After their hugely impressive and extended set at Station 18 Festival at Hangar 18 Music Venue Swansea, I managed to entrap…sorry… interview Wii Preston (lead vocals) James Rowlands (guitars and vocals) and Dafydd Fuller (drums and vocals) of Black Lakes.
PD: How would you describe yourself as a band?
JR: Wow, massive question. I think we kind of blend the rock and the metal together to create something that is very unique that fits into…
WP: It’s familiar, but it’s not.
WP: It’s like comfort food for your 80s new metal fan, but at the same time it’s modern enough to stand out on its own really.
DF: Yeah, a bit of new, a bit of old. I think that’s just down to everyone in the band. I mean having different tastes.
PD: Throw it in a pot and mix it all up.
JR: We wear influences on our sleeves, I guess. There’s grunge, there’s a little bit of new metal, new rock and new, new metal.
DF: We’re taking all those influences and trying to make something that we like.
PD: Who would you say influenced you?
JR: It depends who you ask. If you ask me, then it’s very much like, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Peppers, Rage Against The Machine. There was a time when that was my thing. You ask Dafydd and he’ll say something completely different.
DF: Yeah, and then you ask Lee and it’s all Death Metal.
WP: There’s this band he (lee) recently turned me on to, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and they’re like fucking cool and I’m like how did I not know about this band?
DF: I supported them.
WP: No way?
PD: They’ve changed their name now to just the initials MWWB.
JR: And that’s cool. Without Lee there we wouldn’t have that Death Metal vibe and Lee’s fronted Death Metal bands. But you ask Will and it will be different, you ask Scott…different again. So we bring all of these cool influences into the melting pot that we call Black Lakes.
PD: What track did you enjoy playing the most tonight?
JR: Verity for me, Verity In Flames. The something about Verity that it’s got crushing riffs and then it’s got space and it’s probably when we were writing the album For All We’ve Left Behind it was one of those songs where we said, this one just needs some space to breathe, it doesn’t need guitars in the verse, it just needs 2 things going on, it needs vocals and it just needs bass or it just needs a little something else. And then it needs that crushing riff coming through and it needs….
WP: It’s got light and dark in it.
JR: Yeah, it’s stripped back. Less is more.
DF: Peaks and valleys, but it’s fun.
PD: And it’s very powerful because of it.
WP: For me it’s like the peaks are ‘peaks’ and then the valleys are really ‘valleys’. It just makes more room for the peaks.
DF: And the breakdown is dirty.
JR: And that’s Dafydd’s fault. It’s like I was saying, that’s the cool thing that Dafydd brings in. It’s like all that break down is Dafydd.
WP: Dafydd brings the screaming heaviness and I bring the pop hooks. Dafydd’s like “What would Bring Me The Horizon do here?” and I’m like “What would Girls Aloud do?”
DF: Yeah it shouldn’t work, but it does.
PD: What has been the band’s proudest moment.
WP: The proud moments lately, seem to be coming in thick and fast, it seems like everything we do seems to be racking it up in a sort of crazy, exciting way.
PD: How did the pandemic affect this?
DF: We had some recordings pre-covid and then during covid we knew we couldn’t go into a studio, so we just spent more time honing. So, it was great, we had the recordings out and we were able to gig and then we weren’t. So it was a bit more underground and sort of crafting it and cracking it. And once the gates were open again, it took us a second to get back into the swing of it. Because it’s finding your feet, we hadn’t been playing live as a band all that long. If you consider Covid, not long at all, so it’s finding your feet. Once we found the rhythm of things live and after the album was put out, then things started to get thrown at us…Do you want to do this? Do you want to do that?
WP: It’s navigating that.
JR: Yeah, it’s navigating it, but it’s a privilege at the same time.
PD: Would you say that the songs developed, even benefitted somewhat due to the break that Lockdown gave you?
JR: We kind of went in with Romesh (Romesh Dodangoa/Longwave Studios) and he listened to some of our demos and said “Yeah, I can do something with that.” And he took it to the next level.
PD: Do you trust him.
JR: Fucking hell yeah, 100 per cent.
WP: Sometimes we’d have disagreements as a band, there’d be 3 of us saying to do this and 3 of us saying to do that. And we’d be like, right, we’ll just take it to the court of Romesh, and we’d be like “Romesh, you’re judge and jury, what does this song do here?”. He’d say, “This one” and we’d be, “That’s it, that’s done, that’s what it needs”.
JR: But as we went through, I think we became a bit more confident in what we wanted, just a little bit. You have to respect the man, he has a lot of weight behind him in terms of nominations, in terms of bands he’s worked with. It was an absolute privilege to be working in that environment and a massive learning curve for us and we had to take it on board. This album has broke, in so many different ways, in terms of song writing, in terms of production, in terms of trying to be the best band we can be within the industry.
PD: Tell us some more about the recording process?
JR: It started off very different to how it is now.
WP: It started traditional.
WP: It started off: downloads – studio, – re-do everything – polished version. But come the end, the last 6 songs on the album, because of Covid, we couldn’t go back in the studio. So we ended up spending a lot of hours cooped up at James’, in one tiny room, working and working and working and working, to record all of it ourselves and then we had to uplift and send it all to Romesh, so he’d re-amp everything. The only thing we went into the studio to do for those last 6 songs were the vocals and the drums. Everything else we’d managed to do.
JR: I am devastated that I didn’t get a chance to go in again. Honestly. Because of Covid restrictions, it was very much, Will’s going in to do his vocals and Dafydd’s going in to do the drums, Scott’s going in, he’s going to do some moments on guitar…I live for every aspect of the band and to not be able to go in, that was a tough pill to swallow. But at the end of the day, it’s for the band.
DF: It’s interesting to see the potential of what a band can do from home nowadays. Nowadays, if you know what you’re doing and you’ve got minimal equipment, you can do so much and then send it off to someone who’s a pro and then make it huge.
WP: We’re lucky we’ve got Dafydd and he knows what he’s doing.
JR: And Dafydd, fair play to him, he’s studying for this stuff, he’s doing Masters in this stuff. He’s working The Patriot as a tech. He’s like, living and breathing it.
DF: Romesh is still better.
PD: Do you want me to keep that in?
JR: Yes, keep that in.
DF: Honestly, he is the best.
JR: And it’s all about what you can learn from people who have more experience than you, because that pushes you on and that makes you better musicians. It makes you more humble. I think that being more humble is a good thing in this industry, you know? Please and thank you’s go a long way. Respecting the people that have got that experience is sometimes missed by certain individuals.
PD: What are your thoughts on the reaction you got to the album?
JR: Fucking Hell! We got involved with Rob from Stampede and Jesus Christ like, 8 out of 10s, 4 out of 5’s. ERB getting involved with us, Guy B getting in touch and giving us lots of plays.
DF: Aside from the reviews, people like, even tonight, people telling you that they’ve had the CD since it was released in February and it’s been on in the car non-stop. “I haven’t stopped listening to it, I can’t stop listening to it.” So aside from professional reviewers and media people, the public seem to love it as well.
JR: People are into it and it’s like, from going from nowhere to “I really like your stuff.” I mean, I’ve been trying to do this for 25 years. Like why didn’t I do this 25 years ago? Dafydd wasn’t fucking born. Do you know what I mean? I remember a moment in my life at Uni, seeing a band on stage like this and going, “I could do that! I can do that! I’ve got enough talent to do that!” and it’s taken me that long to get here. And to get to this point and to be able to have this conversation with you and to spend so much time with 6 people that I love… I’ve got a lot of time for these guys. And hopefully we’ve got that vibe going out.
DF: It’s a weird thing, we’ve all been in bands before, it’s still a weird thing when someone you don’t know comes up to you and says, “I’ve had you CD on repeat in my car for 3 weeks straight, I can’t stop listening to it.” I’m looking at this guy and I’m going, “Okay! Thank you!”.
JR: It’s really nice and I love to give that back. Like having conversations with people in the crowd today, it’s not about me, it’s about them. We haven’t had this for 3 years, it’s not about us, it’s about them coming to support us. What’s that quote? “There’s no music on a dead planet.” We are ground level man and the response that we are getting is that love, finding that tribe. It’s fucking heart-warming and what more can you say, but “Thank you very much?” “I bought your album and I bought a t shirt.” “Jesus, thank you man. It means so much!”
DF: It’s about the journey, not the destination. The journey so far has been good, it’s been great.
JR: But we’ve got the right people behind us, there’s 6 of us, there’s not many bands out there that do 3 guitars, bass, drums and then like 4 vocalists, there are not many bands that do what we do.
PD: I had to laugh when I saw your promo pic. On the site, I usually go for a 425 by 425 size for the pic, but with the 6 of you in a line, I couldn’t do that.
JR: That sounds like a ‘you problem’ to me Pete.
PD: Hey if that was my only problem in life…
JR: No, that’s cool, I’d like to tell you a story about that. It was hard work getting those pictures. We went to this really cool location, and we were on top of this slag heap, up by Merthyr, we were struggling to get the right image, but there was just this moment, while we were at the top of this slag heap, the sun was at the meridian, the photographer was at the bottom and it’s the centre-fold of the album and we are just silhouetted. It was that one moment that made everything worthwhile.
DF: There’s not a lot that gets overlooked by the band from pictures to production. I don’t know whether we are too hard on ourselves or whether we’re just pushing and pushing: We need better production. We need better photos…
JR: We need better kilts! This one’s great, the company I bought this from is in Swansea.
WP: We need a sporran with the logo on.
JR: That would be fucking cool.
PD: Ahh but you’d have to have a wide one with the band picture on.
PD: So what is the rest of 2022 looking like for you?
JR: We’ve just announced Planet Rockstock for December, can’t wait for that. That will be insane. We’re at the Redhouse in Merthyr, we’ve got the Grumpy Clown, we’re off to Bannerman’s in Edinburgh and quite a few more. Gigs keep coming our way, it really is an awesome place to be where people are saying “would you like to play this?” rather than us asking “Can we play please?”
DF: Yeah it’s tricky really, cos it’s at an awkward time, a lot of the festivals for 2022 are already booked, so we’re taking what we can get in 22 and I think ‘less is more’ in some cases. Which I think we like, play less shows, make it bigger. But I think, a lot of exciting stuff in terms of festivals….
JR: There’s stuff we can’t talk about in 23.
WP: Which is really weird like, never been in a position before, in a band, where people offer you stuff and you can’t talk about it until ‘this’ date. It’s a really weird feeling to have that privilege.
JR: You just want to climb up the highest steeple and shout “We’re doing this show with these guys and this band”
WP: Problem is, if you did shout it from the tallest steeple, you’re no longer doing that show.
PD: Okay, we’ll leave it there, all I have left to say is thanks so much for your time, I appreciate the interview, it’s been a lot of fun and good luck with the rest of the year and all the hush, hush events in 2023.
JR: Thank you, it was fun. Thanks for your support in the band’s journey.
WP: Many thanks Pete.
DF: It’s been a laugh, thanks Pete.
Black | Lakes links:
Band/Artist location – Wales England
Website – Facebook – You Tube – Merch – Reverbnation – Twitter –
Instagram – Spotify – Amazon – Deezer – Last Fm
Check our page for Black Lakes