DATE OF INTERVIEW:
NEW GENERATION SUPERSTARS
11th March 2011
AARON "AJ" JAMES; DAVEY MESSIAH; CHRIS REED; DAZZLE REBEL
METAL DISCOVERY: Are there any new European dates?
CHRIS REED: We seem to do very well on the continent. This year, we are off to France for a week doing some shows...festivals. We branch out. Well, the more people asking us to play the harder we work to deliver the goods! Things like we got some offers to go and do some shows in Russia. This is a brilliant opportunity for us as a band, but it costs so much to get there. I mean, it’s hard to cover our bills...you lose money.
(Davey Messiah on an average night out for New Generation Superstars)
"We party hard, get too drunk, fall over and often get lost. I mean, we got lost in the middle of Helsinki, roaming around for hours on end and nowhere to stop, and it was minus seven...and raining!"
New Generation Superstars - Promo Shot
Interview by Marija Brettle
New Generation Superstars Official Website:
NEW GENERATION SUPERSTARS DISCOGRAPHY
Crash Course...In Rock & Roll (2007)
Thanks to Shelly Hancock for arranging the interview
Raising the Stakes (2009)
New Generation Superstars Official MySpace:
DAVEY MESSIAH: And your gear, as well! [Laughs]
AARON JAMES: But then we want to get to our fans and party together. People in Spain, Portugal or Italy, they really love rock music so we want to reach to them, and so many more places and keep our fans happy.
MD: What is the work dynamic in the band when you get into the studio?
CR: Normally it’s AJ who will bring in an idea, and then everyone brings their bit. But AJ probably is the main driving force in this band. When we rehearse we go in the rehearsal room and discuss there about the songs. We don’t go in the studio, and then yabba about recording...we write the songs and put together all that stuff...you know, then when it’s at a stage we are sure they sound good enough, we play them on the next show. Then we go and record them. So that’s the way we kind of worked in the past.
MD: Tell me more about the recording process of your first album, ‘Crash Course in Rock’n’Roll’. How did you manage to record the whole album in four days?
AJ: It was a trick, but this is the truth...[Laughs]...we got a whole bunch of songs, and the label, and the dynamic of the sound changed once Dave joined the band. That was just before we recorded the album so the ones that came out best were the ones that went on the record. So the backbones, the structure of all the songs were there, we just needed the new lead guitarist. So what we did, we recorded all in four weekends.
DM: It was four days, AJ! We had three songs every day. So we recorded three live and we mastered them after the end of the day, and we ended up with twelve songs. We originally planned to do just a single, then we were going to do a demo, then suddenly we realised, “you know what, this is good enough to be an album”, and we did it as an album. So we were fortunate that we were able to pay per day, finish in a day and, in the end, have a brilliant album! We played all the songs live and recorded, and then AJ and Tony put the vocals on it.
CR: For us as a band it was the first opportunity getting in the studio so we just did it. I think because you have your own record label, there is no one there telling you to do it this way or that way...you just spend some time and we just went in and nailed it.
MD: Okay then, how long did it take you to finish your second album, ‘Raising the Stakes’? Surely it wasn’t all done in five days?!
DM: That took five days that one...[Laughs] We did that in five days, yeah...
DM: We even recoded three songs that we didn’t even use. That’s why it took us five days and not four! [Laughs]
CR: We did the same thing. We did a few tracks, then we did some more tracks and then, somewhere in the middle, we wrote some tracks which were good but they weren’t quite what we wanted, so we went away and spent some time thinking about them. We came back fresh and did the rest of them and we had an extra day for mixing. But yeah, still the same vibe, but second time round we took a bit more time. Well, the first one it wasn’t rushed but it was what it was - we went in and blasted out an album, whereas with this one we took a step back and thought...you know what, we want it to sound big and, in terms of song writing, to be more a reflection on what was going on in our lives.
DM: It took us a long time to realise that we’d actually done two albums...it just happened...
CR: With ‘Crash Course...’ we did it all with our own label, released the album and didn’t know what to expect. Then Kerrang, Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, lots of websites, picked up on that and promoted us. Everybody went, “oh, this is really good!” So we were like, “oh shit, wow!” We didn’t have any expectations because, like we say, we do it because we love doing it. So we sort of took a step back with ‘Raising the Stakes’ and made sure it sounded massive.
MD: With your last two albums you have had some great press reviews. Is that enough to give you confidence to make a new move to the next level with the new album in 2011?
CR: Never more determined to get some killer record out! We don’t want to put it out there until the album sounds just right for us. We’re going to do some stuff when we play Trashfest. We’re gonna go and give away a one track CD with a song called ‘Hell City’. So, that will be a really good flavour for what comes next from NGS’ new record. And, I can tell you now, we are bringing out the ultimate winner! So here is the cliché – “watch this space all you NGS fans out there!”
AJ: Daz has written four or five songs and really the structure of it, but I can’t wait to hear what else is there. We are bringing out a killer album probably sometime close to end of this year, hopefully.
CR: Yeah, it’s exciting and it’s hard because when you’re writing you wanna just get it right once again. But yeah, this one sounds great! Very exciting times ahead...
MD: In the beginning , with ‘Crash Course...’, you were officially known as the band who is too punk for the rock crowd and too rock for punk crowd...but then with the second album you mellowed a bit. So what we can expect with the new record in terms of sound?
AJ: Yeah, that was in the early days because our songs were sure quite high-up tempo. The rock crowd didn’t really get it.
CR: In the early days we had those ‘in your face’ elements of the 70s punk sound. We used what seemed right at the time. But, obviously, with the new NGS record, there will be some new dynamic in the sound, a new energy. It all depends on the new guy and what he will bring into the band.
AJ: But, then again, we were too rock for the punk crowd...sometimes it works, sometimes you can end up with some hardcore glam rock fans so they didn’t get us. Or you end up with some hardcore punk bands and their crowd didn’t get us either! So, one of the best things to happen was when Davey came along because we needed to know whether we’re gonna be a punk band or we’re gonna be a rock band. Davey brought more of the melodic side of the sound so it felt naturally more rock. Well, it’s all rock n’ roll; whether it’s Sex Pistols or Motley Crue, we like everything.
MD: Will you be working with Alan Smyth again?
CR: We will see...we did some recordings before Christmas just to get the feel for it, you know, the album, but this time we’re taking a bit more time. This time, we’re writing lots of stuff and I think we’ll probably sort of pick the best.
MD: On your Facebook, there is an endless list of bands and musicians that inspired you in your early days. With songs like ‘Nothing To Lose’, it’s not hard to notice the influences of Iggy and The Stooges. Or songs like ‘Addictive’, and ‘Come Over’, ‘Overload’…it seems that the lyrics of your songs perfectly sum up what the band is about at that time...
CR: I think you have to write songs for yourself. It’s not about writing hits or ballads. You’re just gonna write and enjoy yourself, enjoy the journey, otherwise it just comes across as really naff. Like, if you see some guys on stage play some songs that they are not into, it doesn’t work, it’s horrible, yeah. Basically, we just write songs we love and it is not important if we are influenced by The Stooges, Guns ’n’ Roses or the Supersuckers. It’s more important if the song is honest.
MD: How much of ‘Raising the Stakes’ is based on your personal life experiences?
AJ: Well, ‘Raising the Stakes’... we’re not raising the stakes for the people, we are raising the stakes for ourselves! With the first album we gained a lot of experience from the shows we did. I think we played some 76 shows...and, of course, something ridiculous like that, we gained lots of experience and we were writing songs left and right. We wrote songs while we were on the tour bus, in the hotel, in a pub, backstage. And we did go through lots of personal shit. All of that’s gone down in most of the songs. [Laughs] And that’s why the second album becomes what it was...more personal.
DM: Tracks like ‘Hell City’, that’s about Helsinki and Finland...the vibes we get out there and stuff, and fans like that because it’s real, raw stuff.
MD: You recently mentioned that everything you’ve done so far, it’s been very much a home-grown product...no big budget for advertising or promotion?
CR: Yeah, it’s never been a marketing thing behind New Gen, so one of the magazines like Kerrang or Classic Rock picks up on you because we are not the cream of the crop of the day. It means a lot more than actually going out of the way to check out the band and respect what you do and write a good review. I mean, we are lucky because magazines we’ve been featured in, every two or three months, they keep coming back which is great.
DM: Yeah, we never had a big budget behind us. But we prefer to talk to people or to be asked to play for some people. You know, people like us as a band for what we are. I found that it’s never a hundred per cent about music. It’s always been about image and attitude. Well, there are some bands that they can get all the attention mainly for their music but, in most cases, you have to work on everything.
MD: How did you end up playing with Duff McKagan’s Loaded?
CR: We were fortunate and we are reliable; we always show up on time. So people know that and they just ask, “would you like to open for Loaded?”; we were like, “yeah, of course, let’s do it!” It was an amazing experience. As I said, we are fortunate to play with big guys like McKagan. He is a big name.
MD: Did you have a chance to spend some time with Duff?
CR: Not really, because of his management, everywhere was kind of locked up and you couldn’t really get around the corridors and say hello or any small talk. But he was cool; he is a tough guy. He was just out having fun. Obviously he‘s seen and done everything and it was just back to his roots playing in clubs with some friends and having a good time.
DM: You see, some bigger bands will ask you for money, like thousands of pounds to play on their shows. That is the dark side of music...of this business. And we can’t do anything about that.
CR: Well, in the music industry there is always the fun side which we wanna do but, also, there is always the business side where there is someone, at the end of the day, trying to make money from “selling the band”. We've played with bands like Superstars, Love/Hate, Supersuckers, Ricky Warwick.
DM: Ricky Warwick is such a great guy...none of this attitude you hear about when he was with The Almighty. But then he was a big rock star…and still is. They were Almighty; they were massive! He was a very courteous, nice guy to us.
MD: You are well known as a band who tour hard and party even harder. Being on the road, have you any stories you wanna share with us...anything that you wouldn’t share with your girlfriend?
CR: You know, I get it all the time...my friends who’ve known me for years ask me all the time like, “ah, you are in a rock band now, tell me a crazy story”. And when you try to encapsulate everything you got up to, in like one story...it’s hard...especially when you are on tour and you do solid shows. We just go mad with partying...you just don’t sleep and you get up to all sorts of stuff that is not even cool to talk about for legal reasons! [Laughs]
DM: At some point we start thinking, like, you just can’t be too reckless while on tour because the inevitable will happen. You’ll lose your voice or you can’t hold your guitar! [Laughs] Like with our show the day with Vain…we did…I mean, we did 75 beers between us? [Talking to Chris]
CR: Yeah, in one day...no, in one night! Dave said, “wow, these beers will keep us happy on this tour...we’ve got three cases”, but we just gulped them all in one night! And this was the show in Nottingham, and then we came back to Leicester to carry on in the club. So it was all in the name of rock’n’roll, really!
AJ: But there is some stuff you can’t and shouldn’t talk about, really. Well, I daren’t talk too much about what we get up to ‘cause we’ll end up in trouble with you know who...[Laughs]
DM: We party hard, get too drunk, fall over and often get lost. I mean, we got lost in the middle of Helsinki, roaming around for hours on end and nowhere to stop, and it was minus seven...and raining!
AJ: [Laughs] Yeah, in Helsinki we got lost! And Dave says, “I don’t know why I bother listening to you... I could be now in the warm, but noooo, I come with you and now we’re walking down in Helsinki.” It’s freezing cold, 5:30 in the morning and then suddenly he goes, “fuck it, I’m gonna start doing sightseeing and he gets his camera and you can hear him going…“click... a church…click…trees, wait…click…cunts!”
CR: The only stuff you want to talk about is just Spinal Tap moments ‘cause they’re the ones when stupid shit happens...