Brand new to the scene, Guildford’s Follower discuss line-up changes, bedroom sessions and upcoming debut EP Against The Ropes.
“Damn, he can actually sing!”
Luke Archer: “Me and Ollie met on online music forums years ago now… 2016… a long time ago. So, we met and were just showing each other what we do and were like ‘ah, yeah we think this could work!’ and met up.”
“It turned out that we lived like, what 10 minutes away?”
Ollie Moor “Yeah, we just saw each other on an ad, and I heard his voice and was like ‘ah, damn, he can actually sing!’. Because there were so many people before who either couldn’t sing or didn’t have the commitment or whatever it was.”
LA: “I think we saw the potential in each other, but we weren’t quite there. So, we ended up just getting used to recording and writing. We worked on one song for like 10 months just to practice producing. We were like, cool, got ourselves to a good level. Now, we’re going to scrap that song and write some new ones and try and get ourselves to a good place.”
“I think by that point we were like ‘we should probably start trying to get a band together because it’s not going to work with just two of us!’. So, we ended up scouting online again and went through quite a lot of people, actually didn’t we? Shit loads of people. They’d join and then would be kind of not right and then they’d drop out”
OM: “A good couple of years”
To be more precise, the pair explained how they’d exhausted their way through four guitarists, two bassists and three drummers, with the line-up as we know it now only becoming complete with the addition of drummer Cody Jones approximately 6 months ago.
LA: “People that kind of like the idea of being in a band but don’t understand how much commitment you actually have to put into it, just in terms of meeting up, practising, writing and money, because you’ve got to put a lot of money into it. Some people just didn’t gel.”
OM: “It was all on good terms. There was no nasty stuff.”
Good to hear.
You don’t have to be a big name to play a gig around here.
With educational backing from Guildford’s Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) and Performance Preparation Academy (PPA), Follower are somewhat a product of the local scene, having fully taken advantage of the rich opportunities in Guildford to learn the ways of the arts.
OM: “It’s got a good buzz to be fair. There’re some really cool local venues around here so it’s great that it supports local music because it gives everyone a chance. You don’t have to be a big name to play a gig around here. You can be a kid who’s just started out a band and you’ve been playing for a couple of weeks and you want to play a show, you can get up and play.”
LA: “Even the education system is really good – they do really support it – which isn’t very common in schools across the UK, but Surrey is really good, especially the school and the college that I went to. They really do push it with extracurricular stuff and whatnot.”
There are a lot of us who are going through this kind of stuff.
Follower’s debut EP, Against The Ropes, is a well-polished taster of a band packed with potential. Particularly striking is the production value of the record, which presents itself as a release from a more established and seasoned artist.
LA: “In terms of writing, the writing process is very production orientated”
OM: “When I started out playing guitar, I’d always record my own riffs and when you record them and they sound like shit, it’s always the worst feeling ever. So, that’s why I thought ‘let’s try and make my songs sound cool’, so I got into production. I gradually got more experienced with that and then by the end we had a good bunch of demos together and then we actually ended up recording them at Outhouse, up in Reading with Simon Jackman and he did a great job.
LA: “As a band you kind of need to know production before you even go and get it produced because as much as they will make what you’ve written sound good, there are so many layers…”
“Writing and production almost go hand in hand a lot of the time”
The EP will strike chords with lovers of pop-punk and emo alike. Most tracks boast a nostalgia that harks back to the sound of the early 2000s whilst also adding the refined feel of the genre’s more modern releases.
LA: “Heavy undertones. As much as we wanted commercialness in there, we still wanted it to have that kind of emo vibe, the 2000 emo sound. Because we all love it.”
“All of us really were going through shit at the time. We all have our own stories and I think we bonded over that. We’d talk about it, be open and be here for each other and I think that drove a lot of the stuff that was driven into the EP.”
“You’re not alone. There are a lot of us who are going through this kind of stuff. Being able to share that and relate to that gives a bit of release.”
I certainly feed off the audience.
LA: “The first couple of gigs went really well. After we released our first single it was weird to do a second gig and have people singing the lyrics back at us… it wasn’t even people we knew! The feeling that you get from that is like…
OM: …it’s crazy. You’ve written something in your bedroom and it’s like ‘oh cool there’s someone who I’ve never met… that’s well cool’. It’s totally mad…
LA: …it’s a great feeling.”
“I certainly feed off the audience. Our first gig was a really small gig and there weren’t very many people there. Ok, we’re getting a bit of feedback from the audience but not much. As soon as we get a bigger and more energetic audience that are really into it, we certainly pump up and get more energetic.”
“The reception was good and the feeling of it was great, to be able to finally show people what we’re doing. By that point we’d only released one single, we’ve got two out now, but there’s the rest of the EP yet so we’re playing those to people – songs that they’ve never heard before.”
Tonight, Follower took warmly to the stage and gave a raw performance that showcased their talents in a more subdued way. The desire to perform and impress was apparent throughout the band. At points, they sounded tight and assured. The looser parts were forgiven instantly – for a brand-new band, these guys navigate the stage and work their audience in a promising way.
At the end of the day, a band is a business.
At any rate, starting from scratch is no mean feat. While these early stages for Follower certainly mark exciting times, there are still plenty of teething problems that they’ve had to overcome…
OM: “I think the thing that I’ve struggled with most up until this point has just been getting a solid line-up. That’s been the one thing, since I was a kid, that I have struggled with my whole life.”
“So, getting that is really hard but you’ve just got to put yourself out there. Just actively look for people, because, that’s the good thing about the internet these days. If it wasn’t for the internet, me and Luke wouldn’t have met, and we wouldn’t have met half the other people in the band. It’s a great tool, really, and it’s on your fingertips. Everyone has a phone.”
LA: “Definitely getting a lineup. Since I was like 13, I was trying to get a solid lineup and you go through people and you jam with them and you’ll be like ‘ok we’re kind of doing something’ and then ‘not really’ and then you meet someone else and you kind of have to cycle through people.”
“I get the sentimentality of it (…) but, at the end of the day, a band is a business and you’ve got to hire the right people. So, if someone hasn’t got the right skill set or the style that you’re going for, just keep going until you find other people.” “It took us years but that was the biggest struggle and I think we’ve finally got to a position where we feel like we’ve got the right people in the band.”
It’s all actually happening now, after all this time.
With the Follower lineup seemingly reaching its final form, they have been able to kick on and move from strength to strength. Since then, the band have already enjoyed a number of highlights and are finding themselves to be in a very good place.
OM: “There have been a lot of good moments. I think recording the EP was great because it had taken so long to get it together and when we were in the studio it was like ‘wow, I can’t believe we’re finally here, with some great members, great people’ and it’s taken so much work to get these songs together. Years of just scrapping songs, rewriting bits and all that kind of stuff. So, I think that was a really rewarding thing for us.”
“And then obviously, our first release as well…”
LA: “Yeah, Voices. Voices was the first song that Ollie sang to me when we met and I was like ‘oh, this is kind of cool’ and then as we started writing I was like ‘dude, I just don’t think it’s quite there’ and then we were like ‘yeah, we’re just gonna scrap it’. And then it was just gone, it was in the bin and we didn’t touch it again until a couple of the songs that were ready for the EP later, Ollie just suddenly goes ‘hey, I kind of rewrote Voices and gave it some extra bits and juggled it around and re-pieced it – what do you think?’ and he sent it back. I was like ‘Woah, I forgot about that song it’s well good!’”.
“Writing was fun. Getting in the bedroom (oi oi). Getting those bedroom demos done and layering stuff in and being like ‘ok, let’s write a melody and then let’s write another melody’ and then 500 melodies later you’re sat there staring at the screen (…) it gets tedious, but it is still really fun”
“Since we’ve released stuff, seeing us on Spotify and YouTube and stuff which is a lot easier to get out there than you think. There are websites where you just pay a bit of money and then it uploads it for you. So, getting everything out there and seeing it there…
OM: “It feels more real.”
LA: “Yeah, like it’s all actually happening now, after all this time.”
I’ve always thought that this is what I want to make.
LA: “With the EP we went down a bit more of a pop-punk, maybe kind of post-hardcore in there… like influences, emo vibes, as we said. With the EP we wanted that kind of vibe with it because that is kind of like what we grew up with and what we enjoy but certainly, we’ve been writing new material for the future and we’re being a bit more experimental. Pushing boundaries, certainly with vocals, trying to push the dynamics as hard as we can from the softest dynamics in singing to the harshest of vocals. Not screaming, just pushing it as hard as we can. Musically, as well, trying out different things and pushing boundaries. Certainly, with the new stuff, we’re writing and trying to gain more of a unique sound for ourselves, certainly having a uniqueness about us and certainly being able to have an effect on people.”
“Music is about stirring some kind of emotion in you. I feel like the EP has done that justice. I hope. I’d love to keep doing that and hopefully being able to stir those emotions in people whether that is happy vibes or whether that’s I want to sit in my bedroom and cry to a song. Just being able to stir something. Music helps people.
Archer drops this pithy quote from Thomas Beecham into the mix: “Music releases us from the tyranny of conscious thought”. Very poignant indeed. He thought that it was Shakespeare and I didn’t have a clue. The sentiment remains regardless.
“I think it’s true. When you listen to music, you’re taken out of your own head and it stops you thinking so much about things and lets you embrace the music and almost escape for a minute. Whether that is being drawn into someone else’s story or whether that’s imprinting your own story onto what the lyricist has written.”
OM: “I think just being authentic as well. Staying true to yourself. We’ve always just done what we wanted to do. The music that we make is just stuff that we would want to hear. I don’t think I’ve ever made a song that I’ve forced out and thought that it sounds like shit, but I have to make it. I’ve always thought that this is what I want to make.”
It’s early doors for Follower, but encouraging signs are there. Mainly so their desire to overcome and to succeed in doing what they love. A multitude of line-up changes when the project was in its most primordial form could have seen the band over before it had even begun. However, Archer and Moor’s insistence has ensured that they are where they are right now. If they carry this mentality forward, then the sky is the limit.
Listen to our full interview with Follower here:
Against The Ropes will release on 22nd March 2019. Check it out HERE.
You can also catch Follower live at these dates:
14/03 – The Facebar, Reading
31/03 – Rock Avenue, Gillingham