Punknews interviewer Faye Turnbull sat down with frontman Ed McRae and guitarist Stu Paice ahead of their sold out headline show in Newcastle, UK, and talked bluntly about the controversy surrounding the new album, street wear and fashion within the hardcore scene, and that Paul McCartney "should have died a long time ago."
You've recently released The Golden Age and it seems to have caused quite a stir. I saw an interview with Ed a little while ago and you said the new album sounds like Pennywise and The Offspring, I didn't really believe it, but it kind of does. Why the drastic change?
Ed: It wasn't really like, "Yeah, we just want to change, because we don't like what we do anymore." We just wrote what we wanted really.
Stu: It just happened. We all love bands like Pennywise and The Offspring, so it was going to come out in some way, but it just all came out.
Listening to the first single These Lights, did you choose it deliberately, because you knew it'd cause the biggest reaction?
Stu: We released it because we liked it and we knew a lot of people would be like, "What the fuck?" but we didn't care. We like it, it's a great song and it's great to play. We released a heavier song first, because we wanted people to go, "What the fuck?" a little bit. It was expected that kids would chat shit. I think once kids see us play the new songs in the context of the record, they'll get a new kind of perception of it, but some people won't give it a chance, but that's their loss. It's a great record.
Even on your last album, there were still clean vocals, so I guess it shouldn't have came as much of a shock.
Stu: Exactly. It's almost as if a lot of kids forgot that The Kids We Used To Be… happened, there was a pretty drastic transition, so if you look at it that way, it's just a natural progression.
Ed: Some kids are just fucking idiots.
Do find that people within 'hardcore' are generally narrow-minded?
Ed: Not everyone. Some people are. I think a lot of the younger, new kids who are trying to be Mr. Crucial Hardcore feel the need to be narrow-minded, because they feel the need to impress.
Stu: When you're younger and growing up, and getting into a thing, you want to be the one, like if you're into movies, you want to be the one who watches movies that two people have seen. You want to be the dude wearing a t-shirt that's spray-painted and buy the t-shirt from the band that presses 10 t-shirts a year, and that's those kids, but those kids will look back in a few years and change their outlook on life, and think, "Oh, I was a bit of a prick then." I wouldn't necessarily say that I've stood at the back of a room and stuck my fingers up at bands that have done that, but those were the kids that were telling us we were their favorite band last year, but fuck them.
How did your label respond to the new sound?
Stu: They were actually really supportive. I think because they got a lot of pre-orders. [laughs] As soon as they saw the money coming in, we could do what we want. Apart from Bring Me The Horizon, everything else is shit. Lostprophets are just done, aren't they? We toured with them at Soundwave and they were just haggard and washed up. But yeah, Bring Me The Horizon are our mates and they're great.
Is it frustrating that people still compare Ed to your old vocalist George Noble? Even though you've now probably done more with Your Demise than he did.
Ed: I'm not going to lie; it's quite funny. A lot of the kids who are saying all this, they probably didn't even listen to the band when George Noble was in.
Stu: The fact of the matter is that the dude got kicked out nearly three years ago and we've moved on, so much that it's not the same band as it was, because we're allowed to do what we want now and it's not a dictatorship. The band as a whole is happy. All these dickhead kids that say they liked the band when George was in the band, we'd probably have sold out Brixton Academy, so it's bullshit, because no one really liked the band back then and everyone thought he was arrogant that saw us. I'm not going to say anything about him, because what's been said has been said, but whatever, you're going to get that. Most of these kids who are saying it are about 16, so they would have been 12 when that happened. Simple mathematics, you're idiots.
It seems that you've never really fit within a particular scene, like you're too metal for the hardcore scene and too hardcore for the metal scene, is that why you just didn't give a fuck with this album?
Stu: Yeah, we wrote whatever we wanted to write for us. We wanted to write heavy songs, we wanted to write soft songs. Honestly, if we wanted to write a song like Mumford & Sons, we would have.
Ed: We wrote a song that sounded like My Chemical Romance.
Stu: Yeah, it's a great song. It's going to get revisited; we've just got to record the vocals.
Ed: I just feel like we can play any show.
Stu: Out of any tour that we've done with bigger bands, I've always felt that we always fit in with bands like A Day To Remember. I mean, when we did that tour, it was the best tour we've done, but then we did Never Say Die, we fit on so well with Architects and Parkway Drive, but then we toured with Enter Shikari. The thing with touring with Enter Shikari is that their fans are Enter Shikari fans and they're there for Enter Shikari, so it's a tough crowd. We're doing something towards the end of the year that kids are probably going to flip their shit over [touring with Young Guns].
I guess you've always been associated with the 'scene' crowd. How do you feel about being considered a 'scene' band?
Stu: There are pros and cons to that. The pro now is that we're attracting a lot of Kerrang! kids that are very open minded and like the stuff that's put in front of them, and that's touring from bands like Enter Shikari, but then we have kids from the scene, that are young, who are in it for six months and then we move onto what they think is 'cooler', which is sad. I saw something sad the other day when I was watching a video from a band in Indonesia, where they just try to replicate what happens in the UK and America, and these innocent, sweet kids are turning into these elitist dickheads, because of what's portrayed in England. There was a great band covering a Your Demise song and there were kids at the side of the stage, wearing - and I mean, everyone in the band wear's street wear - but they're copying those kids and there's too much focus on everything else apart from the music, which is very sad and that's why we did what we wanted to do on the record, because you're never going to please every one. Some kids said Born A Snake was too heavy and some kids said These Lights was shit [laughs], but whatever. We're happy.
Talking about street wear…
Ed: Oh my God… I hate that phrase. I got shouted at by the Internet because of what I wear, but it's just what I wear.
Stu: I just want to make one point and this is an exclusive for you. All of these kid were saying, 'There's so many fucking wardrobe changes on the video for These Lights." We did it over the course of three fucking days, of course, you're going to change your clothes and it was all cut together.
Ed: And I got told to bring that many clothes. If I had it my way, I wouldn't have come from London to Brighton with a suitcase of all these clothes. I would have brought like two outfits. It just so happens that the clothes I wear are those clothes and have done for many, many years, and all of these kids who are baiting me, wear the stuff as well. If people want to get shitty about what I'm wearing, just stop copying what I'm wearing.
Stu: It's a bit silly when the insult comes from what a person is wearing. You wouldn't say, "I don't like Rancid, because Lars Frederiksen's mohawk's fucking green."
The video for These Lights in particular, it seems that a lot of people question the 'fashion before passion' element, saying that it looks more like an advert for Vans and Supreme.
Ed: What do they want me to dress up in? Fucking rags? I'll wear a bin-bag and a Fruit of the Loom t-shirt wrapped around my head. I'll happily drop £1,000 on one item of clothing. I don't give a fuck. I have no money as well.
Stu: All I'll say is that I've never stopped wearing camo. That's the big thing as well, everyone saying we've sold out and one thing I'd like to clear up is this Monster Energy thing. This current year, without the help of Monster Energy helping the band in many ways the band wouldn't be here. I'm not going to go into details, but our record label only paid a certain about for the record, they didn't even cover the cost of the recording. Monster Energy helped us out in a way that we could finish the record and with them, we went around the world and did a world tour. They're great people who support bands like us and sports people. Then again, it's just kids saying something and latching on, because it's there and we put it out there. We don't care anymore. If you want to chat shit still, just crack on.
It seems that more than ever there's a wardrobe for hardcore, do you agree?
Stu: For every kid that said something to Ed about wardrobe changes or what he's wearing, I bet they looked in the mirror at least 10 times before they walked out the door before a show.
Ed: I've always just liked clothes. I like fashion. I collect sneakers. I have so many and I love it, and I always have, and I've always dressed liked that. If people want to diss me they can.
Even Toby from H2O collects Nikes and has a Nike logo tattooed on his foot.
Ed: I have a Jordan tattoo on my leg.
Stu: Yeah, like H2O. I fucking love H2O, and they sing about passion before fashion, but he loves Nike and his collection is notorious. It's just kids taking it too literally. It's just unfortunate that the UK 'scene', and I fucking hate that word, is very fickle and full of pricks, unfortunately. But for every prick, we have a very loyal fanbase that we love to pieces.
Ed: You're not going to please everyone. You could probably release the greatest record known to man and someone will still come out and say it's shit.
Stu: I think Coldplay are shit, but a lot of people seem to think they're amazing. I think The Beatles were overrated and I think Paul McCartney should have died a long time ago, and that Pink Floyd should have their crown, but a lot of people like The Beatles and fair play. I wouldn't stand at the back and stick my fingers up at them, though. We're all human and have feelings. The thing with the These Lights video, a lot of people were tweeting Ed and calling him a "cunt". They don't know him, who are they to say someone's a "cunt"?
In regards to the new songs, have you experienced any negativity from people at these shows?
Stu: None at all. During the new songs, there's been about a pile of 100 kids singing every word. In Birmingham the other night, it was actually really funny, we played there a couple of years ago at the O2 Academy on the Never Say Die Tour, these kids would come up at the merch and tell us they loved us, but this time, because this kid is now 15 instead of 14, he's a hardcore kid wearing a Breaking Point t-shirt and he's sticking his fingers up at us, so Ed got on the mic and said, "It's so good, every time we come to Birmingham, we see the same faces and that kid in the Breaking Point t-shirt told us we were his favourite band." [laughs] It was so, so bittersweet. I threw a bottle of water out as well; it wasn't intentional to hit anyone, and it hit a girl and gave her a little bump on her eye and that turned into the merch guy from Your Demise smashed a glass bottle over her head and there was glass in her eyeball. The thing is, anyone who's in the spotlight or whatever, without sounding like a prick, there's going to be a select number of people who are going to hate them.
Usually when bands change sound and people generally aren't a massive fan, they revert back.
Stu: To try to forget that something didn't happen, that's bullshit and that's selling yourself out. People can see right through.
Ed: It'll probably be even lighter. I'd rather be poppier than anything else. My favourite music is pop-punk.
Stu: I grew up listening to grunge, skate-punk and death metal. I love hardcore. Tailby's favourite band is Rancid. Why aren't we allowed to record a song that sound like Pennywise? Who's some kid to tell us what to do? There are enough bands that do the same, repetitive shit for you to listen to.
Do you consider yourselves hardcore kids?
Stu: I'm a hardcore kid. It's one of the best things that's ever happened to me, the first time I saw Madball when I was 14, it changed my life, but I'm at the point in my life where I admit to loving Fear Factory. I don't give a fuck. Who said you're not allowed to be a hardcore kid and enjoy music? Who said you're not allowed to wear a Limp Bizkit t-shirt to a Madball show?
Ed: I am too, but I just don't care. My favourite band is Glassjaw. Glassjaw and The Movielife are the reason I became a singer, straight up. Then when I was 13/14, I discovered American Nightmare, because Glassjaw toured with them and I thought they were the sickest thing ever, and they're probably one of my favourite hardcore bands ever and that's how I got into hardcore. It's cool, those kids probably like Your Demise and through Your Demise, they've discovered Backtrack and Dead End Path and whatever else.
Stu: It's just a bit shit that they deny the fact that they never liked us. You shouldn't deny the fact that you liked anything. I got into hardcore through a Roadrunner Records comp, because they had Coal Chamber on and they had the video from "Pride" by Madball on it. I was like, "Who's this band Madball? They're playing in two months, I'm going to buy a ticket." I went and they scared the shit out of me and then got engrossed in the New York hardcore thing, then got into the straight edge thing like Judge and listening to stuff like Champion. Kids go one way, where they either embrace everything or they think they're the shit and take it too far. It's never going to change, it's just the way things are, and the fact the Internet gives everyone a voice and makes it pretty harsh sometimes when you read shitty things. If anything is to come out of this, it'll just be remember we have feelings too. We do see it and the stuff you do write is there for us to see. There's only a certain point where you can ignore it and when people are being brutal, it's going to affect you a little bit, but fuck them.
You have a few guest appearances on the new album and the one that stood out the most for me was David Wood from Down To Nothing/Terror.
Ed: Basically, when I was 13/14 and first got into hardcore, Terror were the shit. Terror are still the shit. But when I first heard Lowest of the Low, I was like, "Fuck!" and Down To Nothing. Splitting Headache is a phenomenal record and all of these kids that are looking at Backtrack, Foundation and Dead End Path, those might be their Terror. So, for us, having David Wood on our record, that's like having a hero of mine from a band we all love.
Stu: When we were listening back to the final mixes of the record, we all looked at each other and were like, "Fuck, we can't believe he's on our record." because we all love Down To Nothing that much. There was that time in the UK when Outbreak were massive and Down To Nothing were massive, and everyone loved Floorpunch and stuff like that, and to think we have a song with him on it still blows my mind. It's funny when we released that song, to a 16-year-old hardcore kid now, it's like, "Who are Down To Nothing?" but to us, it's Down To Nothing. I read one comment when the video was put up and this kid was like, "This dude sounds like a f*ggot." And I was like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" and his username was something like 'harmsbenway'. There's no hope in trying to make these kids like the stuff if they're that stupid to write something like that without looking up who he is. Download Splitting Headache, because they're one of the best hardcore bands that have existed.
Are there any UK bands you'd like to spread the word about?
Ed: Breaking Point, Broken Teeth, Brutality Will Prevail, Last Witness. These bands are playing legitimate hardcore shows and stuff, but those bands are all the bands that all the kids want to see, but they're still hanging out with us, we support them and they support us. It's cool. As much as we've strayed away from playing those hardcore shows, we're still aware and close friends with all of those bands.
Stu: Dale from Broken Teeth has been a massive part of Your Demise as a friend for many years. He's always supported us when we've been up north and hanging out on the bus with us. A new school hardcore kid in the UK thinks that if he likes Broken Teeth, then 'fuck Your Demise' to some sort of degree, but really, they're our mates. Just have a little think before you speak.
What's next for Your Demise?
Stu: We've got three days off, then we go back to Germany to do the Impericon Festival and then we have another four days at home, then we do Groezrock. I never ever thought I'd be in a band that played the same line-up as Refused. Then we're home for five days and we go to Canada for three weeks, with a band called Counterparts. Then it's festival season. We're playing a festival with Puddle of Mudd, which will be awesome. It's cool with these European festivals, because they have all these washed up bands. Just more touring and then writing another record that sounds like 30 Seconds To Mars.
Do you have anything else you want to say?
Stu: Buy our fucking record. [laughs] It's coming out in the US, I'm not sure of the actual date yet, which is a bit weird, because you can just download. We'll be over soon enough and thanks for your support.