Homegrown heroes Mallory Knox talk third album ‘Wired’, touring the world and an ‘incredible’ show at Ely Beet Club
- Credit: Archant
In between studio rehearsal sessions, the lead singer and bassist/songwriter of Ely-born rock band Mallory Knox met Ben Jolley to talk about their new album, touring all over the world and why Ely has played an important role in the band’s career.
Having escaped “the 9 to 5 rat race”, Mikey Chapman and Sam Douglas, along with bandmates Joe Savins, James Gillett and Dave Rawling, will release their third album ‘Wired’ on March 10, with a headline UK tour stopping off at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on March 26...
Did you ever think, coming from the Ely area, that the band would grow so big?
Sam: “No, never. I remember when I first met up with the guys to do our first rehearsal thinking the songs were exceptional, and instead of it being a hobby, something could come from it and take up the next couple of years. But I never anticipated that, even at that point, I would have to quit my job to be able to continue with the band full-time. It got to April and I’d already used up 18 out of my 20 days holiday; and we had a tour booked in for the summer, so I decided to quit… against my parents wishes. At this point Mallory wasn’t earning money; we were paying to get to shows ourselves! We were paying money to play.”
Mikey: “As much as I understood the nature of the music scene in Cambridgeshire, which is very difficult at the best of times – because there’s a lot of small, rural areas that feed one central area, and it relies a lot on transport – I was nervous in the sense that I know a lot of bands that have been let down by the scene before, no matter how good they are.”
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Which local venues were you playing in the early stages of the band and what were the shows like?
Mikey: “We played Ely Beet Club once and actually managed to make a number of places in the centre of town close early. That show was incredible.”
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Sam: “The Portland Arms was out first ever show, and it sold-out. All of the 80 people there were literally friends and family – I don’t think there was one actual fan there.”
What’s your new album about and why have you called it ‘Wired’?
Mikey: “We’re still doing what we were doing when we were 19, but being in a band makes you realise that life doesn’t wait around for you. I’ve got friends who are getting married whilst I’m still in this band, which is fantastic but strange. ‘Wired’ means quite a few things - being in a band can send you slightly mad, and it’s also about how you can’t do anything without it being posted on social media a minute later. And on the other side of that, it’s about the social anxiety that’s been caused by sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”
Sam: “Coming of age, responsibility and accountability.”
What was the recording process behind it like?
Mikey: “After six months of touring America, we went back to the old school way of getting into a rehearsal studio, all five of us, feeding off of each other. We did it that way because writing on the road wouldn’t work for us. We wrote the main bulk of the album – 11 tracks - in the space of a month. It was quite a quick turnaround really.”
Sam: “It pushed us harder than we’ve had to be pushed on other records before, because we’ve always had the time or innocence or ignorance where you don’t fully understand the album process. But we’re on number three now and we’ve got a better understanding of how it works. It also gave us the opportunity not to mess around for three months. We didn’t want it to be polished; we were striving a raw, live aspect.”
How do you want people to feel when they listen to the album?
Sam: “I want them to feel, honestly, like when they put it on in their car they literally come out feeling as though we’ve just played it live to them in a room. There is something about a song, when us five play it properly together, when you’ve got that right and play it the first time, we never, ever play it better than that first time. I wanted to try and capture that element of playing the tracks for the first time. And it needs to have those imperfections, like hearing a finger go up the fret on a guitar, to make it real.”
Do you think there’s enough support coming from the industry for rock music?
Sam: “Rock music is definitely there and it’s got a certain buzz about it, but you’ve always got to be at the top of your game because there is so much competition. Is there enough support for six or seven rock bands to have their tracks on the radio at the same time? I don’t think there is, so if you fall by the wayside that’s it. Rock music, in this day and age, is more merged together; you can like r&b just as much as you like a folk song, but rock music still seems to be the odd one out to me.”
Mikey: “I think rock, in a way, has always existed on the fringes. It’s certainly not non-conformist, but it’s got an element of wanting to be on the outside. The british music scene is always going from strength to strength and I hope that will continue. There likely isn’t enough support; a lot of people talk about grassroots football and I think the same can be said for music – rock or any type – there’s not a lot of support for young people that want to pursue that kind of thing. I don’t think there’s necessarily that many opportunities for them to play shows and learn from those shows, without some kind of incentive – a competition or having to pay. I understand there isn’t a lot of money it, though. We’re in this very grey area at the moment, though, because of illegal downloading. But until we understand how the fans should interact with the band, and how the band should interact with the label, it’s always going to be a little bit difficult.”
What advice would you give to young people who have started, or are thinking of, starting a band in the local area?
Sam: “Don’t expect it overnight because that’s the easiest way to get disheartened. I remember with us, it took two years until we played a London show that was worth talking out with more than 100 people there. Stick to your guns and understand that you have to put the work in yourself. Be prepared to get knocked back but don’t let that affect you.”
Mikey: “Make sure you fall in love with absolutely everything you create; anything other than writing a song and feeling it overcome you. Screw what the trend is at the time or the pressure from your mates. If you like what you’re making, do it to the best you can. Someone will pick up on it because the world is a very mixed bag of eclectic tastes.”
You’re playing at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on March 26. How are you feeling about that show?
Mikey: “I can’t wait to get back – it’s always been a staple of our musical diet when we were growing up. Some of my greatest teenage memories happened at the Corn Exchange, like seeing Bullet for My Valentine. For us, The Jucntion is one of those places, and I hold them both as high regard as each other. But the Corn Exchange hasn’t necessarily eluded us, it’s just the stars have never aligned in order for us to do it, so I’m very excited.”
Sam: “I can tell my family that we’ve played the Roundhouse or we’re going to America, but telling them that we’re playing the Corn Exchange is the one where they’re like ‘wow, really, you’re not wasting your time’. I think it’s going to be cool because we’ll have all our friends and family there. It’ll be a room full of friends… plus 1,600 other people! It’s the show I’m looking forward to most on the tour. Corn Exchange has always been that one step slightly too far, but now’s the right time!”
‘Wired’ is out this Friday, March 10. Mallory Knox play the Cambridge Corn Exchange, with support from Lower Than Atlantis, on Sunday March 26. For tickets, visit www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/cornex/events/mallory-knox