Woking’s Employed to Serve is a band that deserve to be as big as some of their contemporaries. They are young, energetic and full of passion, and dedicated to the cause of loud and heavy music. 2016 is proving to be a big year for the band, so fresh from a tour with We Never Learned to Live, it was the perfect time to quiz guitarist Sammy Urwin about the band’s past, present, and future!
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How are you doing?
Sammy Urwin (Guitar): Doing good thanks! We’ve [recently come] back from our UK tour with We Never Learned To Live so we’re still on a high from that!
Jack: The band started out as a two-piece in a bedroom, how did it evolve into the relentless touring beast we see today?
Sammy: I think from the get go Justine and I knew we wanted to make it a live project. It was just a case of finding the right people! As soon as we had that we really wasted no time booking tours and getting new material written with the full lineup.
Jack: At Holy Roar’s 10th Anniversary you played your excellent album Greyer Than You Remember in full, why did you decide to play it its entirety?
Sammy: It was a special occasion for two reasons, one being Holy Roar’s 10th anniversary and the other being it was our last show with James on guitar! James had almost been with us since the beginning. He recorded and helped write Greyer’with us so it seemed only right to play it in its entirety with him.
Jack: How did you first discover Holy Roar Records?
Sammy: By the bands they released really. We got into bands like Maths, Throats, and Bastions and noticed it was the same label putting them out. After that we followed the label because we were pretty certain whatever they released we’d be into!
Jack: As Justine works for Holy Roar, how does this affect the band’s relationship with the record label?
Sammy: It’s been good because it means we get everything done a lot quicker. There’s no back and forth via email with the label because Justine’s already there and she can talk to Alex and get things sorted as and when they need doing. It’s also very nice having such a close relationship with the label because it doesn’t just feel like business. To us it’s not just the company that presses our records and puts them in shops, it’s a community we’re proud to be a part of and want to see grow just as we want our band to grow.
Jack: You were scheduled to play Temples but with the cancellation you were lucky to play two replacement shows, did the cancellation effect the band in any other way?
Sammy: We had a tour lined up with Mare who were also scheduled to play, but seeing as the fest was cancelled that affected their budget massively and were forced to pull out of the tour. We were quite gutted the tour was no longer going ahead but we just got on with it and made the best out of a bad situation. We managed to get three shows booked last minute which was better than sitting around the house moping.
Jack: Temples wasn’t the only festival we lost this year, Hevy and ATP were cancelled and Wildfire only survived due to crowd funding, are festivals under threat?
Sammy: It’s tough to say really as it’s not my area of expertise but it does seem increasingly harder for festivals to get a unique and original lineup. There seems to be so many that have the same bands playing/headlining it must be hard to get a USP to convince people to come to your festival and not another one. I’ve also been told it can take up to five years before you start to see profit from a festival so it must be a very risky business venture, especially if it doesn’t do well in its first few years.
Jack: You recently released a powerful video for ‘Greyer Than You Remember’ about the effects of dementia. What was the inspiration behind the song and video?
Sammy: I work as a gardener when I’m not playing in bands and we have an elderly customer who suffers from dementia. She lives in this massive house all by herself having random flash backs to younger points in her life. All of her remaining family live far away and rarely visit so she’s left to rattle around the empty house reliving her past. I found this to be quite a terrifying existence and it inspired the lyrics for the song.
Jack: Is it hard to believe that Greyer Than You Remember has been out for a year? Are you happy with the response it got?
Sammy: Yes really happy! We’ve had some brilliant feedback and we’re also getting people who have only recently discovered the album telling us that they’re really into it. This just makes us even more excited for people to hear the new material. It’s definitely motivated us to make a record that we think is even better than our debut.
Jack: You recently toured with We Never Learned to Live, how did that go?
Sammy: It was amazing! Such awesome guys and an incredibly talented bunch of musicians too! Their guitar player Brett also did us a solid and filled in on bass as Jamie was unable to make the tour, so he had the tiring task of pulling two sets a night. I can’t recommend enough that people check out this band, was truly a pleasure watching them play every night. We had a day off towards the end of the tour in Newquay and the weather was incredible! We all went swimming in the sea and made our best attempt at filming a Parkway Drive-style tour video.
Jack: I loved your mini documentary ‘Tour is Life’ which shows how much you love touring, what was the inspiration for this video?
Sammy: We just wanted to give people a little insight into what we’re like as people. The general theme of our music is quite bleak so we just wanted to show people that we don’t take ourselves too seriously and that our music is the output for all our negativity and that as people we’re actually really positive.
Jack: It is clear your band loves touring. What do you love the most about it?
Sammy: Well apart from getting to play our music to people the best part is getting to go to new interesting places and meet cool new people! I’ve been to some awesome places and met all kinds of people through playing music which I’m eternally thankful for. Getting to hang out with your friends and play music is just a really fun thing to do.
Jack: ‘Tour is Life’ was filmed on the Funeral for a Friend tour with Vales, what’s your fondest memory from this tour?
Sammy: There’s a lot but I think the best would have to be when our bass player Jamie did a stage dive during Funeral’s set and completely flattened Justine. Classic.
Jack: What is your favourite Funeral for a Friend album?
Sammy: It has to be Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation for me. It has all of my favourite songs by the band on it and it makes me feel very nostalgic. I listened to that album a lot when I was younger so it was definitely quite special getting to share the stage with the band before they called it a day.
Jack: In December you’re going to record your second full length, how will it be different to Greyer Than You Remember?
Sammy: I feel like we’ve written an album that is keeping in with the style we made for ourselves on the first record but also has some new interesting developments within our writing. We really wanted to make sure we weren’t just writing ‘Greyer pt 2’. There’s definitely a few songs on the new album that are in a similar vein to the closing track ‘As Cold as the Rest’. We wanted to show people we can write songs that are a little bit stripped back compared to our more hectic songs. That said, there’s still plenty of faster songs to balance it out.
Jack: What do you like about working with Lewis Johns?
Sammy: He has a really cute studio dog called Olive… and he’s pretty good at producing records too I suppose. He’s just the most relaxed person ever, which is extremely important when it comes to recording. That said he’s not one to shy away from saying if something doesn’t work in a song or whether something can be played better. He can get the best results out of people without being to full on and making people feel uncomfortable. We were so happy with the outcome of ‘Greyer’ we knew we had to go back to The Ranch to do album two.
Jack: What are your plans for after the album recording?
Sammy: Tour! We’ll be playing lots in support of the new record, and trying to conquer new territory too! We’ve been desperate to tour the States for a while now and that’s something that we plan to make happen next year.
Jack: Finally as a band that has toured Europe a lot, how will the EU referendum effect you as a touring band?
Sammy: It’s really uncertain at this moment in time but we really hope it won’t effect things massively. It will be such a hassle if we have to start getting visas to tour the mainland, it’s so easy right now to book a tour and explore so many amazing countries. Also new taxes might come into effect which will make it even harder for underground bands to break even on tours. For now we’re going to make the most of it and get over to the mainland as much as possible before we see any changes!