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New Way Home Interview Rich Simpson (Vocals)

New Way Home Interview

Formed from the ashes of bands such as DAYONE and SOMMERSET, Auckland’s NEW WAY HOME have won fans worldwide with their mix of heavy, complex, technical and ambient metal.

With the recent return of the band’s original guitarist Brandon Reihanna (ex-BLINDSPOTT) and completion of their debut album ‘Mirrors’, 2012 is looking set to be a huge year for the band. Frontman Rich gives us the details…

NEW WAY HOME had to postpone the release of ‘Mirrors’ originally planned to be released on 11/11/11. What happened there and do you have an official release date yet?

Rich: Basically the major factor among others was Zorran leaving the band and going to India for 5 months. We had to find a replacement before we could tour behind a release. Our original guitarist Brandon is back in the band but it took some time to learn everything and get live patches to sound good enough that we were representing the album properly. We are now back playing shows and the set is as tight as it should be. Looking to release in the first third of this year.

You released a rough demo for ‘Chrysalis’ before you recorded the album and that topped the Soundclick.com charts for almost a month Do you think ‘Mirrors’ has the potential to be released on an international label?

Rich: I think so. That kinda surprised us for a demo. We got a lot of views when we put up the album version on youtube recently too, most of the hits had come from Europe, Australia and the States. We’d definitely like to get to Europe and America at some point, getting to Oz for some more cross country missions would be sweet too.

The Anomaly EP was released on Midium records. Do you have a local label on board for ‘Mirrors’?

Rich: We are on the hunt for a local label with a bit of an international reach. Midium was good for the e.p but we really want to step it up a for this release.

The ‘Black Eyes’ demo was also a great taster for the new album and it’s been kicking around for a while. It’s amazing to think it’s just a demo track! What does the final recording sound like in comparison?

Rich: Thanks! Yeah the demo is good quality but I think the album version has a better drum sound, also the guitars, bass and vocals were all done with better gear, more time and more familiarity with the parts. Subtle touches, new layers and additions here and there as far as musicianship make a difference too. I think Rom had been playing a run that Christian wrote on the bridge section wrong for years so we fixed that too haha. Sorry Rompz!

Have you got the album cover artwork finalised and if so, what does it look like?

Rich: The cover has been finalised. It is two heads separating at the neck moving upward and out from each other. The concept was for the faces to be androgynous, ghostly and worn, and for the expression to be a subtle mix of anguish and peace. They also needed to be “fountaining” out from each other. I think the artist Linhan Ye has done a beautiful job, he gave me exactly what I wanted and more, from what seems like a complicated brief on my part. I was super stoked when we reached the final version from the various drafts that weren’t quite right. The colour theme is actually based on a chip of paint from my deck. I really liked the blue so I took it to Aleks Sakowski who did the album design and we did a colour match on the paint chip…cool story bro…

Is there a concept behind the ‘Mirrors’ album? Does it tell a story?

Rich: The concept I guess is change, through reflection, loss and growth. There is a lot of stark contrast on the album and the term mirror was used in relation to that, as a symbol of duality, as well as for the ideal that, by holding a mirror up, we can reflect on, and therefore move past negative behavioural patterns and shake off demons that otherwise control us un-noticed. The mirror could also be used to reflect beauty and love as well. Reflect anything really. It’s an easy metaphor!

The combo of Zorran Mendonsa / Evan Short doing mixing and mastering has resulted in some awesome recordings like COBRA KHAN’s ‘Helgorithms’. Were you stoked with their work on ‘Mirrors’?

Rich: Evan and Zorran are very good at what they do respectively. They are also our good friends and band mates so it was nice to keep it in the family. We are very happy with the final result but as always looking to improve for the next one.

What songs are you the most proud of on the album and why?

Rich: I can’t speak for the other guys but I’m most proud personally of a song called Adrift that I penned for my Mum and wrote with Zorran. She got to hear the demo version in Hospice and it moved her really deeply. I’m the most proud of that one because it wasn’t for me, it was for her. She was an amazing woman.

What were the most challenging parts to record?

Rich: The heavier stuff was challenging for me vocally because I had to dig up enough of myself to do justice to the mood of the music. If you don’t have something real, heavy music can make you look really stupid really fast. I think Devin Townsend said it best “Without conviction you’re just grown men making monster noises…it’s ridiculous” or something to that effect haha.

I’ve followed NEW WAY HOME for a few years now and the Anomaly EP (2005) was great but you haven’t released anything more since then. What got in the way of creating more music and do you have any regrets about not doing so?

Rich: A few things I guess, just general life complications and obligations, as well as some overtly stringent quality control putting things in the bin that could perhaps have been fixed up. I think we’ve been handed quite a few obstacles but we’ve trucked through them and everything feels a lot better now, more focussed. Half the next album is already demod and I think I’m learning to just purge things creatively and not overanalyze so much. There is an element of regret but had we recorded this album earlier I don’t think it would have as much depth or meaning and the songs wouldn’t work so smoothly. Also the blue colour theme wouldn’t match my deck haha!

Zorran left the band recently which would’ve been a big loss for you guys. Was it hard to find his replacement?

Rich: Replacing people is never easy because each person offers something unique that you can’t substitute. Zorran didn’t want to play live and was always away for extended periods of time with his job so it just wasn’t going to work out if we wanted to tour this record. We reached that realisation together and there was no bad blood. He is an amazing musician and engineer, but with a loss of one person you also gain a new one with a different perspective and approach. Brandon is an incredibly talented guitar player, his writing is a different flavour to Zorrans and that’s really exciting for us.

Replacing Tristan our original drummer a few years ago was a scary big deal too. Scott, our drummer is such a dedicated hungry dude though and he’s clicked right in, his ideas, feet and feel are off the hook and he’s super intuitive about picking up complex patterns. He really has breathed new life into us creatively. The worries go out the window when you find someone like that.

When you look at the line-up of NEW WAY HOME it’s a New Zealand metal / hardcore supergroup of sorts. You have former members of 8 FOOT SATIVA, BLINDSPOTT, DAYONE, SOMMERSET… do you think NEW WAY HOME’s sound is like a synergetic result all those bands?

Rich: To a limited extent yes, but I think our scope of influence is somewhat larger as we’ve all come from different musical backgrounds, also NEW WAY HOME preceded memberships to half of those bands. There will always be an element of DAYONE to our sound because Brandon and I played with them for a while as well as toured Australia before NEW WAY HOME formed from their remains, so we both carry that influence. I’m sure Romilly and Christian do too as they helped build the DAYONE sound. We were huge fans before we joined and still listen to the album and the music that influenced the ‘Less Than Perfect’ record. There would be no NEW WAY HOME without DAYONE.

I saw you guys open for MACHINE HEAD / SLIPKNOT a couple of years back and it was awesome. What was that show like for you and did you get to catch up with the bands?

It was good fun and great to play to such a huge and passionate crowd. The guy who actually chose us over the other bands put forward was Paul Gray from SLIPKNOT. Apparently he oversaw any support bands so they didn’t end up with anything he wasn’t happy with. He was a good dude and came and chatted with us, we met his wife and she was super cool too. Paul died of an overdose since then so it was nice to have met him and that he hooked us up. Rob Flynn was choice, he hooked me a couple of beers when we ran out and let Zorran talk his ear off about his gear. The rest of them had their faces buried in laptops or phones the whole night, probably road weary and missing their families.

You guys have opened for some big bands including the two above, MESHUGGAH, DEVIN TOWNSEND and KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. What were the highlights for you?

Rich: MESHUGGAH… not to mention DEVIN TOWNSEND! We partied through the night with the MESHUGGAH guys. Lovely chaps, I found out one of Tomas’ favourite drummers was Herb from PRIMUS as well as John Stanier from HELMET who are two of my faves as well so we talked crap about how good 90s music was for what seemed like days. Tomas has a similarly warped sense of humour to mine so we got on swimmingly. Their bassist spent most of the night in a spa with grey water and two rugged strippers while Fredrik and Marten just chatted happily away to people about recording, guitars, PINK FLOYD, bands they’re listening to, touring with TOOL and MINISTRY, and other interesting stuff. Cool night and really gracious, talented dudes.

What are your plans for the rest of 2012 and can we expect tour dates soon?

Rich: To find the right label and get this record out first and foremost. We are currently working with our booking agent Gareth Craze at RW Entertainment to organize a show schedule for the year to promote mirrors around the country. Our next one is Saturday March 24th at Thirsty Dog K road. Come and chuck a mosh at us!

Watch the music video for ‘Chrysalis’ below!

New Way Home - Thirsty Dog

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