EMQ’s with EMPTY FRIEND
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with London, UK based, Grunge/Hard Rock band Empty Friend. Huge thanks to Dave Kirk and Karl Morgan 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?
Karl: I’m Karl, and I play drums for Empty Friend. Each of us in the band has his own take on our ‘origin story’, but here’s mine: I’d been playing punk, metal and rock with my friend and guitarist Ryan since we were teenagers. Then, in 2015, my friend and outstanding vocalist Dave and I both found ourselves without bands at the same time and put something together. We connected with Ryan and we were away. The current line-up was set in stone in 2016 when my friend and frequent collaborator on bass, Daverage, entered the fold. Since then we’ve just been writing songs, gigging, recording, and gigging some more!
Dave: Hey I’m Dave, and I’m frontman for the band. Me and Karl had got close through our old bands and we had been talking for ages about being in a band together. Our previous projects came to a natural end in 2014, and after a Soundgarden show that year we decided to make it happen. It’s been awesome being in a band with such good mates, who are, to a man, fantastic and experienced players too.
How did you come up with your band name?
Karl: Failure are one of my favourite bands ever, and when we were discussing possible names for the band, I looked at some Failure tracks for inspiration. ‘Empty Friend’ just seemed like a cool name for a band, in its own right, as well as serving as an affectionate and subtle nod to a band who’ve had an influence on myself, Ryan and Dave.
What Region/Country are you from and what is the Rock/Metal scene like there?
Karl: I’m from Dublin in Ireland, originally. Ryan and Davvers are 100% prime English beef, and Dave is a mysterious hybrid of Scottish, English, and other secret ingredients.
Dave: As a band we are based in London, England, and the metal, stoner and grunge scenes are all alive and well really. There are lots of good bands on the circuit, but it seems to be the venues that are struggling most of all.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Karl: That would be our EP, “Falter”, which came out about a month ago. It’s on Spotify, but if you feel like supporting an underground rock band, go to our Bandcamp page and buy it for whatever price you feel comfortable paying.
Who have been your greatest influences?
Karl: As well as Failure, I’d say one or all of us have been influenced by rock bands like: Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, At the Drive-In, Metallica, Primus, RHCP, etc.
What first got you into music?
Karl: Growing up in Ireland I was exposed to a LOT of U2 from a young age. Now, while most people would describe that as a form of mild child abuse, I still maintain that their early material is outstanding! They were the first band I properly listened to, and the first band I ever saw live…at Wembley Stadium at the tender age of 8!
Dave: For me, it was my parents. My mum was folk singer, and my dad was a bass player (and choir singer), so I grew up with her playing shows and in cover bands later on with my dad. I grew up on rock classics, and before long I was getting up on stage doing Elvis songs at around 10. We did a certain amount of singing in church too, but there was always music playing at home. Queen, The Police, Elvis, Bob Dylan. I only seriously got into rock when I was a teenager in the early / mid 90s though, with the whole grunge wave.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Karl: I think it would be a bit boring to put another rock band here, wouldn’t it? It would be more interesting to collaborate with someone outside our genre and our comfort zone, so I’m gonna go with the amazing and strange Jaga Jazzist. Doing a collab with them would be INSANE.
Dave: Tough to give an insightful answer on this, but it would be pretty awesome to have Josh Homme or maybe Kim Thayil drop a solo on one of our tracks. We’re pretty focused on making our own music right now, but that would be insanely cool. Only if Ryan gave the ok though!
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Karl: Predictable answer, of course, but it has to be Glastonbury. I’ve never been to it and going there for the first time as a performer instead of an attendee would be cool as hell!
Dave: Yeah for me it’s the same answer for different reasons. I’ve been 8 times as a fan and would love to be able to see the view from the Pyramid stage. It would be pretty emotional to do that, man.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Dave: In England we’re pretty old-fashioned! I think it would just be shots at the bar!
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Karl: Thank you. If it weren’t for you guys, we’d be playing to an empty room.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Karl: Mac Miller. He might have been hip hop, but he was still a rock star (and he could shred on the guitar, by the way). I’d bring him back because he was taken from us far too soon.
Dave: For me it would Jimi Hendrix, beating Chris Cornell only by a whisker, as JH was simply not around long enough at all. I think he would have been a legend in any era. So original and ridiculously cool.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Dave: For me, playing on stage is the biggest privilege out there, and the greatest buzz. Also, the satisfaction of writing new material that tests all of us as a band. On the downside, it’s getting changed pre-gig in rank toilets all around London.
Karl: Playing live is definitely the highlight of being a musician, there’s nothing quite like it. The thing I like the least is having to lug my cymbals and snare drum on a crowded rush hour train!
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Dave: I would want governments to support music venues a lot more. They are where tomorrow’s bands are honing their skills, and they are an important part of a country’s culture. They need tax breaks and more support.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Karl: Neil Young – “Harvest”
Dave: Soundgarden – “Superunknown”
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Dave: I love the format of vinyl, and the artwork, but for convenience and quality, gonna say the humble CD!
Karl: I’m with Dave. It’s probably the 90’s nostalgia talking but the CD is king.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Karl: For me, a show we played last November sticks out in my mind as being the best. We shared the bill with an outstanding band from Holland called Black Monsoon, and the atmosphere in the crowd was just fantastic.
Dave: I think it was our December show at the Monarch for Camden Rocks. We had a great crowd, good sound, and we were really pumped. It felt great to be in full flight as a band, and to play for lots of neutral rock fans.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Dave: It’s so important for me psychologically, honestly, I think I would either be dead, living in a van, or living in some off-grid commune somewhere. Being a musician is literally the only thing that keeps me able to hold down a day job.
Karl: I’d probably do something like acting or stand-up. Something that involved taking a risk of some kind, and also sated that strange urge to perform.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Dave: Like celebrities? Living or dead? If we’re saying living, let’s say the Pope, Barack Obama, Beyonce, Flea, and my wife.
Karl: Thundercat, Alan Moore, Paul Rudd, Benny Greb, Patrick Stewart.
What’s next for the band?
Dave: Well, we’re already working on new material for a debut album before too long, but until that’s ready we will be working hard trying tour and play shows once this virus situation has passed.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Dave: We like Bandcamp the most, as it tends to be used by true music fans and gives a better share of sales!
If you check out our website www.emptyfriend.co.uk you can find all our other links there.
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Dave: Unbelievably, this case was proven in UK courts at taxpayer expense. They are, legally, a cake. If you are saying ‘in my opinion’, I think they are eaten more as biscuits. If you are asking what the king of biscuits is, I’m gonna say Scottish shortbread or Oreos.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Dave: Thanks for yours man, and thanks for taking an interest in our music and what we’re about.
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