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Neck Deep

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Listen to   NECK DEEP while you read.

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It’s not often in this day and age that a band can be discovered accidentally.

Sure, social media platforms have made it easier and more accessible, but even then such ventures are usually planned out with an end goal in mind.

Not so with Welsh pop/punk band Neck Deep who in 2012 were thrust into the musical spotlight after putting the song ‘What Did You Expect’ up on – line more out of curiosity than intent.

“It actually was kind of as easy as just posting a song,” vocalist Ben Barlow laughed on reflection. “In terms of getting started as a band it is usually a lot of work but for us it was as easy as putting a song on – line and hoping that people liked it. We didn’t plan on anything more and at that stage it was just put the song up and see what happens and it took off from there (laughs).It’s pretty amazing when you think back and see where we are now. People liked that song so we put out an E.P and people liked that so we put out another E.P and started touring. It all happened very quickly, within six months it turned from writing songs for fun into a full time touring band.”

While it was exciting to go from keyboard warrior to full time musician, Barlow says the experience was not as cut and dried as get popular, form band, tour the world.

“There were definitely problems associated with the rapid rise of the band,” he stressed. “We got to where we are rather quickly and as such we had to learn how to be a band really quickly. People expected so much of us and thought we must be really good but in reality we hadn’t really played that much (laughs). Most bands have had a year or two of playing their songs and they tighten up over that time and get used to playing but we just had to learn real fucken quick. Some of us were in university or had jobs and it was pretty much a case of you have to leave all of that shit because you’re gonna be on tour with the band. It was a very steep learning curve especially for me. Most of the guys had been in bands before and had done touring but I had literally only ever done solo and acoustic stuff. I had never actually been in a band, I was just asked to sing because I could write good lyrics so they thought I must be able to sing too (laughs). I was just winging it for a long time. It would have been nice to have more time to wing it before having a crack but other than that it was cool things happened so fast. It gave me the belief in life that I was looking for I guess. I wasn’t necessarily happy with being in university and doing something I didn’t want to do. Obviously being a 17/18 year old guy joining a band and touring the world was more where I wanted to be. People might think we didn’t have to work for it because it happened so quickly but believe me we fucken worked. We went hard for those first few years. People knew who we were but for two years it was fucken relentless. It was like record as much as possible, tour as much as possible and do as much as possible which was a lot of work but has paid off. Within five years – we’re not even five years old – we’ve had four releases and toured parts of the world many times. It’s crazy.”

Growing as a band in the spotlight also taught the members of Neck Deep to grow themselves in the public eye to a degree and as such has forced them to concentrate more on the little things that go into music. They have had to grow before their fans eyes and in doing so grew behind the scenes together.

 

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“I think over the years we have learnt to think things out more with our music,” he surmised. “I guess a lot of people would say – and I agree in some cases – that bands earlier stuff is their best stuff but I think as much as there is beauty in thrashing out a song and it being an organic thing that just happens I think with us the songs are more thought through now. We realized the mistakes that we made in our earlier records maybe and have dialed that back a bit and refined it to the point where we are a lot smarter with our songwriting now. We know what to look for and what we like with music. We’re critical of music so we have to be critical of ourselves whereas back then it was more ‘yeah, this is the song, you’re gonna write vocals and sing over it and that’s that’ but now we are very fucken critical. I think generally now we’re a bit older too – not a lot, but enough. Shit changes with your own life so the shit I wrote about when I was 17 isn’t necessarily the shit I’m gonna write about now. As cliché as it sounds we have matured.”

One component that Neck Deep have retained above all else is their carefree spirit and willingness to enjoy their career, a fact which Barlow feels contributes greatly to their success.

“It’s very important to be honest,” he said. “Obviously there comes a time when you have to take it seriously but there’s a difference between… I think we take it seriously when we need to but the main thing is we do know how fucken lucky we are to be in this position. Why ruin that by getting all serious? The vast majority of the time we are just having a laugh. We’re very normal dudes. There’s no chips on our shoulders and no ego’s in this band. We just wanna go out, play a gig and have a fucken laugh and make the most of it. It could be game over before you know it so have fun while you can. If we can send a positive message I guess… and maybe that’s kind of the point as well, passing that mentality on to our fans and our listeners is important. When we make records we don’t wanna make people sad we want them to be happy. I couldn’t imagine letting all of this shit go to my head because I’ve seen people like that and I fucken hate those people. None of us want to be celebrities. We’re very happy with our lives at this point.”

With their last album, Life’s Not Out to Get You, coming out in 2015, Barlow is pleased to announce on the eve of their upcoming Australian tour with All Time Low and The Maine that work on the follow up is well under way.

We’re deep into it man,” he assured. “We’ve got a good, good chunk of the writing done. We’ve got thirty to forty demos and a good, strong handful of songs that are almost there. We fly out to record the album in probably early February.”

As for the musical direction, Barlow says it will be a typical Neck Deep album with perhaps the odd surprise here and there.

“It will be a bit of both,” he laughed. “I wouldn’t necessarily say… if there are surprises they will be planned surprises. I don’t think we’re gonna make a black metal record (laughs). It’s going to be a Neck Deep record and that will clearly come through. Maybe there will be elements that people aren’t expecting or maybe have been wanting to hear. Like I was saying before we have matured. We don’t wanna be a one trick pony where we keep writing the same record. Maybe it’s time to push the boundaries but the bottom line is it’s still a fucken Neck Deep record.”

Written by Kris Peters

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