A couple of weeks ago I was invited to conduct an interview with the band ZenthetiX in the run up to their appearance at the regional finals of the Live and Unsigned competition which takes place this Sunday the 22nd April in Portsmouth at Highlight in Gunwharf with tickets priced at £8 for a lot of bands. I would like to thank the guys from ZenthetiX for their time and allowing me the opportunity to conduct the interview.
1. How did you guys meet & get together?
Matt: – I met Ben at college through juggling, I basically learnt how to juggle and it was the start of a beautiful friendship, I met Phil through my friend James, bit of a weird story how we met, we were on the Portsmouth Music website and he advertised a guitar for sale and I bought it for £50 and it was rubbish and then I advertised a camera on the same website and he actually bought that as well a year and a half later.
Phil: – So we basically did each other for £50
Matt: – so we’re even now.
Lewi: – Am I in the band this time? Let me explain the last interview they did, there was no mention of me joining the band, I’m not even in it apparently.
Matt: – I started the band with Ben and we had this guy called Martin drumming with us, he left and we got another guy in and it didn’t really work out and we didn’t have a drummer for about 4 weeks, and our friend Jodi Rose suggested that we get Lewi in and we got Lewi in straight away and just gelled, and they (Points at Lewi & Ben) became the love connection known as big spoon, little spoon.
2. How is the E.P coming along?
Phil: – We’re almost there, ‘Section’ is fully done and is due to be mastered on Tuesday (3rd April), then ‘Side To Side’ which is the 2nd or 3rd track we haven’t decided on orders yet is a couple of bits away from being finished and ‘Hydrate’ is dependant on me getting my voice back as we had a gig on Thursday that I kinda over did it at and so at the minute we are waiting for my voice to fix itself and then we’ll put the finishing touches to the vocals in ‘Hydrate’ musically it’s pretty much done, then its just finishing touches.
3. Any idea on a release date?
Phil: – I accidentally said the 20th May on Thursday night and I think I may have to stick to that now because like every other gig we’ve played we were filmed, so it’s somewhere on record that 20th of May is what were looking at, but that’s dependant on whether we get a venue or not to do a launch night. We want the first viewing of the video and the first hearing of the song (‘Section’) to be at the same place so in that respect it’ll probably be around the 20th of May.
4. I’m assuming you’ve been together for about a year by now? So how do you feel your first year has gone?
Ben: – It’s gone pretty good, we’ve had a lot more gigs recently and we’ve got quite a few gigs coming up as well and we’ve got the live and unsigned thing coming up.
Phil: – Things have kind of scaled up nicely in the last few months, a couple of stops a long the way but in respect of the way its going at the moment I think we’re starting to be noticed by the right kind of people, we’ve got some interesting friends within the music industry who are promising that they can help us out with and should give us some good opportunities and with a bit of luck can take us a couple of levels up, I’m not suggesting that we’ll be playing Wembley Stadium next week or next year even, but at the same time I think we’ve got the opportunity to ramp up and I’m really looking forward to that.
5. What are your plans for the rest of 2012?
Matt: – I think we’re going to be concentrating on the recording, we’re gonna do a few gigs in the meantime to keep us fresh with the live scene, we wanna get out of Portsmouth that’s a key thing right now. I think we’ve established that we have really liked recording with the guys at Brody Lodge in Gosport and they’re keen to carry on recording with us with an album for a follow-up to the E.P.
Phil: – It shifts weekly, sometimes the focus is the live performances, we’ve got Live & Unsigned and that’s gonna be absolutely the focus until the 22nd of April and if we get through that then it takes over again. We’ve committed to working as Matt said on an album which is fantastic because the whole environment we’re working in is very comfortable for us, obviously if we do focus on an album the live performances have to take a back seat, we all love gigging so you’ve got to try to balance it and trade it off, but I think Matt’s right that an album is going to become the focal point of what we do from about August onwards.
6. After looking forward it’s only fair to look back, and obviously it’s been more of a struggle for you Phil than most with your fight against Cancer, how do you feel that’s changed your outlook? And has it made you even more driven to succeed?
Phil: – I think it’s very appropriate that I’ve been given two things that look like testicles (as Phil is passed 2 curtain rings) at exactly the moment you asked that question so I’ll place them there for posterity (places in front of himself). I think it affected people around me more than it did me when I was ill, my family certainly found it harder that I did. I’m much more focused going forward on what I want out of life and I think that’s something I’d lost track of and lost a bit of enthusiasm for, you tend to get in a rut and get comfortable. I’m not comfortable at all at the moment I’m tired perpetually because of the fact that we’re doing so much and working so hard trying to achieve what we want, that’s how I like to live. I think my first Tattoo will be something stupid like ‘I’ll sleep when I’m Dead’ in some foreign language I haven’t decided yet.
Matt: – Probably Italian
Phil: – More than likely, Irrespective, it wasn’t fun
Matt: – You should specify for the interview what exactly you had.
Phil: – (Phil Laughs) Testicular Cancer hence the ball reference earlier.
7. Who are the artists/people that inspired you to make music?
Matt: – This is where I turned around in the last interview and said yea we all like different things then we all said we like more or less the same thing.
Phil: – We all like Muse, we all like Korn, we’ve all got varying degrees of liking for Incubus, me less so than the other three but it’s growing.
Matt: – I would say for me the biggest influence would be Muse but then you’ve also got bands like Karnivool, Tool, Alice Cooper, Alice in Chains and honestly one of the biggest influences is the other guys in the band.
8. When not playing music what else do you get upto for fun?
Phil: – We take the piss out of Shifty (Matt)
Ben: – Sometimes he takes the piss out of himself which is good.
Phil: – Weirdly enough we’ve just had a conversation recently about the fact that we don’t do enough fun stuff, there’s a little bit too much of an obsession with taking everything musically and going forwards, whenever Matt and I get together all we talk about is the band and Lewi pointed it out and Ben to a lesser extent as well a couple of weeks ago that we need to lighten up a bit, so I think go karting is on the cards next isn’t it?
Lewi: – Hell Yeah
9. Do you have a favourite song that you’ve written?
Ben: – I quite Like ‘Currency’ (a song thus far unheard).
Lewi: – ‘Heartbeat’, it’s the best one it’s got the catchiest riff, the hook.
Phil: – I really don’t know, I think ‘Bending Light’ is the most instant song we’ve written in the sense that it’s got a catchiness to it and I genuinely do enjoy different bits of different songs. ‘Hydrate’s a lot of fun and I know it’s your favourite as well isn’t it?
PDC: – It is yes.
Phil: – I think something we’ve learnt recently with the recording ‘Hydrate’, ‘Section’ and ‘Side To Side’ is you start to take your own songs apart and put them back together again and ‘Hydrate’ has got the most scope to expand and evolve so for people that have seen it played for the last year are gonna see a different version of it, certainly from a vocal perspective it’s gonna change because we’ve written the song for live and now we’re taking it into a studio and we’re turning it into a recorded track and then it’s gonna come out the other end and some of those recorded elements will get transferred into the live performance. I thoroughly enjoy ‘Hydrate’, anything new is fun and then you kinda settle to your favourites, but I would probably go with ‘Hydrate’ at the moment.
Matt: – I think for me it chops and changes each week, ‘cause it can depend on which one we’ve recorded or on which one feels better on stage at that time, and it also depends on how the audience are reacting to the songs as well. That’s a big buzz when you can see people in the audience and their singing along and you haven’t even released that song yet.
10. What was the first song you wrote together as a band?
Lewi: – With me in the band, the one I actually wrote the drums on was ‘Section’.
Phil: – Because we had three drummers with varying levels of success until Lewi came along, it’s difficult, it’s all a bit blurry but ‘Section’.
11. Talking of the writing process, does one person take the lead or is it a Collaborative effort?
Lewi: – The way it used to go was Matt would bring in a riff and we’d go we like it then I’d put drums to it, Ben will play and work out he’s little bass thing, and we’d basically go over say a verse and a chorus and we’d repeat it and then Phil would write some lyrics down and get a melody into his head.
Ben: – It largely depends on the song though doesn’t it, some songs Shifty already has everything set in his mind and is like ‘I want the bass like this’ and then we kinda change it anyway cause that’s what happens all songs evolve as we play them. We wrote a song recently which we haven’t played live yet which is the most collaborative one we’ve done, where all of us had input and all of us did different bits of it and that’s one of the ones I’ve enjoyed writing the most because we did all put into it.
Lewi: – I think that’s where we’re gonna go from now on I hope.
Phil: – I think Ben’s exactly right sometimes where something starts with one person, that person’s got more opinion on it then. I think it’s difficult for people especially in Matt’s case, this being the first proper band he has been in, you get to a point where you’ve got to release a song into the wild and let other people have a pop at it and change it and that’s really difficult when you first start, and if you go back a year, he used to stand there and we’d say we’re gonna change something and he’d carry on doing exactly what he was doing before, because it was what was in his head and it was important to him.
Matt: – I had a particular sound on where that song was going.
Phil: – We inevitably had three different interpretations of a riff and also you can change a song by the vocal melody as well, if I start doing something with a falsetto over it, it’s gonna sound like something else completely different to if I start growling or whatever else, which I don’t often do to be fair but you can change a song in so many different ways and it’s about that element of things, these two (Ben & Lewi) tend to lock in quite quickly with each other and then it’s a case of finding where the vocals and the guitar actually go around it.
12. If you could choose one band to support who would it be?
Matt: – For obvious choice it would be Muse, mainly because we would fit in with their fanbase style.
Phil: – Purely as a fan plundering device then (All Laugh). I would go along with Muse simple because the fact that they are the biggest stadium rock band in the world at the moment and the idea of playing on the same stage as them would be quite amazing.
Ben: – I think it would be Incubus.
Lewi: – I was gonna say Incubus as well.
Matt: – I also think Tool would be quite a good idea.
13. What was the first Album you bought?
Phil: – Matt what was yours?
Matt: – I can’t remember
Phil: – I’m trying to use you to buy time so I can remember mine
Matt: – I can remember the first single I ever bought.
Ben: – (To Phil) That was like a hundred years ago for you. (Everyone Laughs)
Phil: – We’ve avoided age jokes so far it’s been quite impressive. Was yours Britney Spears? (Aimed at Matt)
Matt: – It was a Britney Spears single, that was the first single I ever bought,
Ben: – Was it really?
Matt: – Yea it was ‘Stronger’
Lewi: – That’s not even a good Britney Spears song.
Matt: – No I know, I know I was about 13 at the time, 12 no I was in secondary school at the time so I’d have been about 11 or 12.
Phil: – I’ve just remembered what mine was and I think I might beat you with the crapness of it, I bought ‘Hanging Tough’ by the New Kids On The Block. What was yours? (to Lewi)
Lewi: – I think mine was when I was about 5
Phil: – He’s qualifying it with age this is not fair I was about 6.
Lewi: – When I was 5 and Phil was about I dunno 25, 30 something like that, I found 5p on the floor and managed to talk my mate into letting me buy one of his albums I think it was like Now something.
Ben: – I’m truly winning this one cause my first album was like aged 13 and it was ‘Science’ by Incubus and it still remains one of my favourite bands.
14. Who was the first artist you saw live?
Phil: – U2 live at Wembley, I’m not giving the year. Actually I will to be funny it was 1994.
Matt: – Mine was Rolf Harris (Everybody Laughs) It was Guilfest, it was gonna be Atomic Kitten then Rolf Harris, but Atomic Kitten pulled out so Rolf Harris did like a three hour set It was Amazing, it was literally the best three hours of my life.
Lewi: – Mine was when I was 16 it was Korn at the Brixton Academy.
Ben: – The first band I paid to go see was Mindless Self Indulgence up in Nottingham, but the first band I actually saw live was Slade at some free gig somewhere.
15. Obviously work at the moment has been towards the video for Section, what was the inspiration behind it and when do you plan to release it?
Phil: – We’ll do it the same time so May 20th it’ll be combined, assuming we’ve got the response for getting it on things like Kerrang and whatever else and Scuzz and people like that, If they will do it, which we’re hopeful they will. The inspiration behind it was that somebody came to me who actually is my housemate and said I want to make a music video and he’d never done one before, he didn’t particularly have any experience in that world, he came up with a concept, that concept turned out to be quite genius and we actually filmed a lot of it in the room we’re sat in right now. It’s worked really well so much so that I’m really hopeful that he’ll commit to doing a second one which will be a follow up and which will obviously link together and keep a theme going, and without wanting to typecast ourselves as doing the same video every time or same style I think there is more mileage in it, it kinda leaves you wondering what’s coming next.
16. You are due to take part in the Live & Unsigned competition, how did you get involved and what do you hope to achieve from it?
Phil: – We submitted our application to take part in this years event, auditioned and got through to the regional final at Highlight in Gunwharf, it’s a fantastic chance to showcase our music to industry people and win some new fans. We really just want play to as many new people as possible and hopefully as well as getting some new fans we hope we can progress to the final at the O2, the setup has been really professional so far and the event on the 22nd promises to be an awesome night! hopefully with a positive outcome for us!
Once again I would like to thank the band for taking part in the interview and I would compel everyone that can to head down to Gunwharf on Sunday to check them out and lend them some support in the Live & Unsigned competition.