Alter The Press!


Interview: Piano

Today we continue our look on up and coming British independent bands. Despite being together for 8 years Piano did not find success untill 2006. However their success hasn't been at home but in Japan, where they have played alongside bands such as Envy and Lost and Palm, including shows in Tokyo and Osaka. Last year the band released their latest EP 'The Valedation of Versa' in Japan on Zestone Records, which was followed up with headline tour of Japan.

The band consists Daniel Tompkins (from Nottingham), Jeremy 'Jez' Mortimer (from Winchester), Chris Haywood and Ciaran Cahill (both from London) and they are now set to self-release the EP in the UK in April.

Sean recently spoke with Daniel, Jez and Chris about the bands history, their success in Japan and the difficulty of getting noticed in the United Kingdom.

Alter The Press!: First of all state who you are and what is your role in Piano?
Chris: Hello I’m Chris and I play the bass, double bass and sing a bit.
Jez: Hi I’m Jez and I play the guitar, be it electric or acoustic. I sing a bit too.
Dan: Hi I’m Dan and I’m the vocalist.

ATP: Where did you get the name Piano from?
Chris: Jez thought it would be funny, I thought it would be awesome. Either way it stuck!
Jez: Yeah it seemed pretty original. I liked its classical vibe and descriptive use as well, making it quite evocative or at least atmospheric.
Dan: Try and ‘Google’ Piano see how difficult it is to find us!

ATP: Give us a little history of the band?
Chris: We’re old gits really in the grand scheme of things. Jez and I were playing together back when we were 14 and at school. I guess things took off a little more when we turned 18, so the band has been around a good 7 or 8 years. Dan joined us in 2006 and things really took off at that point I would say.
Jez: Chris was my musical twin, and it came to pass our forces were united. We waded through a few mercenaries but it was definitely with Dan we found the glue to produce what we’ve always wanted.
Dan: I joined the band in February 2006 when Piano were already established but looking for a new front man. We gelled even at the first audition and being accepted into Piano was a turning point for me.

ATP:Are there any bands in particular which have influenced your sound?
Chris: A few over the years! We started off doing Rage covers, played nu-metal riffage back when it was trendy in the early noughties, and then Glassjaw came along and changed everything. Jez started to write more and we shifted from covers to roughly the same guitar style that we have now. We all love Meshuggah, but we all listen to things you can sing along with too.
Jez: Glassjaw and Deftones were huge for me as I discovered the range of expression that could be generated through often really melodic lines. Early Hopesfall records have probably been my biggest influence. On top of that a bit of Placebo and Red House Painters probably.
Dan: Glassjaw, Tool, Hopesfall, Dredg, Dead Poetic and Underoath are only a few that have influenced who I am as a vocalist. I think it’s important to understand that as a singer your voice is totally unique so being original as a vocalist isn’t difficult. Too many people try and copy the latest trend. Bringing this understanding to an already unique sounding band has really helped us to mould the music together and set us apart from other artists.

ATP: So you’ve had a bit of success of Japan, how did that happen?
Chris: They heard us, they liked it, our boss flew over to the UK, we signed and started releasing records and touring over there!
Jez: It happened pretty fast I’d say. Some really lovely guys out there loved the music we had on the internet and decided to spread it to the people. We’ve been trying hard to please them ever since.
Dan: In Koben, Japan lives the greatest human being I’ve ever met and his name is Hyato Taguchi of Zestone Records. He liked what he heard, has a lot of faith in us works extremely hard for the band. He’s the reason why it all happened.

ATP:What are the main differences from the music scene here and Japan?
Chris: Well we don’t really do anything over here that much any more! We all love to play music but it’s expensive to do anything in England, so it’s almost a financial decision really. We’ve had a couple of really awesome tours and played some great shows in the UK but the scene is very trend focused. This leaves many awesome bands with difficult choices. Japan is just wonderful, people are very open minded. We don’t even have to wear tight pants and people still love it!
Jez: I think the Japanese people genuinely appreciate anything creative and can tell when someone’s put their whole heart into something. Throw in a bit of musical intrigue and they’re gagging. Values are sadly not as good over here.
Dan: Yeah the Japanese people are full of heart and genuinely appreciate every type of music regardless of image. The music scene in Japan is just incredible. Compared to the UK the Japanese are generally more up for it. When you go to show over there the atmosphere before a show is electric and there is a real sense of excitement in the air.

ATP: Would you say it has been harder to get recognised over here? And if so why?
Chris: We’ve been playing shows in the UK since 2002 and it’s definitely harder. A lot of it comes down to luck and interest ebbs and flows. Basically you need to be able to afford to tour but not work, which is mighty tighty for anyone not living with their parents. Really we don’t mind though, if people like the tunes we’re happy, it could be 10 or 100, so long as they like the fact we spend bloody ages writing them and work hard to be creative and not boring.
Jez: It seems you have to be more goal-focused of getting recognized in England. Commercial rule. We’re not in any particular scene and that often helps you to ride the waves here or no one will come to your shows etc.
Dan: Definitely harder to get recognition over here. From my experience you either fit the picture or you don’t. Without wanting to offend anyone out there I find there is just far more apathy towards music here and it’s harder to impress the ‘average’ person or even find a pulse! When you put your heart and soul into a performance and completely expose yourself to an audience of strangers you’d like to see a little something back.

ATP: Its now 2009 and your new EP is getting a UK release. Tell us about that?

Chris: We had a long chat with a few labels, but decided that the easiest thing for us to do would just be to slap it out there on our own!
Jez: Yeah we hope people in the UK will finally be able to have a good listen to some of our tunes. We recorded it a while ago now so it is brilliant to be able to release it. We had worked really hard on it and it was silly not being able to get it out there sooner.
Dan: We’ve decided to release the EP ourselves. Even though we have a decent ‘product’ ready to work with, it’s tricky business finding a label to back you unless you’re constantly touring and promoting yourself. Unfortunately this is something we just can’t commit to right now. We’ve held onto this EP for a while now and it’s long overdue a listen.

ATP: What does the rest of the year hold for Piano?
Chris: We’re in the process of writing our first full length. Moving along steadily, but we’re pushing ourselves hard to write something that will challenge us and anyone nice enough to listen in, while at the same time keeping the tunes. A return to our ‘pink demo’ days perhaps but with a dash of the Valediction EP!
Jez: Largely writing and keeping the intrigue going. We’ve not released a full length yet and the time has come.
Dan: We’ve already begun writing for the debut album. We take our time and try to be as creative and appealing as possible so it really is a lengthy process. We are in no rush and want to write quality music that people will enjoy and appreciate.

Piano's new EP 'The Valedation of Versa' will be self-released in April.
Visit the bands myspace for more details.

Sean Reid

Alter The Press!