Interview with Nathan Hammond of Spyder Byte
By Sheri Bicheno
Hello all! I return with another great band that I interviewed leading up towards the end of the dreaded year of 2020…
Spyder Byte are a 5-piece hailing from Kent and formed back in late 2011, starting as no more than a group of 13-to-16-year-old mates from school. With a common goal in mind and signing to Enso Music Management, Spyder Byte was born, with the intention of adding to the revival of 80’s-style-metal.
I had a lengthy chat with one Nathan Hammond, a compadre I knew from the Mammothfest days and who plays Bass for this rockin’ bunch. They recently also introduced new Guitarist Robbie Weller into their ranks! Check them and the interview out…
Sheri: You formed in 2011 and went on to kick ass on stage at Bloodstock, Mammothfest and Hard Rock Hell. Take us through a bit of the history of Spyder Byte, how did you come to be?
Nathan: Ok, so most of us went to school together down in Kent – that was Connor (drummer), C.C (guitarist) and myself. We were in a band before, we were in a small-time band just doing covers and stuff. We kinda just wanted to do more original music and at the time it just so happened that us three, us three little 12-and-13-year-old-kids, weren’t really into stuff like Asking Alexandria, Motionless in White and that kind of shit – we were all into old school heavy metal and rock you know, everything basically our parents liked. It just got us into it. So, we decided to set something up to start getting into and start writing it in a Motley Crüe style, more of an 80’s sound, basically, we started writing the music that we wanted to and gradually I think things just started falling into place. After the first couple of months, we were desperately looking for a singer. We’ve found it is quite hard to find a proper good solid rock voice. We were going for someone like Bon Scott mixed with a little bit of Lemmy, you know basically someone who has the flare and who has the sound.
Ages and ages ago, we are talking nearly ten years ago, Connor met Dan (vocalist) at another gig they were doing and he invited him along just for a jam to see what he was like. I think Dan was a little bit kind of “Ooooh, maybe not so much” at first, because he’s kinda heavy into thrash metal and death metal. But you know, he softened up, he softened up with age haha!
Sheri: I remember he cut all of his hair off! But he’s still got beautiful hair anyway haha.
Nathan: He is a beautiful human haha.
Sheri: Your style is described as sleaze metal/glam rock – I know that some of you have different influences and preferred styles of metal; thrash, death, power etc… What made you come together and create something between you that was essentially a bit different to those styles of metal?
Nathan: Honestly, I don’t think you know getting into the music scene, it started to get over saturated with similar sounding bands with similar sounding structures and chords and things like that – not that I’m knocking them! Cuz they can all play and it was just a case of us wanting to do something a bit different. So, you know, it started off with an amalgamation of all of our influences and tastes and so you had me, that was at the time massively into Crüe and Crash Diet, all the Scandinavian sleaze bands. Connor, I think just started to edge into listening to a bit more power metal and then obviously we had Dan come in with Thrash… I mean, he loves his Status Quo but we won’t go there hahaha! It was just kind of a mix of wanting to create something a bit different. I mean, I’m thinking back to some of the albums we’ve got now. We can go from doing sleazy hard rock, kind of like Backyard Babies kind of style and then you know, we can throw it all up in the air with an Iron Maiden sounding track, it’s really just a case of us being happy with whatever we are playing. If one day we are kind of feeling writing a bit of you know, a bit more of a speed metal type track then that’s what we will do but at the same time, we love getting a bit sleazy, getting a bit punky you know? You’ve got to inject a little bit of positivity. You got to listen to something and be like “LETS GO!” you know? It’s gotta hit you in the face haha.
Sheri: Your first album, “Addictive”, was released in 2015. This album is such fun! Drunkenness, sexy, rock and roll… My favourite tracks are ‘Strip Club Blues’ and ‘Moonshine’. I feel ‘Strip Club Blues’ has that classic rock and roll; biker blues feel to it. I feel like I should be at a biker rally with a pint of JD and Coke, getting off my trolley throwing myself about to this album haha. What did “Addictive” do for you as a band?
Nathan: So…honestly, it came at a really strange time. We recorded the album in 2014. There were complications with the engineer of the band, he was in hospital due to a lot of health reasons. So, we were just sat on all these songs and waiting for the finished article to come back – we were trying to get everyone hyped up saying there’s this kind of massive sound from this small-time band, all really young at the time – this was about 5 years ago so I’d have been about 17/18 so we were all really young. Basically, all we wanted to do initially was showcase and say, “this is us” and thankfully I think it did that. We went through two lots of pressings, selling all of them, which for a small-time band, I think is a massive deal. It came at a real weird time, I had a back operation in 2015 as well so we couldn’t really get out and promote it as effectively as we could have and, thankfully, I think that worked. Gradually it all fell into place, we still get people now come up to us and say that “Addictive” is such a brilliant album! Completely side stepping the fact that we had just released another one hahaha, but that’s good! It’s what we want! If people can prefer one album over the other, tell us the reasons why, it gives us something to work on and honestly, we value feedback. We want to know people are having a great time listening to us, that’s all we want.
Sheri: Absolutely. I think because your debut album/first release give the first impression so that’s maybe why people will pick up on that!
Your latest release,“When The Lights Go Out”, came out last year. Again, this is a lot of fun. I pick up some Guns ‘n Roses and as you said earlier, some Bon Scott era type AC/DC vibes on this album. ‘Nocturnal Beauty’ and ‘Shameless Star’ in particular. Take us through the journey of this album…
Nathan: What we focused our sights on is that we knew it was a very long time since our first album had been released. Thankfully, we were all in a really good position to start writing and recording effectively because we all went down to university together, BIMM in Brighton. Luke was our guitarist, Dan, Conner and I were all living together and it was a case of us writing like that, doing a bit of demoing and then we found our muse with a guy called Winter who did the sound engineering for that album.
He was a massive guidance for us in terms of how to get the best sound and what to do to get it to sound great. Also, in terms of writing, you take on an engineer’s point of view and their words and their wisdom to feed back into your own tracks. It came from a good place. I think we were all a little bit stressed at the time because obviously we were at Uni and had other shit going on. But it was 4 years since anyone had actually heard any new material from us, a lot of stuff had happened to us in the band, you know, personal lives and things like that – the state of the world. So that kind of all went into those songs, you know, so it was experiences and feelings that we’ve all had and stuff that we have seen. But also, it’s not bad to also throw in some songs about weird Western characters as well hahaha so you know, it’s all quite fun and real life.
Sheri: It is a fun album! The message of this album is a little bit different in places than “Addictive” – we have the tracks like ‘Spark’ which I feel is more about our inner selves and mental health.
Nathan: Yeah actually! That wasn’t initially what the song was about, but that is kind of what the meaning is now. It’s a power yourself, positive track to get yourself motivated.
Sheri: It is. I was listening to it, even though it’s a fun track, it addresses real life issues but in a positive way!
Not long ago you released a music video for your track ‘Vixen’, a track about a female masked hero. In the video, the man gets tied up by a gang for a suitcase of money – she comes to the rescue but takes away the money as a reward and leaves him tied up in the chair. Haha.
Nathan: That’s it hahaha. That’s our foxy vixen! She knows what to do haha. She’s got her sights set; she’s sorted haha.
Sheri: Have there been any changes you feel are apparent to Spyder Byte between “Addictive” and “When The Lights Go Out”? How do you feel you have evolved?
Nathan: Songwriting wise we have definitely evolved. The way that we did things for “Addictive” was that bar one song and set of lyrics, that was written by me. So, compare that to “When The Lights Go Out”, that was the kind of shift that I think we needed. I think also it helped that we lived together as well so that we could write together rather than with it just being me asking what could be done better. I’d like to say it shows a little maturity, but we’re all still sleazy little f*ckheads hahaha so…hahaha. We’ve got different kind of things going on in that album, in terms of the way that it was written. It just sounds to me far more polished and has better riffs, better songs etc. I’m not saying “Addictive” doesn’t hit you in the face, but I just feel like you get more of it with this album. It’s definitely punchier and it hooks you in a little bit more.
Sheri: In terms of your song writing, how does this come together into what makes you all happy with the end result?
Nathan: Oooh that’s a good question! Honestly, it’s just a case of throwing around ideas and seeing what sticks… You know, I will take some music to Dan, Dan will listen to it, if I’ve got lyrics with it as well, he will look over them and see what he likes or suggest to change something and then you take it to the guitarist who will work on that and filling in embellishers and then take it to Connor and he will hammer and pound it away and then just generally it gets brought together in a practise room like that. It’s something we’ve never really done before, we’ve never kind of taken a song into a practise room and done it like that – there have been the odd occasions like ‘Reach Out’ for example on “When The Lights Go Out” that was brought in from Luke and CC. I think of one practise session we had just finished writing a song – wasn’t even what we went in for, but we just ended up writing a track so it’s like “yeah cool, nice one!”
So, I think it’s better to have everyone else’s input than it rather be left to solely one person.
Ultimately, you could get half-way through playing a set and just think “Ah fuck, I don’t really want to play this track” – that’s not what we want, I want everyone in the band to be happy with what’s going on. They have to buy into the band too.
Sheri: Team effort! Do you have a favourite track to play or that you feel has been received well?
Nathan: We get a lot of pits and everyone turns into a crazy Thrasher when we play ‘In Your Face’ from “Addictive” haha. Everyone just kinda loses their inhibitions and start piling into each other. In terms of me personally, I love playing ‘On Time’, that’s a really fun one to play.
Sheri: Most of your songs are really fun and upbeat and so you must feel that your gigs are quite fun to play.
Nathan: Oh god, yeah! We always come out of a gig with a smile on our faces and if something hasn’t worked right or if someone has dropped a note, you just kinda put that shit behind you really and focus on what went right, how good it made you feel – if you fucked up, it doesn’t really matter. I’m guilty of that as well and I’m my own worst critic but it doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re enjoying what you do and see everyone’s reaction when you’re playing – that’s all that matters.
Sheri: It’s about positivity!
Nathan: ‘Black Velvet Lover’ is easily my favourite track to play. ‘New Blood’ as well. I like a bit of a riff. If I can just chuck in a riff or play alongside a riff next to a guitarist, then I’m really happy. Because then I’ve got some shit to do and I just don’t have to go errr…stay on that one note for 5 minutes haha. Also, we haven’t played it live yet but one of our tracks called ‘Hopeless’. It’s a bit of a stark difference from anything else that we’ve done. It’s a lot heavier, it’s got a proper story behind it. It’s actually about homelessness down in Brighton.
Sheri: That comes after ‘Spark’and was something I was going to ask you about – is it to do with poverty of some sort?
Nathan: I mean, you know what it’s like in Brighton. It’s awful in London but because Brighton is a much smaller city and you’re constantly going around it, you always see homelessness. You can’t not see stuff like that, as a songwriter, and not get moved by it. It’s such an epidemic. No one has to go through it really.
Sheri: I think the more that it’s covered, the more can be done about it. It is brutal in Brighton for homelessness.
Nathan: But going back to the themes of the songs, it’s kinda book-ended by two songs about positivity you know? ‘Reach Out’ is completely about mental health. It starts off with “fuck it all to Hell.” If that doesn’t scream to you how much anguish someone can be in, then it’s mad. So, you’ve got positivity in the form of ‘Spark’ and you’ve got real life issues in the forms of ‘Hopeless’ and ‘Reach Out’. It’s book-ended by ‘Black Velvet Lover’, which is kinda sexy and sultry and has the moves to seduce you. So, it’s kind of weird, how the band and the songs work. I think if you kinda break up the reality and the fiction, I guess…one is gonna cheer you up and one is gonna make you think “Oh, this shit is actually going on.” And it’s something we never really thought about doing in terms of the band. We were all just really about writing good times, partying, booze, sex and all that kind of stuff. But you know, it’s hard to escape you have got to speak about it.
Sheri: Well, this is it, you have got the power to do that if you are an Artist. Your album cover art is brilliant! You have a certain style that sort of reminds me of old-style comic book covers…Do you have an Artist that you stick to?
Nathan: Yes, so we have done for the past two releases. I’m not really sure about the future but we’ve got a new single almost ready to enter into its final stages, but we’ve had someone doing the Art for that already. The first two albums were done by a guy called Doyle. I don’t know his second name unfortunately, but his online tag is Doyle Raw-meat. He’s a fantastic Artist, really good prices and really nice guy. He was recommended to us by Sam Thredder, who was out engineer and did “Addictive” and is the guitarist for Slabdragger. So many times, you see single or Album Artwork come out and they’re bland and they’re plain and just one colour – and we’re not about that in this band. It’s about vibrancy and about hooking people in and making sure it actually catches them you know. So far over the past two albums, Doyle has been an absolute delight to work with you know? He’s created out little mascot, Boris (a monster featured on the Album Artwork). He’s on a lot of t-shirts. He’s just made everything come to life and actually with “When The Lights Go Out”, I think one of our references was the first Guardians of The Galaxy comic book covers. I don’t think it initially was going to be but when we found it, it was like “Oh shit, that looks quite cool actually!” hahaha. That’s what it turned into…It’s such a massive part of selling your music, selling your album – if you’ve got something visually appetizing then generally, I think you’re gonna do better.
Sheri: Amazing! I totally agree, I think if you have a product you have to try to make it look good. You just mentioned that you’re writing again possibly, so what’s next for you guys?
Nathan: Yep! So…we have just started recording our next single due to be released soon. It’s almost in its final stages of recording, mixing and mastering. It’s not totally different to what we’ve done before – it’s quite similar but there is something different. Like a new lease of life about this kind of sound and about the way I think we’re going to go, going forward for the next EP or the next album. I shan’t give away too much of it yet just in case anything changes haha but generally, we’re looking forward to it, looking forward to bringing it out and it’s gonna again hit everyone and catch people.
Sheri: I’m looking forward to it! What are your thoughts on the importance of supporting the music scene right now?
Nathan: Oh God, you need to! Everyone needs to. We are in such a shit situation with everything and I think out of everything that music is one thing in this world that kind of binds people together. Fair enough if you don’t like one Artist and someone else does but you can still listen to it. You can still enjoy it. Live gigs – is there a better feeling? No. There is no better feeling…apart from maybe a blow job hahahaha. But! Still! You know hahaha…it’s true. Everyone has got to support their local scene regardless of how failing it is or how tight it is or even how loose, even if you’re not a big supporter of your scene, that is still someone’s dreams and ambitions right there. Venue owners, bands, even behind the scenes, Merch companies. Everything that can be done to support Artists and Bands should be done. If that means going on Spotify, dropping them a fiver, picking up a shirt just help support in anyway shape or form. You either use it or lose it and at the moment I think, it doesn’t help with the pandemic, but we’re in that situation where it’s getting to the point where we could have lost it. I think the UK generally we’re gonna pull back from it but it’s the not knowing. I’ve got faith though; I’ve got faith in the way people will actually approach music now and approach live gigs. I think this has been a massive wake up call to just go “Fuck, I need to go out and get some entertainment in my life!” You know?
Sheri: I think that also applies to people that run venues and so on. I think a lot of people take advantage of the fact that music is so accessible but now it’s not in the physical sense. Artists are still making music but as you say, it’s a wake-up call. What would this pandemic be like without music??
Nathan: I don’t think I could have done any of this Pandemic if I hadn’t got at least AN album with me. I cannot switch off without music. Music is everything, it is to me anyway, I cannot wake up at all and not listen to some music. It’s completely taken over from video games, TV etc. It’s always gonna be there and will never let you down.
Sheri: Any advice for fellow Artists?
Nathan: Keep strong, keep together, you’re gonna get through any hard times that you’ve got. Do it for the love. Try and progress yourself further but do it for the love.
Vixen (Cinematic Music Video)
Spyder Byte are:
Dan Lawrence – Vocals
Connor Cape – Guitar
Robbie Weller – Guitar
Nathan Hammond – Bass
Connor Godfrey – Drums
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and 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.