Empress AD x BitTorrent Bundle
August 07, 2014
The newest signing to Roadrunner Records gives fans a digital box set in advance of their major label debut.
Empress AD doesn’t pull any punches. Ferocious guitars and blistering drums peppered with atmospheric nuance and artfully-executed time signature changes. The band was started with one simple, yet challenging goal in mind; to make the heavy music they wanted to hear, straying from the formulaic and at this point, stereotypical sounds of active rock and metal. The result: honest, psychedelia-infused brutal riffage.
With no expectations of label deals or world tours clouding their vision, the band cashed out their life savings and began tracking their new album with producer Andrew Schneider (Cave In, Pelican, Old Man Gloom). As Still Life Moving Fast moved towards completion, their vision began paying off. First, opening slots for heavy metal luminaries Kvelertek, Baroness and Bring Me the Horizon. Next, the ultimate validation: a worldwide major label deal with Roadrunner Records. As a part of a unique partnership with Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Group, The End Records/ADA will release the band’s debut album in the United States this fall.
With their debut major label release and appearances at the legendary Leeds and Reading Festivals quickly approaching, Empress AD turned to BitTorrent Bundle to share a digital history of Empress AD, a band that inked a major label deal their own way. We were able to grab a few minutes with Empress AD frontman Ollie Loring to chat about the new album, the new Bundle and the road from local band to major label phenom.
BitTorrent: You guys are clear about the fact that this band is about writing and playing what you want to hear, the way you want to hear it. What inspired this ethos? How important is this idea for younger bands finding their voice?
Ollie Loring: We developed this ethos after being in previous bands that were playing music we just weren’t really into. After we quit those bands we became really detached to any music scene or what other bands were doing and that was a bit of a revelation for us. We felt that we could start with a fresh template and that made anything we wanted to do musically, possible.
It is hard being a musician and trying to figure out what your band should sound like, no matter what age you are. The main thing is to make sure you enjoy it and you 100% love and believe in what you’re playing. Saying that, I do think this ethos is important for younger bands and even more so for rock music in general. The younger bands that are coming through should be trying to push the rock music horizons outward, even if it is a tiny bit at a time, rather than trying to sound exactly like bands that are already out there and doing their own thing.
The younger bands that are coming through should be trying to push the rock music horizons outward, even if it is a tiny bit at a time, rather than trying to sound exactly like bands that are already out there and doing their own thing.
BitTorrent: How do the songs come together? They’re some incredibly powerful riffs and complex musicality but it still sounds very organic. How collaborative is your writing process?
Ollie Loring: Thank you! We do pride ourselves on riffs. The song writing process always starts with a main riff and we kind of build it from there. Sometimes a song will come together almost instantly and sometimes it could take 6 months, it varies massively. If something isn’t good enough and up to scratch though, we’ll bin it. We’re really brutal with what does and doesn’t get used.
Having a brother in the band makes writing so much easier as we’re always on the same wave length with what’s working and what sound we want. It means that you’re not going to bullshit each other if something isn’t working, we just say it how it is. It’s always for the greater good.
For the first album especially, I would write the first few riff sections of the song, the foundations basically, and then take it to Alex as a fresh set of ears to see what does and doesn’t work. He’s very much the structure and transition man for the songs. I’d then take the song to Tom and Edd and they would come up with riffs and other ideas that could be used as different sections in the song or to change bit’s that are already there. When we start jamming the song together as a band, that’s when it really starts coming to life.
For me, it’s massively important to have everyone involved in the writing process, otherwise you’re missing out on one quarter of the bands ideas for a song that could make it that 1% better.
BitTorrent: What was it like working with Andrew Schneider? How did he push you guys in the studio to get the most of these tracks? How was the process different than your other sessions?
Ollie Loring: Working with Andrew was awesome, it was like having a fifth member in the band. He completely understood our music and got where we were trying to go with it.
We said from the start that we wanted the album to sound very natural and not rely on Pro Tools edits to make us sound good, and that’s what Andrew’s all about too. We even kept small mistakes in so it sounds like humans were actually playing in a room, jamming and actually enjoying playing music together rather than sitting in a studio playing along to a click. There’s no vibe in that.
It was an extremely creative time where everyone was coming up with loads of ideas to try out. Andrew came up with loads of weird effects stuff, like in Blurred Perception, we used about 8 pedals for the second verse vocals. And in Consumed we used my Digitech Whammy pedal as an octave up on the vocals, it’s really subtle but it sounds awesome. Andrew was really open to trying out everyone’s ideas, we all just bounced ideas off each other, it was really inspiring.
He was really brutal with how perfect the takes had to be, especially when we recorded live, all at once in the same room. He definitely got the best out of me vocally. Andrew really pushed me to get the best takes possible and made sure everything was perfect, the delivery, the vibe, tuning. It was well worth it, even though you don’t see that when you’re doing the 20th take of a line that you just can’t nail!
We even kept small mistakes in so it sounds like humans were actually playing in a room, jamming and actually enjoying playing music together rather than sitting in a studio playing along to a click. There’s no vibe in that.
BitTorrent: How is it to be a part of such a legendary roster like Roadrunner’s? Are there any acts on the roster that really bring out your inner fan?
Ollie Loring: It’s a great feeling, it’s something we’re all really proud of. When we were speaking to the Roadrunner guys before we had signed we knew that it was the right label for us, they are so passionate about our music and completely get what we’re trying to do.
Being on the same label as Opeth and Porcupine Tree is pretty amazing. They’re two bands that has definitely influenced us in some way.
BitTorrent: How do you feel about the current state of rock music? How important is it for young bands to find other outlets to reach fans as terrestrial radio wanes? Why did you choose BitTorrent Bundle for this release?
Ollie Loring: I think rock music, and also music in general is at a bit of a weird time. Most of the ‘big’ bands are pretty boring, there’s very few that excite me and make me think. “Wow, they’re actually doing something different that’s new and exciting.” A lot of bands seem to just play it safe and go for the tried and tested formula in terms of their sound. There are some good new bands around but I think rock music has got a bit stale, it’s definitely time for a change.
There are more ways on the internet to reach fans but the hard bit is finding the ways to do it. BitTorrent Bundle is a great way for us to reach new fans that haven’t heard us before, and also for us to give new fans a load of great material that we’re really proud of in the bundle.
Check out the Still Life Moving Fast Bundle to get music, video, and artwork from the prog-rock group. Need to hear more? Enter your email address to get access to an exclusive lyric-laced photobook, a video sit down with Empress AD, and two lessons in riffing from guitarists Oliver Loring and Tom Meadon. Click here to get physical copies of Still Life Moving Fast and new merch from Empress AD. Prefer to go digital? Download the new album here.
Empress AD X BitTorrent Bundle:
01 Perplexed Again Single [Audio]
02 Left in Awe Single [Audio]
03 Nostalgia Single [Audio]
04 Perplexed Again Official HD Music Video [Video]
05 Left in Awe Live In-Studio HD Music Video [Video]
06 Empress AD Video Interview [Video]
07 Exclusive Lyric Photobook [Art]
08 Delve Into The Retrospect Guitar Playthrough [Video]
09 Blurred Perception Guitar Playthrough [Video]
Check out Empress AD on tour:
08-12 London, UK – Black Heart
08-13 Tunbridge Wells, UK – Forum
08-14 Oxford, UK – Wheatsheaf
08-16 Hythe, UK – Hevy Fest
08-23 Reading, UK – Reading Festival
08-24 Leeds, UK – Leeds Festival
About BitTorrent Bundle
BitTorrent Bundle is an alpha project made with and for the web’s creative community. Our mission is to help artists connect directly with fans, inside the content they share.
Each BitTorrent Bundle allows artists to distribute content directly to the Internet. And each Bundle comes with a key. Fans can unlock artist content with an email address. The idea is to make each song a storefront, and each file more valuable, every time it’s shared. Got ideas for the next BitTorrent Bundle? Hit us up.