Interview ~ Chris Brooks of Like A Storm

Like A Storm quickly gained the respect of fans around the world as well as their fellow musicians because of not only their talent, but their hard work ethic and the respect that they give their fans. The guys from New Zealand have ventured all around the world many times since their inception in 2005. If James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, then these guys are definitely the hardest working band in show business. It seems like it isn’t long after a band releases new material that fans begin wondering when they will get another new album from them. I’m not sure if it’s the shorter attention span of people these days or the constant craving for information because of the oversaturated nature of such things because of the internet.  It’s been three years since the band’s last album was released and that’s an eternity for some people. Well, the wait is over as their new album Catacombs drops today (6/22) and it just might be the most solid piece of work and best of this young band’s career. It’s much darker and heavier, both lyrically and musically, that what they’ve created in the past. We had the chance to sit down recently with lead vocalist and master of the didgeridoo Chris Brooks and discuss the album further.

Chris, it’s a treat to talk to you again on the eve of another new album release. I hope you’re doing well?

Chris Brooks/Like A Storm: Yeah man, things are great and thanks for wanting to talk to us again.

Let’s jump right into this brother because I know you have a lot on your plate. I do want to make sure that I have my facts straight because you and I both know that just because you read it on the internet does not make it true.

Right! We do but it’s a shame that everybody else doesn’t know that (laughs).

You guys took a trip to Catacombs while on tour in Paris last year that proved to be quite monumental for you. Had you already begun the songwriting process for the album before this trip or did it happen afterwards?

We had started the writing process which means we said let’s start slowing down the touring and start writing for the album. Then, we got offered this amazing tour with Alter Bridge, Gojira and Volbeat throughout Europe and the UK. We love all of those bands, so there was no way that we were going to turn that tour down. We agreed to take the tour as long as we would be writing on our off days. So yes, we had begun the process of writing for it, but definitely that trip, as you said, was monumental in terms of really honing on what the theme of the record would be. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for us, when you witness something of that sort of magnitude it really has an impact on you. I mean, there are millions of skulls and skeletons beneath one of the most beautiful cities on the world. When you see that, it hits you; it really sticks with you. Hundreds of years ago, they didn’t have any room to bury their dead anymore, so they dug these massive catacombs beneath the city and buried them all there. Everyday life continues sort of in this blissful ignorance I suppose, but beneath it, there are all of these things you don’t want to deal with or address. For us, it was this powerful metaphor for what we’re going though as a touring band and the distractions that we have when our focus is to play the show that night. Once you remove yourself from that situation and you’re isolated from all of the noise, it’s like opening the doors to those catacombs. These things have been going on beneath the surface the whole time.

Did the material turn darker after the visit? There’s a heaviness throughout the album both musically and lyrically.

Honestly, I think that we had already started down that path. I think as a metaphor the catacombs really made it clear. We really wanted to make a great record and that means that you really have to be honest with yourself about where you’re at and what you’ve been going through. We knew we wanted to scratch a little deeper than “the sun is shining today and I feel happy.” When you start addressing those things that you really don’t want to address, then I think it’s going to get dark and heavy and that’s a part of the process. So many bands or musicians have said that writing songs is much cheaper than therapy and I totally agree with that. You have to be prepared to face the darkness in order to move on.

A lot has changed in our world since your last album Awaken the Fire came out in 2015. I feel like that may have had an influence on it as well. All you have to do is turn on the news each day if you need material to write about.

Absolutely, I guess it’s the way we consume media and they’re not just stories on the news. In today’s society, you can move onto the next day and think about whatever the new headline is and whatever else is happening, but it affects you. If you really want to address and think about what’s going on, it definitely affects all of us personally.

Why did you guys record the album in three different locations?

One of the great things about the age we live in now as far as technology, you can record albums anywhere.  For us, we knew that we didn’t want to be in the same studio every single day, clocking in and clocking out. We knew we wanted to do something different and in some place where we could really immerse ourselves and separate ourselves from all distractions.  That’s why we initially wanted to write and do the album in Vegas. Zach, our drummer, lives in Los Angeles, my other brother Kent lives in Toronto and I think it was kind of important to make part of the album in their hometown. It would allow us as artists to tap into a different energy. If you go from Vegas to Toronto, then it will make you take a step back and reflect on what you’ve done up to that point.

Vegas definitely has a special type of energy that you really can’t find anywhere else.

Ironically for us, we were really secluded in every sense of the word while we were making this album. It was kind of funny to witness all of that craziness from a far while having this really isolated world. It was this crazy juxtaposition. I think it really helped the album.

Did you guys enter the studio with full demos already cut and rehearsed or with bits and pieces mapped out or maybe even both?

Some of us probably rehearsed it more than others (laughs). For us, there’s no division of when the writing starts and the recording of the album starts. As we’re writing these songs, we’re making demos of them. One thing that we’ve found that works is to keep that process because a lot of the times I will record a scratch vocal demo. Then, it comes time to do the actual vocal and it doesn’t matter if I sing it better. There’s something about that emotion that comes across when you’re creating something that’s special and incredibly hard to beat. We compare two tracks all the time and there’s something special about the spark that’s there as you are writing it. You really want to keep that energy going through the whole process rather than you’ve been through the process of writing the song now try and track it and lay everything perfect in time. I think that for us, this kind of music isn’t about that.

There is something to be said about the art of spontaneity.

There is man; that emotion that’s there when you’re not thinking about anyone else ever hearing it. For us, we want to separate and isolate ourselves from everything that was going on and immerse ourselves into our own world. When we’re writing songs, that’s exactly where we’re at. We’re not thinking about anyone else ever hearing. We’re just thinking artistically and about creating.

By now, I am sure everyone has viewed the first music video from the album for “The Devil Inside.” The song features a very cool intro with you on the didgeridoo. So, you have to tell me; are you the owner of the didgeridoo and won’t let anyone else in the band play it (laughs)?

I would certainly be glad for anyone else to play it, especially in the live shows when I’m going between singing and screaming and then playing the didgeridoo. Kent can play it, but he can’t do the circular breathing. I think I’ve just always been drawn to the instrument. I’m certainly not holding onto a monopoly on it in our band (laughs).

 

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “The Bitterness.” Is there anything that you can share with us about that track?

That was a song that Kent came up with; I came up with some parts to the bridge. Musically, we wanted to have a lot of energy on this record and he really captured that on this song. Lyrically, it’s about looking at yourself and those things on the inside that you don’t want to face.

Back in the day, bands would put the weakest track on the album as the closer, but that’s certainly not the case here. “Pure Evil” is quite epic on many levels clocking in at 6:52.That’s pretty long by today’s standards and especially with the shorter attention span of the average listener. The intro is also pretty wicked!

Thanks man; in terms of the length when we were writing it, we had a sense of the journey that we wanted to go on. We knew we would have some people who only want to hear songs that are two and a half minutes long. Second guessing someone else’s short attention span is sort of the theft of artistry I suppose. A lot of our favorite bands take you on these massive journeys and you’re never once watching the clock. For us, we knew we wanted to have this epic journey. We started with the intro and it was the first piece of music that we wrote for that song. We had this idea of this kind of tranquil intro that really draws everyone in. It gives you the feeling of calm before kicking into this really heavy riff. Musically, the contrast was something that we carried lyrically. Matt was the one who had the idea of “Pure Evil” and once again the contrast between those two words. For us, it really sent us down the path of all of these things we had been witnessing. The hypocrisy, people being exploited, lied to by despicable people. I guess once you start tapping into that, you really have a lot to say. We were really happy with the way that song turned on. It was really freeing because we wanted to go through these dynamic ups and down. We wanted to take the song to this really peaceful place and then kick into something heavy and then back to a peaceful place and then back again.

I know we have to wrap this up, so we’ll end it with this one. We all know that you guys live on the road and are out with Godsmack and Shinedown. I have no idea when I would take a bathroom break at a show like that because I wouldn’t want to miss any of it! Are you free to talk about what’s coming up after that run of dates because everyone wants to know why you aren’t playing their city yet (laughs)?

I know, right? We’re really just fine tuning things at this point, but there will definitely be some headlining shows before the end of the year and then some international stuff as well.

Order your copy of Catacombs HERE

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