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Like A Storm - INSIDE THE MUSIC: Matt Brooks from Like A Storm

29 Mar 2017 // An interview by Chris Morgan

Ahead of Like A Storm opening for Alterbridge at Auckland's Powerstation on Friday 31st March, Muzic.net.nz's Alex Moulton and Chris Morgan sat down with Like A Storm's lead guitarist Matt Brooks for an indepth look Inside The Music.

You can watch the video over on YouTube or read the interview below:

Alex: You’re in New Zealand and you’ve finally played your first big proper gig. How was Homegrown?

Matt: It was amazing. We grew up on the shore, and so we’ve been lucky enough to spend the last 10 years overseas touring around, and we’ve always had this dream of coming home and playing. Every year we have tried to plan it; previously we would be touring for 11 months, we’d have one month off to see friends and family here. If you tour for that month, and then go back and tour in the states for another 11 months, you’re basically touring for two years without a break. We used to come home to visit people but we never played here, and to come home and play Homegrown was a really big thing for us. To play with bands like Shihad and Blacklistt who we grew up listening to, it was very cool.

A: We do see on your Facebook timelines when you guys are over here, and it does make a lot of people jealous not being able to see your show. How long until you will be coming back to perform again?

M: We’d really like to make it a thing that we do every year. We’d like to come home in the kiwi summer. Leave the North American/Northern Hemisphere winter, come down for the kiwi summer and play here. It’s something we’ve been building up to, but something we’d like to be an annual thing for us.

A: You guys are quite well recognised over in the US.

M: Sometimes.

A: You have five Top 40 singles (in the US Billboard rock charts)

M:We actually just got our fifth Top 40 single this week. While we were home, Pure Evil got Top 40, which is insane. We are very grateful for it. We grew up in Torbay, so to have our music on the radio in the States is a really surreal thing.

A: How does the reception compare over here to overseas?

M: People always say it’s hardest to play your hometown. You go away and you play music, you come home and it’s like now you are playing those songs for the people that you grew up with, for your family. It’s almost like a juxtaposition. But we thought that playing Homegrown was amazing. It was our first New Zealand show in a long time, and it was unbelievable. It was something we were really looking forward to, and in terms of coming back, the New Zealand music scene, and all these bands we had really looked up to…it’s about as good as it gets.  

A: Did the family come down and watch?

M: They did, they did. Mum came down, cousins came down. Actually, we play in Auckland this Friday, and our grandpa is going to come, and he’s 94 years old. I keep telling him we can get him side of stage, and he’s says “No, no. I want to be down in the crowd.” So, if you come to the show and see a 94 year old man, please be gentle.

A: You guys had said in another interview that you had to make a didgeridoo…

M: Yeah, Chris plays the didgeridoo in our music and he plays custom didgeridoos that are cut to the key of different songs. He started playing didgeridoos made out of plastic, largely because they are indestructible on the road. A wooden didgeridoo, a traditional one, has a beeswax seal on it, which is really fragile. You put that in the trailer with the guitars, you get it out for the second gig of the tour, and the beeswax has smashed off. Now you don’t have a didgeridoo, you just have a piece of wood. So Chris started making them out of plastic, but because they are so customised, when we came down here he had to make them from scratch. Basically, we came down from Vegas, where we’ve been making our record, and the first thing Chris has to do is make some didge(ridoo)s.

A: Do you get much of a difference in (sound) from a homemade PVC one?

M: They sound different. They sound different because tonally, plastic is brighter than wood. Just like if you have an electric guitar made of plastic, it has a different sound. And what was really cool that we didn’t expect, was that a plastic didgeridoo actually fits better with guitars and drums because it has a brighter tone to it. A wooden didgeridoo, which is an amazing sound, is quite a dark sound. Full, but dark. It’s not particularly bright, so when you are making music and starting to layer different instruments, it’s kind of like a puzzle, and we found that plastic didges actually fit better with a rock band. That was a cool surprise.

A: We’ve already mentioned your latest single Pure Evil has done quite well, and will possibly go on to do a lot better?

M: It’s a song that we just wrote to showcase the direction we are going in, and so it’s not even necessarily a song that I thought would ever get on the radio.

A: It does feel a bit heavier.

M: Yeah, we grew up listening to a lot of heavy music, and we also grew up listening to a lot of stuff like The Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails, where they combine these atmospheric layers. For us, Pure Evil was combining these metal influences with atmospheric textures, and I think that is something we are going to look at doing more of on the new album

A: Listening to some of your earlier stuff I noticed some influences; Breaking Benjamin vibes, Three Day Grace, and Disturbed. Do you find your music is influenced by bands you have performed with? Or do you try to find bands that already have a similar sound, for you to tour with?

M: We’ve been really fortunate to tour with a lot of bands that we grew up idolising. We got to tour with Slash, who I think for any guitar player is…sort of god. The Alter Bridge guys are a huge source of inspiration for us, but I think more than that, we’ve always wanted to make music that is both heavy and anthemic, but also melodic. So each record we make, we are trying to find more and more ways of doing that, but we have always been drawn to music that is melodic but also has that heavy dark sound to it.

A: Who else do you want to tour with? What else would you want to do? You’ve played with quite a few big hitters…

M: As a New Zealander, one of the things I’m really looking forward to, is this summer we are playing Download festival in the UK. Devilskin are playing too. We’ve hung out before in London, but we’ve never played together, so as two kiwi bands I think that’s going to be cool.

A: Kiwis taking on the Dogstooth stage

M: Exactly. So that’ll be really awesome. Other than that, we’ve been really fortunate. We’ve played with a lot of bands that we grew up listening to, or a lot of bands that we idolise now. A band I have always wanted to tour with, for personal reasons, is Tool. But I always say I don’t want to be the band opening for Tool, because then the band after you is Tool, so I don’t know if I want to put myself in that position. But personally, that is kind of a bucket list band for me.

A: You never know, they are still working on an album…

M: They certainly take their time. We’ve been lucky enough to meet those guys, which was enough. We grew up as massive Tool fans. Adam Jones is one of my favourite guitar players, so just to meet those guys was enough, but if I was going to be greedy I would say it would be great to play with them too

A: Going back to the didgeridoo. As is often the case with great kiwi things, do Australians ever try to claim you as theirs?

M: Well you know, we are about to go to Australia with Alter Bridge, so I’ll have to let you know. I will say that a lot of the time people will think we are Australian. Probably because of our accents, and we do have a didgeridoo, so I can forgive people for looking at us and going “these guys have that down under accent”. But as far as Australians trying to claim us, I’ll have to let you know.

A: New Zealand Rock acts in general, they can do well in New Zealand. There aren’t too many of them, but often they have struggle when they go overseas. You guys skipped that whole “make it big” here and went straight overseas?

M: You can’t really predict the way things are going to go. I can look in hindsight and say we decided to go overseas, it was more that we had this dream of touring the world. We are massive fans of kiwi music, a lot of our favourite bands are kiwi bands. We would go to see bands at the Powerstation (Auckland), and it would be a band from America, a band from the UK, bands from all around the world. We thought how awesome would it be to do the reverse. Imagine if a band from New Zealand got to go to America, or go to the UK. Honestly, we just threw ourselves in the deep end. We moved up to Canada and we used that as our jumping off point in North America. But we didn’t know anybody there, we had no business being there. We moved to Canada and started playing every show we could, which to start with were not glamorous; playing for two drunk guys and a homeless man on a Wednesday night kind of thing. We built that up to headlining at this rock club on the weekend, and that led to us meeting some people in Los Angeles, where we have been, our careers have been largely been focused in the US from that point onwards. It isn’t that we sat in Torbay and decided we would go to Canada and the US, we just had this dream of playing music, and the way that its worked out has meant out music has taken off overseas first. But it’s really important to us as New Zealanders to play at home. Which is why it’s such a special thing for us to come back and play Homegrown or play with Alter Bridge this Friday.

A: You guys have a lot of history with Alter Bridge, you’ve played together a few times…

M: The guys have been amazing. I think half the touring we have ever done we’ve either done with Alter Bridge, or Creed (which is three of the same guys), or Slash (which Myles fronts), or Tremonti, which is Mark Tremonti’s solo project. We really owe those guys a tremendous amount, and we are just massive fans of theirs, they are a really inspiring group of dudes to be around. As a band to be on tour with them and see them play every night, it makes you want to lift your game as much as you can.

A: Does it go beyond being fellow musicians? Are you great friends? Do you hang out?

M: We do hang out, yeah! I mean they are awesome guys, they really are, and to their credit they have been awesome to us since the first time they met us. Now we have the benefit of a few years of history playing together, but from the first time we met those guys they were amazing to us. At that point we were opening up for Creed in the States, and the guys in Creed were in Los Angeles making their reunion album, and we were making our first album. We were just some band from New Zealand in LA, no one knew who we were. The guys in Creed heard our songs, liked them, and took us out on a massive arena tour of America. Those guys gave us our start in the US, and even from the first time we met them then, they were awesome. They have been a real inspiration for us, not just musically, but also to show us that people that have achieved so much can still be such grounded human beings. It makes a difference, you grew up and idolise these people, and meet them and they are really cool dudes. It’s nice when it happens that way

A: What product does Chris use in his hair? How does he keep it in place throughout an entire show?

M: This is for you, right? A “fan” question, but you just want to find out for yourself haha. Chris uses a brand of hair spray that you can get for $6 at the pharmacy called “Got to be Glue” and its basically industrial grade plastic in a can. The crazy thing about it, is when Chris wakes up in the morning, his hair looks exactly the same.

A: …so does he have to apply it multiple times? Or was it a one-time use?

M: Haha yes! He used it once, six years ago. No, he does take it with him, but it was a trial and error thing until he found this one hair spray that was unbelievably powerful. One of our favourite things on tour, when we are out for a while with a band, one of the guys in the other band will always pluck up the courage to try that hairspray. It’s always a “Something about Mary” type thing, it’s so much more powerful than they realise that they walk around for the rest of the tour with their hair sticking up like that. Now, next time I see you you’ll have your hair spiked up.

A: I’d have made a mistake, used too much, and it’d have been stuck like that for years.

M: That’s the trick. You don’t need as much as you think.

A: Do you guys have any guilty pleasures, music-wise?

M: The thing about a guilty pleasure is that you have to feel some guilt when you listen to it. We listen a really wide range of stuff, I don’t think we feel any shame about it. We grew up listening to a ton of different stuff from our parents, they were big into the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Eagles. Then we got really into really heavy music, but I think as musicians we tend to gravitate towards different genres, so we play heavy rock, but what I listen to is everything from black metal, to Joe Bonamassa (the blues guitarist) or contemporary jazz, just because I think that musically you are drawn to something that different. But we don’t feel any guilt, so I don’t know if that qualifies as a guilty pleasure. We just love different kinds of music. There are good songs in every genre. Even in pop radio there are good songs, interesting production methods, same with hip hop and everything. If you really love music you can appreciate it in all its various forms.

A: You guys tour a lot. Do you have any passions outside of the music industry? Do you have time for anything else outside of playing with Like A Storm.

M: My favourite thing to do when we come back from tour is to lock myself in my room and watch Netflix. Our life does revolve around music, but that’s because we are lucky enough to do what we love. We are often recording and writing while we are on tour, so Pure Evil, we were finishing that song up while we were on tour in the States. It got to the point where Chris and I weren’t even going to sound check anymore, we were on the bus trying to get the song finished on time. It’s all encompassing because it’s what we love to do. For me, one of my hobbies is playing drums. Drums was one of my first instruments, and now guitar is what I do, but now every time I can, if someone has a drum kit I’ll just disappear and play that. But music is really our lives and we are really grateful that we are allowed to spend as much time playing music as we are.

A: Your upcoming album Catacombs, is it coming out in May?

M: It’s coming out in May…plus a couple of months. Initially it was going to come out then, but we got offered a couple of amazing tours that we didn’t want to turn down. One of them was going to the UK and Europe with Alter Bridge at the end of last year, which was this insane arena tour we got to play, like the O2 in London, and these bucket list things that you just don’t turn down. The other one was coming here. We really wanted to come home, we wanted to play Homegrown, and do this tour with Alter Bridge. Every time you leave the studio it pushes back the album a little bit, but it’s been really cool to balance the two. We played Homegrown at the start of March, we flew back to Vegas for two weeks (we’ve just been recording now), I got back into town two days ago, and after the Australian tour, we go back to Vegas again and finish up the record there. It’s a cool way to do it because the studio and live are so different, it’s hard to believe it’s a part of the same job. So different. To play live and to have the energy of that, to go back into recording and take that with you, I think that’s a really cool thing. It’s puts you in a good headspace for writing music. It means the album will be slightly later, but I think it’ll be a better record.

A: With the new album, you have preorders available, with options to get your name in the album and signed copies. Are special options the new direction, with physical CDs becoming less popular?

M: I think of a physical CD as becoming a collector’s item, it makes sense. You can consume music digitally now, iTunes, Spotify, or watching videos on YouTube. Ultimately, as an artist it’s great that people can consume music digitally. It means you can reach people in corners of the globe you’ve never been to. I definitely think in terms of fans buying CDs and collectibles, I think that physical things are becoming more collectible and a fan experience. But I also think there’s a resurgence in vinyl. An interesting parallel where digital music is much more compressed…I won’t bore you with the details but it sounds very different. Vinyl is sort of the opposite of that. You have these two parallels, cutting edge technology and vintage technology, and they’ve both gotten more and more popular. I think it shows that people are still interested in sonic quality, and people are still interesting in owning something, something physical that they can hold.

A: And of course, vinyl is quite easy to customise. All CDs look the same

M: Vinyl is so cool too. You have these massive booklets, with the artwork on it. Vinyl is an experience. Whereas digital is about convenience, and being able to explode your music out to anyone with the internet. I can see why people like vinyl. It’s a truer representation of what that music actually sounds like.

A: Chaos Theory Part One. When is Part Two coming?

M: It’s kind of like a riddle. Actually, what happened with Chaos Theory was something that we never expected and it was amazing. Chaos Theory Part One was an EP that we made completely independently. We actually recorded it while we were out on tour in the States. So we would record it in hotel rooms and back stages. All of these crazy places that you’d never think you’d be making a record. We put the record out, and one of the songs (“Love The Way You Hate Me”) started to get played on the radio. It was never really released as a single, and at that point in time we weren’t even signed in America. But a couple of radio stations started playing it and it took off organically. From that we got the chance to turn Chaos Theory into a full album, and have that released in America and the UK, Europe and here in New Zealand. So Chaos Theory Part One became Awaken the Fire. When we made Chaos Theory Part One, we were always intending to make a Part Two, it just took off in this amazing direction we never could have predicted. Awaken the Fire is for lack of a better word Chaos Theory Part One and Two put together.

Like A Storm are opening for Alterbridge at The Powerstation Friday 31st March 2017.
Tickets available from AAA Ticketing 


 Credits:

Filmed by Chris Morgan
Audio by Chris Morgan
Interviewed by Alex Moulton
Title Screen by Chris Morgan and Blake Jones

 

About Like A Storm

With their record-breaking new single, Love the Way You Hate Me, smashing its way onto American airwaves, Kiwi hard rock act Like A Storm have now achieved more successful US Hard Rock singles than any other New Zealand band in history. Hard rock anthem Love the Way You Hate Me, which features singer Chris Brooks playing the didgeridoo, has made an impact with rock fans all over North America - hitting #1 on satellite giant SiriusXM Octane.

Since their debut album, The End of the Beginning, in 2009, Like A Storm have created a compelling musical catalogue and earned the reputation as one of rock's hardest working bands. Five years of relentless touring has seen them share American stages with rock giants Creed, Korn, Alter Bridge, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and many others. As a result, the band of Kiwi brothers has developed one of the most loyal fan bases in the country, and are now a headline act in their own right. Like A Storm's diehard fans - many of whom are inked in the band's artwork and lyrics - are widely known to travel huge distances, and show up hours early, to see the band play at some of the most iconic rock venues in the US.

Originally formed a world away in Auckland, New Zealand, Like A Storm was born when musician brothers Chris, Kent and Matt Brooks first jammed together. Growing up playing in separate bands, the combined chemistry was apparent in an instant. "We just felt this amazing musical connection," remembers guitarist Matt Brooks, "We knew that we had to start a band together."

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Like A Storm

Releases

Catacombs
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Awaken The Fire
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Chaos Theory: Part 1
Year: 2014
Type: Album

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