Ahead of Black Emerald’s new album release for ‘Hell Can’t Handle All of Us’ on February 10th 2018, Down The Front Media caught up with the Reading based stoner/ prog metal trio to find out what they’ve been up to and their plans for 2018.
DTF: Black Emerald formed quite a while ago, almost 13 years is that right? Have you managed to gain more traction in the last few years?
Connor: Definitely, we've been gigging more and more recently since we played Bloodstock, and started the album.
DTF: You’re due to drop your new album on the 10th February, will you be embarking on a tour to support the launch of ‘Hell Can’t Handle All of Us’?
Connor: We've actually just announced the 'Spreading The Fire' tour, in conjunction with Fire and Forge Festival, a great festival that campaigns against juvenile diabetes. The tour consists of Bitter Divide, VNDTA UK, This Winter Machine and ourselves doing a gig in each of local tours, with some gigs having local headliner to be announced. The tour will start in March and will be the closest we have to an album tour, at least for now.
DTF: ‘One For The Road’ is your most recent single release, is that going to be featured on the new album? What has the response been like so far to the single?
Connor: One For The Road will be on the album, it's had a really good response so far, all the reviews we've had have been positive about it, as has the response to the video, which is nice considering it was just low budget DIY sort of thing.
"Fabulous kick to that drum intro! Clear, loud, unhesitant. Catchy general sound, upbeat riff quality, magically combined with that ground eating bass. Like Down, with even bigger balls and even more power. Everything just turned up to the max and getting into its stride, with awesome magnetism." - Jenny Tate
"‘One for the Road’ prioritises the elements of Metal presence and Hard Rock allegiance. This inclusion fortifies the core, traditional style of the album." - AC Rock Reviews
"One For The Road continues in similar lyrical vein, an upbeat number with an element of traditional hard rock and guitar solos reminiscent of the late Randy Rhodes." - The Revival Music
DTF: I’ve heard you all have quite individual tastes in music is that right? Who are you all listening to currently?
Connor: We have a rough Venn diagram of taste, I (Connor) have generally be most into Hip-Hop out of the band, my favourite musician is Kanye, and I've seen Chance the Rapper multiple times, along with people with Talib Kweli, Mos Def. I'm also into sad indie music like Neutral Milk Hotel, The Shins and The Decemberists, and old school soul. Simon is into the heaviest music of all of us, but he's now starting to branch out into Hip-Hop recently, so our tastes are crossing over. Edd is a weird one, he either listens to country/pop music, like Taylor Swift, or he listens to hair metal and glam rock, and there doesn't seem to be much in between.
DTF: As you all have such eclectic tastes are there ever any arguments in the tour bus when it comes to music selection for the journey to gigs?
Connor: I sit in the front, I control the music. Edd works later so drives himself to gigs. Simon sleeps all the time. That's how we sort it.
DTF: Who does the song writing in the band, is it a joint effort?
Connor: It's very communal our writing, Edd will generally come up with the guitar parts or bass parts, with Simon also doing that, Simon exclusively writes lyrics and I write all the drum parts. I find myself editing guitar and bass lines sometimes because Edd uses horrible rhythms so I tidy up after him.
DTF: Who would you say have been your main influences during the writing of the new album?
Connor: There are quite a lot of influences, from older Metallica on the simpler tracks, to more complex progress songs more like Devin Townsend, and Jonestown has a hint of post rock from bands like Godspeed! You Black Emperor. There is a general dirty blues influence to a lot of the guitar work, with influences from Clutch to Stevie Ray Vaughan.
DTF: There’s the endless debate among those in the rock world that rock music is dead, what do you think when people say that and do you think they’re right?
Connor: I think some rock music can be stuck in a rut personally, with a lot of bands hark back to the 'golden era' but we bring in progressive influences to that, and I feel some bands don't have anything that differentiates from older bands.
DTF: What else is in store for Black Emerald in 2018? Do you have any festival announcements that you’re going to be making this year?
Connor: None that we can announce yet...
Black Emerald have an Album Release Show for ‘Hell Can’t Handle All Of Us’ on Saturday 10th February at The Face Bar in Reading. They will be supported by bands, Thirty Giants, Gutlocker and Remnant. Tickets are £5 in advance or £12 for ticket and album bundle. Check out the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/177527699496464/