"America is a new country – people went there and destroyed it when they should have known better"
Interviewing people can often feel a little like whacking them very hard on the back to induce the tiniest splatter of phlegm. Some artists just want to make music and go about their lives uninterrupted, but, thankfully, that’s not Architects. If you get all the members of the Brighton metalcore band together in a room and put a recording device in front of them, they will talk and gesticulate with a belly full of fire for over two and a half hours.
As well as being one of the UK’s biggest young heavy bands, Architects are easily one of the most political. They’re all vegan, for starters. Vocalist Sam Carter is a UK ambassador for direct action marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd, and their songs now deal with socio-political and environmental issues from religious fundamentalism to the illusion of choice presented by parlimentary democracy.
The only thing that’s changed recently, is now everyone in rock is paying attention to them. Life for Architects was a “soap opera with constant cliff-hangers,” according to drummer Dan Searle. After each of their previous five albums, they didn’t know whether they’d be calling it quits or going back into the studio. Some of those records were, by their own blunt yardstick, “total shit”. But last year they put out their sixth full-length Lost Forever // Lost Together - a spiky, ferocious call to arms that won Kerrang! Best Album of 2014, and it’s led to their biggest headline tour to date.
With all this snowballing, I went to Brighton to hang out with them. After ordering a load of animal-free junk food in Brighton’s V Bites, we had a good old fashioned British rant about absolutely everything on their minds. To help you keep up, this interview was with members: Dan Searle, Tom Searle, Sam Carter and Ali Dean.
Noisey: Sorry in advance, guys, but I’m ordering the tofish (tofu made with fish). Do people get pissed off with you being vegan? You used to be quite vocal about it.
Tom: People got so, so pissed off about the PETA poster we did. They put one together of us saying: “Liberate yourself”. We had nothing to do with that tagline. We didn’t even know it was happening. We had people going: “Fuck you, you’re dead to me.” / “You’re a cunt.” / “I’m throwing away my CDs.”
Sam: It had something really inoffensive on it as well like: “Text this number for free recipes.”
Tom: The joke is: “How do you know someone’s vegan? They’ll tell you.” I try to keep my mouth shut about it these days because it almost gives fundamentalist meat-eaters satisfaction to be like, “Oh, yeah. Typical vegan.”
Good way to be sometimes. You’ve been trolled over the years for all your strong views. I remember various waves of backlash as you got increasingly political with your lyrics.
Sam: We did really get it. I’ve had a few people say stuff about my mum before. That was horrible, but it’s not so bad now. Luckily, we’re not that huge in the grand scheme of things. If you’re a footballer, it’s insane. Wayne Rooney posts something like, “Good performance today from the lads,” and he’ll get: “I hope you and your family die”. That’s a relatively new thing, and it releases such an ugly side of humanity.
Alex: As soon as we started writing about political things, that’s when people started going: “Shut up about that.”
Tom: Everyone started saying music and politics shouldn’t ever be mixed. That is a commonly held opinion.
Sam: People crave nothing. They want to put their music on and not think about it.
Tom: I suppose it’s because when you express an opinion in a song it might differ from a fan’s opinion. You might think, “I like this song but it’s saying the opposite of what I believe.”
Your song “These Colours Don’t Run” was the one that really broke the internet. It’s essentially your big takedown of America.
Tom: We wrote that song in California when we were recording The Here And Now. It’s a lovely place, obviously, but you go to Huntington Beach and you see the oil rigs on the horizon. You get this sense that it was once such a beautiful place but it’s been destroyed. America is a new country – people went there and destroyed it when they should have known better. America is a driving force behind a lot of the bad things in the world. Fact. Their corporations and businesses are fried and they’ve gone and destroyed other places in the world. And England is complicit in almost everything America does. That song is a general comment on hypocrisy.
A lot of people in the US were furious about it. Do you worry about what you’re talking about sometimes, and whether it crosses a line by being too political?
Tom: By writing about stuff like that you do have to watch your step. Even talking right now I’m afraid of what I might say being taken the wrong way. Dealing with serious subjects is a minefield. You can be very direct with what you are saying or you can be vague. It’s maybe about striking a balance.
Do you think sometimes being so political kind of bores or alienates people?
Tom: People think politics is very sterile and boring. They just think it’s the same old shit. But it’s more about bringing in the personal frustration and anger in. You have to pick topics carefully when you’re looking at topical subjects. People don’t like paedophilia as a subject, for example. I tweeted about the whole Prince Andrew thing and it didn’t gain as much traction on Twitter as say, tweets about a football match. You have to bear in mind what is relatable.
I’m starting to gather that you’re not fans of the Royal fam?
Tom: The Royal Family still have power to veto things and shut down conversation. They don’t broadcast things about them on the BBC. I mean, Prince Charles released a crockery range called ISIS earlier this year. Is he that unaware? [Puts on toff voice] “Why shouldn’t I call it that? There’s a terrorist organisation called ISIS? Oh is there? [Laughs]. We’re going to be black bagged after this, aren’t we? Oh, well. David Icke gets away with it…”
But what’s heavy music’s role in all this mess then? I strongly believe there’s a chance for it to engage music fans in political conversation.
Sam: That always used to be its role. Everyone who has grown up with punk and hardcore is aware of what we can be singing about.
Tom: But there’s not that many bands in our genre doing it. I don’t know about punk but in our genre people are just singing about the same stuff that’s on the radio.
Sam: That’s the worrying thing. That bands did come up through these scenes, but are now happy for it to be turned into a party thing.
It’s true that a lot of heavy scenes have been assimilated into popular culture now.
Tom: Definitely. You go to the gym, and you’ll see people with piercings and whole sleeves of tattoos but they’re listening to the same music and still talking about, “Oh I shagged this bird,” or whatever. Being an outsider has been assimilated. You get bands like Attila who musically would be considered on the outside but are still singing about the same stuff as Miley Cyrus.
Sam: Things have gone so far that it’s almost strange to be in a band where you stand for something. In the UK, there’s us, Enter Shikari, Stick To Your Guns. Who else?
Dan: It’s something we talk a lot about. Angry, aggressive bands with mundane lyrics, screaming like a monster about wanting to go home from tour. It’s an old song and I have no idea what the band are like now, but there’s an Of Mice & Men song yelling about home cooked dinners. We want to write lyrics that are genuinely angry over something. That’s where heavy music started, surely? We love the monster thing. It’s just bizarre how it started changing into that.
What do you think about the metalcore scene?
Dan: There’s us, BMTH, Bury Tomorrow, While She Sleeps and then a big void. When we started it felt like there was a lot more going on for heavy music here then, all the young bands were heavy.
Tom: Now it feels like there’s a million pop-punk bands in the UK now, with Neck Deep as their front runner.
What big political and environmental issues are going be on the new album then? Or will you make a U-turn and go all booze, bros and blastbeats?
Tom: We haven’t started writing it yet, but in terms of content we don’t run out of ideas because they’re everywhere. The problems might change slightly but the causes always remain the same. The events give you the vitriol to write about the causes.
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