Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with unsigned Northampton band Empyre to find out more…
Who is in the band, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the band name?
Empyre is made up of:
Henrik Steenholdt: Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Did Coles: Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals
Grant Hockley: Bass Guitar
Elliot Bale: Drums
(Henrik) - Did and I had played in a covers band for years, and we slowly started writing our own stuff. Up until 3 years ago we were basically a practice-room band, writing some songs but hardly gigging. Prior to late 2016 we had done 3 gigs I think. We had recorded a couple of EPs but without much of a plan as to what to do with them or what to do next. Then, after a couple of us decided to take it a lot more seriously we made a step-change in the way we do things. We formed a plan, set some goals, got out gigging consistently across the country and decided to produce an album. Grant lives locally to us and joined us two years ago, and Elliot, whilst we have known him for a few years we’d never gigged with. When the last drummer left, he was the obvious choice for a replacement.
(Grant) I joined the band two years ago after a long and rigorous audition process! Before Empyre I played in a covers band and many years before that an originals Rock act.
(Elliot) After following Empyre for the last couple of years I got the opportunity to become their new drummer about 4 months ago which has been by far the best decision I have made with my drumming. Before joining Empyre I played in many different cover bands over the years as well as being a dep drummer for many others.
(Did) The band name was Henrik's idea. We'd thought long and hard about a title to represent us. "Empire" was one of Henrik's initial ideas but a covers band we knew of shared the same title and we wanted a name that had direct association to us much like our musical heroes have a name that you instantly match the name with the Band. For example Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Audioslave, Soundgarden. We also wanted to move away from the typical political connection to the word, so the "Y" was inserted to make it unique to us. When we tell people about our Band that are unaware of who we are we always spell out to them "Empyre, with a Y!" We do kind of play about with the original word though sometimes with the idea of fans "joining" our Empyre, and music media has also latched onto this….
"Rise of a British Modern Rock Band"
"The Hard Rock powerhouse's realms are about to be fortified like never before"
We're happy to go along with this if it gets our music to new ears!
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
(Did) I initially started my musical journey on Keys. When I moved to Guitar aged 12, my early musical influences consisted mainly of artists like Guns n Roses, Bon Jovi, Incubus, Jimi Hendrix, Dire Straits, RATM, RHCP, Pearl Jam and many of the mainstream pop-punk bands like Green Day, The Offspring, Blink 182 alongside Alternative (Nu) Metal Bands like Deftones, Linkin Park and Papa Roach.
Without listing a multitude of artists, I'd say in the present currently for myself there are a plethora of influences from varying styles. Anything from the Seattle era of 90s grunge rock to blues artists, hard rock, country music, pop, instrumental rock artists and more contemporary singer songwriters.
(Henrik) I grew up on 80s pop then 90s rock made me pick up a guitar and start to try and sing. These days it’s not so much specific artists but more individual songs that influence what I write.
How would you describe your sound?
(Henrik) We describe it as dark, intense, and somewhat atmospheric rock. Other people have called it "contemporary rock”, “atheist rock”, "hard rock" and "the love child between Pink Floyd and Soundgarden”. It’s a combination of the roots of rock’s tradition alongside some dark, introspective songwriting, but don't expect dreary and depressing... expect intense, sometimes raw, sometimes anthemic rock. We’re not sure if it all fits in to one overall category. There are aspects of prog, hard rock, and the set even includes some anthemic dark ballads in places.
What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
(Did) We have just unleashed single 2 from our soon to be released, debut album "Self Aware". This gets its official landing into the music world on July 5th. Pre orders are now open though and you can find out more on our website.
"New Republic" is our latest single and features a music video release alongside the track. The influence and inspiration behind the songwriting was to write a song as a retaliation to the crazy world we are currently living in. Where ideologies force humans to perform inhuman acts against each other in the name of religious theocracy or political authority. We aren't identifying ourselves as a political band, we write about varying subject matters. This song is more of an observation, an outer perspective on some of the recent publicised atrocities, for example the Manchester Arena bombing.
What’s your local music scene like?
(Did) Northants has a thriving music scene and we are regulars at The King Billy Rock Bar and The Craufurd Arms down the road from us in Wolverton (this music venue books some well known bands), plus we have a decent support base in Brackley where we gig a couple of times a year.
(Henrik) We can’t say that we are embedded in the scene here though. We'd love to establish ourselves more within our home county and we’d welcome all the support Northampton wants to give us. Hopefully there are plenty more potential fans of our music in the county yet to discover us.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
(Henrik) Our first album will be released on July 5th, it’s called ‘Self Aware’. It’s eleven tracks covering atmospheric to hard rock. It encompasses everything that Empyre is at present and there will be another 3 singles released from it. We have a release plan that goes beyond that too, but we’ll keep that under wraps for now.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
(Did) I'd love for Empyre to jump on the back of an established modern rock band's tour and support them. The Pretty Reckless, Shinedown, Halestorm, Myles Kennedy, Papa Roach…
Play some bigger venues and to bigger audiences to see how we'd fit in!
(Henrik) In one way I’d like to collaborate with some of my favourite musicians such as Eddie Vedder and Myles Kennedy, but in another way I’m not sure it’s even a good idea to meet your idols let alone work with them.
I wouldn’t rule out collaborating with other artists at some stage, but it’s not something I’ve really considered doing.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
(Grant) Recently at the very climatic end to our headline set in Northampton, with precision timing, my hair managed to get tangled around the headstock and tuners of Henrik's Guitar. The hilarious moment was captured on video and you can see the entanglement on our social media.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
(Did) That we're genuine and a little against the grain when it comes to the clichés of Rock Bands. We prioritise musicianship, songwriting and hard work. We write about subject matters that could be seen as dark and edging towards the pessimistic side of life although we feel there is a realism to the lyrics and often people find a connection to them and an honesty that they can identify with. We're good guys too with plenty of character and have strikingly individual personalities which shapes our music. You need some Empyre in your life!!