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COLD SUMMER spreading their wings

COLD SUMMER  are a post hardcore influenced rock band from Wakefield, England highly recommended for all FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND fans out there.  After their 2 EPs “Transitions” and “Wake”, the band is ready to unveil their debut full length album that will surely grab your attention with the band’s ability to blend melodic rock with well-controlled heaviness. Check out my interview with the band’s drummer Justin Eastwood, who has painted a nice picture of COLD SUMMER’s history, their development and plans for the future.

Hey, guys! I have this feeling that we should kick off with a question about weather :) You’re British, after all, right? Haha! :D But something tells me you’re not here to yell about the rain or get excited about the sun that is finally out! So.. what’s up?

We just think there’s a very ‘cold’ feeling in this country like a harsh generalisation, between people, politics, relationships, their everyday lives, work, with employers even in the music scene that surrounds us etc. and the oxymoron of summer yeah kind of sums it up for us!

How do you feel about the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher’s passing and the aura around her persona? Is there an observable disagreement between the two camps of her supporters and haters? Do you care?

My thoughts on politicians generally in this country is very straight down the line, they don’t have an understanding of the working man which is why I find it so hard to relate. When she was in power this was very evident and although some of her policies were intended to help the working people and the country get on its feet, the fact the country back then slipped into a recession didn’t help her popularity and despite continuing in power you’re only going to dig yourself a bigger hole.

She obviously was a tough woman hence the ‘Iron Lady’ tag, some people can take inspiration from that as she surely stuck to her guns and what she believed was the right thing to do. She certainly promoted self-sufficiency but that certainly became unhealthy and that leads to the greed that has spiralled out of control.

I feel even now, the country is in a state of high unemployment and you can see even now frustration in people around our age, we care because we all work jobs like every does and share the fears of unemployment, making ends meet etc.

Have you ever thought about moving out of the UK?

Personally I’ve not had much experience living in other countries, some people I know that have, well they seem better off for it at the very least in their working lives.

Alright, so I guess you’ll be managing your upcoming success from Wakefield, huh? :) You have debuted 2 new tracks online. What’s feedback been like on them?

For the meantime yes Haha! under our current circumstances we’re going to have to build it from here! I think music wise our surroundings are keeping us going as strange as that may sound.

Yeah I mean bit by bit we seem to be reaching new listeners, we thought it’d be cool to get tracks out there individually and how we’ve done it we felt was the best way to do so. In some ways or at first listen I think the newer tracks we’ve released some to be a little bit more straightforward than what we’ve written before perhaps at first listen or even face value, but I think the more even we’ve listened to them and even at the latter stage of writing, there seemed more to them than that. People seem to like them without it being too much of step into mainstream ‘rock’ which admittedly contributes to our overall sound but isn’t really what we set out to do.

How do you keep your old fans satisfied? Do you care about people’s opinions in the first place? Or is it more like a self-fulfilment “job”?

Ok I guess this is where things can get a bit vague but hopefully not too diluted, we certainly don’t write music to please people but there’s that kind of hope or even ‘sure thing’ that you know people will relate to what the songs are about as people go through similar things/topics, in life its inevitable, we’ll be keen to have the lyrics for people to sing along to, but we certainly aren’t writing music to please people or quickly latch onto a trend like I often feel so out of place as how some of our stuff sounds, it doesn’t sound perhaps way out of date or anything like that, but you can hear older stuff in our sound and I know for a fact a lot of younger people aren’t aware of say some bands we’re influenced by or whatever so it can be quite alien to them, and that our stuff isn’t ridiculously overproduced too, it is well produced but there are no frills, no gimmicks but I guess some bands have to do that stuff if they want to sell records or sound like certain bands they listen to religiously. For me personally we want to have albums that aren’t date stamped or confined to genre conventions.. well as a far as you can go with a singer, drummer, guitarist and bassist.

RADIOHEAD have one more guitarist and managed to create dozens of cross-genre structures so far :)

How are you feelings about that record at the moment?

It’s weird you mention that! We do speak about Dan possibly playing guitar or even having another guitarist.

I’m not a big RADIOHEAD fan so I’ve not heard their latest record yet I’m afraid.

Ha! Yeah, and I was actually afraid to mention then as I realize how many anti-fans they’ve got :D

Do you want to make the sound a bit thicker?

Ah man I’m not sure if I’m an anti-fan I don’t dislike them as such, it’s a bit strange because they are ok, a good example of a band that does a lot of different stuff, maybe too much!!

Yeah I think that’s it really, we are really happy with how 1 guitar sounds but when we’re at the stage now where we’re starting to write new stuff it has been discussed as something especially live you’d like to be yeah  ‘thicker’ I’d like to use more technical terms but I’m the drummer haha!

By the way, what do you do to develop your drumming skills? How serious are you about it? Do you have a strategy or some significant influences on your abilities that make you perform better?

I’m pretty serious about it but not too take fun away from it, like I practice as much as I can around working full time, we have our own practice room so I make full use of that really have quite a few late nights after finishing work just jamming away.

I think playing with other musicians is a massive help, I do play along to records which really helps for work in the studio as well as learning to play anything you pick up that you can’t do and adding your own spin on it / applying new skills to songs you’re writing if you can.

I’ve never had any formal lessons or anything like that, so I’d say my drumming style is very raw, natural and I try and think outside the box a little with my playing. I need a lot of work on my snare drum rudiments, that one area of my playing where technically I’m not that great, I might have to give into finally taking some drum lessons! My fav drummers are really, Jon Bonham, Josh Freese, Danny Carey, Dave Grohl, David Turncrantz (RUSSIAN CIRCLES) , kind of technical and/or hard hitting drummers I guess? I think that’s what most of these fall under, Josh Freese is just awesome all round too, can learn a lot from how versatile he can be. Also its the songs these guys have written in the bands they playing in as well too which inspires me and the drum parts they come up with.

I wonder how things have changed for you since the beginning of “Wake” era. Have the past few months been a great learning experience for you?

Yeah we have had a bit of a transition, but a good one! We’ve felt a bit more confident to get out there and play shows more often. We’re eager to get started on writing some new songs at the moment, we at the moment don’t have another show till May, we’ve just been asked by BBC radio to do an acoustic session too, so that aside we’re going to get on with some writing.. I think outside of the band it’s a busy time for all of us, so a year on from when we first had that EP together well things have really progressed, one step at a time.

Who’s gonna distribute the upcoming album?

We’re going to do it ourselves, without too much of the cliche, ‘the music industry is dying’ well we’re pressing CDs ourselves at the moment and we’ve sold a few at shows recently, we will have it online via our bandcamp direct from us, kind of discussing as a band what to charge via that method, as obviously we want to fund more recording but what people to get hold of this record without paying over the odds. We do release via iTunes/spotify/digital stores as to me it’s about ensuring people can listen to the stuff you’ve put out even if its not purchasing it just to be able to stream it, as people may not have a turntable, even a CD player they can access easily etc with physical releases these days! I still buy vinyl, CDs and digital downloads or being able to put a cd on iTunes / my iPod etc is great!

Why only 8 tracks? :)

We’ve kind of drawn a line with writing and at that point we had these 8 songs, for us that’s our debut album it would have been nice to have had well double figures, hopefully there’s no ‘filler’ for us I think the 8 songs that make it up fliw cohesively. Trying hard to reach a number of songs would have resulted in rushed songs that we’d never play live that kind of thing!! Quality not quantity hopefully applies!

How did the writing process look like? How do you come up with your stuff?

Well upon starting writing the tracks that would make all our releases up to now, we had gone through the process of Dan joining the band, and the four of us were evolving for the better, we’d written some great instrumental pieces from the previous format of the band and the time where there was just three of us jamming, we were keen to carry these ideas over and hopefully create them into songs with Dan’s input, song writing / lyrics and that’s what we ended up doing, and of course new ideas collectively came too!

By the time we were playing shows we actually had the Wake EP pretty much written, honestly we did spent a lot of time writing the songs, and there was definitely a few things that we ended up not completing (not necessarily discarded entirely) but we are perfectionists I guess! In terms of coming up with ideas, we don’t really have anything set in stone when bringing ideas individually to the band, the closest we get is Dan puts together some of his ideas in garage band, vocally and with some basic instrumentals behind it for us then to jam out a bit more constructively and with a bit more direction than us all just jamming out in the room, that can sometimes can be frustrating especially when we practice late at night, debatably some good ideas have come from that but as of late we have gone down that route of writing, mainly to be more productive with the time we have, as we do still jam stuff out now again when we’re not tired after working etc.!

You played lots of shows last year. Any special gigs you’d like to recall? How do you remember your recent treks?

To say we’ve not had the pleasure of touring we’ve really tried our best off our own back to book as many shows as possible, the first gig in Jan 2012 really sticks in my mind really firmly it was a great way to start at The Well, Leeds and supporting some of my favourite bands, end of a year (SELF DEFENSE FAMILY) and AFICIONADO (unfortunately their last show is tonight in Albany, New York!). We were really humbled to share a bill with two really well established bands, and for our first show i thought we played pretty well to kind of at least ‘hold our own’ with touring bands of that calibre. We’ve had some good moments at The Well, Leeds before it closed down, the stand out moment apart that was when we played a bit of a pop punk show with some great local bands, CALLS LANDING, NAI HARVEST and MAKE YOUR MARK that one really sticks out at around the time of the ‘Wake’ release as it was such a fun show to play with these bands really making an impact in the local scene.

On a negative note we had a show in our hometown recently, a warm up show for a festival this summer. During the soundcheck, tensions flared a little bit with the sound guy, myself and the rest of the band over something very trivial (might i add the route of the problem was due to another band arriving late) , which really left a bit of a sour taste as we felt this guys issue and others present was being taken out unfairly on us being the ‘outsiders’ at this show. Wakefield does have a thriving DIY lo-fi indie scene no question, and with this festival growing i think their attempt at opening up to heavier music was more than welcome to us, and we’d felt a little bit more part of the ‘scene’ having played a few shows at that particular venue but this was pretty much shattered as we ended the night feeling absolute outcasts on a bill with bands i really would not like to play with again due to their attitude, not the music they play.

Unfortunately that sticks in the mind for the wrong reasons, but we’ve had a couple more shows I think which have eclipsed this as much as possible, our friends hearts & souls released a great EP earlier this year and last year kind of previewing material for it in august, we supported them at the cockpit with LEMURIA, which was a great experience playing to a different but welcoming crowd. We’ve had a good run of shows in the past few months even when things have been going wrong like at a show in Huddersfield with RAISED AS WOLVES, literally ever song something broke!! The FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND show we’ve just played the other week man, we really had a great time, the venue, Warehouse 23 looked after us all very well, and we put on pretty much the best performance we have, despite having PANTERA playing through all our monitors at the beginning! Just great to hang out with our friends too, the nightclub venue type isn’t really our scene, but it was a positive experience as everything was really organised, but not too much to spoil the fun!

Wow, sounds like a weak night, that festival. Was it a strict punk event? Except the soundcheck, what caused the fuss?

No not quite it’s a very British lo-fi indie festival, the main thing is headlined by THE FALL so some really tight ties to DIY & British indie rock not so much straight forward punk rock.

The sound guy just flipped out as we were apparently taking too long to setup, bearing in mind the band who turned up late with back line etc. had a long sound check where there didn’t seem to be much ‘rush’. The attitude of the other bands really caused the fuss in response to the sound guys disagreement with us, very very arrogant individuals really sums up for me what we have tried to avoid, playing with bands/artists that have that false sense of entitlement in their ‘click’ of a music scene as outside of that well that’s probably why they don’t play shows outside of Wakefield…

Alright, and how was the beginning of this year for you concert-wise?

Promising, but we’re just struggling to get continuity with not being out on the road and working full time, we had to pass an offer for a tour last week with an Italian band, which would have been a great experience for us, hopefully shortly something will come around! The Funeral show has been a highlight, and we had a great one last week despite illness in leeds, we always have a good time in Leeds, quite pleased to be back there in a couple of weeks with HEARTS & SOULS.

Oh yeah, how was the FFAF gig? Tell me more about that evenin’ :)

It went really well thank you, we had a bit of initial scepticism as the venue was very new in our town and had more of a background as a nightclub and with dance music. There was a bit of a handover of promotors in the two or so weeks before the show, a bit of a last minute rush to get everything organised, but we were really pleased to say what an awesome job they did putting on the show, we really appreciated the efforts the venue went to make it a great night for everyone involved. This was really well reflecting by the touring bands, they were very gracious in their praise of how they were looked after, we also really appreciated the efforts the venue went to make it a great night for everyone involved. Anyway to the gig itself went really well, i’d say its the best we’ve ever played performance wise and fun wise, the stage wasn’t too big so we were really close to each other and everything was perfect through the monitors.. well apart from an accidentally overplaying of PANTERA when we we’re playing our Intro, ‘Wake’ could have caused a disaster i was worried people out in the crowd could still hear us playing along to that! It is quite a contrast from playing the upstairs room in pubs where we usually play or whatever, we’d love to do it again given the opportunity. It was very relaxed and was great hanging out with the other bands, definitely gave us a positive taste of the touring life. I managed to record using a zoom mic like a bootleg of our set, does make an interesting listening back as well! One of my friends had a bit of an issue making the show, his sister got stuck in lincoln train station and couldn’t get here in time, absolutely nightmare, the guys in Funeral signed my snare drum head for her as at least to make up for public transport ruining her night!

Nice! :)

How do you receive their newest works? How long have you been a fan of the band?

For me personally I’ve found their latest album, possibly there best work to date, it definitely captures a lot more of their hardcore influences, especially in the vocals. Matt was telling us about how he recorded them in the studio using a normal mic like what they use live, as opposed to some expensive overblown, it really reminded me in terms of rawness as some stuff I’ve heard Steve Albini record, like an example of a heavy band, the ZAO ‘The Fear That Keeps Us Here’ where is sound really like a live PA! Collectively we all respect the band as they’ve put out some great records over the years, and they still have a committed fanbase as well as picking up some new fans i guess including myself! My friends in MARMOZETS are touring with them in June we’ve tried to get on the show at The Leopard Doncaster (near us too) but to no avail, that show will be crazy, it is a tiny venue!!!

Great! We all love small venues! :)

Would you agree with the opinion that hey have lost their original identity?

I would as far as obviously the line-up has changed, I don’t think they should change the name as its kind of a.. well they’ve obviously evolved as a band and there overall style is along the same lines, however there has been some notable changes especially with these new members that have joined and they’ve obviously added their input, i wouldn’t see losing their original identity as a negative thing though.

Speakin’ of others, not only FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND… are there certain records you feel have had the most influence for you personally?

Yeah for me personally like recently I’ve been really into heavy post rock / post metal kind of records, like i’m a big fan of RUSSIAN CIRCLES, DEAFHEAVEN and PELICAN (to name kind of the scene leaders) these bands really at the heavy end of that spectrum that have put out great records in recent years. I’m always impressed with PINK FLOYD and AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD…., these bands ok in places stray a bit into grandiose territory, but in terms of cohesively writing and well in my opinion defining a great ‘album’, these bands have hit the spot in rock music, especially in the modern day trail of dead… the last two albums they’ve put out, really nod back to rock bands of old that have put out great records that transcend genre classification and even to some extent don’t stamp themselves really to the time they were put out, thats something as a band, well its a trap we hopefully avoid, granted our works aren’t obviously as well developed quite yet to make such a statement but thats the (un)realistic aim! We even came very close to supporting trail of dead…. when they played York late last year as a bit of a diverse show for us to the usual punk rock / hardcore show, that would  have been amazing should it have pulled off.

By the way, how would you best label COLD SUMMER? What is your opinion on labels anyway?

I try to steer away from labels, but we can’t deny we’re a rock / post hardcore band i think just tied to the strong influences on our sound i guess! I’m not too genre specific but i think thats the best way to describe us should we need a description or clarification haha it’s so awkward when people ask (who haven’t heard you) what your band is exactly as with ‘rock’ you feel you’re selling yourself a bit short and with ‘post hardcore’ well that now has a lot of different variations, i’d like to think we’re a good mix of the old school and the new.

Ok, let’s wrap it up, boys. What is next for the band? What else should we know about COLD SUMMER a.d. 2013?

Well we’re starting to write some new tracks now, we’re going to see how it goes but the goal I guess is to write our next album. We’re really conscientious about not getting stressed out with writing, especially Dan will agree with this, we we’re practicing not sure if he was joking.. but he anticipated lets say a stressful evening.. it actually wasn’t haha!!

We do practice quite late at night and after work so it can sometimes hit a bit of a brick wall creatively as i think at first we do have different ideas that perhaps, but i think using a healthy combination of work on ideas in and beyond our practice room, we can make progress and really push ourselves even further with these new songs. We’re dying to go out on tour or at the very least play more regular shows so thats a realistic goal for us in terms of getting out on the road supporting someone.

Our self titled album, it’s due out Monday 1st July both digitally and on CD! We’re handling it all ourselves in terms of even making the cd packaging, like feel ok we are musicians why am I opening photoshop but for me personally i like to have a go at graphic design and being in a band has allowed me to explore my creative side, despite not being a great art student at school, but we think its something the band should be involved with! We just want people to get hold of it and it’s been great speaking to zines / websites who haven’t heard of us before and want to share our music with people.

Very cool! Thanks so much for your time! I wish the best of everything with the new outing. Hope it will blow people’s minds!

Any last words? :)

To anyone who checks us out and writes about us we feel its obviously very humbling that people want to listen to what we do!

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