I recently had a chat with Ben Barlow of Neck Deep, to chat about their third album, The Peace and The Panic, musical inspirations, touring and more. Having been a band for only 5 years, they’ve toured the world numerous times, signed to US record label Hopeless, and released three studio albums. If by any chance you haven’t heard of them yet, definitely give them a listen. You can check out the interview below.
Congratulations on the release of your single, In Bloom! Let’s talk about the song, as you guys have mentioned that it’s one of your favourite songs that you’ve written so far. Why is that?
It’s something a little different for us – we kinda pushed the boat out on that one. Also because it turned out so well, it’s proof that we can try something new and it can still be an awesome song.
Was this a natural progression?
Yeah, for sure! That was actually the first song we wrote for the record. We wrote it pretty much a year and a half ago, and it’s just been sitting there for a long time. [Lyrically] I think it’s a meaningful one, and aside from that, it’s just a very catchy song. I feel like it’s a song that’s hard not to like. It just came out super well. It’s a catchy song with good lyrics, a good vibe…it makes you want to dance. Instead of maybe moshing all the time [laughs].
The music video for In Bloom is also something different for you guys. How did that come about?
That was definitely the intention. The concept was down to the director, Lewis Cater – it was very much his aesthetic, which is cool. The reason that it spoke to us and we ended up going with that was because it was something a little different for us. We’d never shot a video like that. Neck Deep videos have the tendency to be kind of crazy and very energetic with a lot going on. Whereas this time, it was cool just to have some well framed, well composed, static shots of the band. It was still performance based, but it had a cool aesthetic behind it; a well thought out colour palette and meaning. [The song] was something different for us and we wanted to show that. We thought that visually, it needed a slightly different representation.
Let’s talk about your new album, The Peace and The Panic. It’s definitely a more mature sounding record. What does this album mean to you?
It was definitely a conscious effort for us to push our genre, have everyone involved and give their influences. We wanted to come away from this album with every door open. To be able to say, “hey, next time around we can really do whatever the fuck we want”. I feel like we kind of did pop punk for near perfection with Life’s Not Out to Get You – so I’ve been told [laughs].
While still remaining a pop punk band at heart, we thought it was time to push ourselves a bit. We didn’t want to try and write another pop punk record that maybe wouldn’t live up to Life’s Not Out to Get You. What we really wanted to do with this record was develop, mature, and explore what it was that we wanted to do. [It was also a chance] to show people what Neck Deep could do. I’m sure there’s plenty of people that write Neck Deep off all the time and say that we’re a one trick pony and we just write lame pop punk music, or whatever. I think a lot of people will be eating their words after hearing this record.
Is there a particular track off the album that you’re most excited about?
There’s a couple. In the pop punk vein of things, there’s a song called The Grand Illusion, which came out awesome. The lyrics to that are really sick. I’m sure a lot of people are going to like that. There’s another one called Heavy Lies, which is, kind of in the vein of say, Lime Street, on our old record. It’s a bit of a love song – maybe a bit more melancholy than Lime Street. Also, a song called Parachute – that was one that was a little different for us. We took influence from some Britpop – obviously, we Neck Deep-fied it and didn’t just straight up write an Oasis track [laughs]. But it was written in that vein initially and it transformed into what it is now.
Speaking of influences – are there any artists in particular that inspired you during the writing process?
Lyrically, a lot of my inspiration came from my own personal life and what happened to me over the last year or so. Musically, I think a lot of the inspiration came from all over the place. I think if you were to ask each of us what our inspirations were, you would get a lot of totally different answers. I was listening to a lot of rock this time around, like Foo Fighters, Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Obviously, Blink-182 will always be an influence too. Also New Found Glory, City and Colour – there’s definitely an influence from there too. Just a bunch of stuff, really. It’s hard to pinpoint – you pick up inspiration from anywhere or anything, you know?
At one point, throughout writing the record, I watched a documentary called, Seymour, which is about this guy who was a really famous piano player. He gave it all up because he hated the fame and just wanted to do things for the love of it and the passion. That really inspired me to help me write, as I was really struggling writing The Grand Illusion. His motto is basically, everything creative should be an emotional response, and my emotional response to what I was going through at the time was stress, anxiety, fear and worry – and that’s what the song ended up being about. Inspiration can strike from anywhere, not matter what it is, however big or small. Finding inspiration in the smallest things is sometimes where you get your biggest and best ideas.
Your track, Don’t Wait, features Sam Carter of Architects. I read that you guys wanted to branch out your own genre when selecting a featured artist for this track. Why is that?
Yeah! It was just to keep things fresh and interesting – rather than sticking another pop punk vocalist on [the track]. We wanted to do something different. Whatever the guest part was, if we didn’t have a part that the guest was suitable for, then we wouldn’t have had a guest. It could’ve been anyone. It could’ve been a rapper…it could’ve been a pop artist. Anyone could’ve been on it. The part came up, on Don’t Wait, which Dani wrote, and once we had the lyrics all planned out, it immediately made sense for Sam Carter to be on there. He was supportive of the band, and we’ve always been huge Architects fans, since before we even started this band. Two British bands, doing well, supporting each other….I think it was just a good fit all round. He really added something to the music as well. He didn’t just come in and do the part that we had written; he came in and put his own spin on it. As soon as we got the first bounce back with Sam’s vocals on it, we were just blown away.
Any final words for those anticipating the release of the album?
We hope you enjoy the record! We put our hearts and souls into it, and if you can connect in any way, shape, or form, then that’s the most important thing. If you just think it’s catchy, that’s awesome. But if you pick up our album in any way, shape or form, we very much appreciate you, more than we could ever express. Thank you so much for any love and support, and hopefully, we’ll see you soon.
Neck Deep’s studio album, The Peace and The Panic, is out now.