Mallory Knox vocalist Mickey Chapman chats about their new album, their first UK headline tour since 2015, and playing Reading and Leeds for the third time.
A year and a half since releasing their sophomore album Asymmetry, Mallory Knox are back in the UK charts with Wired, their most polished and concise record to date. Offering tales of difficult relationships, emotional struggles, and a culmination of a somewhat turbulent 18 months, it also presents some of the biggest melodies the band have mustered. Led by the cathartic and ultimately rousing Giving It Up, Wired sets Mallory Knox up for some absolutely huge-sounding live shows.
With the band today (20 March 2017) kicking off their first UK tour since 2015, we interrupted vocalist Mikey Chapman’s preparations for a chat about the new record, hitting the road, and what fans can expect.
How are you feeling about your tour kicking off today?
There’s a lot of anticipation in the building at the moment. Everyone’s keen to get started and to see what the new songs sound like in a live format. It’s been a long time coming; we haven’t toured a headline tour since late 2015. It’s good to dust off the cobwebs and get back out there.
How has the preparation been?
When you’ve got a new record out there’s always nerves and anticipation. When you’ve had so much time away, there’s an added degree of that too. It definitely doesn’t outweigh the excitement though.
Have you had time to take in the reaction to the record?
I’m still looking forward to the reaction of people daily. This record has a lot of legs. The more people listen it the more they will work out which song is their favourite, or they’ll connect more with certain songs the more they understand the lyrics. As much as the initial reaction has been fantastic, I’m also looking forward to the long-term digestion of it from the fans.
Was the longer break before releasing Wired a deliberate decision?
It was just situational. We finished the Asymmetry run in 2015, and then dropped little bits here and there while we were working on the record, but I don’t think anybody really intended for it to be so long. It just happened that way because of the behind the scenes scheduling. I think in hindsight we’d love to have gotten it out a lot sooner, but it allowed us to write a record that we’re really comfortable with, and recorded it to a standard we’re all really content with as well. It’s swings and roundabouts really.
What have those experiences added to the record?
The ability to write at our own pace with a consciousness towards fulfilling deadlines, and using the lessons we have learned over the last two records. It’s allowed us to be a lot more confident in our own skin. We knew what kind of sounds we wanted to achieve, and how to achieve them, rather than relying on external influences. When you have a ability to take a step back you can actually implement what’s in your mind’s eye, and what the collective group believe the songs should sound like. It’s allowed for a much more genuine sound.
And the way you recorded the album supported that?
We unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to do full live recording, in the old school way of things. We certainly wanted to add that live element though; to make it feel like you are in the room with us. We didn’t want to stray too far off the modern techniques, and wanted to keep relevant. We tried to find the happy medium between the new and the old; learning from the past but not turning your nose up at the present ways of recording. This time around was the best recording experience we’ve ever had. The team around us, the studio we were in… it really was the most positive experience.
Are there any themes that run through the record?
There are elements of things that are contained in different songs. The more I talk about it the more I begin to see a slightly larger picture. Things like mental health and how to deal with it, love and relationships, and even today’s social and political climate. It all boils down on this record to accountability, and taking responsibility for your actions and what you put out into the world. As I say that takes many forms throughout the record. It all centres on the notion that as you get older and wiser you realise there is nobody to come along to fix it all and make it better for you. Your life is your life and it’s your responsibility to make it what you want it to be.
What are you planning for the tour?
These tour dates are centred completely on Wired. We’ll definitely be dropping a few of the old tunes, but it’s about us seeing which songs are the ones fans are enjoying. Which ones they start mosh pits to, or sing back, or lose their s**t to. It’s as much a tester for us as it is for fans to hear what the songs are like in a live context. We are all experiencing the same thing for the first time, and that’s really exciting. There’s no gimmicks or thrills. It’ll be the songs played as they were written and intended to be played. The gimmicks can come on later tours, but this one is all about the music and the atmosphere.
Then you are doing Reading and Leeds in the summer.
I can’t wait, honestly. The first time we did the Main Stage and last time we did the Radio 1/NME tent. Both times were incredible experiences. It took us right to one of those dream, tick-off moments. To do it a third time, it allows us to let the environment affect us less and focussing on making the show as great as we possibly can.
The environment at festivals like Reading and Leeds is like no other. Just to be involved in that, and the history that permeates throughout the festival, is amazing. Whenever I get up on those stages and look at the scratches and scrapes on the floor, I think of who has been here and who has done this before me.
You’re fast becoming festival veterans yourselves.
To a degree you become relaxed. It stops you worrying about the ridiculous things, or the things you worry about when you are new to it. You don’t know what’s coming, or how the crew is going to deal with it. All of these small things that build up into one big worry. But the more you do it the more you can focus on the positive things, like the atmosphere and the crowd. It certainly doesn’t make you any less focussed on what you need to do, and what you need to achieve.
Here are those headline tour dates:
20 March – O2 Academy, Bristol
21 March – Tramshed, Cardiff
22 March – UEA, Norwich
24 March – O2 Institute, Birmingham
25 March – Leadmill, Sheffield
26 March – Corn Exchange, Cambridge
28 March – Garage, Aberdeen
29 March – Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
31 March – University SU, Newcastle
1 April – O2 Academy, Liverpool
2 April – Pyramids, Portsmouth
4 April – O2 Academy, Oxford
5 April – KOKO, London
6 April – KOKO, London