONITIONS. This is following up your debut EP To Hell And Back. In what measure has your sound changed and progressed since your first release dating back to 2017?
It has and it hasn’t. On the one hand I think it’s fair to say we’ve grown a lot since To Hell And Back, both as people and as musicians. The songwriting is better on Premonitions (and that’s something we’re passionate about continuing to work on) and I think as a release the album is a lot more cohesive than the EP. That said, though, some of the songs on the album have been around since we recorded that EP – they’ve just been reworked and refreshed for the album. It’s a massive cliché to say that we simply write the kind of music we want to listen to, but it’s also true. I listen to Premonitions all the time, and I’d be just as excited by this album if it had been released by a band that I didn’t happen to be in.
- How to achieve such a balanced sound between heaviness and catchiness, brutality and melodic emotion in such a way? Let’s talk about the staples and strong features related to your signature sound.
Even before James came along, we always had a love for – and a desire to write – big, poppy, catchy choruses. We want people singing our songs and getting them stuck in their heads for days, because those are the kind of songs we love to listen to personally. I think a lot of bands in our genre focus on being heavy at the expense of everything else, but that’s never been a desire for us. Yes, we write aggressive music, but I think we all agree that you need those moments of lightness and calm juxtaposed with the darkness and the anger if you want to make a real impact. Some of the more critical reviews of the album have essentially boiled down to “too much singing and not enough metal”, and frankly I’m 100% OK with that. If you want all heavy, all the time, we’re not the band for you, and that’s fine.
- What was the general writing and creative process approached for this album? Or general process if you wish, do you usually start from a riff, rhythmic pattern..?
We’re very lucky that James is a song-writing machine. He handles the bulk of the writing, and while we all have input on structure and our own parts (and he and I tend to share vocal-writing duties), it’s not uncommon for him to give us demos for new songs that are effectively identical to the finished product once we’ve released it. I couldn’t tell you how he goes about writing a song, because he tends to do it on his own in hotel rooms while he’s away in his day job. All I can tell you is that it works, and we’re all grateful for that!
- Your first EP was revolving around a personal point of view, discussing your lives at the time and the personal struggles adding some extra political flair. I would love to discuss the lyrical themes and concepts discussed in Premonitions.
I think Premonitions is a much more personal record than To Hell And Back. There’s less of the politics and anger at the world in general and more introspection and, I guess, catharsis going on. The writing of this album coincided with a very tough time in my life, so the songs that I wrote lyrically reflect that. To Hell And Back’s lyrical themes were very broad and general, where Premonitions is much more specific and reflective.
- Back in March you have given the world a taste of your album by releasing lead single FEEL. What was the mindset behind choosing this song in particular as best representing Premonitions? Let’s share some details about the single.
It took us a while to settle on a lead single for the album. There are lots of songs on there that could easily have been singles – I still think Wide Awake would have made a great single – but we felt that FEEL was the song that best captured the overall sound of the album as a whole. It’s got a bit of everything in it – it’s heavy, it angry, it’s catchy, and it’s got a lot of the more electronic elements that we’ve layered throughout the album, too.
- Talking about your live experience. Tell us about a few of your favourite ever on-stage moments.
Being on stage is a weird experience for me. I started off as the bassist in the band, and before that I’d been a drummer for years, so suddenly finding myself the centre of attention as the frontman was very jarring and still something that feels a little weird to me. I’m quite a quiet, reserved person in my day-to-day life, and there’s an element of release in getting on stage as the lead vocalist that I wasn’t fully prepared for. Shows for me are an exercise in very focused, intense chaos.
I don’t know about “favourite” moments, because the memories of our shows are a bit of a blur for me. I do remember playing a show in Southampton where I’d decided to throw myself off a speaker stack and somehow missed everybody in the crowd and hit the floor hard. I broke my ankle, and then had to go and play a show in Plymouth the next night that turned out to be the most energetic show of that particular tour.
- Let’s dream big. How do you see yourself in 5 years time? Maybe sharing the stage with some metalcore titans? Any projects ahead, revelations, live shows worth mentioning.
In the short term we’ve got a really intimate hometown album release show coming up in the venue where I was working while writing a lot of Premonitions. By the time this interview goes to print that show will probably have come and gone – it’s on Friday 13th September – but it’s set to be a ton of fun. We’re playing the album in its entirety, and we’ll be live streaming the show on Arising Empire’s YouTube channel (so if you’ve missed it by the time you read this, you’ll still be able to watch it).
Hopefully in 5 years’ time we’ll have another couple of albums under our belt and we’ll be able to get out of Europe and to go play shows all over the world. America is a big dream of mine, and we get fans asking us when we’re going to get out there all the time, so I would hope that we’ll have made that a reality by then!
Thank you for having a chat with us, it’s been a pleasure, and all the best for your amazing record. We are fully supporting Deadthrone into Europe and US!
Thanks for your support!
Deadthrone – Premonitions tracklisting:
4. Time Won’t Wait
5. Wide Awake
7. Hearts in Our Hands
8. Stand Your Ground
12. Seven Years
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