Interview with Octavians

We are always in the search for new talent here at Soundscape Magazine, and Cardiff based alt rockers Octavians are pretty damn talented.

The band have just released their debut EP From One Minute To Another. The EP is 4 great tracks of well written alt rock and the band have played many shows across Wales and Bristol, all this and they are only 16/17!

We caught up with the Otavians to find out all about them.

Please introduce yourself to our readers?
We are four 16-17 year olds, and we play music in a band called Octavians.

Where did the band’s name come from?
A Roman emperor. We were all attracted to the idea of a one-word name, but it seems like all the best options are all taken, if only our vocabularies were more impressive.  From there we just looked into some themes and it caught our attention, so we went with it as we felt it was quite a strong name that my not catch on straight away but we feel has potential to be memorable.

How did you get started?
Leuan, Alex and Zac have been playing together for a long time now, in multiple different line ups and after a few projects decided to move on from that and start something new.

What have you got going on at the moment?
We stayed in Porthcawl for a week at the start of the summer, in a Op:ec Studios to record our four-track debut EP with producer Jon Constantine.  From here we’re going to try and promote the EP as much as possible, playing shows around the country, and released it at a launch show in The Moon Club in Cardiff on the 19th September.  We’re all really looking forward to find out what the reception to it will be like, that sounds cliché of course, but it is for a reason, especially as this is the first release; we want to see if people like Octavians.  We’ve already started to work on new material, so hopefully we can keep releasing and playing new music as much as possible and keep any fans that we may have interested in us.

Favourite music and why?
Our music tastes are all very eclectic and vary quite a lot between each of us, although for us all it centres on heavier rock music, and that, broadly, is what Octavians make.  There are a large amount of influences from plenty of other places as well, but we could get lost for hours talking about it.  The only thing for certain is that Alex hates any music that isn’t Paul Gilbert or the Police.

Leuan: Biffy Clyro, Kids in Glass Houses, Twin Atlantic and Mallory Knox.

Favourite book and why?
Sam: I read 1984 for the first time recently and thought it was amazing, I love how brutal and honest it is, I like Orwell because he was so ground-breaking and I’m a huge fan of JD Salinger as well.  He wrote a short story called A Girl I Knew and there is a paragraph in it which stumps me every time I read it.  I like how it shows how you can just enjoy someone’s presence even if it can be hard to speak.  I think he is quite lyrical at times and that’s probably what attracts me to his work.  I’m the only one in the band who has any real interest in literature, it makes me feel far more intellectual than I actually am.

Favourite film and why?
Aristocats, obviously.

Best experience in the business so far?
Being able to record our EP was really incredible, it was such a fun week, like a school trip with no teachers (maybe Jon but he is a lad), but to be able to come out of it at the end with body of work that we are so proud of is one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done, not just together as musicians, but as people.

Why should Soundscape Magazine readers care?
Our songs are very personal and we are incredibly proud of each one, we hope that our music is something people can relate to, and that it makes us a band that people can invest in.  At the same time, we have a lot of fun together making music and we do it because we love it, so if people care about us then that’s wonderful and we’d be incredibly grateful, but either way we are going to continue what we are doing and if people don’t connect in the way that we hope that they will, then it doesn’t matter because we are only doing this because we want to make music and we will continue to progress with our writing till that connection is made. I think that’s what’s important for us is this EP is defiantly a massive stepping stone for us and we feel sets us up to continue to raise the bar for our selves personally and if others would like to follow us and keep checking us out as we grow that would be sometime quite cool for us.

Tell our readers an interesting fact about the band?
We played our first gig together in Bristol.  It’s not particularly interesting but it is kind of unusual, maybe if you ask us again soon we’ll have something more exciting.

What’s the best and worst things about touring?
We haven’t been on a tour yet, but it’s something we are all really looking forward to and hopefully it will be a part of the near future for us.  Obviously playing gigs constantly and seeing new places makes touring such a romantic prospect, and is the main reason artists go on tours, so that’s a really exciting part of it.  We’re pretty tame in terms of shenanigans, so we probably won’t struggle with hangovers or police or aliens or anything like that, the worst part will probably be for Ieuan; he’ll have to deal with all the heartless pranks we play on him, it’s his own fault, he’s an easy target being the oldest of the band he puts up with a lot. The lack of showering, showers are an integral part of Sam’s diet so that will be tough.

Most embarrassing thing to happen to you while in the band?
I wouldn’t say anything particularly embarrassing has happened to the band but we do tent to pull pranks on each other on a regular basis, which kind of what happened on our week of recording. It became such an issue that it was determined unsafe to fall asleep first in the dorm.

What’s your writing and recording process like?
It’s a completely collective effort, although we do all mainly write our own parts.  It starts with an idea from one of us, and we build around that.  Lyrically, Sam will begin just writing the first things that come to mind, and this is usually the most coherent statement he makes lyrically as it is a very honest representation of what is in the forefront of his mind.  Obviously from there it is made a bit more focused, refined to change any of the weaker lines and hopefully continue to improve a track that finally takes our fancy as the finished article.  I think we like to get songs done quickly as I think sometimes the more time spent on a track the more time you have to drift from the initial idea that sparks the process and that is where the best parts of writing tend to come from in our experiences.

What inspires you?
That’s difficult because inspiration is such an unpredictable thing and can come from anywhere, whether that’s musically or visually or anything else for that matter.  I think on a human level, not musically, we’re inspired by bands and artists who don’t compromise who they are, and strive to create as an honest a representation of themselves that they can.  That’s the kind of band we want Octavians to be, and it’s so exciting to see bands like that succeed, it gives you faith that our generation still believes in people and doesn’t just accept what is presented to them.  If we can honestly say that about ourselves then that means we can be immensely proud of whatever we achieve.

Best thing about coming from Wales?
I would say the best thing about playing in Wales is how compact the music scene is. It is a shame that so many venues have been closed down and there are a lot of things we could continue to complain about BUT I do feel that there is a massive sense of community between bands of all ages. Bands are friendly and supportive to each other, which I think really, helps band to get shows played but also to promote releases and new music. Not just the bands though company’s and organizations like you guys are always very helpful and around to give a helping hand whether it be promotion or some press to help bring some interests to bands in the area.  There are also some great hometown hero’s that have made it in the industry and I feel that puts forward the possibilities for all inspiring artists from a young age to pick up an instrument and just start playing with friends and to enjoy it.

Who are your role models/idols?
I would say bands that we have seen play stages that we would love to get on really. I wouldn’t say individuals particular inspire us but I think the direction some bands have taken and there achievements is something that gives any band a drive for personal success.

Hardest thing about the current business?
The amount of venues that have closed down in the past few years has caused a large problem for live bands. The scene is still very much alive and there are plenty of bands looking for shows to play but it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get out and play shows in Cardiff as it seems a lot of venues have lost confidence in unsigned talent and are not willing to make the risk holding that kind of show when they can bring in a pretty large crowd with a covers band alone.

What are your future plans?
For the near future the main thing for us to gig as much as we can, and keep writing new material, just to improve as much as possible and become as tight as we can be.  We definitely want to play outside of the local area too, build a bit of a fanbase if we can, and from there we will release some more new music, most likely in the form of EPs.  It’s important that we don’t overreach ourselves and go into something too large too quickly, we’d prefer to be completely ready for whatever we are working on, but not so we’d be inside our comfort zone, we’ll constantly be pushing ourselves.

Favourite Batman actor?
Probably Christian Bale because he’s our generation’s Batman, although the husky voice did almost ruin the entire thing.  The credit to those trilogies needs to go to Christopher Nolan though, mainly because he made it so they weren’t superhero movies, and had some backbone to them.  It feels like the franchise needs a rest for a while though, let’s have some weird indie films in the cinemas, that would be fun odd but fun.

Octavians: Facebook|Twitter

Images courtesy of Nadine Ballantyne.

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