Friday, July 17, 2015

Interview with Seven Sister's Kyle McNeill

Back in late June I covered Seven Sisters' latest release, "Lost In Time". You can find this excellent 7" online here and for traditional heavy metal and N.W.O.B.H.M. fans it is a MUST HAVE! Now I present a interview that I recently conducted with lead vocalist/guitarist Kyle McNeill. I want to thank Kyle for taking the time to talk with us and I would like to encourage each and everyone of you to check out his amazing band! You can find them online here and here.

Andy-Let me start off by saying how much I love "Lost In Time". It's really something and I have to imagine that you are thrilled with the outcome right? 

Kyle-Thank you! Absolutely, we’re extremely proud of it and the response we’ve had so far has blown us away. It’s always a worry that if you put something new out people won’t enjoy it as much as you’d hoped but it’s gone better than we could’ve imagined.   

Andy- Could you talk to us about the recording process behind your new single? 

Kyle-It was a bit of a botch-job in all honesty. We decided to record it ourselves, like we did with the demo. The drums were recorded at the rehearsal studios we use and everything else was done at my flat. If you solo the drums, the sound quality is absolutely awful! I suppose it adds to the ‘old school’ aesthetic of the recordings. You’d be surprised what you can get away with when everything has come together in the mix, sometimes the parts that initially sound a bit shitty end up working the best.    

Andy- How did the new songs come together?   

Kyle- Like many a heavy metal song before them, they started with a riff! For me, songs usually start with a main hook/riff and I develop it from there. I almost always get the music totally finished before I start with lyrics and melody. Lyrical themes, however, are normally decided at the beginning of the writing process. I find it helps me shape the song and aim for a sound that suits the words.  For "Lost In Time" the lyrics were a joint effort between Graeme and me. I’d finished the music and just needed some help finalizing the ideas I had, the best lines in that song are his! Wicked Steel was a classic ’15 minute’ composition. The whole song kinda just fell out in an afternoon; those always end up being the most fun to play live!    

Andy- Seven Sisters is now a full-fledged band. Could you tell us about your new members? 

Kyle- Yeah, they’re both pricks!  Nah, in all seriousness they’ve both really contributed to the development of our sound and the progress we’ve made. I met Adam when I first moved to London, we go to the same university and ended up living together for a couple of years. He was supposed to be a temporary bass player until we found someone permanent but we latched onto him and didn’t let go!  It was that Graeme recruited Steve. I’d met Steve a few years back when he was organizing a festival called Full Thrash Assault and Graeme had known him for a long time. I had no idea he played drums so I was pleasantly surprised! This lineup is a bit of a happy accident really. We’d all hung out before at one time or another so it wasn’t like trying to play music with complete strangers. I don’t think it could’ve worked out any better.    

Andy-As good as you are as a lead singer I do have to ask why Seven Sisters didn't just start that way? 

Kyle-Well, thank you! I don’t particularly think of myself as a singer, I doubt I ever will. When Graeme and I started jamming, we didn’t really have any plans of getting a full band together it was purely for fun. We got Josh to sing as a favor so when we decided to get an actual band together he decided it was best not to commit as he already sings for Dark Forest.  I didn’t really think I was capable of singing heavy metal at all. The first few practices my voice was awful, it was just there out of necessity more than anything. I learned some technique and with more practice I found my comfort zone. I’ll never admit that I’m a ‘proper’ singer; I’ll always be a guitar player!    

Andy-Besides the line-up what has changed for Seven Sisters since the band first came together? 

Kyle-Personally I think the biggest change is that we have a ‘band dynamic’ now. It makes such a huge difference to the overall sound of the music. People have said that they prefer the demo songs live and I reckon that’s because the sound of four separate people playing together will always be better than the same person playing guitar, bass, and programming the drums.    

Andy- "Lost In Time" fits in nicely with your first release and yet it seems as if the band has tightened things up and even improved upon a sound that was already great. Is it the new blood or has the band just become better with age? 

Kyle-It’s probably a combination of both! Even now we’re still evolving and finding our feet sound-wise. We’re a very young band, this lineup has only been playing together for ten months, so with that in mind I feel like we have a long way to go before we can say we’ve definitely our ‘sound’ refined.    

Andy- For our readers who might not be familiar with that sound how would you describe it? What is Seven Sisters?

Kyle- A combination of riffs, wizards, and dual guitars! We’re definitely within the same sound aesthetic as the early 80’s heavy metal bands of the NWOBHM movement. I’d like to think that we aren’t a carbon copy of any one of those bands in particular; we just take influence from them and make our own version of it.  The more material we write, the more prog rock seems to be creeping its way in. I think in my ideal world we’d a brilliant combination of Yes and early Iron Maiden.
Andy-How has the response been to Seven Sister's live shows? 

Kyle-So far, so good! (So what?) We’ve had plenty of positive feedback! A few people have been to our gigs from the very beginning and they all say we’ve come a long since then. We recently played at the Heavy Sounds Festival in Belgium. That was a big eye opener. The quality of the stage shows and the energy of the bands put us to shame so we worked hard on that when we got back in the practice room! I still think we’ve got a long way to go but then again I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes things like this so we may never be good enough in my eyes. The important thing is that other people enjoy us, and that seems to be the case, which is good!     

Andy-What are some of the bands you've played with?

Kyle- We’ve actually got a pretty good track record going, here goes:  Ambush, Portrait, Amulet, Ranger, Rabid Bitch Of The North, Air Raid, Dungeon, Sacral Rage, Desolator. There are quite a few more as well that were involved in festival lineups. We’ve managed to play with most of our favorite modern metal bands!    

Andy-Do you guys plan to tour behind the release of "Lost In Time"? 

Kyle-Well, we have a few good gigs lined up at the moment but we don’t particularly have a ‘tour’ so to speak. We’re still getting our name out there but hopefully we’ll be touring sooner rather than later!    

Andy-If Seven Sisters could play with any modern bands who would they be? 

Kyle-Considering we’ve already played with Portrait, Ambush, and Ranger, it’s a pretty tough question! I’d personally really love to play a gig with Lord Fist; I love their album! Obviously, there are still bands going today that we’d love to play with. Maiden, Priest etc...  One can only dream!    

Andy-How about any classic bands? If you could just snap your fingers and play with any band or at any legendary concerts what would they be? 

Kyle-Absolutely hands down, Thin Lizzy the Live And Dangerous London show in ’76.  They are the best band that ever existed and probably every will. That isn’t opinion; by the way, it’s cold hard fact.  A personal one for me would be to support Frank Zappa during the Roxy And Elsewhere tour; he’s one of my biggest heroes!    

Andy- Good choice! Similar question here, but if Seven Sisters could play on any tribute album whose would it be and what song would you choose? 
Kyle- Again. Thin Lizzy!  I think it would be toss up between "Black Rose" and "Cowboy Song". Graeme and me would probably arm wrestle for it after a few Holsten Pils.    

Andy-LOL! So, what can fans expect from Seven Sisters for the second part of 2015? How about beyond that?

Kyle-A lot of gigs! If all goes to plan we’ll be playing up and down the UK quite a bit in the next few months. We’re really keen on getting into Europe and playing some shows over there so hopefully we’ll manage that. Who knows, we might end up crossing the pond some day and playing in The States!  Our aim is to keep progressing musically and getting our name out there. We wanna be playing all over the world and bringing good ol’ heavy metal back to the forefront. The scene over here in the UK is absolutely full of brilliant bands that could be extremely successful in their own right. The quality of the underground heavy metal scene is so good right now that it baffles me it’s still underground. So hopefully for us it’s onwards and upwards!    

Andy-Are you guys working on any new material? 

Kyle-We are! We’re actually pretty close to finishing our EP and it’s turning out to be something we’re super excited about. It’s going to be a summary of everything we’ve done so far but also adding new elements to our sound to keep people interested (and ourselves!).    

Andy-Awesome! Has there been any interest from record labels? I mean I find it amazing that Seven Sisters hasn't been scooped up already! 

Kyle-Again, thank you for the kind words! We have had a few labels approach us, and we came very close to signing a deal for the 7”.  With no disrespect to the labels that have approached us, they’re all great; we just haven’t found the right one yet. There’s no need to rush these kinds of things. The plan for us will be to demo the EP and then send it out and see if anyone is interested in releasing it for us!    

Andy-That's understandable. I'll let you have the last word Kyle. Is there anything we didn't touch on that you would like to address? 

Kyle-Firstly, thank you for having us! I’d just like to give some bands a ‘shout out’, a bit of a UK listening recommendation! Check these metal warriors out:  Eliminator, Wytch Hazel, Dungeon, Dark Forest, Amulet, Ascalon, Toledo Steel, Desolator, and Insurgency!  Cheers!

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