Interview: Of Allies talk Fragments and the future

Of Allies band

Of Allies burst out of the blocks last month with the release of their new EP, Fragments. The spine-tingling collection of songs was a towering achievement for the band, building on the early success of previous EP Tempers in both sound and stature, and pointing towards good good things to come.

Picked up for premiere by the UK’s Kerrang! magazine, featuring in Metal Hammer and garnering critical acclaim from all corners of the web, Of Allies then took the EP out on tour with their Yorkshire-based brethren from Stop Drop Robot, Servers, The Verals and Unicorn Hunters.

Somewhere in amongst their hectic schedule then, the band found the time to catch up with Skin Back Alley and talk about the new EP and what 2015 might have in store for the fast-rising alt-rock 4-piece.

SBA: You’ve been together as a band for a little over two years. For those who don’t know, tell us a bit about Of Allies and how you came together.

Of Allies’ Rich Nichols: I had just left my previous band and received a call from Nick saying the band he was in with Dan and Tom had broken up and they where looking for a singer and guitarist to form a new band. I went along to a rehearsal place and jammed with them and it was pretty obvious that it was going to be something that would work well. The style and sound naturally developed due to everyone’s different influences and we kind of stumbled upon this mixture of melody and intensity that just worked.

What has the journey been like for you over the past two years?

It’s been incredibly fun but at the same time has involved lots of graft and hard work. We found our style and recorded our first EP Tempers with a set of songs that we’d spent hours honing in a rehearsal room. That kind of catapulted us forward and exposed us to Kerrang! and Radio 1. For the rest of that year we gigged fairly heavily and put together the songs that turned into Fragments. I think the evolution of the band is fairly clear to see and it’s pretty cool to look at what we’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time.

Fragments is a beautifully produced set of songs; dense and layered but with space to breathe. Where did you record and who did you work with on the EP?

We recorded at Axis Studios with Matt Ellis. It was a clear choice for all of us as Matt had done such an awesome job on the first EP. Matt has definitely been able to help us realise the sound we had in our minds for Fragments.

You funded the recording of Fragments via PledgeMusic and are very much a DIY band. What was the crowdfunding experience like for you and do you think the DIY approach is one of necessity for you, or one that just fits with your mind-set as a band?

The PlegdeMusic thing was incredible. We were initially a bit hesitant about doing it as we weren’t sure how much success we’d have and who would be interested in getting involved. We took a punt and it was shocking that we’d passed our target in a week. It was a great way to interact with the people who listen to our music and also raise funds to record, promote and release the EP. I think crowd sourcing is a great idea and it works really well, as we discovered, but you have to be prepared to really work hard to get the results. It definitely fits with our band mind-set because we want the lines between us and the listener to be as clear as possible and interact as much as we can.

Of Allies - banner format

There are some amazing bands emerging from Yorkshire at the moment, some of whom you’ll tour with this year in the likes of Servers, Stop Drop Robot and Unicorn Hunters. Do you feel part of a bigger Yorkshire scene at all?

Definitely. Networking and getting out there with other bands with the same work ethic is essential. As you said, there are some amazing bands around at the moment and it’s great to be able to work together and help each other. So, yeah, we definitely feel part of that Yorkshire scene.

You’ve mentioned numerous influences on your music in the past including Deftones, Silverchair and Lower Than Atlantis. The structure of the music on Fragments brought to mind the stunning energy and dynamic breakdowns of Rage Against The Machine, however. Fair observation?

Whoa! Thanks! I think it’s safe to say we all love RATM. Doesn’t everyone?! Structure is vital in order to create a song with impact and Rage definitely know how to do it. So I’d say that’s a fair observation!

Has the patronage of high profile outlets like Kerrang! and Radio 1’s Huw Stephens helped you as a band do you think?

Without a doubt. It’s so cool to have the support of such respected and high profile outlets like Kerrang! and Radio 1. I mean, I remember being a kid and reading Kerrang! in my bedroom and seeing all these cool bands thinking “I wish I could do that”. So to see them championing the band is such an amazing honour which we feel immensely proud of.

It’s easy for people outside Yorkshire to be critical of Hull as a slightly remote northern coastal city. Are you proud of your roots in Hull? The video for your song “ONE19” certainly featured many local landmarks!

Hull is a massively misunderstood place. It’s a working class city that doesn’t claim to be something it’s not. We are all unbelievably proud to be from Hull. We have one of the best live scenes around at the moment including Freedom Festival and Humber Street Sesh which are both devoted to art and music. I mean, Humber Street Sesh draws 60,000 people who are just there to see unsigned live music. Where else does that?! It’s totally intentional that the video for ONE19 shows off many of the iconic landmarks of the city because people need to know it’s not what they think it is; it’s a brilliant place and we’re proud of it.

The video for “ONE19” looked like it was fun to make. How did the concept come about?

Yeah it was ridiculously fun! I came up with the idea purely because it ties in with the theme of the song and the lyrics. It’s also about rebirth and getting this new sound out to people. We also wanted to showcase our roots and make sure everyone knew we’re a Hull band!

And what’s next for Of Allies? What would a successful 2015 be for you?

Hopefully we can continue to spread the word and evolve our profile with this release. We want to be touring as much as possible and start writing for an album next year. If we can play to as many people as possible and get them as excited about the band as we are, then that’ll be a successful year.

Check out the Skin Back Alley Review of Of Allies’ “Fragments” EP here.

Find out more about the band at Of Allies’ official Facebook page.

Watch Of Allies’ video for their track “ONE19” below:

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