Brisbane powercore metal pioneers A Breach Of Silence are about to release their third studio album titled “Secrets” on February 24th 2017 via Eclipse Records. Produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (Bring Me the Horizon, Arch Enemy, In Flames) and mixed by Henrik Udd, the album represents exactly where the band are at this stage of their career with an evolved sound that incorporates both their signature sound and newer elements. We have a chat to bassist Blair Layt about the new songs, bringing Fredrik and Henrik to Australia as well as the current state of the music industry.
Andrew: So how’s things with you and the other guys at the moment?
Blair: Yeah things are going really well! We’re still getting nice and busy, we got the new album coming out in a few weeks and the album launch happening in about a month and a half on the 25th of March at the Brightside here in Brisbane that’s basically going to kick off our little Aussie tour that we’re doing this year. We’re going to be doing it a bit differently this year, we’re not going to do a consecutive tour over a week and a half or 2 weeks. We’re basically going to do a prominent part of Australia every weekend so to speak, that way we can all keep our day jobs which in turn pays for the tour and get out to the clubs on the weekends when the kids can actually come out to see the shows.
Andrew: Yeah I suppose it’s a balancing act having your day jobs and doing the tours and also making the tours on days where as you said, at times when people are more inclined to come out and see you guys.
Blair: Yeah exactly. We’re not an international band here in Australia, we frequent most major cities every year. If someone in Adelaide or something like that didn’t want to come out and see us on a Tuesday night, they could be forgiven so we’re doing it a little smarter I think.
Andrew: Yeah and it’s funny as I was watching your new video for “Falling Away” and I noticed there was little signs and stuff shown on the video where there was a little comment on the music industry at the moment and how bands are getting paid through streaming services and that kind of thing. What’s your take on the whole music scene is now compared to how you may have remembered it years ago?
Blair: The music industry now compared to how it was years ago is obviously a completely different animal. 20-30 years ago so many things were different, the big one obviously is technology. Technology was just so different, obviously the internet wasn’t around, the digital age wasn’t around, all that stuff. People got information on new bands through word of mouth and through local magazines and stuff like that and it just made music that much more…what’s the word? Not desirable although definitely desirable [too] but it put it up on a higher pedestal.
Andrew: Almost more valuable as I see the word ‘valuable’ in the video as well.
Blair: Yeah definitely more valuable. Where now because it’s more available, anybody can get a guitar and amplifier and man Mbox and plug it into a computer program and create something magical. Anybody can do it and that’s awesome ina way, everybody should be able to create music but a by product of that is the devalueing of it and we don’t have to. That’s not something that we have to do. Everybody should be able to make music but if it’s released and you like it, you should be able to pay for it just like we did 20 or 30 years ago. There is nothing about the creativity behind the music that’s changed, it’s all exactly the same. I think also a big issue which is something we tackle in the music video is the streaming industry which is the new thing in the decade that we’re in and it’s a great technology but a big part of it hasn’t been designed very well. We can access streaming sites for free pretty much, I mean everybody that you talk to says they have a Spotify subscription which is great. The subscription is a completely different kettle of fish but this whole streaming thing that’s free, it’s like, ‘Well the bands aren’t gtting paid for that’, and you can account hop from month to month and just trial all these different accounts for free and all you have to do is put up with the occasional Ad. And the music value gap between how much the artists get paid and how much the Spotify CEO’s are on and other digital streaming platforms, it’s ridiculous and if we can make a little bit of a ripple in that ater then we’ve done the right thing.
I guess you could say the video has already been successful because so many people have come up to us and said already that, ‘Oh man we didn’t even know that!’ I had one fan message my private account on facebook and he was like, ‘Dude what the hell? You guys are after more money, aren’t you comfortable enough living off the band?’ And I’m like, ‘Woah dude I’m a plumber! I’m a tradesman bro, I don’t do this for the lamborghinis. I do this for the fun and the love of it. I’ve got a day job, we all do.’ Even mates of ours in Thy Art Is Murder when they aren’t on tour, they’re in Brisbane working in bars and things like that. Half of Violent Soho last year reckoned one of them still worked at Maccas, it’s just a thing and that ties it back to what I was talking about before. 20 years ago Violent Soho would be living in a gigantic mansion somewhere in Mansfield, again it’s just devalued it over time and in our opinion it doesn’t need to be like that.
Andrew: Yeah definitely, it’s a sort of sad state of affairs how things are and I’ve talked to many bands on this very subject and I find a lot of them, at least the newer bands from the modern generation try new and different ideas to combat that. Is there anything in particular that you guys have tried or are trying to sort of get around some of the problems that you encounter with the way the industry is?
Blair: In what regard? Like in how much streaming companies pay us and stuff like that?
Andrew: Yeah I mean there was a band I spoke to the other week called Protest The Hero and basically what they did was release one song at a time per week from the album that was subscription based and that was something that I had never really seen too much before. So bands like that are trying different ways to get people to engage and be more interested in their music as well. So is there anything like that which you try and do yourself?
Blair: No to tell you the truth and that is a fantastic idea, we should look into that. With this album specifically I guess the only thing that we’ve done differently to try and promote it better in relation to what you’re talking about is all of the songs prior to the album we’ve made video clips for, we’ve decided to release a couple more before the album comes out. I think on our last album we released “The Darkest Road” song and the video clip and that’s it, that’s the only song we’ve released before the album came out whereas this album “Secrets”, we’ve released “Falling Away” about a month and a half ago with a video clip and a couple of weeks ago we released “Broken” which is the second single of the album with a video clip and then we’ve got another one coming before the album is officially out as well. So I think this time around what we’re doing to get people’s attention is we’re just pumping the promotion from a different angle a little bit more whereas before we wouldn’t of wanted to showcase 3 songs before the album in previous year but we’ve decided to go for that approach this time around.
Andrew: OK cool and I think that’s the kind of thing that bands need to do to get people’s attention like you said. I’d like to get into the new album a bit more now and I had read that you had a couple of pretty cool producers to work on this album, the Swedish producers Fredrik Nordstrom and Henrik Udd. Great guys and phenomenal producers, what was it like working with those guys?
Blair: Oh man it was really awesome, that’s all I can really say! We’ve been privileged enough to work with them over all 3 of our albums. I guess the only way I can relate is to take you back to the first album, we didn’t know these guys at all and we were going out on a whim messenging them and to be fair we message a couple of studios around the world of the same calibre. We got a few responses back after like Adam D of Killswitch Engage but Fredrik was just the cheapest, t get the business side of things out of the way but his response was a lot more welcoming where the other guys were to be fair were a bit straight down the line like, ‘This is the price, this is when I can do it. Come over and see what we can do.’ Whereas Fredrik was more like, ‘Send me all your songs and I’ll see what I can do to help you, you got a really good sound’, you could just tell he was really into it. Not so much as a fan but he was a professional like, ‘Yes I can help these guys and I’ll give it a hundred percent’. And what we did differently with them was we brought them out to Australia rather than fly to Sweden, we just thought that we did the maths and this would work out a bit cheaper for us. Not much but a little bit cheaper and we would give these 2 guys and Fredrik’s family an awesome Australian holiday and we managed to pull it off. We got Fredrik and his family and Henrik out to Australia for a month and it was over Christmas so they stayed at our houses and stuff like that and we basically just became friends with them which was really cool, they’re really cool people. And then they came back to do the second album and then about a year ago we finished wrapping up the third.
Andrew: What was it like to have them in Australia? Because you did the other ones overseas but this time it was different territory and also because of Christmas and the different weather so did that have an impact on how they worked or was it business as usual for them?
Blair: A little bit from column A and a little bit from column B. We thought it was the best of both worlds because like I said we were giving them an awesome impression of a country that over in Scandinavia is fantasized about because it’s so ropical. They were really excited to get in the water but then really excited to get out of the water when they remembered about sharks! All of the typical foreign things but it was a really good experience for them and we found it worked in our favor because – and I guess they can’t really be blamed for this – but when they’re at home in Sweden and not on holidays, they’re at work and they rock up at 8 O’clock, they leave at 5 O’clock in the afternoon or whatever time they knock off and they go home to their families. And at Fredrik’s studio you actually have the privilege of staying at the studio and he gives you full reign of the studio when they’re away and in other studios you can’t stay there, you turn up at office hours and you leave at 5 and that’s it. If you don’t get it done in that time you gotta book another day. When they were here there was no real start time, it was, ‘Hey let’s get drunk’, start whenever and work until we are burnt out.
Andrew: So I guess for them it was more of a holiday than anything else I suppose.
Blair: That’s exactly right, that’s why they were in that mode. It was just like a month long party. So yeah it was awesome, we really enjoyed doing it that way.
Andrew: OK cool! And because you had worked with them before, what was different that you wanted to do on this album, musically and creatively speaking?
Blair: So for anybody that has heard any of the singles or any of the newer stuff that can be previewed on iTunes and stuff like that, they can obviously hear that it’s taken a slight musicaly different direction. I like to think of it like this: A band that writes an album and then releases it, tours it, experiences so many things over the course of time inbetween those albums and I think all 5 of the band members grow and learn everyday. Everybody is learning things and you’re getting wiser and you’re realizing different things and you grow as a person and as a musician. You can get bands like Slayer and Amity Affliction and stuff like that which are two fantastic bands in their own right but a lot of people would sit here and argue that their music is stale because they just play the same thing over and over again. Amity released “Youngbloods” which I absolutely love that album and then anybody could be forgiven for getting angry at them for just releasing Youngbloods 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and that’s fine, that’s what they do and it’s a good sound etc. And same with Slayer, they’ve just been producing and creating the same songs since the 80’s and that’s their thing, that’s what they do and that’s fine and you get those people that like that and that only. We find that for a start, there’s no right or wrong in music at all so it doesn’t matter what people do, what they’re doing isn’t right nor is it wrong. You either like it or you don’t and that’s it. We like to think of it as a different approach and much more realistic, a live sort of approach in creating music. we made our first album, we cut our teeth, we listened to everybody and the support we got and the feedback that we got and took what we thought was all the good things from that and evolved with them to the second album.
Blair: And we also had the privilege on the second album in having Rhys (Flannery) as our frontman and he brought this whole new element of vocals because our old screamer was a really good screamer but he only had sort of one style and that’s it and couldn’t really do any clean singing. I was doing all of the clean singing on the first album and then the second album came along and Rhys is just this talented powerhouse in my opinion and it gave a whole new depth to the album because we could do these sick harmonies. I could sing parts, he could sing parts, it just keeps it fresh and we only got positive feedback from that. So we thought with the new album it’s just a progression from that it’s also combined with our experiences over the past 2 to 2 and a half years since we wrote “The Darkest Road” and that time frame has certainly been a rollercoaster ride for all of us. We had incredible highs but ridiculously low lows as well so that’s what we wrote about on this album and that’s the musical style that’s in right now is the way it turned out basically. We didn’t start writing the album going, ‘We need to change our style to this specific tone or this specific tempo’. We just let it flow and that’s what ended up coming out. I like to think the songs that we released as such like “Falling Away” and “Broken” and stuff like that, they do definitely sound different from what people are used to but there’s a lot of other songs on the album that have those grass roots from the first albums, they just weren’t released first. We’ve got a lot of concerned fans come to us and they’re like, ‘Man loving the new stuff but what’s happened to old Breach’ kind of thing, ‘Where’s the heavy?’. I’m like, ‘Dude, listen to Nightcrawler, it’s heavy! Go on iTunes and preview it, it’s there man’.
Andrew: Well that’s the thing, I don’t want to use the word pander but it’s hard to listen to people who say you have changed or whatever or even to isten to some criticism of bands who haven’t changed. There’s no win-win situation so I guess at the end of the day, you’ve got to do it for yourself and noone else.
Blair: That’s right man, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t so just get out there and do it.
Andrew: Now you mentioned before about touring for this album, what have you got as far as dates and where can people expect to see you?
Blair: People can expect to see us in all major cities across Australia. Tomorrow (Wednesday 15th) we will be releasing the first installment (see below for full tour dates).
Andrew: Is Perth on the radar for your tour?
Blair: We are going to Perth this year, yes. The Perth date hasn’t been finalised yet so there won’t be an announcement yet but stay tuned for it.
Andrew: Cool well we look forward to seeing you in Perth at some stage then! Congratulations on the new album, fantastic stuff and good luck on the tour. Thanks for your time, it’s been a great chat.
Blair: Thanks a lot man, really appreciate it and I’ll see you guys in Perth when we come over.
25th March The Brightside, Brisbane (18+)
1st April BANG!, Melbourne (18+)
2nd April Wrangler Studios, Melbourne (AA)
14th April The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney (18+)
15th April Born2Rock Studios, Central Coast (AA)
16th April Rad, Wollongong (AA)
21st April Flamingo’s On Quay, Rockhampton (18+)
22nd April Mc Guires CBD Hotel, Mackay (18+)
Tickets available HERE