There are some artists for one reason or another that your musical radar just misses and usually by the time you’ve discovered them they are either disbanded or passed on. Fortunately Humanfly are still alive and kicking making heavy and ear-ringingly brilliant music in Leeds. Cat On The Wall caught up with John Sutcliffe, singer and guitarist of the band, for a chat via email…
Cat On The Wall: We’re aghast that we hadn’t heard of Humanfly until now, your upcoming album ‘Darker Later’ is loud, heavy and really quite brilliant! How did Humanfly come about? Where did you all meet?
John Sutcliffe: Our life began in Y2K. After Canvas had split up Andy and I wanted to do a more accessible hardcore band rather than just creating music that pissed people off. Andy met Dave at his place of work and I knew Mat Dale from his bass playing skills in JR. We practiced for a bit with a different drummer, Iz from various Leeds punk/ hardcore bands but he couldn’t commit long term. Dave Jones was up for removing his pony tail and bashing the shit out of the drums so was a natural fit. We all became good friends and have grown up musically together, like the Beatles.
COTW: ‘Darker Later’ is your first release on the UK label Brew. How did you come to work with Brew? Is having label support important to you?
JS: We got dropped by 20 Buck Spin, sort of… and begged some labels to put out the already recorded album. A number of them said yes but Brew were more sexy and have big ambitions, which is something for a band going for as long as we have, were inspired to be a part of.
COTW: You’re already on your third album. How would you describe ‘Darker Later’ in relation to your previous releases? Has your sound evolved? Was there a specific concept you had in mind for the latest record?
JS: This album is more crunchy and riffy with less dependencies on effects pedals. In essence, it feels more like a hardcore/ experimental record to me. The sound evolved naturally as we try to push ourselves musically from previous post-metal misconceptions to something quite unique while still being able to nod, wink and smile at our obvious influences. Musically the album is ordered in terms of light to dark and lyrically this was also purposely applied. The concept is based on an alternative reality fantasy whereby our fascist political parties have control and each song is like a chapter of a story, each one showing the fucked up connotations of voter apathy and, without wanting to spoil the ending, the song Heavy Black Snow turns this concept into a more abstract look on the impeding apocalypse. This was all inspired by my ongoing frustrations with moronic people who still have that backward mentality that England is full up and that immigration is out of control when in fact is all complete right wing tabloid bullshit and BNP propaganda is now entering the hearts and minds of our youth and people that should know better. I.e. “English” black metal anglo-saxon wank. Trust me, I have literally had to try and justify multi-culture in an online argument, some kids are full of shit and really should get out of my face.
COTW: Where was ‘Darker Later’ recorded? What’s your creative process as a band?
JS: It was recorded at our old practice room, including guitar overdubs and most of the vocals. Sam from “These Monsters” interrupted one of my guitar overdubs… grunge-tosser! X
Our creative process can not be expressed in words – we just jam stuff and stick it together when it works… i think.
COTW: Rose Kemp features on ‘Heavy Black Snow’, how did she become involved?
JS: We played a show in Leeds and Rose Kemp also played said show. I was impressed with her vocal abilities. I enquired with Haydn who put the show on whether or not she’s be up for a collaboration. He contacted her and she was into it. We have since played the song live with her a couple of times. She created the narrative and the song title for the piece and I tried to figure out some words and vocal style to compliment it. Heavy Black Snow is our “Suppers Ready” or “2112”.
COTW: Do you enjoy performing live? How do you know when you’ve had a great gig? What’s your live set up (do you have some favourite equipment)?
JS: Who doesn’t enjoy playing live? That’s the reason why I have been actively involved in music for around sixteen years or so. It is my lifeblood. You know when you’ve had a good gig when the sounds are clear, the sound person isn’t a cock-end and everyone at the show is fully engaged. Our live set-up is quite simple… guitars, bass, drums, vocals. We like our equipment but I tire of people bumming orange, mat amps etc as its just another fucking fad… I only use orange thunderverbs coz they’re loud and have loads of tone not coz I want my photo taken in front of a stack of amps. Gibson guitars are reliable and always sound great. Just avoid 50 watt Engls, mesa-boogies or any of those other synthetic sounding quiet amps… This is only my stupid fucking opinion so don’t rely on it.
COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
JS: We have nearly finished writing a new record so will look to record the songs soonish, We are planning a UK tour which is strange coz we always get fucked over by lame, unorganised promoters in this country but are still willing to make effort/ sacrifices ourselves. Our new album will be out early November so will be nice to see how that goes down coz we are very pleased with it. Would be nice to do some more interviews and get our faces out and about a bit more considering we’ve existed for nearly ten years and you’ve never heard of us before etc…