Brighton does noise well. Sometimes, this can be an under-appreciated fact. Back in the day it was assumed that every band were like The Kooks, and wore tight skinny jeans, or were a little artful like British Sea Power. Nothing wrong with those two, of course, but bands like Royal Blood and Architects have truly blown this notion that we lack some serious musical balls, out of the water. Truth be told, we're very lucky. We've got everything down here; from the fragile acoustica of Passenger to the titanic blasts of Black Peaks, as well as similar like-minded souls Physics House Band and Toska. It's what makes this town so fucking great; it's musical diversity, all within a stone's throw of each other.
Black Peaks are a classic four piece made up of guitar (Joe Gosney), bass (Andrew Gosden), drums (Liam Kearley) and vocals (Will Gardner), whose début album, Statues, has just entered the album charts. A record that is unlike most anything out there. A seamless combination of hardcore, rock, post-rock, progressive rock and metal, that features many a killer riff, moments of serene melodic bliss, aggressive blasts of fireball rhythm, and intricate arrangements throughout, all heightened by its overriding anthemic qualities that will surely see them go on to big things. And with the vocals of Will Gardner, possessor of a deeply powerful and versatile larynx at the helm, they've got a frontman who provides that extra bit of onstage personality to the exciting dynamics of the music.
Tonight, they are finishing off a tour with a headline show in their hometown of Brighton, at The Haunt. Which is where I met up with singer Will, backstage, getting ready for a soundcheck.
This is your home town? Good to be back?
"It is! I walked in to my house to collect some vinyl we're selling at the show, and have yet to see my bed. This is the end-of-tour gig."
How's the tour been?
"It's been unbelievable, the response we've had. It's been crazy. It was only ten days on the road, and it feels like we are just getting into the swing of things. That's weird. There are no more tours lined up but there are loads of festivals coming up later in the year."
It's your first headlining tour…
"Yeah, It’s been a new experience. A lot pressure, to sell tickets, and doing an hour each day, which has been real intense. That was weird, stepping up to that, to be the main act. But, it’s been amazing. Every night we've been like, 'will anyone turn up'! But it’s been very busy. All the radio play has been a help. Tonight is a sell out, which is sick!"
So, tonight is party night?
"I am going to party tonight! I over did it in London the other day but I've had two days off drinking since then."
I tell him I used to manage a hard drinking band, which didn't always work so well on the stage…
"We're a drinking band! But, I think we found with these headline sets you can't get hammered, because the next day you'll get halfway through the set and you'd be like (Will mimics gasping for air). Tonight will be a big one. There are no plans yet about where we'll go. We just like to drink on the street, really," he laughs. And just to re-iterate the point; "Tonight, I'm going to get fucking hammered! Tomorrow, I'll get some roast dinner, go to a pub, play a bit of jazz, it'll be great. Drink some beers…"
How did you join the band?
"I didn't know any of them before. They headhunted me about three years ago when my old band (Lithurgy) broke up, and literally the day after sent me a message; 'Are you up for coming to a jam'? They knew about me, saw me sing with Lithurgy and liked what I did. They sent me some tracks and it wasn't what I was used to. The early stuff sounded like Mars Volta and At The Drive In. It's not what I'm used to but I like that. It moved on from there. It’s been a mad adventure so far."
I see that the band were call Shrine to begin with…
"Yeah, that's right. We were in Spain, for a gig, and the local paper said it was great to have Shrine, and they had a picture of another band! When our manager came on board the first thing he said was; 'You have to change your name. Now'.
It took six months to change it. Fucking ages. We went through constellations, stars, tectonic plates, sea names, mountain ranges. We went through everything. And then I found this list of volcanoes, and there was one called The Black Peak, and I was like, to the guys, 'You're probably going to say no. You probably think it's shit, but there's this volcano called The Black Peak'… And they were like, 'That's quite interesting'. It's different and it's got weird connotations, but not anything in particular. We then argued for three months about whether it should be Black Peak or Black Peaks, and then someone realised grammatically that people would refer to us as the Black Peaks, not the Black Peak. Everyone is happy with it, except some of the older fans.
Tell me a little about Lithurgy, your old band.
"Lithurgy were progressive death metal. Really proggy. It's more thrash metal, some of it quite technical. It was fun. They had a different work ethic!"
How do ideas become songs?
"Usually, one of the guys comes in with an idea, usually Joe the guitarist. Liam will play a drum bit and then we work it out all together and jam a bit. I'll write the lyrics. But we can all hear together what we think might come next. It's pretty random; we create these really mashed up songs. We know what it sounds like now, but some are still a bit baffled. 'Where do you get that noise from' they ask.
How would YOU describe your music?
"I always find it difficult pigeon-holing music. We are a rock band, some of it hardcore, some of it is post rock. Lots of people say post-hardcore, but I think some people are put off by hardcore and won't listen to it, and give it the time of day. We have loads of different elements; from hardcore bands and heavy rock music, progressive bands, post-rock, just mashing it all together. That's what we sound like. That post-hardcore tag can cause us loads of issues. People think drainpipe trousers. That's not us at all!
Your voice. How do you look after it?
"Most tours I never struggle with my voice. I warm up and warn down. For the first time ever last night – it wasn't even the engineers fault – but I couldn't hear anything from my monitor, so I battled hard against it."
How long have you been in Brighton?
"I've been here 23 years, a long, long time. I was brought up here. I did go to university up in London but moved back down, met these guys.
Still like it then?
"It's really funny. I came back today, and the first thing I noticed was people being so friendly and so smiley. Just going to one of my favourite coffee shops, Marwoods, people say 'how are you' and they mean it. There aren't a lot of places, especially in the south, where people are open minded. There are a lot of really interesting people here, people doing creative and interesting things.I just wish it wasn't so expensive for renting. Another place I really like is Manchester. It has a very similar vibe, but is even more down-to-earth.
"From April to December this place (Brighton) is phenomenal for music. It kinda dies from January to March."
Which festivals are you looking forward to?
"Download. Never played that one. I'm so excited about that. It'll be insane. We've done some of the ones we really wanted to play: Reading & Leeds last year, Sonsiphere, 2000 Trees, Hevy. That one was incredible. We were on the main stage before Dillinger Escape Plan and Coheed and Cambria. For us that was a big deal, playing in front of three or four thousand people. They were into us. It was a beautiful sunny day, with a massive sound system…
Featured on the Brightonsfinest Compilation: http://brightonsfinest.com/html/index.php/spotlight/1309-brightonsfinest-compilation-volume-1
See our review of their album Satues here: http://www.brightonsfinest.com/html/index.php/12-music/1338-black-peaks-statues