Interview: Killaflaw

Killaflaw

GAZ_2519 Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Gaz Jones

Modern music gets me down a lot of the time. Often I am left feeling that music is all about the style and pretence rather than the feeling of the heart and the beat. I hope I am not the only one feeling like this. If not, then I would like to introduce the uninitiated to the marvellous world of Killaflaw. We will get down to details of the events of the third Snap n Chat that Gaz Jones and I have had the pleasure to do for Popped Music shortly. But at this point I would like to recommend you listen to Killaflaw, especially if you have ever sought musical solace in the likes of The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Leftfield or any other “crossover” dance music act. In fact, try it now…  scroll to the bottom of this very here interview you’ll find an exclusive listen of their forthcoming single, Own Way. Press play, turn the volume up and start nodding, moving or whatever you do! Then get back up here and continue reading.

We had arranged to meet up with Killaflaw in the foyer of a good standard hotel in Liverpool. But with Hugh Grant and Meryl Streep wanting to film ten yards away from where Gaz had planned the photo shoot weeks earlier, we turned up EARLY in order to check that our plans had not been damaged by the conversion of 2015 Liverpool into 1940’s New York. Brilliantly the film crew were using the road next to our space so neither party was going to bother the other. Indeed later when we were doing the shoots the film crew were definitely more interested in what we were doing than our interest in Hollywood glamour. As everything was okay, there was nothing else we could do but head to the nearest pub to grab a quick drink, get stared at by some regulars for ordering two Cokes and wait until the clock ticked around to five to seven so we could walk over the hotel.

Whilst we were in the pub, it became obvious that one other person in the snug was standing out like Motörhead fan at a Justin Bieber gig. Eye contact was made but no words were exchanged as saying to a lone guy in a bar “are you one of Killaflaw” could come across very strange. Equally for him to break the ice by saying “are you here to take photos of and interview me” is generally not going to come off well if it isn’t accurate. So with a nod, Popped Music’s northern adventurers walked over the road to wait thirty seconds for the mysterious stranger to follow us. To be fair, this indie Raymond Chandler setup helped to break the ice and get rid of the usual opening awkwardness.

The man from the pub was Benn – guitarist, vocalist and generaly opinionated Scouser from Killaflaw. Soon to join him was Andy – beats, production and owner of a fine old school Liverpudlian accent. After handshakes and introductions were exchanged, it was back outside to do the photo shoot. The gloomy skies and decayed urban setting mixed with the enthusiasm of Andy and Benn represented Killaflaw’s sound ideally, for me. Andy’s management of Benn’s desire to grab attention was also a sign of things to come.

By the time we sat down to conduct the interview proper, we had been joined by Paula and Mark of Killaflaw’s management team. At this point I was struck by the thought that this could be interview hell if they are here to make sure that everybody toed the party line. Not that I was looking for a controversial interview either. As it turned out, the purpose was to make sure that Andy and Benn didn’t need to remember anything too corporate as neither of them were that bothered byKillaflaw percentages and release dates. Not when there was music to talk about…

I opened up the interview with the request to the guys that they announce for the tape who they are so that listening back I had a reference point and straight away Benn announced “I’m Benn and I am Killaflaw”. The look on Andy’s face was a mixture of amusement and annoyance. Like a long suffering wife hearing her husband crack his favourite joke for the 900th time. This was no attempt at taking possession of the music though; just a friend winding up his mate with a jibe he knew would work.

We were there though to talk about the upcoming gig at The Social in London on 10 July. And the big one; the release of Killaflaw’s debut album Sleaze And Grit on September 7th, also preceded by the new single Own Way on August 24th. Originally the album was mooted for release in 2013, the guys chose to take their time instead so that they could produce a record of quality not just availability. Funding for the record was part made using a Pledge Music campaign, which, Benn described inimitably “We started our pledge campaign and smashed that in”. The confident Scouse vocabulary does not overstate things. Killaflaw reached their pledge target in less than a week and had “smashed” 85% in the first two days alone. I’ve since asked them, which one of them is Sleaze and which one is Grit, to which, quick witted as ever, Benn instantly quipped  “I’m both an Andy is the And!”.

All humour aside though, the requirement for the success with the Pledge campaign has left the duo thankful. With Andy explaining that “everybody who bought the album on that will get it before it comes out proper”. This isn’t just a case of the physical release on CD being ready before the official download, but rather Killaflaw want to thank people for their belief, loyalty and ultimately for parting with their hard earned to show it.

It was not just copies of the, at-that-point, unheard album that were for sale, but signed posters, t-shirts, time in the studio and for one lucky German fan the chance to have a piece of his own music recorded just for him by Killaflaw. This one piece though is getting the full treatment like it was one of their own tracks. In case the gent is reading this, I’m not going to go any further and spoil the surprise, but he’s a lucky man, “Iche bein Killaflaw”.

Despite the target being reached the band still see the importance of the Pledge campaign’s continuation in providing them with investment to push Killaflaw further forward “People can still go along to the site and pledge. Whilst you get two months to hit your target the page is still there after that until you sell everything”. So if you are tempted, you know where to go (here).” And they assure me that you will still get the album before the digital release if you do.

Throughout the interview the key recurring theme was not the forthcoming album, sorry Paula, but a shared love of and a passion for music. When I asked each member what their thoughts were on their current position within the music business I was impressed with their honesty and openness about where they are and want to get to. In fact, Andy took over the mic for a bit to explain. “Whilst you’re always hoping to be the next big thing, and we’ve felt we have come close to that a couple of times, the experiences we have had on the way like the things we’ve seen in Germany and Russia when being taken around are special and when you’re a big touring band you don’t get that, it’s just in and out. But for my own self satisfaction I want it to kick on an awful lot more”.

Obviously Benn was not going to let Andy’s soliloquy take centre stage and let his likeable bravado give way for a more serious introspective of the life of a modern musician. “I don’t want to have to work for a living and just do music as an afterthought, but it is so hard these days. So many bands around have to work full or part time and try to make music too. Unless you’re signed to a big label and they’re pumping money into you then there’s no money in it. There’s no shame in working to pay the bills. And music doesn’t pay the bills. Venues don’t want to pay you. So it’d be nice to be more successful. I don’t want to be famous, I can’t be arsed with that. I want to be successful though and sell more records and then get to make more records and get to tour different countries”.

KillaflawDespite the disappointment that they have not been able to provide their fans with an album before now, Andy was quite philosophical over the delay. “We didn’t want to throw it out blind, you’ve got to be in a good position to release and we’ve had a few peaks and troughs. We’ve known so much good music to have fallen through the cracks for our friends because they’ve been rushed to release it”.

The efforts in recording the album took the band from their own studio in Liverpool to Champions Hall in Essex, then Pyramid Studios in London and finally with Henry Cullen at his converted studio in Kent. The days at Champions Hall sounded proper rock star with Andy going there for three weeks and staying close to five months – completely understandable when he described it as an “old mansion full of live-in musos, a swimming pool, crazy parties and a recording studio too”.

The feeling is that now they are at the right point to go ahead and conquer all comers. Or smash it if you will. The album has some very well respected admirers too, “Liam Howlett and Utah Saints have been very positive about it. Liam gave us a critique on the album and broke it down track by track and said there’s nothing like us out there”. This confidence and respect for their music is reflected in their connection with their highly celebrated record label which is a source of pride for Andy. “To be signed by a label like Wall of Sound who’ve had acts like Royksopp, Grace Jones and Propellerheads signed to them felt to me like an achievement.”

The admiration between band and record label is definitely two-way. With the explosion in the EDM scene over the last few years, guitar manufacturer, Gibson, have been looking for a way to lead the guitar slingers of the world into it. Through discussions with Wall of Sound head honcho Mark Jones, they have signed up to use two Killaflaw tracks in their global video showcasing the opportunities for using guitars in dance music. It is hoped that Killaflaw will show the way in the genre of Rocktronic Dance Music (RDM). This new genre has the support and accessibility to shake things up again. And I know two lads who will be quite happy with that possibility.

Listen to an EXCLUSIVE 1st listen of new single Own Way from the forthcoming album Sleaze and Grit here:

 

Note: 10% of the funds raised by Killaflaw’s pledge campaign are to be given to Lifeblood: The Thrombosis Charity http://www.thrombosis-charity.org.uk

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