This Burning Age have recently released their excellent EP Supplication, which is the first EP in a four-part series (see our review of it here). Interested in the ideas behind it all, and eager to know more, we caught up with Friday from the band to find out some more. Make sure you give it a read – it’s a cracker!
Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
I’m Friday, writer, singer, guitarist and founding member of Birmingham based Alt-Electro-Rock four piece, This Burning Age.
The band began as a solo project about five years ago, with the first album, A Muzzle for the Masses, written, recorded and released independently. Although I write all the material, steer the design concepts and create the artwork that goes hand in hand with each release, I wanted to expand and develop the sound and put together a strong live show so that led to the formation of the band as it exists today. It’s our aim not only to create music that we’d want to hear but music that hopefully pushes boundaries. We want to make something that inspires on different levels – both intellectually as well as in that all important, almost inexplicable, visceral, deep-seated kick-in-the-guts way that you feel when you hear something you immediately connect to. Genre-wise we know we can be a little difficult to pigeon-hole, the result of drawing on elements from a wide variety of influences: New Wave , Punk, Post-Punk, Industrial, Neue Deutsche Härte, Synth-pop, Post-Rock, Goth, Drum and Bass, Trip-hop and a fair few others in-between. Our goal is to hopefully make something fresh yet familiar.
You recently released your new EP Supplication – can you tell me about the writing and recording process of it?
I write, record and arrange all demos and pre-production tracks in my own studio which I built with friends in the garden of my house at the beginning of 2013. I start with very rough “thumbnail sketches” when I’m laying down ideas – all one take live cuts for vocals, guitars and bass coupled with very rough synth lines and simple drum patterns. A couple of the tracks started life around the same time I was putting together the first album but the majority came along afterwards when I started writing for this four EP cycle of releases in earnest. Most of the time it’s the music that comes first – usually a guitar riff or a piano line – followed by the lyrics later. I generally find I come up with my ideas late at night and into the early hours of the morning and being able to get them down quickly in the studio is a real boon.
After a long session I then come back to them in the cold light of day and sift through what works and what doesn’t. Those that show promise I then build up to a more polished state at which point I fire them out to the guys for feedback. I’m lucky to work with some great musicians and at this point they might put their own spin on some of the parts but mostly the writing process is quite a solitary affair and that’s how I like it – it’s easier for me to lose myself and get under the skin of a track when I’m on my own with no distractions. When the final tracks are chosen I get them ready to take over to our Producer Tom Gittins at Monochrome Productions in Warwickshire.
We’re working with Tom on each of the four 3-track EP’s and his input is invaluable. He’s an amazingly accomplished Producer – he understands how I write, the sound I’m trying to achieve in these new tracks and how to get the best out of both me and them.
Were there any more tracks that were more of a challenge to complete?
Your Will Is My Kill, the second track off the first EP Supplication, spent a long time in the demo stage. I kept changing the arrangement – I think there were about four different versions of it at one point – and I couldn’t settle on the lyrics. In fact the latter was so problematic that by the time we were in the studio at Monochrome I still hadn’t finalised them. Luckily I work fairly well under pressure and the urgency seemed to kick start the little grey cells and all these formerly disparate lyrical parts came together. It was a close run thing though.
Supplication is the first of a four-part EP series that you’ll be releasing over the course of 2014 – where did this unique idea come from?
At first it was a reaction to the changing face of the music industry: with the advent and subsequent burgeoning success of digital download culture the old models seemed to be becoming increasingly irrelevant – recording one album, releasing it in one fell swoop and milking it dry for singles to try and maintain its relevance just doesn’t work anymore. We wanted to do something that both embraced the digital market, hopefully keeping the material and fan interest fresh but at the same time giving us the opportunity to release the tracks as physical copies which is really important to me and us as a band.
For a musician to not embrace the change is incredibly counter-productive but, at the same time, I found myself mourning the loss of certain aspects. Yes, the tracks can be downloaded at a moment’s notice but for me that’s not necessarily where it ends. For me, the conversation can be deeper than that. The visual and tactile elements you got when buying a well put together CD or vinyl package, how the tracks interacted with each other, the importance of their order as narrative and a whole host of other things all go towards making those albums and releases that have seared themselves into my memory over the years. It’s something that’s as important to me as the sounds themselves. That feeling you got when buying a limited run 12″ vinyl or rare Special Edition boxset: in the very best instances the art and design meld with the audio flawlessly and each aspect resonates with everything else, making it into something special, a thing you want to own, keep safe, covet.
So that’s how we’re approaching this series of releases – a series of four 3-track EP’s, released both digitally and physically in four parts to hopefully keep them fresh and interesting whilst maintaining an on-going presence as a band, each connected by an over-arching concept that will manifest itself not just through the music but throughout everything we put out there as a band – artwork, videos, limited edition releases etc. Once the 4 EP’s are out there we’ll draw it to a close by releasing a Limited Edition 12 track album, again both digitally and physically, containing the EP tracks, additional studio material, artwork and the like. We’re also planning to release very limited editions of each EP (and the final album) as metal “art-books”, each one hand made and printed by myself (after I took a couple of Fine Art degrees I used to paint and make a lot of installation art involving books so being able to do something in that vein for this release is fantastic) – again touching on our desire to make something special for any fans out there.
What can you tell us about the future EPs?
The second EP is recorded, mastered and ready to release at the end of July and is comprised of the following tracks: There Is No Hope Except For That Which You Give Me, Hollow (the lead track from the EP) and finally Nothing. EPs #3 and #4 are pretty much locked down and we’ll be going into Monochrome to record #3 in the next couple of months.
Will the next EP be a continuation of Supplication or are they all going to be taking different approaches and exploring different ideas?
If I had to condense it right down to the basest elements I’d say I’m trying to write about love, sex, death and the human condition with Supplication mainly focusing on the former – twisted and bent out of shape, self-destructive and obsessive. The remaining EP’s touch on those subjects to greater and lesser degrees.
Moving onto the subject of live shows, what would you say the best show you’ve ever played has been?
That’s a tough one. Our recent tour support for Fearless Vampire Killers was amazing – a fantastic crowd and a really great night. But both Jon (our guitarist) and I have a major soft spot for a Halloween Show we played back in 2012 – a show in my hometown of Birmingham, the place was packed to the rafters, everyone was up for having a good time and we took the stage in full Halloween garb. Loud, frantic, sweaty and so much fun, everything you want to experience onstage in a band.
And what about the strangest or perhaps weirdest?
I guess the weirdest was when my heart stopped the morning we were supposed to be playing a gig. I’m very open on our Facebook Page about the fact that I’ve got Crohn’s Disease and at the time I was having to have an infusion treatment every 2 weeks at my local hospital to keep things in check. This infusion was made up of mouse antibodies (I kid you not) and there was always the danger that my body could suddenly reject it. I’d had over 20 infusions at this point with no ill-effects but that morning everything went nuts. Five minutes into the treatment I went into anaphylactic shock, I stopped breathing and apparently my heart stopped for a bit (I wasn’t conscious at this point). Thankfully the nurses and doctors on the ward were great, they wheeled in the crash trolley and brought me round. After a few hours being monitored I realised I needed to make a decision about the gig as time was pressing – everything was back to normal, I felt fine so I ended up discharging myself and playing the show…luckily it was a good show!
If you could play a show anywhere with any band, where would it be and who would you choose to play with?
There are a lot of bands that I look up to – NIN, Rammstein, Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, Placebo, Queens of the Stone Age to name but a few, and it would be amazing to play with any of them but I guess I’ve always been a big fan of Chris Corner of IAMX (and earlier in his incarnation as founding member of the Sneaker Pimps) so I’d love to support him for a show in his adopted hometown of Berlin. Yeah, I’d pretty much give anything to make that happen!
And finally if This Burning Age could put their name to a product, what would it be?
Our own line of environmentally friendly, ceremonial incense products designed specifically to cleanse your home of 99% of evil spirits, wonky karma and bad vibes. “This Burning Sage”. Maybe.