The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
One Thousand Years INTERVIEW 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - ONE THOUSAND YEARS VOCALIST/GUITARIST CHRIS BOYD

 

ONE THOUSAND YEARS' CHRIS BOYD

TALKS TO THE ROCKPIT

ABOUT THE VIDEO LAUNCH, THE NEW ALBUM AND SO MUCH MORE...

CHECK OUT OUR REVIEW OF 1000 YEARS DEBUT ALBUM HERE

One Thousand Years is a band that plays the kind of music I want to hear: timeless, blues infused rock that makes a connection with an audience. It's important music by a little ol' band from Fremantle that has the goods to take on the world...


Thank you for taking the time to talk to the Rockpit. For those who aren’t familiar with the band can you recap how it all started and how you got to where you are today?


Cam and I met at uni one day when I saw him wearing a Hendrix t-shirt. We got to talking and found out that we had so much in common and decided to have a jam one day. We started off playing cover songs – bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones and The Who, things like that – but it wasn’t long until we decided to try and write some tunes of our own. We met Geoff (Bass) and Brenton (Drums) through friends and they fit in immediately. It took us a long long looong time to really sort out what sound we were after and what worked for us – what we were good at.


We released an EP in 2010 which was quite well received and was awarded the Drum Media single of the week (that was pretty ego-boosting!) and then finally released our debut album Get Your Rabbit’s Foot and Run in February of this year.

 

How would you describe your sound? People are throwing around really generic tags like ‘Blues Rock’ and ‘Bluesy Hard Rock’ – does that tell the whole story? How do you view yourselves?


Well it does and it doesn’t. It does in the sense that it allows us to find other bands and artists that would fit with us on a bill. But at the same time I don’t think we’re blues enough to be a blues band; and not heavy enough to be a hard rock band; and I think we’re too bluesy to be just a rock band…
We try not to fit ourselves too much into a mould. But it’s hard to do sometimes because we just want to write and play music that we like – music that we would want to listen to – I guess that’s why we sound like The Black Crowes or The Rolling Stones or something. Having said that, it’s always flattering when you read articles comparing you to your heroes like Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker, The Small Faces – even Freddie Mercury - guys like that! I’ll never get sick of it!

 

Is there a story behind the band name or a special significance? Or is it just a very cool name?


Oh there’s a whole bunch of stories about the name of the band. We’re you interested in any one in particular? There’s the one about the ancient history books in the university library where I came across a story of a spy who was captured fleeing some ancient battle. The spy was imprisoned and tortured for one thousand years until he escaped by somehow transforming into some fierce dragon.
I’d love to tell you that one day while hitchhiking through the desert, dehydrated and hallucinating from the heat, I met an aborigine elder who gazed into my soul and said something prophetic like “One thousand years you have been walking and so one thousand years you shall be”

 

I’d love to tell you that the name takes inspiration from some dusty old poem, or a line in a book. Perhaps it does, and I haven’t yet read that poem or book. Maybe it was something written haphazardly on the back of a postcard I found in my grandfather’s drawers. Or maybe it’s from secret kept between two children. Or maybe dreamed a dream in time gone by when hope was high and life worth living.

 

I’d love to tell you that our name is inspired by all of these things, and none of these thing. Perhaps it is. Perhaps not.


  
Perhaps it’s just a happy combination of three words arranged in such a way that they sound freakin’ huge.

We saw you play on your album launch and were impressed not only by how well the sound translated from the album but also the energy of the band, is live the best way to hear you?


We always try and put on a great show – and we always try and do something different, which is important playing around Perth because you’re usually playing to the same group of people and you don’t want them to get sick and tired of seeing the same set over and over.


As much as we love putting on a live show, and you’ll love it to death, I think the best way of hearing us is to turn the lights off and put some nice sounding headphones on, listen to the album start to finish. Or at least each half of the album (it’s set out so there’s like this Side A –Side b thing happening and they work really well together).  There are some things in there that you’ll only be able to experience that way and it will help everything really make sense – you’ll be able to hear how all the songs interweave with each other and how they’re all related, thematically and musically.

 

Some of the songs on the album have been around a long time and others are pretty new, was the album a way of moving forwards and getting all aspects of One Thousand Years out there?
To be honest, I don’t know why it took us so damn long to put an album together. We’d had enough material for a long time. I guess it’s a money thing… or a time thing – we’re pretty lazy!
I guess the timing was just right for us.


But I think you’re right in that it was our way of going ‘you know what, we’ve got some might fine tunes, let’s get them down so we can forget about them and start working on new stuff’.

 

Is there anything that can beat the feeling of getting up on stage and playing to a live audience?


Ha! Only when it all goes well. We played Clancy’s Fremantle a couple of weeks ago and I jumped up on stage and started playing only to discover that my guitar was really really badly out of tune! It’s hard to recover from a bad start because it’s that first impression that gets a lot of people attention.
But when it does go well - and when everyone is enjoying themselves and you can just relax and have fun, it really is something special! It’s just so damned exhilarating! They talk about it in movies and on TV and in books and things like that, but it doesn’t even come close to how it really feels.


Having said that though, nothing – NOTHING – can beat the feel of a nice refreshing shower after playing a show like that!

 

Where can we catch you live over the coming months?


We’re back at our favourite little Fremantle digs at The Oddfellow for Saturday May 17th with our good mates Dallas Royal. Those guys are from Dunsborough. If you haven’t heard them yet you should definitely come down and check them out. They’ve got this awesome Audioslave / Queens of the Stone Age riffage vibe that’s just oozing with bluesy madness! Great stuff!


The show’s actually for the release of a film clip that we recently filmed for our latest single When The Sun Opens Its Eyes.

THE ALBUM: Are you happy with how the album has been received? Were there any surprising reviews or ones that missed the point entirely?


The response has been amazing! I think all the reviews (or at least most of them) have been really positive! And I think the most surprising comments are the ones about how good it sounds – considering we recorded the entire thing ourselves without having any real idea what on Earth we were doing.


We we’re actually reviewed in the same magazine as John Buttler’s new album and also Neil Finn’s new album. I think they got 3 stars each but we got 4 (out of 5). That was a thrill – I’ve got that page framed and hanging on my wall! I think we were equal highest review that week.


It’s really interesting to hear other peoples perspective of what it sounds like - and some people will bring up something that I hadn’t thought about while writing and recording it – things like different influences they can hear.


But I think the most thrilling thing anyone has said about the album (and a couple of people have said it too) is that it’s a great album to have on while cleaning the house! You know you’ve got something special when people clean the house to your music!

 

You showcased new material on the launch night too are you actively writing at the minute?


To be honest I think we’ve almost got enough new material for another album. We’re constantly writing new stuff, but I like to give the songs time to breathe and evolve before I commit to recording them. And even after recording them it’s hard not to let them evolve some more. It’s just a habit that I’ve got to get out of so this next lot of writing / recording is going to be a little different.
We plan on starting pre-production over the next month or so. With the aim of having something out by the end of the year.

 

What songs from the album do you see as the best introduction to the band and why?


When The Sun Opens Its Eyes – it’s probably the song that truly showcases the best of the band. It’s got that killer riff thumping away through the verses; it’s got that big, wide open soulful chorus with three part harmonies; it’s got that awesome guitar solo that’s just so perfectly structured with its key changes and harmony parts; and if that’s not enough, it even mentions ‘biscuits’ - which is something that seems to be lacking in music these days.


We actually just finished filming the video for that song. And it should be out in a couple of weeks.
Other songs that we think are pretty top stuff are ‘Helsinki Blues’ which has this amazing group vocal section that a lot of people are comparing to  Freddie Mercury which is pretty flattering. And also ‘Soul Kitchen’ which we wrote with local Freo legend Dom Mariani.


There were a few notable exceptions on the night and some great tracks we missed like ‘Helsinki Blues’ was it hard to put together a setlist? How did you choose it?


We wanted to play a big high energy ’party’ set. So that meant no slow songs and no ballads. It was a hard decision to make because it meant not playing some of my favourite songs like Helsinki Blues (which is my favourite song on the album). It’s like Barney Stinson says in that one episode of How I Met Your Mother – you know, back when he was cool: “People think a good set should rise and fall. But people are wrong. It should be all rise, baby!”  We wanted people to get hot, sweaty and exhausted - and love every second of it!


Helsinki Blues is also a lot different to do live because we don’t have all the keys / pianos / melotrons playing over the start.

 

There were some great guests up on stage too! It felt like a real ‘event’ is that aspect important to the band in presenting the music in the best possible light?


We’ve always believed that music – and in particular live performance – shouldn’t be about a band or artist getting up on stage and playing through a bunch of songs to a bunch of people. That’s boring. Live music should do something that a CD can’t – People have come to see you, not just to listen to you – so it needs to be more of a visual experience. And that means having people smash open a giant piñata and getting as many people up on stage to dance and play music with us. Because it’s not about us entertaining you, it’s about you having a good time with us!

What are your plans for the rest of 2014 and beyond?


We’ve recently filmed a clip for our latest single When The Sun Opens Its Eyes. We’ll be releasing it in a couple of weeks at The Odd Fellow Bar in Fremantle with our good mates Dallas Royal and Calectasia. After that we’re actually going to change some things around with the band – we’re actually looking at getting a keys player and another guitarist to give us a bigger sound – that will let us do more interesting things on stage.


We’re planning a tour for the latter half of the year. And as always, we’re continuing to write new tunes and we’re hoping to start pre-production on album number 2 over the next couple of months.


Tell us about the bands collective influences and what makes them so important to you?


In terms of other bands and musicians that we like and follow, it all really different. I’ve mentioned guys like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and Queen – they’re the obvious ones, but there are bands like The Answer and Rival Sons who we found via Classic Rock Magazine and are just amazing! Then there are guys like Radiohead and Florence and the Machine – the production on their albums is just staggering! Just amazing! And the melodies and the emotion in the lyrics are just superb!


In terms of song writing, I guess we’d take our inspiration from many many things. Just life in general, really. The song When the Sun Opens Its Eyes is about working night shift and not being able to sleep. Helsinki Blues is about being robbed on the train in Paris (true story) and finding peaceful solitude in Helsinki.


What have been your greatest challenges to date, and your favourite moments musically?


Oh man, I could go on and on and on about venues and booking agents treating bands like rubbish and expecting them to do all the hard work…


I think my favourite moment would be the time I got in touch with my good friend James Newhouse – who runs Reel2Real studios – and started talking about recording our first EP a few years ago. To me that was the point when we went from playing music in a rehearsal space to being a band – a real band, writing music musically, figuring out arrangements and thinking about how to produce something that sounded good. And it was also really the first time we had committed our songs to something so that other people could take them around and play them and listen to them whenever they wanted.

With technology changing so much over the last few years and seemingly not slowing, and TV force-feeding us the lowest common denominator, what hope is there for rock music?


That’s a tough one. And I could talk about this stuff ‘till the cows come home.


There’s so much over-produced tripe out there. And there are so many young bands and artists trying to be the next big thing – the next Tame Impala or Lorde or Flume or something – because that’s basically what we’re told will sell and get you rich and famous. There are so many great rock bands out there these days that have such a huge potential to be the biggest bands in the world – guys like The Answer or Rival Sons (shame on you if you don’t know those guys). They’ve supported the likes of AC/DC and Def Leppard and guys like that – but basically commercial radio says that people shouldn’t be interested in them because they’re not 22 year old white chicks with skin tight jeggings. Thankfully the internet means that we can find all the good stuff. A lot of digital radio stations realise this and are starting to cater to people who are after this kind of music. I’m also pretty optimistic about the re-launching of Double J radio.


If there’s a down side to technology, it’s that because it’s now so cheap and easy to set up a home studio without having any real experience, lots of people are doing it and releasing material which really is only demo quality stuff. My soul weeps every time I hear something on the radio or online that’s a really poor quality recording. And it does my head in that people love it – But I guess that all boils down to people listening to music that has been compressed digitally to lower quality and people being used to hearing songs like that and thinking that its good quality….

 

Thinking back to your early memories of music, what was it that first made you decide you needed to be in a Rock and Roll band?


Spite!


Spit is my biggest driving factor- for ANYTHING I’ve ever done.


My brother started learning guitar through school and one night he had to transcribe a song to play on the guitar – you know, figure out the chords and things like that. So my dad sat him down and made him try and play some Beatles song. He really wasn’t getting it. So I took the guitar into my room and sat down with a chord chart and came out a few hours later playing Let It Be. Not only was it the first time I played guitar but it was the first time I’d really listened to the Beatles – a lot of who I’ve become can be traced back to that night!

 

From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far as a musician?


I tend to pick up on little things that people say off handedly about a particular album or piece of music. I think the biggest thing that has stuck with me for so long was said by a good friend of mine – James Newhouse, who runs Real to Reel studios and mixed the album – who once said that he hated listening to an album where every song is in the same key. That one really made me think about how all my favourite albums were created and their structure and things like that. Not so much each individual song, but the album as a whole piece of work.


Dom (Mariani – who you’d know from countless local bands going back through to the early 1980s and has been a mentor to us for a few years now) has also given us some great advice when it comes to song writing and recording and in particular with writing lyrics and melodies. He said something like ‘What are you doing? No, no, no - You sound like you’re trying to be Chris Robinson (from The Black Crowes)! You’re not him, you’re you. Don’t try and do what you think he would do – do what YOU would do – go with your own instincts and come up with your own melody.’


 
Can music change the world?


I think music has already changed the world so much. And at the same time, the world has changed music too.


If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?


Queen II


Definitely! Anyone who says this isn’t their greatest piece of work is either lying or they’re not a true fan. I’d maybe go as far as saying it’s the single greatest album of all time. And it’s probably the album that has influenced my writing and recording more than any other.


And if I could be any piece of musical equipment in recording history I’d be the reel of tape used to record the album’s opening track ‘Procession’.


What is the meaning of life?


The meaning of life is to get better at doing things you’re already good at. Because if you get to the point where you think you can’t get any better – you’ve already lost…

 

 

One Thousand Years spoke to Mark Diggins May 2014

 

 

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