Digits – Band of the month December 2014 – INTERVIEW

Band of the month – December 2014 – Digits

Digits 2013

Digits 2013 lineup

Here’s a corker of a band from Northumberland for this month. Great bunch of lads who take their art very seriously, crafting some epic alternative rock tunes that can wander into heavier territories, yet remain highly accessible. They regularly play headline shows around Newcastle and the north and I’ve been mightily impressed to see them on huge stages supporting international acts and gaining a lot of very good press. I discovered them a couple of years back, when they supported one of my favourite live bands; Feed the Rhino at the Newcastle O2 Academy. Hard working and very professional band, they deserve to go far, keep an eye out for them on tour early next year!

I caught up with the whole band for a chat…

For those who don’t already know can you give us an introduction- who are you, where are you based?

We are Digits, straight up alternative hard working rock band from Newcastle. We mean business and are here to delight your ears and massage your mind!

We’re situated mainly in Heaton & South East Northumberland, we work out of our studios in Blyth, Northumberland. Craig (Guitars/Vox), Stu (Bass) and Chris (Vox/Guitars) have been in it from the start 3 years ago, Matt (Drums) just recently joined the band back in July following Dan’s departure due to medical reasons.

Digits 2014

Digits 2014 – New lineup

What got you started?
Chris – I played guitar as a kid, did buskers nights, wasn’t much interested in doing anything other than backing vocals until my cousin’s band split up. I set up Cut Glass Accent and we did ok. During that time a lecturer at my college told me that although I was good at drama and was coming out with a grade good enough to get me into a drama school, he felt my passion was in music and I should push into that. So I guess I have him to blame for it!
As Digits it was mainly because Cut Glass Accent split up after the record deal ended and James moved to Singapore. Stu, Darren (original Digits drummer) and I set about starting a new band and found Craig. That band was Digits…

Stu – Me and Chris have been playing together in various bands for years however got together with Craig to form Digits with the idea of starting a heavier band along the lines of Reuben and Hundred Reasons – we’ve had a few drummers however our last one Dan had to retire on medical grounds – enter Matt….

Craig – Chris and Stu were in a previous band called Cut Glass Accent once that finished they decided to start Digits the aim was for the band to be heavier and for it to be more complex where the songs constantly evolve instead of sticking to the normal verse chorus verse chorus structure.

Matt – Old school friends and the fallout of a previous band leading to a drive to find new members to explore some ideas. For me I’ve always been a drummer, it’s just one of those things I wanted to do from being a kid, I’m always drumming on something – table, girlfriend, cat, shower, you name it!

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How would you describe your music to people?
Chris – Melodic deathstar ninjacore… I don’t really know to be honest, I think genres are a bit superfluous in the modern age. We tend to just tell people we rip off songs from Reuben & Hundred Reasons, they tend not to know who they are so we get away with it!

Stu – We’re a hardcore band – bit like Reuben, Hundred Reasons and early Biffy Clyro.

Craig – I would describe our music as Digits. The sound is heavy whilst remaining accessible.

Matt – Alternative rock with metal undertones. The music can drift through complexities but will have you singing along in the crowd. There is a mix of styles in there and all of us have slightly different tastes, I’m into big heavy beats and strong drums, it’s all about providing a solid base to build on from the backline!

And how has the sound evolved over the years?
Chris – The first EP contained a lot more aggression than the first one does. Craig & I wrote the music for first EP together a lot, Golden was the only song I wrote entirely myself. At the time I had just come out of a really bad rough patch and to be honest had a lot of disquiet feelings I needed to get out of me. A lot of the lyrics on that EP was personally inspired by stuff that I’d experienced over the last decade, Visceral however was about the London Riots and that type of lyrical story telling crossed over onto the new EP which is more about social issues.

The second EP I feel is poppier and a lot more upbeat than the first EP, I think we’ve grown comfortable with each other and with our audience. Our first EP was more about hitting the scene hard and getting noticed, the follow up is probably with a lot less anxieties about it. Whilst we do what we do because we don’t wish to conform with what other people expected for us, i.e. Stu & I came from a more indie/emo background with Cut Glass and Craig came from a more Metal background with Minotaur, Digits was something that really didn’t seem like anything else any of us were likely to do.

Stu – The first EP we were finding our feet and our sound – the new one we’ve taken a bit of the heavier edge from the first EP and taken it up to the next level.

Craig – It’s matured and we have focused more on the sound we are going for.

Matt – More thought has gone into song progression and now that I’m on board I’d like to see our songs have individual journeys that fans can really get lost in.

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Who is the biggest influence for the band?
Chris – Reuben. I’m always in awe of how Jamie Lenman can put together songs of that calibre, with such in depth feeling and honesty to them, whilst also having so much replay factor 10 years on. I mean I love the first two Stereophonics albums, Nirvana, Hundred Reasons, Glassjaw, Deftones, etc… But I can put Reuben on at any time and it’s like listening to it for the first time again. With the rest you need to be in the right mood.

Stu – Reuben, Hundred Reasons, Glassjaw, Fugazi, Deftones and Jimmy Eat World – all the bands which if you were about in the early 2000s you’ll remember were fecking awesome.

Craig – We have a few influences and our individual music tastes vary these influences help us create something unique. However we also all enjoy bands like Hundred Reasons and Reuben.

Matt – I’m new to the band and it was obvious from the off that Reuben was a key influence, a previous band that I was in supported Reuben at Newcastle Uni some years back. Needless to say this earned me some kudos when we all met up for the first time! For a drumming perspective I like solid heavy beats so someone like Brad Wilk smashing it out for Rage Against the Machine or Audioslave has provided me with my main influence.

Why your band name?

Chris – It’s a Jimmy Eat World song, it was one word and was fairly vague enough for it to work.

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Any rejected names?
Stu – Dozens of them – Chris rejected them all :-p

Chris – That’s not true!

We were teetering on the brink of going with ‘Ready, Aim; Fire!’ and ‘Your New Aesthetic’ at different points, I think we were keen on the latter however we felt Aesthetic may prove difficult to spell for some folk in a search engine, and Stu & I have already been there with the problems of having a long band name…

Craig – There were a few names we rejected I can’t remember which ones we rejected though

What was the pivotal thing that got you into music? 
Chris – I honestly can’t remember a time that I wasn’t into music… I can remember listening to Kashmir by Led Zeppelin, Janie’s Got A Gun by Aerosmith, Mmmm by The Crash Test Dummies and Sullivan Street by Counting Crows as a toddler with my dad… Infact he had to buy a CD copy of War Of The Worlds because he was worried me and my brothers would wear out the vinyl copy.

Stu – I’ve been doing this a long time now – always liked a bit of Britpop (Blur not Oasis) however the first time my mates gave me a taped copy of White Pony by Deftones it was pretty much game over.

Craig – When I was younger I used to be in scouts (rock and roll I know) and one day a friend came in with his guitar and started playing smells like teen spirit and I thought that was the coolest thing ever so I decided to start playing guitar and haven’t looked back since.

Matt – A cool Dad with a great taste in music, I remember when I was 7 he brought Pearl Jam – Ten home on vinyl, he sat me on the sofa in between two giant speakers and just told me to listen. I still remember the feeling of being totally blown away and picking out the drum beat in the background – caught the bug straight away.

Do you release your own material or are you signed?
Chris – We self release through Pulse Music Productions, which is my company. We’re a rehearsal and recording studio and do Digital Distribution, so it made sense.

Craig – It’s very much a DIY thing for us and there’s a lot of hard work which goes into our work thankfully we have a few contacts who help make things a bit easier for us.

You have played all over the UK, where is your favourite place to play and why?
Chris – There’s nothing like a hometown show. When we play a big ticketed gig in Newcastle we tend to get a lot of the hardcore followers who know the lyrics to our songs along and it makes for a much better night. Elsewhere though, my favourite would probably be The Lomax in Liverpool, it’s a small venue, but when it’s rammed the atmosphere is amazing. They also tend to look after their bands with pay, food and free booze, which is always a bonus!

Stu – Playing up in Newcastle is pretty awesome like – everyone knows the songs and sings along – thats pretty damn special – other than that my homeland of Liverpool is always a pretty good gig too – Scousers know a thing or two about music!

Craig – We have a played several areas of the UK, I can’t really pick a favourite there have been a few great gigs. The ones that stand out were Liverpool’s lomax what a venue! Great sound great owners they also really look after the bands. Another one is Lounge Forty-one in Workington Lucy puts us on there the venue is tiny but the gigs are always fun.

Matt – For me it’s about the crowd, I’ve played in some questionable places but still managed to have an amazing time! The best venue I can think of was the purple turtle in Camden, the stage is quite high and we had a big crowd across two floors – I loved the view of the wall of people.

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If you could play anywhere with any support bands of your choice, what would be your ‘dream’ show?
Chris – The O2 Academy main stage in Newcastle is great, the room on the stage is fantastic, I’d love to play there with our friends in Falter and Enter The Lexicon… Both bands that have a similar sound to us and that really deserve to be courting the bigger labels.

Stu – Playing at Coachella with Deftones would be pretty awesome… Or if At the Drive In could re-form I’d quite happily support them 🙂

Craig – My dream show would be main stage of a major festival like Download or Sonisphere.

Matt – Dream show for me would be more of a dream tour – I’d love to go on a tour with a few upcoming hard working bands and just go right across the UK! Massive 30 date tour with minimal rest, it would be great to bust this out as a unit!

Best gig memories? and biggest disaster?
Chris – Best was probably the Bam show… I probably go on about it far too much though, however it was just a brilliant all round experience playing in front of 1000 people and meeting the guys from CKY, etc.
As for disasters, I think we’re all too old and have had enough experiences to avoid a true disaster, nothing that’s ruined the gig or anything that I can think of. There has been the odd gig where the promoter fucked up and we ended up playing only 4 or 5 songs instead of getting a full 45 mins or whatever, however I can pretty much hand on heart say the worst gig I’ve played with Digits was probably in Rhyl. I can’t even remember the venue name now it was that bad I just blocked it all out. The headline band actually opted to watch us and then go home rather than playing even though they’d travelled from Manchester way.

Stu – With Digits? – Erm main stage at the O2 with Bam Margera was pretty awesome – Disasters ooh getting our set cut short at a headline show due to curfew restrictions sucked…

Craig – Best has to be supporting Bam Margera at the O2 academy Newcastle. Playing to that many people and getting the reaction we had was amazing. Can’t think of the worst, there have been some awful gigs however.

Matt – Best- I played a local show for an ep launch (Trillians rock bar) the place was at bursting point and the atmosphere/anticipation was unreal. I’d flyered for the night for 4 weeks solid. It’s great seeing your hard work pay off.
Worst – I go for it a bit behind the kit, one time when I was playing on someone else’s kit the setup wasn’t quite right, I smashed my right hand during the second song right into the floor tom rim and busted all of my fingers open. I finished the gig in a sea of pain but it was hard work. The sea of blood at least looked pretty hardcore!

What are your plans for the immediate future and any long term goals? 
Chris – We’ve just finished settling Matt into the band and we were focussed on getting him up to speed for Make A Scene Festival, so the rest of this year will see us visit a few of our favourite haunts in support of our single Embers which is being released on November 26
th before putting out the second EP, Footprints & Embers in January next year. We’ve also begun writing the third EP which we really want to release by the end of next year. We had planned to release EP3 in the first half of the year, however my fiancée is expecting so we’ll probably end up putting it out next September.

Matt – For us we’d like to get out there. A new CD on the way, plans for some mini tours and then let’s see what happens. Our long term goals is all about getting together and writing some stuff people want to listen to.

Digits 2014

Digits 2014

Next show?
Chris – It’s January 17
th at the O2 Academy 2 with our friends in Yakx, Audio Pilotz, Hakara and Flying for our EP launch. After that we’ll be all over the country in both January and February.

Who or what is your top tip for local music? 
Chris – We’ve found limiting our playing locally so as to avoid audience fatigue (i.e. not coming along) has helped massive and because we’re getting a more solid turnout on a regular basis at ticketed gigs, promoters are happier to put us on and have us back. Try to avoid playing pointless free entry gigs with no pay and battle of the bands all the time, no one ever got anywhere in scene by playing them and nagging your fanbase can only hurt your turnout, besides there is a whole world of other venues to play, get out on the road and get to know yourself and each other better!

Stu – They’re not all that local but check out Falter – they’re sensational!

Craig – Don’t focus on sounding like a band you like, that is unfortunately the problem these days most bands do this and the result is a million bands that sound the same. Just write something without forcing it and see what comes out.

Matt – I’ve been listening to We Are Knuckle Dragger for some time and with their change to the current popular two piece setup they’re certainly worth a watch. I had a brief spell with the EnterTheLexicon boys they have a tight sound and are more than worth a night out for.

Where can people find out more?
Check us out at
www.facebook.com/digitsuk,
www.reverbnation.com/digitsuk,
www.youtube.com/digitsband,
www.soundcloud.com/digitsmusic
www.twitter.com/digits_band
We’ll also at some point have a website at www.digitsmusic.co.uk when we get around to it!!

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