We always like introducing you to new and up-and-coming bands at Soundscape, so we took the opportunity to catch up with F.O.E.S and review their brand new EP Ophir.
Could you introduce yourselves and tell us about the band?
We are Chris Mackrill (vocals / guitars), Joe Danher (guitars), Josh Catchpole (bass) and James Lorenzo (drums). We take influence from bands like Oceansize, Karnivool, Manchester Orchestra and have been compared to the likes of ATDI, Cave In, Deftones, etc.
How did the band form?
We all got together last January. Jay and Joe have been in bands together for several years. Chris and Josh were the same…they’d been good friends and played together for years prior. F.O.E.S was basically an amalgamation of our two previous bands. I’d say we all have very similar tastes and ambitions regarding music. We’ve always wanted to create something with integrity. It made sense to start something up!
You’re about to release your debut EP Ophir – what was the writing and recording process like?
We spent 5 months writing and perfecting our sound. We wanted everything to be really polished before we went public with it all. And most importantly, we wanted to be proud of what we put out. When we were perfectly happy with everything, we went out to Belfast and tracked 6 of the songs we’d written over the course of a week, and 5 of those became the Ophir EP. We believe the EP is a testament to all the hard work we’ve put in thus far!
Were there any songs that were more of a challenge?
Our most recent single Ningyo very nearly didn’t make the cut. We knew we really liked the core of the song but we just couldn’t get it to gel with the rest of the tracks. Then over the space of a few rehearsals something just naturally clicked and it grew to be one of our favourites – it was very organic.
Which song are you most proud of?
Live, we’ve always enjoyed playing Sewn To The Sail & Unknown. We’re all really proud of the finisher on the EP too, The First Rook To Flea As The Thunder Rolls In. I think both lyrically and musically, it’s us at our best.
Moving onto live shows, how would you describe your live show to someone who hasn’t seen you yet?
I think compared to the production of our EP, there’s a bit more grit in our live set. We like that degree of separation between the two – we’ve never wanted the live versions to sound like a carbon copy of the recordings.
What’s the best show you’ve ever played?
We were really surprised and humbled by the response we had to our Hacktivist support slot in late November considering how removed we are from those guys in genre. As great and completely invaluable as it is to have a loyal fanbase, nothing quite beats the feeling of winning over a new crowd!
And what’s been your best experience in the industry so far?
We’ve been privileged to work with some pretty great people so far. Producers, promoters, videographers… They’ve really been key to the growth of a band who’ve had a relatively short stretch of time together, and we’re very grateful for that.
Sometimes an opener can make or break a release, so it was a little disappointing that Ophir gets off to a slightly slow and sluggish start with Sewn To The Sail & Unknown. There’s nothing that quite grabs you about it, none of the sections really making an impression, but things really get moving by the time the following track The Writing On The Wall kicks in. The introduction alone exuberates energy and life, getting things moving before a slower vocal section which almost feels like the calm before a storm. The chorus is made for singing along to and it’s a track that seems perfect for a live environment, especially with the harsh background vocals in the chorus.
Closer The First Rook To Flea As The Thunder Rolls In is a mini-epic, taking a bit of a more relaxed and chilled approach. It’s got some beautiful guitarwork and the vocals just feel so smooth and light, a nice easy listen that really resonates. It seems like one of those feel-good summer tracks, almost, and is certainly a track you’ll want to keep revisiting.
F.O.E.S have created a gem with Ophir. It’s accessible enough to slot into a few different genres with ease and unique enough to stand out from the crowd. A stunning listen.