I first encountered this band opening for Druganaut at the Cluny earlier this year. Truly epic creations and there is nothing else quite like them around the local scene. I was hooked from the start; epic post-rock riffs and Hammond organs, what’s not to like?!
They released their debut album ‘The Mountain Ghost’ in the summer and picked up a slot on this years Evo Emerging festival. You’ll get a chance to witness their sounds at NARC. Fest 2015 this weekend (Saturday 4th July). Where they play at The Tyne Bar and are not to be missed. Doors are at 7pm, they’re on first so make sure you get there early!
I caught up with them for a chat and to hang around with prog-rock goats!
Can you give us an introduction to Kylver?
JS: We’re James Bowmaker on bass, Neil Elliott on the keys, Barry Mitcherson on Drums and myself (Jonny Scott) on the guitar.
BM: We are four dudes from Newcastle who enjoy making music, in the style of rock, metal and prog in particular, all unified under the band name Kylver.
How would you describe your music to people in one sentence?
BM: Instrumental music that twists and turns it’s way through a rich musical story, bringing out a range of atmospheres and emotions along the way.
JS: Like a crab, hard on the outside, soft in the middle and it will scuttle off sideways when you’re least expecting it to.
What got you started as a band?
JS: Myself, Neil and Jim have played in bands together on and off for years, we would probably sit here all day talking about the various bands we’ve been in together. After the singer/song writer who we previously played with decided to go in a different direction we started going down our rehearsal room on and off jamming proggy type riffs, using a laptop to fill in for a drummer. I knew Barry from school and doing a bit of work with him so we just asked him to come along and jam with us once we had a bit more of an idea of what we wanted to do with the music.
BM: We got started making music with no other intention than to make something we would like to both play and listen to. Scotty got talking about how he was jamming some riffs with Jim and Neil that were on the dark/heavier side of things. They just asked me if I wanted to come down their room and play some drums with them.
Kylver seemed to pop up from nowhere and have the music to back up the hype. Did the material come naturally or was it a longer process?
JS: Thanks!… We’re not too sure where the hype came from. Yeah, I’d say it all came together pretty effortlessly. Like I said; three of us have played together for a long time and we’ve played a pretty broad range of various types of music. When you’re that familiar with each other, as musician’s things just seem to come together. Then when Barry came along everything just kind of fell in to place.
BM: With no shortage of ideas and riffs, the creation process is pretty laid back. We work out the bare bones of a song and let it sink in for a while and then change any parts that aren’t speaking to us, even if it means taking a song in a drastically different direction than we originally played it until we find something we all agree on and get a feel for. It’s very much a collaborative process, with trial and error until we get something that just sounds right.
I’m a huge fan of post-rock music but there doesn’t seem to be much of it around on the local scene. Are there other bands out there worth checking out?
JS: Young Liar, they play what I’d define as post-rock. There’s also our mates Apologies but I’m not sure if put them firmly under the post-rock banner, they’re a lot more aggressive.
What sets you aside from other bands in the genre?
BM: We don’t specifically try and set ourselves aside from other bands in the genre but, if that happens its because we have let the music speak for itself. We let our influences from the past 50 years show in our music but without trying to imitate anyone else’s style, which maybe helps things sound fresh.
JS: Personally I don’t think that we firmly slot into the genre of Post-Rock. We’ve always thought of what we do as progressive rock/metal, in the same vein as instrumental bands like Electric Hawk and Zebulon Pike. There are definitely elements of post-rock in our music but then there are a lot more things going on than what I think that you generally find in post-rock. We’re a lot heavier and may be a little less repetitive.
Who is the biggest influence for the band?
JS: For me it’s bands like Latitudes, Electric Hawk, Zebulon Pike, Mastodon, King Crimson, Rush and Yes. Anything that has those little details and changes that makes you listen a little closer.
BM: Pink Floyd (particularly Dave Gilmour), legend.
Where did the band name come from? Any rejected names?
JS: It comes from the name of a Rune called the Kylver Stone. For people who don’t know, it’s pronounced: Kil-ver. Neil kept forgetting how to say it at first so we made a t-shirt with “Kylver – Like silver but with a Kay because the Why is and Aye” on it as a bit of a joke and a tongue-in-cheek reference to us being from Newcastle. It’s probably not the funny to anyone else but it keeps us entertained.
BM: No, I don’t think there was any rejected names, probably a few that floated around our heads but none that ever made it as far as coming out of our mouths. Kylver just seemed to fit and sounded right.
What was the pivotal thing that got you into music?
JS: Probably my older sister. I remember being really young and being obsessed with the Iron Maiden track ‘Run to the Hills’, more than likely because it had Eddie fighting the Devil on the cover of the record. But it was Terminator 2 and the Guns ‘N’ Roses track ‘You Could Be Mine’ that made me want to lean how to play the guitar.
BM: For me it was playing my mothers record collection of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s music of various styles when I was a kid and taping stuff off the radio, which continued throughout school until I could attend some live shows. Seeing music performed live at some of my first gigs is what truly inspired me to start playing drums myself. In particular Monsters of Rock at Donington Park in 1995.
Name the band/artist that changed your life.
BM: Pantera, Metallica and Sepultura are the first heavy bands I got to hear. I got an album by each of them and loved every second. Combined with watching the Pantera home video’s on repeat, it made a life making music very appealing to me as a teenager, and that has stuck with me.
JS: It’s probably Pantera for me as well. Guns ‘N’ Roses were a pretty big influence in getting me started playing the guitar but when I came across Pantera they pretty much blew my mind. There was a point where they just seemed to be unstoppable. They just got heavier and heavier and stuck to their roots when bands like Metallica were cutting their hair and putting eyeliner on to fit in with that whole ‘Alternative’ thing.
Name first record you ever bought?
JS: The first record I actually bought with my own pocket money was something like ‘Do the Bartman’ or ‘Fog on the Tyne’ featuring Gazza. Nothing particularly cool looking back, but everybody makes mistakes. The first proper album I bought would have been ‘Appetite For Destruction’ by Guns ‘N’ Roses.
BM: Apart from a couple of dodgy singles like Turtle Power from TMHT film the first proper album was Ugly Kid Joe – America’s Least Wanted, still love that one today.
Name the album that you’ve played to death?
JS: The Beastie Boys – Ill Communication. Me and my mates would constantly have it on in our cars when we were going skateboarding, or driving round looking for spots to skate.
BM: Megadeth – Rust in Peace is probably the one I’ve played most over the years.
What was the first gig you ever attended?
BM: Pantera at Newcastle City Hall in 1994. It was amazing to see my idols playing live, even though the power cut off after 3 songs and the gig ended early, haha.
JS: Guns N’ Roses at the Milton Keynes Bowl in 1993. They had The Cult, Blind Melon and Soul Asylum as support too.
If you could be in any band, past or present who would it be?
JS: I think it would be Rush. They always look like they are having a good time on stage, still after 40 years. I reckon that they would be a fun band to be in.
BM: For me it would also have be Rush, respected world-class musicians with a long career, a diverse back catalogue of music and still going strong!
Where is your favourite place to play and why?
BM: The practice room is my first as that’s where I feel most relaxed but I also have always enjoyed playing at Trillians, Newcastle.
JS: I’d agree with Barry, it’s cool playing live but I just like to play and being in the rehearsal room with your mates is more chilled than playing out, plus there no humping heavy Hammond Organs about. Venue wise I’d probably say The Cluny 2, it just has a proper venue feel to me. You know, as in the way it’s set up. I really used to like the Live Theatre years ago when they let you book it for gigs.
If you could play anywhere with any support bands of your choice, what would be your ‘dream’ show?
JS: I’d love to play Red Rocks in Colorado; it looks like such an amazing setting. I’d probably have to have a few of my mates bands on like The Great Curve, Druganaut, Apologies, Grandfather Birds and Ten Sticks just so we could have a big party. Then get Rush to headline so we can get the air guitars out when the whiskey kicks in.
BM: Would love to play Download Festival at Donnington Park, the modern version of Monsters of Rock. Not only that, it would be cool if band like Rush, Dream Theatre, Dillinger Escape Plan, Tool, Pink Floyd, Rage Against The Machine, Wintersun, Avenged Sevenfold and all the rest of my favourite bands could join us.
Best gig memories? and biggest disaster?
BM: Hard to pick a best gig moment as I’ve enjoyed them all mostly. In a previous band we had a gig booked a few months in advance and got really hyped about it, hired a bus and took some friends and when we arrived, the venue had closed down without notifying us. Bastards
What are your plans for the immediate future and any long-term goals?
JS: Just play more live shows and writing more music. We’re currently putting some new material together and demoing it so that we have a clear idea of what we are going to do before taking it into the studio.
BM: The plan for the immediate future is to continue the writing process (some new material already in the pipeline) as well as play the gigs we have booked for the rest of the year and then we’ll be hitting the studio again early in the new year with the hope of some bigger gigs in the longer term.
Any top tips for local music we should check out?
JS: There are so many good bands kicking about around the North East. I’m really pleased to see the return of Grandfather Birds who Jim also plays in. They’ve been around for a while now but are a band that keeps refreshing their sound and progressing forward. Apologies (who we recently played The Cluny 2 with) are another great band that probably have the most solid rhythm section in the North East. I heard one of the tracks they have been doing in the studio the other day, sounded class. Looking forward to hearing more.
Where can people find out more?
JS: Our website is the best place to get more info (www.kylvermusic.com). Everything is up there in terms of news, gigs etc… and we’re on all the usual social media sites…
Any shows coming up?
JS: We’re playing NARC. Festival on 4th July and then The Head of Steam in Newcastle on Saturday the 5th September. After playing Evo Emerging and NARC, it will be the first gig we’ve arranged ourselves since we played The Cluny 2 with Apologies and Druganaut, which means it will be a full Kylver show with all the visuals, samples, Theremin and a full length set. We’ve not confirmed who will be joining us yet but we’ve got a couple of great bands in mind.
BM: When we do these festival type shows where there are few bands and quick changeovers we have to scale a lot of things back, so it’s going to be good to be able to do everything full on again, we might even play something new.
Special thanks to the lovely people at Ouseburn Farm for giving us permission to photo there.
View more photo galleries via our Music Photography Library