Heartbreak Remedy return to the HRH fold this spring after bagging their spot on next month’s AOR VII bill. Rushonrock caught up with two thirds of Cumbria’s finest.
Rushonrock: How would you describe your journey from quartet to three piece and are you nearly there?
Matty Penn/Stephen Jackson: When we dropped down to a three piece it was like starting all over again. It’s taken us two years to get back to where we were as a quartet. And it’s taken that long for Luke [Blair, guitar] to gain the confidence needed to play lead. But the day that Callum [Glynn] said that he was leaving, Luke turned around and said ‘I want the solos’. At the time we were a bit wary of him taking over. He was a rhythm guitar player and a very good one at that. But even Luke will tell you he wasn’t the greatest lead guitarist in the world. But he was determined to do it and we liked that. We told him ‘if you want it then go and get it’. And he did. Back then we were still wondering whether to go back to a quartet but Luke nailing the lead parts took that out of the equation. Now it seems natural to be a trio.
ROR: Might a fourth member upset the balance?
MP/SJ: Maybe. At the end of the day we all get on so well. The two of us have played together for so long and we deserve each other. Luke is as strange as we are. We have that same, stupid sense of humour – we can be in rehearsals and we maybe won’t play a song for an hour because we are just enjoying the craic. It’s like a weekly catch up and then we’re like ‘hang on, we’re actually here to do something and we’ve paid to be here!’. But that’s why it works so well because we can do that. It’s just a natural, relaxed and fun environment.
ROR: Is that kind of camaraderie rare?
MP/SJ: For bands that have been around for a while it can be. There are so many stories that you hear of other bands where you know that they carry on for the fans or the money but they don’t really like each other and somebody clearly doesn’t fit in. I wouldn’t say that Heartbreak Remedy is necessarily rare in that respect but it’s quite nice to be in a position where you know you’re still good mates and you get on. We’re not going to be playing for thousands of people and selling millions of records anytime soon – we are just three lads who put the gear on stage and play songs that we enjoy playing. That means a lot.
ROR: Can too much fun mean that you miss your big chance?
MP/SJ: It’s a good question. There have been so many young British bands who looked and sounded great and they were getting there. They were right on the brink and all of a sudden they died a death. They got too big too soon. Nobody was together anymore – artistically or personally. They put everything into this for an intense period of time but there is no longevity. That’s the music industry right now. Labels want bands to work hard and make a bit of money but then they decide to move them on. We do this for the love of it. We have played music together for 17 years and we’ve still got time on our side. But we don’t want to do anything that might jeopardise what we love about being in a band. More effort might mean less fun and that would spoil everything.
ROR: Do you accept that some people might call that a lack of ambition?
MP: I think it’s just being grounded. I did the whole Falling Red thing for 12 months. You get your head filled with so much and you start to think ‘I’m going to be the next big thing’. We heard that Mötley Crüe was coming over to do a tour and we were thinking ‘what if we could go on that?’. There was all this talk of where we could go and yet, at the end of the day, we were on a bloody motorway at daft o’clock at night, stuck in a layby, sleeping in a van because we had no money. That showed me what it’s actually like. But for a while I walked around with a chip on my shoulder and I was an arrogant prick. I sank a lot of my own money into Falling Red – it was my choice but I won’t risk that again. It was a reality check. Heartbreak Remedy might not play loads of headline shows and we might never be that big but we’re self-sufficient, we’re happy and we’re realistic. Maybe we could have become a bit bigger and maybe we still can. But would it take the fun away? Would it take our jobs away? If you don’t have to make money out of your band and you are enjoying it then it is the perfect balance.
ROR: In terms of how you release new music, is current EP Memento Morithe model?
MP/SJ: EPs are the way forward. With Memento Mori we didn’t feel under any pressure to rush things. With the album we ran out of time. The sound got lost and we should have taken a step back and admitted things needed to be better. But we were up against it. Choosing to record six songs – rather than a full album – takes the pressure off. And less is more. The very best songs are on there. There’s no filler and there’s no cutting corners to get the job done. We had another three or four songs so we could have stretched it out to an album. But they weren’t really ready. We went for quality rather than quantity.
Live images courtesy of Mark Regan