Over the past four years Aucklanders THESE FOUR WALLS have risen steadily through the ranks of New Zealand’s Rock scene. in 2007 their debut single ‘Walk Away’ was given regular airplay on NZ radio and TV stations and featured in The Rock FMs ‘Rock 1000 Countdown’ as the only song by an unsigned artist. The band’s next single ‘Under The Shadows’ was equally successful. September 2009 sees the release of ‘Down Falls An Empire’ the debut album from THESE FOUR WALLS. Lead guitarist Gray Vickers provides an insight to the bands progress so far…
You’ve just released your debut album ‘Down Falls An Empire’, how does it feel to have it done and are you proud of the result?
It’s kinda strange – I’ve gone from “gotta finsh gotta finish gotta finish” to “Holy Crap it’s done and people are listening to it. I’m really proud of what we’ve done – we set out to produce a rock album that didn’t compromise our values as musicians, yet was accessable to a wide audience. I totally feel that we nailed that!
What was it like working in the studio with Andrew Buckton and Chris van de Geer?
Buckton knows how to work us. We’ve done all our major recording with him and he’s tight enough with us to call a spade a spade and in the studio, you really need that. On top of it – he’s full of so many amazing ideas that add colour and texture that we’d never think of in a million years. When you’re tracking as much as we did, you need someone who can really stay on top of things and Andrew’s your man for that.
We did all the pre production with van de Geer (who’d mixed Under the Shadows and Fly Home for us previously) and he really focused on structure rather than riffs or beats. Of course, it lead to a lot of disagreement between him and I but that’s the beauty of what we do. We pushed the hell out of me as a writer and he got some awesome things out of us through that. I spent far too much time in the late days of June Mixing the album with him and we got pretty tight through that. He’s so goofy and easy to work with, it made 2am mixing sessions a lot more bearable. He worked really hard on getting these mixes right and he really knows how to nail a sound!
What turned out to be the trickiest parts of the album to record?
There were too many tricky parts – so many little nooks and crannies that needed filling that took way longer than we ever expected. For me personally, the opening riff for One Moment in Time was the hardest – I couldn’t get a single guitar to intonate (stay in tune all the way up the neck) so I used 5 guitars, playing different parts of the chords to create the tone that’s on the album. Buckton and I worked really closely on getting that right – it took almost a whole day just to play about 35 seconds worth of guitars!
You’ve got a limited edition 2 disc release of the album. What’s on that second disc and were those tracks recorded from the same sessions as the rest of the album?
When we were putting the final tracklisting together (before actually walking into the studio) Lilith and another song by the name of 2U3 were sitting in equal place so we recorded both and decided to call it once they were both done. Obviously Lilith made the cut and we were left with this awesome song that wasn’t any less cool than the others, it simply didn’t fit the flow of the album. So we got together with Dave Edtmaier (Miscreant Recordings) and hammered out a few acoustic tracks and put them with 2U3 on the bonus disc. We’ve always flirted with acoustic stuff (our Fly Home release show was actually our first ever full band acoustic show) so it made sense to show that side of our music on the album as well.
Earlier in the year you guys gave fans a chance to suggest which songs they thought should make it onto the album. That seems like a really cool idea, did it work well?
It was awesome – we like to include the fans as much as we can and for the most part, their contribution is really helpful – Obviously there are some bad eggs! We really took onboard their feedback and the first tracklisting meeting was based entirely around that feedback – we constructed lists and gave them rankings based on the website contributions and we took it from there. Obviously, some of the favourites missed out, but we didn’t ignore anything and we play those favourites that didn’t make the cut at our live shows – that way everyone wins
You guys have done a lot of shows in the last few years! What have been some of the most memorable ones for you?
Too many bloody shows! HA! We’ve had some rippers at the Kings Arms – that place cranks and the crowds are always super loud! We did a North Island tour midway through last year and we had some awesome bands with us and we just had a blast. Whakatane was really memorable – we ended the post show party with a 4 hour acoustic guitar sing-along on the balcony of the hotel with the bar staff and all the bands.
How’d you score the chance to support Karnivool at the Kings Arms this September? Nice one!
I’ve got no Idea how that one came about. Our Manager Ray called me after a meeting with our marketing team and said that we had the slot. We’re such huge fans of the band so we’re totally stoked
What’s are the ultimate goals that you hope to achieve with These Four Walls?
To tour and tour and tour. We’ve never been about the money – we’ll never be that pop band that writes catchy music to put on TV shows – we just want to play and have fun doing it. To be able to sustain a living whilst doing that is the ultimate dream for every musician and we’re no exception. We’re just taking things one step at a time and doing everything we can to extend our reach as far as possible!
What inspired you to become a musician in the first place?
I was exposed to music from a very young age – I had Poison and Guns ‘n’ Roses casettes when I was 7 years old. Music awakens something in me – I’ve always seen it as my chance to be expressive and different. Having parents who let me explore that totally helped.
What other band(s) have you played in before These Four Walls?
I’ve been in so many little bands throughout Rockquest and High School – nothing of real note – Walls was my first serious project after High School – I’ve been doing this for a long time!
In future, if you could collaborate with any musicians to do a project album, who would they be and why?
I’d really love to get into producing and writing with solo artists. I’ve been working with a couple lately and It’s exciting being able to bring my ideas to a whole different world of music. We’ve had Mat Bosher from Decortica playing second guitar for us lately – he and I get on really well – he’d be awesome to write with as well!
What are the band’s plans for the rest of 2009?
A few shows… A few more shows… maybe a few more after that – we’re hitting the road every chance we can. We’d really like to get up and down the whole country – we’ve been promising it for ages and it keeps falling through – but we’re working really hard on sorting it!