Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
We think of Ursus as a heavier and darker version of metalcore. We draw our influence from a lot of different styles and the culmination of all the music we listen to comes out in the songs. Everything from Deathcore to chilled electronic music has influenced our sound.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
Ursus formed originally in 2015 when we were all teenagers with a very different line up. Over the 2 years after that we played a lot of shows and even released an EP which we have since deleted. For the 3 members still in the band from when we first started, we view those 2 years as a learning experience. Before that we didn’t know how to perform on stage, write music together as a group, or even just run a band. So those 2 years taught us all about how actually to be in a band. Then when we finally cemented a line up and got Joe Grimes on vocals earlier this year, we were ready to take all that we had learned and launch the band properly. People may have heard of us before but his is a completely different band now from when we started. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the name.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
We have a massive range of musical influences which all come out in some way in the music. We’re all big fans of bands like Structures and Thy Art is Murder not only for their music but also their song writing ability. The music may be technical but never at the detriment of the song itself which is what we strive to do. As well as that we also have lots of influence in the newer stuff we’re writing from the sound design in horror movies. All the eerie atmospherics create a very energetic setting at our live shows. Horror movies and other films within that area of cinema have also been a big influence on us stylistically as you can see from what we wear on stage and in our photo’s.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
The dream for this band is just like any other. We want to be touring the world playing shows all over the place. Writing music that people enjoy and connect with is very important to us and the live shows are even more so because that’s where you get that direct interaction with the audience. Our goal therefore is to get to a place where we can sustain ourselves financially from the band to the point where we can play music full time and be touring all year round.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
The songs have become a lot more of a collaborative process than they used to be. James will write the initial parts and the music. Once he’s constructed as much of the song as he can he brings it in and we workshop it as a group and basically arrange and structure the song together. Joe will then write the majority of the vocals and lyrics and everyone else will go back over their individual parts and make sure they’re as good as they can be. Lyrically the songs are just about anything that has inspired us at that particular time. The music usually inspires the direction of the lyrics but there is no fixed topic that we focus on. The new single we’re releasing called Hallowed Shakes is about someone suffering from PTSD because that’s what Joe had been reading about when he heard the song and we felt that topic fit with the music.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
As with most things nowadays the bands promotion is done mostly online through social media. Obviously, there are other things a band can do but the reach of social media is so vast that it just makes sense to use the best tool we have available to us. We’re working with Domino PR at the moment who have been amazing and have a really great modern approach to promotion.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
There are a lot of pro’s and con’s that go along with downloading music online but bands that are adapting to it are the ones who are succeeding. It’s awful that musicians are making little to no money off of their music today, but the bands that are sat at home complaining about it and not changing to fit with the times are the bands that are disappearing. We would love to be able to make money from our music but we also know realistically without the internet we would not have the reach, or the fan base that we do. It’s given new bands and bands from smaller areas an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had before.
PD: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
The whole landscape of music has shifted and is continuing to do so. The album is dying if it hasn’t already and it seems like EP’s might not be far behind that. Even lots of record labels are starting to disappear. The way musicians release music and make money has completely changed in the last 20 or so years and it’s causing small bands and the bands in the middle of the industry to really suffer. Musicians such as ourselves are going to have to start thinking about new ways to operate in the industry if we’re going to grow or even just survive. The power to keep music alive has all be taken now from the musicians themselves and given to the fans. If you like a new album or a single buy it instead of streaming it. If you love a band go to their shows or buy some merch. There’s definitely hope though. New labels like Sharptone are doing amazing things at the moment and big indie labels like Sumerian Records are readjusting to help keep our area of the industry on its feet.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas. It’s a masterpiece, it’s instantly recognisable and has so far it has survived the test of time. Not to mention they must be raking it in every time that song gets played on Supernatural.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
People who leave practice rooms in a state. There’s nothing quite like walking into a practice room you’ve booked for 3 hours and having to spend 30 minutes cleaning up and fixing the equipment before you’ve even set up. Bands that trash talk each other is another one. You get a lot of bands that love to big themselves up and talk about everything that they didn’t like at other bands shows. Or they’ll play with other bands and go to different shows telling anyone who will listen why they themselves are so much better. We’ve just been talking about the industry dying so surely this is when bands should be doing everything they can to support each other. Also, people who film entire shows in the middle of the crowd. We love getting little videos after shows from the crowd but if you want a full 30-minute phone recording of the set then stand at the back and get out of everyone’s way.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
It would probably have to be playing with Loathe in Bristol. We’ve played with bands that we’ve really got into after we played with them and we’ve played with bands that we liked before we got the show. But Loathe was the first time we’ve played with one of our absolute favourite bands so that was an incredible experience. They were all very humble as well and happy to talk to us about anything which is always such a great learning experience as a young band. Not to mention the response from our performance was great as it was one of the first shows with Joe in the band.
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.
The Ursus live show is dark, energetic and aggressive. We strive to make the show as much of a visual experience as an audible one. When you come to our show you’re seeing us performing to the best of our ability and we’ve tried to make it an all-round experience for the people watching. We’re not just going to stand still and play the songs we’re going to put everything we have into them, every night. We’re coming back in the new year with shows in a lot of cities that we haven’t played before as well as places we’re very excited to play again. The dates are all to be announced so the best way to keep track of the band and when our shows will be, is to like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram.
Band location – Swindon England
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