You probably wouldn’t expect a band with Unicorn in the title to be heavy and different, but Seven Hundredth Unicorn are a great, dynamic and unique band. The two piece have been making waves with their excellent Ruins of Hope album that came out earlier this year. The band are active on the live circuit promoting the album, and in a quiet moment I chatted to drummer/vocalist Matt Downes to find out more about Seven Hundredth Unicorn.
Jack: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Matt Downes (Drums/Vocals): Hey Jack, no problem at all, we’re doing very well thanks.
Jack: How did you both meet?
Matt: We always used to cross paths when walking home from school but never really officially knew each other. We got introduced in 2003 through an old band of ours as we needed a guitarist and Dave [Lyon, guitars/vocals] got recommended.
Jack: When you formed was it always the intention to forego being a bass player?
Matt: We didn’t really put too much thought into the set up to be honest. We just got together to jam out some riffs and ended up splitting the signal between a guitar amp and a bass amp and thought “This sounds alright,” so just rolled with that.
Jack: What inspired the name?
Matt: The name actually comes from a lyric in the Black Sabbath song ‘Symptom of the Universe’.
Jack: You’re a band whose sound can’t be pinned down to one genre. Do you think music fans are too obsessed with putting bands into genres?
Matt: Yeah, we’re both pretty open minded when it comes to our music tastes so I guess there are all kinds of influences shining through in some way or another. I wouldn’t say obsessed is the word but people can sometimes be quick to pigeonhole a band if it says they sound like a certain genre.
Jack: Earlier this year you released your album Ruins of Hope, are you happy with the response it got?
Matt: We’ve had a great response so far from the reviews we’ve received. However, as we’ve self released it ourselves, without paying hundreds of pounds for PR, I guess it has suffered a bit with getting it out there far and wide. But in terms of the feedback we’ve had back, it’s all been very positive.
Jack: Is there a concept to the album?
Matt: There isn’t really a concept for the album but the general lyrical content is just about a lot of the personal frustrations we have with the world. We’re always hoping that certain things will change and get better but a lot of the time it just doesn’t and all around we see these ruins of hope.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Matt: The recording process was great. We recorded it all ourselves so there was no pressure and no time restrictions. It’s nice being able to record and not worry about running out of time so it was very relaxed.
Jack: Is it surreal seeing your name in magazines like Terrorizer?
Matt: Yeah, it’s pretty mad. We’ve always read Terrorizer and seen our favourite bands in there so actually seeing our name in there and having one of our songs on the CD was a good achievement for us.
Jack: As an active live band, is it hard to find time to fit the band in between day jobs?
Matt: Yeah, it can be hard sometimes but we try to make it work as best as we can. Working 9 to 5 (what a way to make a living) makes it easier as we always have the weekends free.
Jack: MetalRecusants turned five years old this year, will online journalism become more important than print journalism in the future?
Matt: The way technology is evolving, it’s just so much easier to download an app wherever you are instead of going into town to grab a copy of Terrorizer from WHSmith for example. I think it will become more important although you will still always have those people who prefer print journalism. I guess it’s similar with buying albums; it’s so much easier to buy songs on iTunes, however you will always have those people who would prefer the actual physical copy (I’m one of those people personally).
Jack: You’re returning to Colchester in November to The Waiting Room, do you have fond memories of playing there last year?
Matt: We love playing Colchester and always have a great time. Chris and Abbi from Shallow Leisure always look after the bands and make you feel very welcome. Colchester has some great local bands so it’s always guaranteed to be a great lineup.
Jack: The Waiting Room is sadly closing its doors at the end of November, is there a way to solve this epidemic of venues closing?
Matt: We heard this news a few weeks ago and it’s sad as we’ve played there a few times and it’s a great little venue for bands to play. I think trying to get people out to local shows these days is very difficult and I guess if not enough people show up, that can unfortunately lead to these venues closing down. People always seem to take notice once it’s closed but if you get down and support it while it’s open, hopefully there shouldn’t be an issue.
Jack: Do you have fond memories supporting Kvelertrak?
Matt: We do indeed, it was a great night. We’re both big fans of Kvelertak so it was great to share the stage with them. The singer was a bit drunk and vomited on stage, that was pretty funny to watch.
Jack: What’s been your most memorable gig?
Matt: To be honest, it was probably playing with Kvelertak. The gig was virtually sold out so it was great to play to a huge crowd.
Jack: Have you thought about a follow up album?
Matt: We have indeed. We’ve actually already started writing some ideas for it so maybe some time later next year we will have something to preview.
Jack: What other plans do you have in the pipeline?
Matt: We are working on a new music video at the moment so we should have more news on that shortly. Other than that, just play some more shows and drink some beers.
Jack: Finally, what is the best Liam Neeson film?
Matt: Now that is a tough one but we’d probably say Gangs of New York and Taken taking a very close second place (excuse the pun).
Jack: Thanks for your time guys, see you in Colchester!
Matt: Thanks Jack, see you there!