London-based Meantime is formed of a Slovakian and a South African, neither of which are your traditional punk rock powerhouses. The duo of Stefan Klein and Adam Stanley have defied backgrounds that, in their words, deprived them of access to first-world media to craft an intriguing sound that they describe to us as “a little bit prog, a bit melodic grunge and a lot heavy.”
The duo met online a few years and set about honing a big atmospheric sound that offers plenty of melody yet is extremely heavy and proggy, along with engaging lyrics that they aim to make “flow like poetry.” The result was debut album Absent, In Recovery, which was released in July.
From it the band sent us lead single Tightrope. It opens up with a big wall of guitars that continue Adam’s drawn-out vocals. Big cries of “‘Cause you’re dead in the water son” take over alongside driving drums, then feed into more intense chorus vocals “A moving tightrope under me that’s drifting sideways, Looking for release.”
A second verse drops into high-pitched guitars under the chorus vocals, then suddenly bursts into big screamed vocals over driving guitar chords and a hanging high-pitched guitar noise. An ascending guitar lick comes in and feeds into a heavy outro. Check it out in the video below:
Also on the album is Take Flight, which opens up with heavy guitars then drawn-out vocals, which feed into the more intense vocals “Your face to the wind, determination, Headstones and trees bend to your will, Staring out blankly the city decays, Huddled in pairs against the gale.”
It’s a big atmospheric track driven forward by heavy guitars and pounding rhythms, and you can check it out in the video below:
And the diversity of Meantime’s sound is shown in the deliciously melodic yet proggy and still undeniably heavy Glass Flowers, give it a listen here:
The album is packed with deliciously heavy tracks, dirty riffs and engaging vocals, such as the very grungey Perpetual Dance Move. While Savage is a personal favourite, beginning with laid-back guitars and a very 90s sonic rock feeling about it as it builds towards a heavy conclusion. Give it a listen here:
We had a chat with Adam to find out more about the duo. Read on below…
GR: A Slovakian and a South African based in the UK.. that’s a bit different! What’s the backstory?
A: “Yeah it’s not a common setup but it’s the kind of thing that happens when you live in a cultural melting pot like London or any major European city. London is more a European city than a British one, if you follow. So there are all sorts of people crossing paths and realising that they actually share cultural backgrounds or at least elements of how they grew up. But yeah I guess while we live in London. maybe we could say we’re just a European band!
“Stefan and I both come from countries where we didn’t have easy access to first world/western media for a long time. I think we only became aware of the existence of rock and metal as teenagers in the 90s, and both of us only got music from tape trading or getting thrice-dubbed cassettes off friends and their older brothers. I certainly never saw an international concert until I was 18. I taught myself drums, guitar and singing; it took me ages to figure out how to make it work and sound good. I played drums on my bed for 2 years. Stefan I think started playing on a homemade guitar and amp. Rock musicians seemed so exotic, and that really fuelled how we perceived and made music. It also made us way more open to eclectic sounds because everything was (and still is) exciting.
“I’m a drummer by trade (that’s actually my job), and Stefan had come over here with his band at a similar time to me emigrating to do the exact same thing – maybe 2007? Stefan and I met online in late 2017, we started dating, then one thing led to another… just kidding, I think it was through BandMix or one of those join my band type sites. I’d set up a profile because I’d recorded an album by myself and needed band members… then forgot I had the profile. About 2 years later Stefan dropped me a message saying ‘I’m looking for a singer on my recordings’ and I was initially sceptical: ‘huh, I’m a drummer, why do you think I’m gonna be your guy?’ And of course I’d had many bad or disappointing experiences meeting people online, so I wasn’t really expecting much.
“But then of course the workaholic part of my brain went ‘you have to do this’ and I said, ‘yeah I can handle it man!’ I then realised I could sort of sing but didn’t know how to be a real singer, I’d not really written vocals to anyone’s music except my own creations. So there was a massive learning curve. Stefan sent me the first track as a tester, that was what became Take Flight. I threw the kitchen sink at it, and he had to kind of rein my ideas in and say, ‘Just be Adam, I’ve heard your album, do that, don’t try to be all these different things.’ Once I had permission to be myself, I got a lot more confident and focused, and the songs really started coming together.”
– You just released Tightrope. What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
A: “This song was written with a simple, fast punk feel in mind, but if you listen carefully there is some Soundgarden in the riffs for sure. And I think like all the songs, it carries Stefan’s epic arrangement style. Our songs start off seeming kind of simple and then the arrangements really veer off and transform. People should expect a song that doesn’t really let up but also doesn’t just stay on the path you think it’s going to.
“When I heard it I actually went for a more aggressive vocal and then Stefan showed me a rough melody he had, which was simpler and also in a lower register. The song grew from there… it was painful because the arrangement was a bit weird and had to be trimmed, and I agonised over how to create a clear journey through the parts.
“My inspiration from the lyrics is complicated. It’s about basically doubting yourself to the point where it affects your behaviour and decisions you make, looking to other people for validation all the time when in fact you are your own power source. Anyone who overanalyses everything can relate to the lyrics I think! But there’s empathy in there too – I relate to a lot of people who say they have these complex emotions even late in life when you’re ‘supposed to have your shit together!”
A: And you mentioned you just released an album this week. So, likewise, what should people be expecting from it?
A: “Oh man. This is two years of work, of learning how to work together and especially me learning how to sing and write lyrics that I don’t cringe at the day after. So people should expect something epic with heavy guitars that is very heartfelt, very from the gut, but also with a very considered execution
“We both love direct pop melodies and massive guitars, and I think we also like rock music that gets creative without losing the heaviness, so that’s probably the defining sound of the band. We are both experienced musicians and songwriters, so I think it’s quite complete sounding for a first effort. It’s raw but precise.
“We just hope that people can hear our intention behind every song, and that we set out to create something interesting with no filler tracks. That’s why there’s only nine songs.”
GR: How would you describe the Meantime sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
A: “As I’ve said it’s epic, it’s hooky and it sounds really big. There are lots of melodies, but there are also dark frantic bits where I’m screaming my nuts off. We want to take people on a journey with the music, but we don’t want to clutter the sound up with things that are self-indulgent or don’t add anything to the songs.
“If you want to go for band comparisons, it’s like a mix of old Foo Fighters, newer Mastodon, Helmet and the heavier bits of grunge. Maybe some Refused… someone has actually already called it ’21st Century grunge’ which I really like because we are both unashamed 90s kids. But it’s also got loads of synths and atmospheric textures because we love bands like Faith No More.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
A: “Stefan is about creating soundscapes, these big arrangements with chunky riffs and unexpected changes that build and build. It’s not about showing off on our instruments, but about being percussive and treating everything with a rhythmic and textural approach. That’s the main thing we take from our influences. Although I will say there is some very sick and technical drumming on every single song (played by Garrett Hawkins, a US session drummer)!
“My inspiration comes from a lot of personal reflection. I think I can be quite sarcastic and cynical, but I also have a silly sense of humour. I hate shit lyrics, so I really try to make things flow like poetry. It’s important that I mean every word I sing, so for this album there is a lot of exorcising demons, looking back on past behaviour – there’s a song inspired by how much our leaders let us down and how we basically let them.
“My baby daughter also inspired one of the songs, basically talking about setting a real example for someone and how important it is to grow yourself in the right way to do this. So it’s a bunch of deep shit, haha!”
– Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
A: “We’ve talked about a bunch of bands we’re directly inspired by… I know Stefan likes a combination of Kim Thayil-type weird chords with almost post-hardcore guitar sounds and Jim Martin kind of melodies. There’s a lot in there.
“I’m inspired by people like Chino Moreno, whose lyrics and weird emotional style is completely unique. Chris Cornell and Matt Bellamy are influences in terms of chops and they really pushed me to explore my range. How could I not mention Dave Grohl, who is a musical powerhouse, whether you like his music or not? He inspired me to pick up as many instruments as I could and get into songwriting.
“And our influences include our own musical journeys and the people we’ve played with. I think we’ve both been very lucky to have jammed with some exceptional songwriters, singers and players. I could name everyone here but the two latest inspirations are probably Liam Lever from LTNT, a band I drummed with, who has a fantastic sounding voice and does a lot with it; and Shaun Morgan from Seether who I had one of my first bands ever with. Shaun has this unbeatable tone and is always effortless with his singing, it’s really inspiring how he’s got it to that point, and he’s pretty effortless with writing hooky melodies too.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of the year?
A: “So we are definitely going to start writing more this year, but I think the priority is actually getting a live band together! Because this project came together online and because Stefan and then myself had such clear visions, it’s been hard to find the exact right people to complete the unit. It’s the nature of modern music making, I think. It’s almost harder to get a band going than release an album, which is the total opposite of how we grew up!
“I think we will gig as soon as possible, and I think there might be some acoustic shows kicking things off. You know, we haven’t played live at all, so getting the songs bedded down in a very raw and stripped down way will really help for playing with a full band – you have to be able to nail it without all the noise to support you, right?
“Certainly we will be making new videos for the next set of singles, and working on exclusive content for our supporters… so there’s lots of different avenues spawning off just one album.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
A: “We really want to know which songs people are gravitating towards! I think they should know it comes from a very deep and heartfelt place. We wanted to write really good songs that will stick around long after the album’s release – we didn’t want to contrive anything, and I think we succeeded. I guess all that’s left to say is that we can’t wait to take this thing to the stage and let the songs come to life!”