There’s no denying that the lockdown period of the last few months has been a really difficult time for the vast amount of people. But new Cheltenham-based rockers Neptune Rain have refused to allow these strange times to restrict their creativity and have used it as an opportunity to release their debut single and grow their audience.
In March 2020, when the world was grinding to a halt, the band were busy recording their self-produced debut EP. Over the next few months they’ve produced vast amounts of lockdown content, including full-band cover videos of the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Incubus, Linkin Park, Muse and a “unique” 30 Seconds To Mars vs. Take That mash-up, as well as launching NRTV, their own online chat show with guest appearances from other artists.
Neptune Rain aim for modern rock anthems with heavy distorted guitars contrasted by soaring synths alongside a combination of clean and rapped vocals. They formed at the end of last year, when vocalist Kieran had just moved to Cheltenham from London and took to social media to find band members.
He quickly discovered guitarists Simon and Ross, who was friends with bassist Rob and, coincidentally, ran the Facebook group that Kieran and Ross met on. They’ve had a couple of drummers help them out, but the search for a full-time drummer is ongoing – so if that’s you, then get in touch! But this hasn’t held the band back from getting their music out there, and their music creation has been a source for good for all of its members.
As the band tell us: “We’ve become a really supportive little unit since forming and have helped each other through some pretty dark times already – including relationships ending, bereavement, family problems, car crashes, and the unexpected challenges of a global pandemic. As a team though, we’ve fought off our demons and learned to adapt.
We were hoping to release our debut single If That Was Love in May, but after lockdown began, we spent April, May and June working on a series of cover and live performance videos, all filmed and recorded from our individual homes, to help introduce us to the world. It’s been great fun, and we’ve connected with some really cool people across our social media platforms. This last year has already been a crazy adventure and there’s more to come.”
Indeed, the band released aforementioned debut single If That Was Love last month. It kicks off with a big drawn-out guitar note under a cool little riff then big atmospheric guitars and synths, which drop into an opening verse of Kieran’s engaging high-pitched vocals. These continue as stabbing guitars come in under pre-chorus vocals “And now I know, know, That I feel it in my bones, You gotta go, go, So I’m taking control.”
That feeds into a big singalong chorus “If that was love, Then had a funny way of showing it, And I’m done because your games were growing sickening, As the sun sets on yet another love, I know regrets are all you’re thinking of, But your ship has sailed, I went and waved it off, I hope this ghost forever haunts your dreams.”
A more laid-back verse follows, supported by rolling drums and a light riff, then quickly builds up to another chorus. An interlude of bouncy guitars feeds into a section of rapped vocals over heavier guitar chords. And that continues into a final chorus, which starts off with just the drums for support and continues alongside guitars and synth to bring the track to a lively ending.
On the track, they told us: “We think/hope it is a great introduction to the Neptune Rain world, and when it kicks in, to us it just feels like an explosion of power and energy! It was the first song that took shape once we’d all met and begun rehearsing, and was very much moulded by the vision we shared for how we wanted to sound.
“It’s about coming to realise that certain relationships in life can be toxic, and finally feeling empowered to do something about them and say enough is enough. Ironically, it was inspired by the insight that a much more positive relationship had provided on previous experiences, but not long after the song was written, that relationship ended quite abruptly and unexpectedly, and almost gave the song a whole new level of meaning.”
Neptune Rain have honed a really catchy sound led by Kieran’s vocals and well-produced synth additions to the heavy rock elements. On their sound, they tell us: “We’re certainly trying to aim for big, stadium anthems, with huge singalong choruses, and hopefully we get somewhere near that! Our sound comprises of Kieran’s clean and rapped vocals, a prominence of synths, samples and effects, plus big energy from the drums, bass and guitar. We always aim for lots of melodic and rhythmic hooks, and dynamically also try to ensure plenty of light and shade throughout the music, particularly as that ties in with the type of things we write about.”
This is formed of an eclectic mix of musical influences, ranging from mainstream pop to death metal but with specific key influences, reflecting their lockdown cover versions, being Linkin Park, Bring Me The Horizon, 30 Seconds To Mars and Mallory Knox.
And on what inspires them to write music, they explain: “We had a discussion quite early on that in the songs we had written so far, there were definitely common themes that Kieran was writing about and whether we were all on board with those – which we were. Whilst the torment of being betrayed and having your heart broken came up a few times at particular emotional moments, mental health in terms of depression and disillusionment with life is definitely a recurring theme.
“There’s also an element of feeling powerless to make the positive systematic changes that we feel are needed in the world, but a desire to maintain hope because the dream of a kinder, more compassionate world is one worth fighting for, even though it feels out of reach at times. There’s a lot of light and shade in our lyrics, which we try to incorporate into our music as much as possible, and has also helped to inspire the cover artwork for our releases.”
If That Was Love is the first single from Neptune Rain’s debut EP, which they’re keeping details of under wraps for now. As they explain: “We’re definitely planning a full release, with accompanying videos for at least two of the tracks on the EP, but we’re also trying to assess things as we go and be flexible where we need to be. If anything, 2020 has definitely proved the need to expect the unexpected and have an adaptable plan! Since confirming the tracks for the debut EP, we’ve also written new material that we know will get used on future releases, but what format they will take remains to be seen!”
Due to the timing of the pandemic, the band haven’t yet had a chance to perform live yet but are champing at the bit to get out there gigging. As the tell us: “It’s really just whether it’s safe for live music to resume or not, and whilst it’s such an important emotional and cultural outlet, not to mention potential income for so many people, the priority has to be controlling the virus. Tragically it has had a really big impact on Ross’ family this year and so if we don’t get to perform for a while, that’s ok and understandably part of a much bigger, more important picture.
“We’re lucky in that we have the capacity to record and film from home, so whatever the state of the world is, we’ll continue to make and release content that hopefully connects with people and provides some entertainment in these sad and strange times.”