DATE OF INTERVIEW:
NEW GENERATION SUPERSTARS
11th March 2011
AARON "AJ" JAMES; DAVEY MESSIAH; CHRIS REED; DAZZLE REBEL
Too punk for the rock crowd and too rock for the punk crowd, Nottingham/Leicester four piece New Generation Superstars have forged a sound that appeals to all and it wasn’t long before they’d attracted a local following with a growing momentum that spread across the nation with both fans and UK music press alike. The band’s debut album, ‘Crash Course in Rock’n’Roll’, released in September 2007, has seen NGS attract worldwide attention, attaining glowing reviews within not just the UK but also in countries such as Finland, Italy, Spain, USA and Japan. Following on from their hugely successful debut album, they are back two years on, kicking ass in a bigger and harder way, with sophomore full-length, the aptly named ‘Raising the Stakes’. Relentless touring with many homegrown and international acts has led to the band jointly playing sold out shows at London’s Mean Fiddler and Underworld venues as well as Nottingham’s famous Rock City. Furthermore, tours with LA Guns, Vain and Love/Hate continue to secure NGS’ reputation and future as one of Britain’s main underground rock talents. During the band’s last show with their bassist Dazzle Rebel, Metal Discovery caught up with NGS in a small Leicester club, namely the Musician. Revealing the real reason why Daz left the band, they also discuss, among other subjects, why they are happy to play gigs in small clubs and why they think that the new NGS record will be an ultimate winner…
METAL DISCOVERY: Thank you guys for making time to talk with us today...
AARON JAMES: No, thank you for coming to see us...
(Chris Reed on New Generation Superstars' primary motivation)
"Lots of bands out there missed that ultimate point - why you are in this industry?...and one thing, for sure, it’s not all about a big money, flashy cars or massive mansions. It is all about being true to yourself why you are in this game and what you wanna get out of it. It’s all about making honest music, having a great time and making people happy."
New Generation Superstars - Promo Shot
Interview by Marija Brettle
MD: I wouldn’t miss it for anything, since it’s Daz’s last gig and the last night on stage with NGS...
AJ: Yeah, this is our last show together with Daz. He is leaving us in hope to become an Internet Millionaire!
DAZZLE REBEL: Nooo, internet media mogul! [Laughs]
MD: So, nothing to do with your surname Daz?
AJ: Well, Mr Rebel, here is a thing, “never say never”!
MD: With so much to look forward to right now like Trashfest, possibly a European tour and new album...why now Daz?
DR: Well, it was a hard decision when you’re about to leave the band you love and respect, and the guys who are like your family. But I reached a definitive moment of my life when I needed some freedom to explore different avenues, different ways of work. I’ve been with other bands before, and I love these guys and I love the band, but I can’t commit to the band. It’s like, I need to take a back seat and look at myself. [Laughs] Yeah, I wanna be a rich media mogul and take over Piers Morgan! [Laughs] Look, I’ve had a great time and done a lot with this band as a bassist for New Gen. In my time, I have played all over Europe, even picked up an Indy Award. Still, I don’t wanna to turn this into your usual PR crap, but you should know this - I have no immediate plan in becoming famous nor do I want a record deal.
DAVEY MESSIAH: So, what the fuck you are going to do Daz, what are your plans?! [Laughs] You know, we call it, “this is his last unofficial one...”
DR: [Laughs] Right now I am just taking life as it comes and having a blast. Playing some rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues along the way...
MD: Daz, you recently said that NGS are one of the most dedicated and hardest working, touring bunch of guys that you’ve ever known. Is there somewhere in you, a bit of ‘feeling sorry’ for leaving them when they need you most?
DR: Yeah, of course there is some element of “sorry guys”. But then I reached that point when I started asking myself - do I carry on doing it and not commit myself totally as I used to? With all the rehearsals and me living far away from the rest of the guys, makes it very hard for me and the rest of the band. I can’t give a hundred and ten per cent to the band, as much as I would like to. I will just see what will happen. I am not planning doing anything definite yet. And I don’t wanna jump and join another band either!
DM: It puts a lot of pressure on the band right now but then it’s just one of those things; you don’t wanna make a decision but, at the end of the day, you have to. We’ve got the Finland show to think of, to get out of the way, and then we seriously knuckle down and sort out whether the person we think of will be the one for the band, or we get somebody else. We’ve got somebody to fill in for this show and this guy is a truly committed guy, so we are not worrying there. If we get that show [Trashfest 4 in Helsinki, Finland] out fine, we are sorted!
AJ: We’re all living miles away from each other but I am, most of the time, up here in Nottingham. I mean, nobody’s going too far... he’s [Daz] like our brother, you know. He will be part of the band, just not on a regular basis...he will come and work or help us when we need him.
DR: They can just give me a shout and I’ll pop in when I’m needed...
AJ: Like next week! [Laughs] We can get used to you popping in now and then and we may end up like, “hey Daz, just another one, then again, just this one...”
MD: So have you got any immediate plan, or decision about the new bassist...anybody in mind, any names we know of, or...?
AJ: Ah, you are gooood...but we are not going to go there naming any names…we’ll scare them off! [Laughs] We’ve got somebody we want to work with, that’s all I can give out for now. We’re all looking forward to our next big event in Helsinki. Finland’s been so good to us. Trashfest is a big day for New Gen, so we better get ready to deliver!
MD: Sure, it is a very big and very important event for you, considering you are a huge hit over there.
DM: Finland’s been brilliant to us...people are great there; they love beer and good times, like us! [Laughs]
MD: Why do you think you are so huge in Finland?
CHRIS REED: Mainly, really through Trashfest. We did the second Trashfest there. We discovered Finland, or they discovered us, and it just all started rolling from there. It’s just an amazing place - they take you with open arms...people are amazing!
DM: We love it. We always talk to our fans...and somebody said why do we talk to people when we are in Finland? Well, we wanna be in touch with people and have a laugh...we wanna meet as many people we can and have a good time.
CR: With the band, you could sit backstage just drinking some beers but I just go out. I wanna get out and meet people, make friends or meet my future ex-wife...
MD: So have you met you future ex-wife then?
CR: [Laughs]....still looking and hoping!
AJ: Yeah, hopefully it’ll be just another great show! This will be very important and maybe a bit of a nerve-wracking experience for the band. People in Finland, and the rest of Scandinavia, like to party hard. And we are just four guys, ultimately, who like to play rock ‘n’ roll...and love to go around after the show and meet people...talk to our fans. We don’t like just sitting down backstage, drinking beer and counting the pounds...[Laughs] Well, we do really, we have to pay the bills...but we prefer any time to hang out with everyone after the show, instead of hiding in our hotel rooms. For us, it is vital to chat to people and see how they have enjoyed the show. It’s the best feeling when they say to you - “Man, great night! We had a real blast!” That’s all we need to hear, really.
CR: Hmmm, yeah...when we did Trashfest, we got a really good reception. Met some bands from Finland, you know, went out on tour with some of them and it just worked great! We like to keep going back there because you know if you leave it for too long, people can easily forget about you and move on to other bands. So, we will keep going back there and make sure they won’t forget us. [Laughs]
MD: I heard some of your fans tonight saying that they thought you were from Finland. Why do you think that is?
CR: I mean, that’s cool if people think we are from Finland, at least they’ve heard of the band and they are interested in us, so that’s good enough. [Laughs] Well, all that trashy rock ‘n’roll sound over the last decade originates from Scandinavia. The fact is that the UK didn’t have such a big scene for us.
MD: What are your thoughts on the current state of UK rock? I hear often, lately, how this year is the year of explosion of rock music. What do you think?
DR: The rock ‘n’ roll part of it has probably, several times, broken out from being something massive like it used to be. But, probably, crappy things like X Factor and Pop Idol and other crappy TV shows like that just saturated the market and doesn’t give people the chance to get out there and do it as it should be done.
MD: You mean playing rock music the way it was intended?
CR: [Laughs] Yeah, apparently rock music is the most played music in terms of downloading and stuff, you know, so people are still buying it. Still, it’s a big thing. You know what, we do what we do, because we love what we do, so whether rock’s big this year, or big next year, we still do what we do best and love doing it.
AJ: Even, like Radio One, this is the premier pop radio station in the UK, started playing a hell of a lot of rock. But the only problem with the UK music scene is there are a lot of talented, great bands. We said before, people here are spoilt for choice, because you can go out and watch a good rock gig every night. For us, as a rock band, we have to go out of our way to be better than many bands out there so we can make sure we get the fans listen to us.
MD: What is the best part of being in this business for you?
CR: Lots of bands out there missed that ultimate point - why you are in this industry?...and one thing, for sure, it’s not all about a big money, flashy cars or massive mansions. It is all about being true to yourself why you are in this game and what you wanna get out of it. It’s all about making honest music, having a great time and making people happy. Lots of bands, they like to make a million pounds and it’s not gonna happen. You’re never gonna make millions if you are in this business just for the money. It never lasts! If you think that way, you never get far. It’s all about having a great time and meeting some great people on the way!
DM: One thing, for sure, for us money’s never been an ultimate goal. I can tell you, we have met some of the bands from the 80s who we thought they were those guys with Lamborghinis and massive houses...massive egos. But then soon, you find out that most of them have different ideas about why they are really in this music in the first place. Yeah, there is more to it than big money.
AJ: You know, we count ourselves very lucky, really. We’re rarely out of pocket. And this is honestly true. We always manage to cover our bills. That’s all we can ask for really. [Laughs] And one thing for sure, we’ve never lost the focus of what we’re doing and what we want out of it.
MD: You guys managed to grab the Kerrang magazine award of KKKKK for a live review, naming NGS, “serious hope for British rock”...
AJ: No, I think they called us something like “Best band for British rock!” [Laughs] Yes, it is a great sense of achievement for us, really. We couldn’t ask for more.
MD: You created your own record label called Underdog Records Ltd. What was the reason behind that?
AJ: Well, in the early days we were approached by some people and then we started losing the grip of them, and the more offers we got, the more difficult it became, so we decided getting our own stuff and Shelly [Hancock, NGS Manager] sorted out all the distribution side of stuff. She is great...we signed ourselves then and, you know, we never looked back! I’ve got to be honest, I admire the guys doing it because it’s a rough ride I tell you! There are lots of bands who would like to have guts and do it themselves, and say to the management, “fuck it, I’ll do it my way, and the right way”. I think lots of bands did exactly that.
MD: Well, there are lots of bands out there who feel that way.
DR: I think, especially these days, there are big labels who would like to generate big cash out of the music. Bands, you know, they can’t get to grips with what’s happening in the music industry.
CR: Well, the thing is, people don’t wanna pay for music anymore and that kind of keeps you going in a way! [Laughs] It’s a crazy situation but it’s there.
DM: As long as we can cover our cost and we have a good time doing it and get through the next show, we are fine and we are in a privileged position.
CR: We’re so fortunate, we are so lucky really...the people we meet, the things we get up to, it’s just unreal...all places we go...