Monday, July 23, 2018

Five Minute Origin Stories With Final Coil

Over there across the pond...

There's this band called Final Coil.They are from Leicester, England. Are they fans of Leicester City I wonder? Well, here's somewhere that I clearly failed in bringing you the news.

Perhaps Phil supports the Arse? As I say around the office, up the Arse!

Anyway, Mr. Phil Stiles of Final Coil was good enough to talk to us about all the things we asked out. Unlike many others, the man is a bit long winded, so we'll leave it up to him now....

Is there an event you can point to you that made you say, wow, that's the instrument I want to play? Not like guitar or drums, but the reason why you play the model you do?

Well, that’s a great question. I mainly play Les Paul style guitars and my current go-to model is a Gibson Les Paul 60s Tribute T with p90 pick-ups.

When I first started out, I was really into Nirvana, so I was keen on a Strat-style guitar, but then, when I heard what Chris Cornell and Jerry Cantrell were doing with Les Paul guitars, my head just turned and since then I’ve used either a Les Paul or similar pretty much non-stop. They’re a great guitar, really weighty and I love how chunky they sound. 

Let’s face it, you can point to all sorts of boutique amp and guitar combos, but the Les Paul – Marshall pairing was what gave Cream their sound, not to mention Led Zeppelin, so there’s a heritage there. So, when you’ve got my dirty, heavy rhythm guitar set against Richard’s much lighter tone (perfect for a lead player) I think it’s a great combination and it really gives our live sound a kick.

But yeah, if I had to point a finger, I think it would be the Black Hole Sun video where Chris is playing a Les Paul Shape. He looked cool, the sound that Soundgarden had at that point was just perfect – it really bridged the gap between heavy and melodic - and it’s a sound I love to this day.

How do you write a song?

Oh dude, that’s a tough question!

It varies, but the truth is that normally I’ll get something in my head. It might be a lyric, although it’s more often a melody, and the damn thing will just repeat on a loop until my fingers start itching.

Half the time I don’t actually know how to play the thing in my head, so then it’s a case of sitting down with one of my acoustic guitars and basically figuring it out, piece by painful piece. Then I’ll head up to my PC – I’ve pretty much got a recording setup in our spare room – and start laying down each part. 

I’ll usually hear the whole thing in my head, so, I’ll lay it all out with guitars to a click track, then I’ll add drums (programmed), bass and vocals. Then I’ll normally find I’m not so happy with some part of it and end up doing the damn thing again. Then it goes to the band, who’ll either send me back to the drawing board (especially if I leave a gap for a five-minute guitar solo or something) or they’ll filter it through their own talents and it’ll become a band piece. 

So, that’s normally how the songs develop.

How many concept records do you own? Could you ever write one?

Well… that’s quite a pertinent question as the next record that we’re going to do is a concept record, although I can’t really speak to much about that now, suffice it to say that detail will be coming y9our way soon!

But in terms of owning concept albums, oh man, I have loads (depending upon how far you’re willing to stretch a point as to what constitutes a concept album) and I’m always looking to unearth any new ones that I can add to my ever-growing music collection. It’s a most underrated art form and I absolutely love it when bands tie the music together to something that resonates thematically. Maybe it’s just how I grew up, but I’ve always adhered to the idea of the album as opposed to a collection of songs that happen to share disc space, so when I come across something that has narrative weight, I’m pretty much in heaven.

In my collection you’ll find Pink Floyd’s entire back catalogue, so there’s a couple of concept albums there… then there’s also Roger Waters, Queensryche, Mastadon, Genesis, Devin Townsend, Fear Factory, Opeth, Smashing Pumpkins, The Who, Ayreon, Bowie, Bjork, Nick Cave, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth… the list goes on and it’s a diverse list. I mean, even W.A.S.P with ‘the crimson idol’ – it was pretty much the best thing they did; and then the Beach Boys with ‘Pet Sounds’ – I mean that more or less set the bar for the Beatles and ‘Sgt Pepper’ right there…

Maybe it’s my mum’s fault – I remember she had ‘Sgt Pepper’ on cassette and I listened to that album until the tape wore out. You know, it just spoke to me and, to this day, it remains a treasured album. So, because of that, I still fervently believe that music is, and should be, an art form and I greatly admire that kind of grand-standing ambition. It’s not that I think that all bands should be indulging in such flights of fancy (and, of course, I love an awful lot of music that wouldn’t be seen dead within miles of a concept album), but I do think that a concept album, done well, can be the most absorbing, wonderful journey, and surely that’s something to aspire to? 
Who's influence is most evident in your music? The least?

I used to think I knew, but since we released our debut album, we’ve had so many comparisons that I’m not really sure anymore! I guess that Alice in Chains can be heard in a number of ways, but I wouldn’t say that we set out to sound like Alice in Chains in any particular sense, and I would hope that any elements that are there, are subverted by my other influences rather than screaming out of the mix for all to see.

As to the least, well there are a load of bands that we like, who you wouldn’t necessarily associate with our music, but whose influence is there nonetheless – Sonic Youth, Blur, Manic Street Preachers, Linoleum, Tad… I could be at this for hours!

The truth is that we take influence from everywhere and nowhere. We always approached this thing in the way that we would write the music that we wanted to hear, so necessarily that meant a lot of things got thrown into a melting pot without any one element in particular rising to the surface and that’s the way we’ve always liked it. I think if every review said “oh – they sound like X” I’d be mortified, because it says little for your own creative approach if people only hear your antecedents! 

And the thing is, I’m still learning. I’ve never stopped seeking out new music, and I’m always incorporating little bits here or there. It’s never a conscious decision. I never sit down and say “right, Phil, today I should write a song that sounds like…” because, of course, that would just be a waste of time, but I think that, inevitably, if you love music and you love listening to different things you’re going to absorb some of it. Usually it’ll be a few months later and I’ll hear something and I’ll think “oooh, that’s where I got that from!” But it’s always just a little element, perhaps a subtle way of doing something, rather than an overt influence.

Which one of your songs is the one you’re the most proud of?

Of the ones that are currently out there, I’d have to say ‘failed light’ because it was a song that I wrote completely from scratch one Saturday morning having woken up to the melody racing through my head. I am pretty sure my long-suffering wife was surprised when I flew out of bed at eight am and disappeared for the next eight hours, but it was just imperative that I got the song down before I forgot it, so I ended up writing the whole thing, solos and all, before I realised how late it had gotten. For me, it’s pretty much the centre-piece of the record and it highlighted a more progressive, ambitious side to the band which I certainly think has impacted upon the songs I am currently writing.

Of course, ask me tomorrow and I may have a different favourite… there are certainly songs which I just love to play, not least ‘corruption’, which is an absolute blast to play live…

Sum up your latest record for us. 

Persistence of Memory is our debut album and it was a labour of love from start to finish. It’s very much a musical journey and, although it’s not a concept album per se, the songs are conceptually linked, detailing the loss of communication that seems to increasingly be a part of modernity. The themes of alienation and isolation very much dictated the overall sound of the record and, although there are a lot of metallic elements in our music, I think we deliberately approached it from a classic rock point of view, with a very dynamic mix, because it was so very important to me that the listener be able to lose themselves within it.

We were lucky, because these songs were already in development when WormHoleDeath, our label reached out to us and offered to put the record out, so it very much came together perfectly, particularly as we got to go out to Italy, to Real Sound Studios, to record. Those guys were just the best – so friendly and so professional – and it remains an experience that I will treasure forever. Then, of course, we topped it off by getting the wonderful Magnus Lindberg form Cult of Luna to master it. That really was special, and I think he did a magnificent job balancing the power of the music with our desire to keep it very dynamic and open.

In terms of headlines, you can expect huge, crunchy riffs; deftly intertwined guitar lines; tightly knit vocal harmonies and subtle electronic influences all combining to take the listener on an epic journey across a musical landscape that sits somewhere between metal, alternative and progressive rock.  

Stiles had loads to say. Make sure you hit up their BANDCAMP.

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