EMQ’s with Dark Matter
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Nottingham, UK based Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band, Dark Matter. Huge thanks to them for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Jack: I’m Jack, the lead singer and songwriter (with occasional guitar work on top). I first met our guitarist (Ed) at a jam night organised at Nottingham Uni. I was playing with a few other people at the time, but was hoping to take things a little more seriously with a project a little heavier than my usual blues/rock. Ed (and a couple of others) asked if I was interested in singing on a very impromptu ‘Master of Puppets’ and I tipsily said yes. I was blown away by the accuracy of Ed’s guitar work and asked him if he was looking for a singer, which happened to be exactly what he was looking for as he’d already agreed to meet with James (bassist) and Charlie (our former drummer). We played some covers for a while, then I introduced the band to a song I’d partially written a few years previously but never found a place for, that song was ‘Think of the Children’, which opens our EP. We played our first gig (a battle of the bands) shortly after with a few originals and a bunch of covers and took home first place. We have never looked back.
How did you come up with your band name?
Jack: We brainstormed some ideas, none of which fit, then Ed came into a practice one day and suggested Dark Matter, a name that has now been shouted at me by several hundred people. I don’t think any name could have been more fitting.
Ed: I liked the name because we’re all scientists at Uni, so it links to that and now links to our music as well!
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Jack: I’m initially from the Isle of Wight, a place where the rock/metal scene can only be described as dead on a good day! Now I’m in Nottingham and we have a vibrant and active pop-punk and alternative scene here. We have a handful of excellent rock/metal pubs and venues that I like to frequent and an active live music scene.
James: We’ve got some really solid local bands like Witch Tripper as well as other bands coming through like Underking and Cottonmouth I definitely think it’s a strong scene where the best is yet to come, it’s a big change from the local scene back home in a village in Oxfordshire!
Ben: I feel lucky, I have lived in both Manchester and Nottingham which both have a thriving Rock/Metal scene from larger bands all the way to newer acts like us. It really shaped me growing up being able to go to so many gigs, watching a wide variety of bands. My love for My Chemical Romance and getting a group of friends to go see them live, way back when, actually lead to the formation of my first band when I was 15. And hey, living in Nottingham, Download festival is just on our doorstep so that’s always a plus.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Jack: We released our first EP “Don’t Panic” on 17th April 2020 and have a new single ‘Panic’ being released in September this year.
Who have been your greatest influences?
Jack: That very much depends on what aspect of music you’re asking about! Vocally, I’m hugely inspired by Ronnie James Dio, his is the style I try to emulate without resorting to mimicry, I try to temper this with my softer inspirations such as David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers, anyone listening to Snowflakes will assume I’m also a big fan of Robert Plant and they’d be right to think that! When writing, I try to take inspiration from all of my preferred artists, particularly System of a Down, whose very unique writing style is something I aspire to greatly, but also Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Muse and many many others. Finally, in my guitarwork, I’m unabashedly a blues man, with a particular fondness for Peter Green and Mark Knopfler, the latter of these two being a massive inspiration since (like him) I play without a plectrum.
Ben: Drumming influences would definitely include The Rev, Matt Garstka and Matt Halpern. In my opinion they’re sense of rhythm and creativity is unrivalled. More general influences would include Avenged Sevenfold, Slash, Bullet for My Valentine and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
James: The first bassist to come to mind is always Chris Wolstenholme from Muse I’ve always loved how the bass drives Muses sound, the sounds he gets out of his bass are second to none. From the world of metal Geezer Butler has no equals so couldn’t answer this without mentioning him!
What first got you into music?
Jack: I have a been actively listening to music since my Dad first played ‘Voodoo Child’ by Jimi Hendrix to me at the age of 9, he then introduced me to Deep Purple and Lynyrd Skynyrd and I was instantly hooked and seeking out more music. My dad is a blues guitarist and vocalist himself and I’ve always looked up to him, growing up around a professional musician normalised playing and writing from a young age.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Jack: Dave Grohl. His consistency in writing and energy are just so inspiring, every time I see him perform is a delight and it would be an honour to share a stage with him.
Ben: Avenged Sevenfold. They have always been one of my favourite bands and they are incredibly talented musicians. It would be an experience you would definitely learn from.
James: I have to copy Jack and say Dave Grohl. As well as an excellent song writer he would be such a cool guy to hang out with.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Jack: Download feels a bit like home at this point and it would be awesome to be the other side of the lights, but I would have to choose Hellfest in Clisson, France. Easily the best festival I’ve been to with consistently incredible line-ups, it’s hard to think of anyone else.
Ben: Download – isn’t it obvious. Been by far my favourite festival to attend where I have discovered many of my favourite bands.
James: I’d love to be a metal band big enough to headline Glastonbury, The Foo Fighters headline set from there gives me goose bumps, Download would also be incredible it’s always fun whatever the weather!
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Ben: Haven’t received a gift from a fan yet but once had a fan start a chant in the crowd in an effort to ask me out, don’t know if that counts.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Jack: I’m currently writing about 11 songs at the same time, we definitely have a full album in us in the near future!
James: The best is yet to come. Ed’s a riff machine and Jack’s got so many cool songs in the pipeline we’re itching to get back in the studio.
Ben: Thank you for the overwhelming response to our debut E.P. It has honestly been better than I could have ever imagined. We will be back soon I promise!
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Jack: Jimi Hendrix. It’s an easy choice for me, he had so much left to give and it would have been amazing to see where his music would have gone with just another year, let alone more.
Ben: The Rev from Avenged Sevenfold. He has always been a huge influence on me and was definitely taken from us way too early.
James: Chris Cornell or maybe Jeff Buckley. Both incredible musicians imagine the songs they would have written!
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Jack: It would be very easy to give an artsy answer about how it brings me peace on the worst of days or that it allows me to express my emotions better than anything else, but honestly, I just love everything about it. I’m sure I’ll have gripes and issues in the long term, but this is all I have ever want to be and do. I love writing, I love playing/singing and I love performing. The only thing I hate is coming off-stage.
Ben: As a drummer the hate one is easy, transporting all the gear from venue to venue. The amount of shit you have to carry is almost enough to put you off going at all. But once you’re there nothing really compares to the feeling of getting up on stage and nailing a performance.
James: The stats page in Spotify showing all the countries people are listening to us in, it’s incredible seeing the places our music has reached hopefully we’ll be able to play to some of them one day! The worst part is having to go back to reality after a gig!
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Jack: In metal specifically, it would be to have bands that write about more diverse and interesting topics. Every time I hear the word “throne” in a metal song, I cringe. In general, I would just like the perception of Rock and Metal to be accepted more. I think bands like AC/DC and the Foo Fighters do an incredible job of offering heavier, exciting music to the masses and I would love to see more music of that style promoted.
Ben: As a drummer the amount of songs that replace the drums with samples is infuriating. No one wants perfectly time aligned samples; we want to hear you play and the expression and feel that come with that. Live drums all the way.
James: I think particularly in the UK music is such an asset to the country, I’d love to see more support for Grass roots venues so new, exciting bands get a chance. The next Metallica/Black Sabbath etc are out there waiting for their chance. At the moment campaigns by the likes of the Music Venues Trust are so important so we don’t lose these important grass roots venues in these unprecedented times.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Jack: “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV” – Coheed and Cambria. Claudio’s voice isn’t for everyone and some of the lyrics are very forced, but god damn if the song-writing and guitarwork isn’t an absolute masterclass. Such a diverse collection of coherent ideas, this is the album I listen to more than any other for inspiration on song structure.
Ben: It’s tough to pick just one but maybe “Danger Days” by My Chemical Romance. Although it isn’t the best MCR album it had such a personal impact on me and my life growing up and helped lead to the formation of my first band where one of the few songs we played at every gig no matter what was ‘Na Na Na’.
James: RATM self-titled album. Everything from the music to the artwork of the burning monk is perfect.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Jack: I grew up during the changeover between cassettes and CD’s, but I think downloads win for me since they grant such a wide access of music to the whole world.
James: Streaming is certainly most convenient and the best way to discover new bands but there’s something special about owning a piece of the artwork on vinyl.
Ben: CD’s because I don’t own anything that can play Vinyl.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Jack: Either of the last two that we played: Our triumphant return to the place of our initial Battle of the Bands win was so special, having “DARK MATTER” chanted at us as we went on stage and the wonderful response from those who remembered us so well from the year before. Or our runner-up place in Metal 2 The Masses, which I think was our tightest gig yet. I’m just gutted the momentum had to drop with everything that has happened since March.
Ben: Definitely our heat in the Metal 2 The Masses competition. The first time we’ve played a gig where we had a big enough following that everyone was chanting our name before we went on stage. One of the most surreal feelings for sure.
James: Our M2TM heat was incredible, the turn out was amazing and surreal to have people buying our merch we had just got printed for the first time as well as having them chant our name.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Jack: I’m a qualified maths teacher, but I certainly wouldn’t be doing that! I would be a tutor most likely, but I honestly don’t know!
Ben: Theoretical Chemist/Physicist, currently doing a PhD in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry. It was always Science or Music.
James: I’d be in the lab like Ben although my PhD is in Antibiotic Resistance just like him it’s Science or Music for me.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Jack: Arsene Wenger (I grew up a massive Arsenal fan during his reign), Douglas Adams (author of my favourite book series), Ronnie James Dio (intellectual musical talk is a must!), Paul Rodgers (for the same reason!) and Tom Hanks (because he seems like such a delight!)
Ben: This is where my inner scientist would come out because I would have to include Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman and Erwin Schrodinger. The fifth place would be reserved for Slash though, someone’s got to bring the party, right?
James: Gotta be Sir Alex Ferguson who inflicted one of Arsene Wenger’s heaviest defeats in the Premier League in 2011 (8-2). I’d also go with Flea, Dave Grohl, Tom Morello and Chris Wolstenholme.
What’s next for the band?
Jack: A LOT! As many gigs and as many new original songs as I can muster! We have two new songs almost ready for performance (and hopefully recording) with many others in the pipeline! We also have a lot of new merchandise and art planned, which we’re hoping to make very affordable (mostly so I can get some!)
Ben: Hopefully when things get back to some form of normality a lot of gigs. But we do have new music on the way and are always working on new material. I don’t think I’d be alone in saying the next 6-12 months will be really exciting for the band.
James: Hopefully, lots of gigs! But we’re also working on a few things to tide people over until then so keep an eye on our pages.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
James: We’re mainly active on FB but our Insta is becoming increasingly popular whatever your preference it’s easy to keep up to date with us.
Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Jack: They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the same goes for the identification of Jaffa Cakes.
Ben: Cake, it’s in the name, right?
James: My head says cake, but my heart says throw them in the bin, forget they exist and pick up a pack of chocolate digestives no ambiguity there with the king of biscuits.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
James: Keep an eye on us! As the world goes back to normal, we’ll be ready to pick up where we left off! We’ll be ready to announce the release date of our follow up single ‘Panic’ soon so follow us on our socials!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.