Firstly why heavy metal? Your voice lends itself well to rock.

It's interesting the way you've phrased that. I don't see Final Coil as a heavy metal band and never have, although the heavy metal community has been fantastic in the way that they've embraced us. Indeed, we've always struggled with genre in this band.

 

The most common labels I've seen have been post-rock, progressive and alternative metal and those are all fine with me because they all imply a progression beyond what I would consider to be genre boundaries and that's very much what we attempt to do in the band (how successful we are, I leave to the judgement of others). Given the weightiness of the riffs we employ, I can see why people might hear us and initially think metal and, it must be remembered, metal is a very broad church and has some of the most open-minded fans in music - bands like Katatonia, Baroness, Alice in Chains, Tool - they're all considered more a part of metal than straight forward rock, so I'm very happy to be seen in that way. But I woudn't consider us what you might term a 'heavy metal' band in the traditional sense.

Good answer. Certain songs like Corruption & Ashes kind of remind me of Dream Theatre and Staind hence the “Metal” tag however I can see why you wouldn’t say you are Metal, I kind of think of you guys as alternative rock. Who were you influenced by growing up? Your teenage years?

Well, alternative rock was the starting point - I first got into music, like a lot of people of my age, via bands like Queen, Iron Maiden and Guns 'n' Roses, but it was Nirvana that spoke to me and made me pick up a guitar. Not only did I really fall for the juxtaposition of melodic vocals and blisteringly heavy guitar, but I also pored over the liner notes and, over time, found bands like Sonic Youth, Alice in Chains, Butthole Surfers, Swans, Screaming Trees and Soundgarden. Who, when faced with so ecclectic a selection, wouldn't end up skipping around genres with a certain glee? But, even back then, I had an interest in music, not in genres, so I had Pink Floyd in my collection, massive attack, the Manic Street Preachers... I don't see any merit at all in constraining yourself within the brackets of what others perceive as possible. For me, music has always been about meeting a given mood and it reflects and magnifies how you feel. Even this morning, I started off with some Stray Cats (40 - great album!) and then shifted over to black metal in the form of the new Darkthrone album... I pick what I feel at the time, and Final Coil is much the same. Music is an amazing thing, it can conjure emotions, elicit memories... so why not put a blazing riff next to some harmony vocals? We embrace a lot of things on this album - slide guitar (you can thank Sonny Landreth for that), synth, piano, allen keys in the strings (there's sonic youth)... I want to make music that makes people feel - it's up to other people to name it!

Who started the band?

That would be me, a long time ago! It was a solo project, initially, and I never expected it would evolve in the way that it has!

When did it evolve into a “thing” a collective?

Well, it sort of mutated and changed over a number of years. Rich and I tinkered with it on and off from 2003 (we were introduced by a mutual friend when I was at Uni), but I went traipsing off to Poland for four years, so there was never any hope of it being more than a recording project for which we would borrow people from time to time. However, when I came back from Poland (along with my now-wife Jola), she offered to step in on bass and suddenly we had a band. From there, we went through the usual ups and downs before (to our collective surprise) we were offered a deal with WormHoleDeath - and that's how Persistence of Memory (our debut) came to be!

I've been to Krakow before and loved it; what did you do in Poland? Backpacking?

I was a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). I loved it there - a wonderful, welcoming country. I even managed to join a couple of bands (plus took a Polish version of Final Coil onto the odd stage!)

a1647281489 2What’s the music scene like in Leicester? Do you get many gigs locally?

It's like any UK city, I guess. There are some great bands and there's a lively live circuit, but it's quite disjointed and it's disheartening to see the number of cover and tribute bands that seem to do so well, seemingly over and above original bands. You get little micro-scenes coalescing around certain genres so, for example, there's a thriving metal circuit here (which has always been very accepting of us) and that has some really great bands - off the top of my head, Monachopsis, Mage, Temple of Lies, Internal Conflict, Blood Oath... and there are other little pockets that have grown up whcih are more indie-oriented or blues oriented... For a small city, I'd say that Leicester punches well above its weight in terms of the quality and quantity of music available, for sure.

Good to hear you’ve got an active scene up there.

Yes, like all scenes, it's not always obvious at ground level and it seems to ebb and flow, but there are certainly a lot of good bands to be found

Do you have stable configuration line up now?

Yes, we've had the same drummer for just over a year and the other three members (myself, Rich and Jola) have been steady since 2008 (touch wood and all that).

Would you say you are the leader or is there a sense of democracy within the band?

Hahahahaha, there's a double-edged question!

I think that any band that claims democracy is probably doing so more out of trying to avoid hurt feelings than a genuine, eqitable input between all members. Everyone in Final Coil has a role, but there has to be someone who takes the lead when it comes to making decisions or having a final say over the direction of the music and that would be me - largely because I write the bulk of the music, I guess. However, it's not a dictatorship and there is a lot of dicsussion and collaboration between the mebers of the band. So, perhaps not a democracy... more a sort of ordoliberal society where there's a degree of autonomy within a structured environment!

So your second album ”The world we left behind for others is your second album” - where did the title come from?

The record is a concept album based around two people looking back on their lives and questioning the nature of the world they have left for the future generations. Although they have both faced the same experiences on a broad level, the impact those experiences have had as impacted in very different ways, hence The World We Left Behind For others.

So you used the letters to structure the album theme?

The letters didn't entirely provide the structure, no. There were only a handful of letters and the content would have been far too personal to use. However, the language within them, which was very reflective of a patriarchal, even misogynist, mindset that we have filled ourselves into believing had vanished in the 'liberal sixties' provided the basis for the concept. What I then did was to hang a series of vignettes - anecdotes that I had heard from various family members - from the lives of my grandmother and grandfather (although it's not explicit, if you look at the lyrics, you'll see there are two distinct personalities that emerge) with a view to considering how and why society has become quite so bifurcated. It is my belief that much of the problem we have in society right now comes down, at least in part, to this very 'stiff-upper-lip' mentality of the war generation, combined with the endless parade of colonial power / war-winning propaganda that was shared in movies, music and theatre in post-war Britain. The boomer generation could not help but be affected by it in one way or another, and much of what we're seeing now, this kind of mass yearning for a past that never really existed, is a direct result of the problems - the PTSD, the breakdown of the family - being hidden a little too well. Much of what younger people are fighting against - proscribed roles in society, toxic masculinity, climate change denial - it has its roots in that. On top of that is a simple failure to communicate and to empathise with other points of view. Some of that is what I was trying to express in this album. It was really important to me to make a record that would resonate with people and which would allow individual interpretation.

I always feel with a concept album that with repeated listening over the years we pick out themes that we may of missed the first second or even 10th time around that may have somehow become relevant in our lives, Marvin Gaye What’s Going On for example. What song do you feel encapsulated the albums themes? Or songs?

That's the joy of any great album. For me, some of my favourite albums were albums I didn't even get the first time round. Dust, by the Screaming Trees, for example is a fantastic album, one of my favourites of all time, and yet when I first heard it, I just couldn't get what they were trying to do at all...

a1894489583 2Is there a song that you feel binds the album together? I felt the same way when I heard Elton’s Tumbleweed Connection

Musically, Imaginary Trip is hugely important because, if you listen carefully, you'll notice the slide motif is, in fact, an augmented version of what you hear in Ash's and Take Me For A Walk. However, lyrically it does not really encapsulate the themes as such. To be honest, each song, lyrically, stands alone - but the lengthy title track does give a sort of overview - it's an epilogue, if you will, and that's one reason why I took the title from that track. It's one of those things where, to get the whole narrative, you have to listen to the album as a whole. We are, believe, an album band. I believe the album to be an art form, so I write with a view to people hearing the whole thing. That said, I try to make sure that the songs can lyrically and musically stand on their own two feet. Much of The Wall works in that way, and that album was certainly an inspiration.

Definitely have overtones of prog. Regarding the artwork, was the idea for the listener to imagine what they can’t see? The view to the left conjuring up what cannot be seen leaves one to image what’s not in view, kind of looking back at something unseen, an event perhaps, what that your thoughts when designing the artwork?

To an extent. I wanted the artwork to cover the vague themes of the album (and you should know that the artwork expands beyond the front page and throughout the booklet) and I wanted to give the listener pointers and clues, but I didn't want to make it (or the lyrics) too obvious. Music works best when there's space for interpretation and the same goes for artwork. Is the song better if I tell you it's about a specific thing and then draw a picture of that thing, or is it better to capture a mood or an atmosphere and let the listener fill in the blanks? For me, I prefer the latter and I like the idea that two people can hear a song like Imaginary Trip and see two completely different places in their mind's eye. We live in a world where everything is given, all of the time. it's visualised in books, games and films - hell, you can't watch a movie now that isn't crammed with forced exposition. I wanted our music to be the opposite of that, I want people's imaginations to be stimulated and I want them to take away what they will from the record.

Do the band follow your vision?

Very much so. We've always articulated things in these terms and we've been friends for as long as we've been band mates. At this sort of level, I don't think it would be possible to get people to stick together through the process of recording, touring and all the rest of there wasn't a shared goal. Friendship is important in a band and we often go to festivals and concerts together and, inevitably, we talk about what we want from the band and what we want from music in general. The overarching principle in Final Coil has always been to make the music that we want to hear - and although I write the bulk of the music, that doesn't mean the band don't have their own individual voices. Every song is filtered through their abilities and this album wouldn't be the album it is if it wasn't for the four people who made it.

And what is next for the band?

Well, we've had a slow start to the year because our drummer has been ill, unfortunately (although he's now on the mend), so the short-term priority is live dates. To that end, we have a fantastic gig in Camden with the legendary Shonen knife (July 18th) and we'll be looking for more dates soon. In the longer term, I'm working hard with Rich on the demos for what we believe will become the third album. I can't say too much about that, suffice it to say that there will be call backs, both sonically and lyrically, to the previous two albums and I see it very much as the end of a trilogy.

I think that is a good place to end

Have we hit 3000 words yet? 😉 Seriously though, thanks for taking the time to listen to me rambling.

Phil it’s been an absolute pleasure, I’ve learnt a lot.

Check out Final Coil here:

Images credit Ester Segarra.