Widows - Interview
We fired some questions across to Nottingham lads James and Phil from Widows, here's how we got on:
With James Kidd (guitar) and Phil Emblin (bass)
Adam - Tell us about yourselves, how did you from, where did the name idea come from?
James: We formed as a result of a shared love of stoner/classic rock, doom, and sludge music. Adam (vox) and I have known each other since we were kids and had played in bands together before Widows. We noticed there weren’t many bands like that round our way at the time and we really wanted to do something other than metal. ZeBig joined us on drums a few months later when a mutual friend introduced us after they started martial arts training together. We’ve had a few bassists over the years but Phil joined about 18 months ago and he fit right in like he’s always been there. We wanted a one word name, something people would remember. So many awesome bands have single word names so we figured it was a good bet, plus it’s a good one to chant too. There’s also a darker side to the name, Ad and I have lost a lot of friends and family to illness over the years, and often leaving behind a wife and kids. It’s something of a nod to those we no longer have in our lives.
Adam - Who are your main influences in music?
James: Lots of stuff from the 90s, namely Kyuss, Clutch, Down, Unida, COC, plus “newer” bands like Mastodon, Baroness, Torche and the like. All those bands have a pretty unique take on their craft and we try to incorporate some of that awesomeness in our own music. There’s a less acknowledged punk/hardcore influence as well, inevitably given we all listened to a lot of that stuff growing up, it certainly shows in Ze’s drumming and in the pace we play at these days too.
Adam - Is there anything you want to experiment with musically that you haven't attempted yet?
James: We’d love to get some harmonica and organ on a track, and also conversely I’d like to do some nastier, dirtier sludge stuff. Really fucking horrible, like very slow Grindcore. Phil also plays sax so I’m currently trying to work out how to persuade the rest of Widows that they want to cover Careless Whispers with me. Adam’s already vetoed the Top Gun theme tune so this is my fallback option.
Adam - Your new album Oh Deer God is due out mid April what can fans expect from the release?
Phil: You can expect half an hour of power. It sounds like 4 mates in a room with a mutual love of riffs, grooves, noise, coffee and beers. That's how it was written and should be received.
James: It’s the first proper release we’ve written and recorded with a full time bass player and it’s made a real difference. The whole thing feels a lot more solid with Phil’s input as a lot of the previous stuff was people playing basslines I’d already written rather than us writing as a whole band. Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio really nailed the sound we were aiming for when we wrote the album too. Loud, and pissed off, would be two words I’d use to describe it.
Adam - How does Oh Deer God compare to previous releases?
James: We’ve tried to evolve things a bit rather than just repeating ourselves and writing another Death Valley Duchess. We’ve beefed up the sound a lot and it’s more stripped back and heavy than a lot of the older stuff. There’s some sludgier/doomier elements in there too so instead jumping from riff to riff all the time, we’ll sit on one riff for a while and do a little more with it.
Adam - What was the best part of recording and working on the album?
Phil: That’s a tough one! There were so many great moments. As far as the writing goes, Any musician will tell you that there's no feeling like it when you've been working on a track for hours/days/weeks and all of a sudden the groove sits just right, the track progresses so naturally and all you've left to do is smile with your buddies as you play it over and over to get it ready. The recording experience was great too. The Skyhammer lads were really welcoming and the hybrid of their equipment and ours made for a really great sounding album - I appreciate that's a biased opinion, right there!
James: I really enjoyed writing as a full band for the first time in a long time. Having everyone fully involved in the writing process really helped things come together quickly and it was cool seeing what started out as a handful of riffs on my computer, and a few things we jammed when we were warming up at practice, turn into the beast it is today. Working with Chris was a great experience too, the man’s a wizard with some incredible gear at his disposal.
Adam - As a touring band, do you feel secure travelling to other countries at the moment with the world in a state of terror following recent attacks?
James: Fuck terror. You’ve more chance of dying whilst driving to the gig. Sure there’s a lot of pissed off people in the world that want to hurt others, and a lot of people with the means to help them do it, but to be cowed by their nonsense would (to them at least) begin to validate their actions. We’re always vigilant in new places like anyone would be, but I’ve traveled all over the world and rarely been concerned for my safety so no, a few dickheads with a misguided take on the world aren’t going to make me change my plans if I can help it.
Phil: Widows do and always will feel safe whilst travelling throughout the UK, Europe and further afield. There's no point living in fear anyway... Unfortunately we live in an age where radical extremists can have a huge impact on the public (I won't digress too much into the politics), but the mutual love of music should be enough to fill a room without the risk of any idiots!
Adam - Is there anywhere you wouldn't play at the moment?
James: I’m game for going literally anywhere. Obviously you’ve got to put in a little more work if you’re going somewhere dangerous, remote, or unusual. You can’t just rock up like a tourist, but with the right people showing you around you’ll be safe enough and you’ll get to see some stuff that you’d never find otherwise. That said, I think it’ll be a while before you’ll see a Widows tour of Syria and Iraq. I’d love to tour Asia though, I reckon that’d be a proper eye opener.
Phil: There isn't a specific geographical location we wouldn't play. But we have suffered our fair share of bad promoters and venues over the years, so we know which venues and promoters to work with. There'll be no name and shame here though.
Adam - How does the UK scene compare to anywhere else you have played?
Phil: At the moment the UK scene is booming for live bands. There's a great stoner scene at the moment. We've shared the stage recently with Cough, Battalions, Regulus, and Elder to name a few - all of which are amazing bands and it certainly fills us with confidence when stepping out to grow the scene and genre. If nothing else it's fun to raise a beer and smile along to some loud riffage!
James: There’s a real healthy DIY ethic in a lot of the towns and cities across the UK, and with that has come a steady growth in great new bands and festivals, both on a local and national scale, like Desert Fest (London), ArcTangent (Bristol), Riff Fest (Bolton), Mammothfest (Brighton), Bloodstock (Derbyshire). This has really helped a lot of up and coming UK bands mix with larger acts and take their music to a wider audience. Out in Europe though, it feels a lot more relaxed in the way they do things. You show up and there’s food waiting for you whilst they set up the PA. We’ve been handed a couple of crates of beer “for the road” as we were leaving venues quite a few times too. Plus you’re a bit of a novelty being from abroad so folks tend to be a bit more interested in you and it’s cool meeting people and swapping stories in new places like that. The great thing about Europe is that every time a UK band goes over and sees how it’s done, they bring a little of that attitude back with them and it spreads through their respective scenes. It makes you feel a lot more welcome after a long drive to get fed a good meal and a few beers.
Adam - A hot topic at the moment is the issue of crowd killing and the over use of actually harming somebody at a show, do you feel that this this needs to be addressed and if so how do you feel would be the best way of going forward ensuring everyone still has a good time at shows and yet at the same time remains safe and unharmed?
James: No karate in the pit, it’s ridiculous. You can have a fight outside if you must. That said, it’s not something you tend to see at our shows really, we get some rowdy pits going on but it’s all in good nature. Security take care of any idiots at bigger shows, and in my experience anyway, the crowd generally tend to sort out problems like that at smaller venues. I’ve seen one or two people get marched out of shows by people in the crowd after acting out like that.
Phil: This definitely needs to be addressed. Last time I checked, no one goes to shows to get punched or have to worry about being whacked by someone who likes to throw their weight around. Don't get me wrong I like a good pit as much as the next gig goer. Widows solution: don't be a twat!
Adam - What can fans expect from you this year?
Phil: They can expect a busy year. We're trying to play as much as possible; gigs and festivals etc. We plan to promote the album on every platform to get it in your ears. Our first video for this record will be out this month too! We plan to get about a lot! Come and hang out!
Adam - What is the most embarrassing thing to happen to you on tour?
James: I dunno, I’d like to think we’ve managed to avoid most major faux pas so far whilst we’ve been away. There’s been some pretty spectacular vomits and whiteys happened in the past though.
Phil: One memory that springs to mind whilst on tour was projectile vomiting in the West Country somewhere! I forget the name of the club we were in, but I decided their booze was better stored in me rather than in the fridge. My body decided otherwise and I made it rain! It was literally like a fucking rainbow of beer, cider and whiskey! - happy days!
Adam - Do you have any pre-show rituals?
James: I sacrifice a virgin and two goats before every show, and praise Iommi.
Phil: I like a sound check and using my own equipment, but I wouldn’t really call it a ritual.
Adam - What is the craziest thing a fan has ever done?
James: I can’t tell you that, her boyfriend would kill me haha.
Phil : We have had a few people get naked in the crowd before, sadly just hairy dudes so far though. Another time, we were playing a show for our singer Adam’s birthday, and a friend of ours jumped onstage and poured rum in my mouth whilst another tried to pull my shorts down mid-solo. Thank fuck for belts.
Adam - What is your ultimate Zombie Survival Plan?
James: You’d need somewhere you could fortify, with good lookout positions and perimeter security like trip wires, motion sensors and the like, to detect any prowlers. You’d need to be near a fresh water supply, have enough land to grow food, and potentially a couple of well-equipped fall back positions should the hordes overrun your main base. Most importantly though, you’ll need the machine guns and explosives…..lots and lots of machine guns and explosives! Oh, and spikes to mount the heads of your enemies on too, as a warning to other survivors who might get any silly ideas. Can’t forget the spikes.
Phil: What a question!! - I think in this instance; the law can suck a fat one! - with that in mind, it'd be straight to the local supercar dealership - preferably Lamborghini, get 'The Bronx' on the stereo, drive around at speed for a while, kit myself up with guns and explosives and go have some fun 'killing' Zombies... I can't remember what film it's from, but I've always liked the idea of fighting my way out of a sporting goods store. Baseball bat or hockey stick would be the obvious weapon of choice.
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