We set up an interview with the lovely 5 piece Nottingham band A Hundred Crowns. We threw them loads of questions to talk over while they are all stuck in isolation, which probably means a chaotic Skype conversation.
Words and Gallery by Rebecca Marshall
Header photo by Andy Tatt
What would you say first got you into music?
Well it turns out a lot of us began playing instruments because siblings started first and we wanted to be better than them, so fairly-standard as sibling rivalries go. James started playing classical guitar when he was thirteen because his sister played, and Eddie picked up a guitar at fourteen because he had watched his brother at band practice and wanted to do the same. Cal was in the band with Eddie’s brother at the time as they went to school together…funny how things turn out!
Who are the main artists that inspired you to make music?
The taste varies but it seems like we weren’t too dissimilar in our appreciation for music. Artists from Metallica, Guns N Roses and Linkin Park through to Jimi Hendrix.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
The best way to describe it would be trying to bridge the gap between heavy metalcore and pop. Energetic and catchy with dirty drops. A little something for everyone.
What is your creative process like?
Instrumentally the ideas bounce between Eddie and James. It could be an idea for a riff or a melody which is then used as a basis to build the rest of the song. A lot of this involves sending awful voice clips over messenger for the other to miraculously decipher and turn into something productive. Vocally the concepts are a product of Joe and Adam knocking about ideas. These are usually inspired by the melodies, which involve a day session of the ‘Brain Trust’ – James and Adam together in a room with the instrumental demo and a microphone. Essentially, we aim to make a heavy song more melodic and vice versa to keep the consistency and vision we’re trying to achieve. The general
instruction across both screams and cleans tends to be “channel Ariana Grande and The Black Dahlia Murder and see what happens.”
If you could collaborate with any band on a project who would be your first choice?
Meshuggah, purely to steal their production and tone. It would also be a dream to go to California and work with some absolute legends like Erik Ron on the vocal production for our tracks.
We know you’ve opened for the mighty Memphis May Fire, amongst many other great bands, but if you could go open a show for any artist dead or alive who would it be?
It would always be a dream for us, and probably any person in a band, to open for the bands you grew up watching. For us it’s the original metalcore bands of our generation – the likes of Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive and Bullet for My Valentine. The bands who made you want to get up on stage and do the same as them.
What is one message you would give to anyone looking to get into the music industry?
We haven’t been around long enough to preach the ins and outs of the industry, but we can certainly speak from our own experience. Those first few years are the most important in terms of finding your feet and discovering who you are as a band. Treat others how you would want to be treated, show respect and you’ll get respect. There are a lot of people out there only looking out for number one and you quickly realise that doesn’t get you anywhere. Also, treat your band like you would treat a job; stick to deadlines, pay on time and deliver what you promise. It takes a lot of time and commitment to get where you want to be, but that little bit of respect will present opportunities you wouldn’t expect. Being 100% happy with the music you write and perform is vital, if you don’t love the songs you write you won’t perform well, and it will show. Before you release a record, you need to know you’re putting out your best material, and before you even step on a stage you need to practice your live performance over-and-over again.
Let’s go slightly off the music topic for a second
What is the most trouble you’ve all ever gotten into?
No trouble from any of us. We’re all perfect or at least know how to get away with it… just kidding of course. For most of us, when we were young growing up in Nottingham the amount of house parties and raves going off was enough to get anyone in trouble. We probably shouldn’t go into specifics… Not Joe though, he was at home masturbating to The Legend of Zelda.
Go on then tell us what is the most useless talent you have?
Our drummer, James, is a grade 8 classical guitarist, but we don’t really use him for guitar other than when he’s had a few cans in the studio and decides to rip a solo on one of the tracks. We don’t have many solos, but most of them have been a product of this very thought out writing process.
I know you have normal day jobs but what would you be doing right now in your spare time, if it wasn’t for your music career?
We all play music in our spare time, practising and playing around with ideas for new songs. More likely, and probably unanimously, the natural ‘lazy boy’ response would be games.
What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
Our favourite, and by far the best, has to be the hometown DHP venue Rescue Rooms. The stage setup and sound quality are up there with the best and a Nottingham crowd always guarantees a good time. As for least favourite, we played a day festival in Blackpool a while back. Anyone in a band could tell you they’ve travelled a fair way to play to a dead out crowd, and you expect that, but everything from the venue itself, to the stage setup and sound was just awful. The only redeeming factor was the Promoter who stayed positive throughout the entire thing.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Back in the Myspace days it certainly revolutionised music. There was a big scene for alternative internet bands back then and many have gone on to be a great success, bands which people still know and love to this day and the younger generation are still just discovering. Facebook eventually took over and the introduction of algorithms and paid advertising online certainly ruined a lot of the excitement and word of mouth which used to exist around the alternative music scene. We realise the question was about internet though and not just social media. Overall, the internet has been a great tool for bands, small and large, to showcase their music and reach audiences which probably wouldn’t have been a reality 15 years ago.
Our favourite to hear live would be “The Highs” but what is your favourite song to perform?
‘A Message from the Void’ has always been a live favourite for us. We’ve played it in various arrangements to enhance our performance for the crowd, but it is our heaviest released track to date. ‘The Highs’ will always be an old favourite for us and the track that set us up on our journey as a band, but, since then, our sound has moved more in the direction we want and we are very excited to start performing the tracks from the new EP after the release.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
Honestly, there are too many to choose just a few, especially considering the variety of musical styles, although before we came to this conclusion Adam did blurt out Prince and Frank Zappa.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
We have discovered a lot from putting ourselves out there and learning as we go along, a large part of which comes from performing alongside other great bands and making contacts in the local and national industry. ‘The Five Hundred’, a powerhouse Nottingham band, who you know well, have always been willing to share their experience, from bass and guitar tones to rig setup. Yorkshire giants ‘Invisions’, who are close friends are always on hand for advice, including the recommendation for York-based ‘Innersound Audio’, where we recorded the upcoming EP ‘Horizon Bound’.
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
Too many people within the industry seem to have lost the concept of manners and mutual respect, either through sheer stupidity or a false sense of entitlement and arrogance. The best thing you can do is distance yourself.
How has the recent pandemic effected your current plans as a band?
It’s thrown off the timeline slightly around the EP release. Inconvenient, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. The EP release has now been bought forward to the start of May, as the release show we were planning has naturally had to be postponed. We’ve also postponed the video shoot for our second single from the EP as well as upcoming shows we had in the pipeline, but all this will resume once we’re all in the clear. (Shout out to the NHS!)
So tell our readers what’s next for you?
After the release of the new single ‘Farewell’ in mid-April, the next big date for us is 1st May – the date we release our new EP ‘Horizon Bound’. Some of these records were written over a year ago so we’ve sat on them, with various edits, for a long time and we’re excited to finally put them out there for people to hear. Stick 1st May in your calendar, you won’t regret it! The plans we had in place to shoot the video for the second single and the EP release show will resume once the situation allows. We hope to see everyone celebrating the end of lockdown with us at a show very soon!