Having listened to White Noise Radio for little more than a minute I knew we were onto something special. The Bristolian quartet have honed a particularly Incubus-like sound with deceptively heavy riffs and vocals fused with interesting melodies, driving basslines and wild drums that I can’t help but keep listening to.
White Noise Radio have been around the Bristol scene for a couple of years, and made their mark by placing runner-up in the city-wide, 50-act Underdog Battle of the Bands. Which makes me wonder who the hell won that competition?
The band have since been busy honing their sound – during which they claim frontman Ben Lampard had to learn to sing, which is impressive when you listen to his superb vocals – with influences ranging from Black Light Burns to Chvrches and Opeth, giving them a particularly rich palette to choose from.
In Ben’s words: “I’d say the connecting thread is always bands that aren’t just heavy but also have an ‘edge’ – something that gives them a unique vibe like no-one else. We’ve got the sonic sensibilities and dynamics of Steven Wilson, along with a generous helping of Wes Borland-style heavy, groovy riffs. There’s also always an element of weirdness in our music, which I’d say comes from Karnivool, but it’s also very unique to us and our sound.
“We write songs that you’ll want to crank up in your car after a bad day at work, or on the way to a party. You’ll hum the chorus all day at work and pick out new details every time you listen, and when you and your friends come to see us live, we’ll blow your goddamn socks off!”
The band, completed by Antoine Maas (guitars), Mark Detre (bass) and James Gill (drums), release debut EP Cosmos is out on 1 July, so we had a sneak peek to see what’s coming down the line.
The underlining factor is big catchy rock tracks with moments of true heaviness. That’s exactly the case with opener Siren, which opens in a deceptively mellow fashion then smashes into life with a big heavy opening riff that develops into a massive, jutting riff that had me instantly hooked on this band.
Laid back vocals come in through the opening verse before launching into a heavier chorus with big bouncing guitar chords. The vocals increase in intensity in the build-up to the second chorus before building into a high-pitched atmospheric guitar blitz supported by big cymbals and vocals. Huge guitar noise sees the song build into an awesome instrumental rock-out before a final rendition of the chorus. It’s a hugely impressive, near six-minute long, beginning to a debut EP.
Next up is Gone Inside, which opens with an addictive little riff with driving drums that feeds into an opening verse with funky guitars behind vocals then launches into a huge rock-out behind powerful vocals. A big wah-wah solo blitz follows then a verse and big rockiness returns, with interesting vocals “Tiger tiger, you’re burning tonight” maybe an ode to the genius that is William Blake. Who knows. Either way, the vocals are hugely engaging and, after a brief teasing pause for breath, we’re soon flung back into another big smash of guitars to bring the track to an end.
That’s followed by the lead single from the EP, Dawning. The track starts in much more relaxed fashion with lingering guitars and clean, singalong vocals that give way to a heavier chorus, which is followed by a really cool, clean guitar solo. The track soon gets heavier with two contrasting distorted guitar parts playing off against each other and ending on a big solo. Check it out for yourself in the video, filmed in the middle of an airport runway, below:
The EP closes with Wires, which opens up with very Incubus-like relaxed guitars and clean vocals and building gradually into a heavier, singalong chorus that features some really fun vocal delivery. The second chorus is followed by a period of random guitar noises and bursts of heavier guitar that suggest something big is coming, and is duly delivered by smashes of big guitar chords with lingering high notes over the top. That builds into a big rock-out to bring the EP to a close.
A word that springs to mind listening to this EP is one that the band themselves use, and that is ‘clever.’ This is very much cleverly heavy rock, which is ridiculously fun to listen to.
We asked the band how excited they are for the imminent release, and Ben said: “Like you wouldn’t believe! We’re always looking to evolve as a band, and this release is a definite step up for us. It’ll be great to show everyone what we’ve been working so hard on and get back out on the road.”
And in terms of what inspires their music, Ben explained: “We just bloody love it, to be honest. Even if we weren’t in a band we’d still be writing music on our own, it’s just something we really enjoy doing. Thematically we tread the line between abstract and direct concepts; Dawning and Siren both confront issues that we deal with in society, while Gone Inside is a very personal song about self-awareness and identity.”
Cosmos is out on 1 July, and the band will be picking and choosing some of their favourite venues to gig in through the rest of the year, check out all their tour dates here. And, as an unsigned band, they’re also responsible for everything from web design and illustration to management and promotion, so there’s an awful lot more that they all take on behind the scenes to make this happen.