This hard rocking quartet based in London are still an unknown quantity to many, but over the next year or two, as with many bands, they hope for wider acknowledgement. With a very well executed sound resembling elements of bands like Bush, Staind or Stone Sour, Feral Sun are not a demanding new assault to the ears, but another fine example of accommodating various influences which bring to fruition a sound that is reminiscent of popular chart-breaking hard rock acts. Glory is surely theirs for the taking if that formidable collision of luck, skill and sheer determination embrace each other.
A forthcoming studio album going by the name of Evacuate is in the pipeline for a release at some point in early 2014, so remember where you heard about it first. Wrestling an all-encompassing 11 brutal yet beautiful examples of their style, Evacuate is a flowing torrent of emotion and top quality musicianship. Songs like Long Road and Breathe are already out there for those who like to catch the sound of the next big thing. Both of these singles are included amongst other gems like Into Pieces and People Are Dying on the forthcoming debut album.
Feral Sun began in some ways in South Africa where frontman Mick Burns had his roots, and in those embryonic days they were known as Wild Child. As with the proverbial phoenix, they rose from the ashes of playing a version of light grunge back in those days to blossoming in to this current line-up. After holding auditions, drummer Jay Stephenson plus lead vocalist and guitarist Burns stumbled across the mighty mountain known as Alex Nikitin for the position of bassist along with fellow guitarist Marco Lo Coco. Feral Sun had found their collaborators and was now intent on plying their trade, showcasing a familiar yet well-tuned style of hard rock music.
“We took all the songs I had, that I brought over with me y’know, my back catalogue of songs and y’know we tried them out. Like every band starts with covers or whatever, we actually started with original songs and tried to work out what type of song we all want as in, you know with new members. And actually all of them started going out as soon as we started writing better ones.” Spoken with a noticeable South African lilt, Burns explained where the songs that will appear on Evacuate came from. “We literally went out playing gigs with a completely different set. I mean I think maybe one or two songs on this album might have featured in that time, but as we grew as a band within the five years, I think after about the second year within those five years all the old songs fell away. They’re still there; we can still re-work them ‘cos nobody’s actually heard them as much, but at the moment we started writing new stuff and it was sounding better.”
Burns then added “The musicians that we’ve got now at the level that they are, are fantastic. But also yes, I think I have grown as a songwriter, y’know with the lyrics, how to put things together. I’ve really thought through on, not just what the people would want to hear, but also like how can we get the middle ground between what we’d love to play and not just play music because we want to make money; that was never the thing.” The sound of so many ideas flowing through the mind of Burns was tangible as he expressed himself with an understated intensity. “If we did make money that would be fantastic, but it was more about the feeling we get and the message we can give our fans and the people out there.”
With thoughts of the real world and the influences of juggling what you desire with the costs of what are necessities in this life, the conversation moves on to what Burns had to deal with in order to relocate. With the upheaval and courage to travel to another country and to follow his aspirations, his genuine self-belief in his music was not shaken throughout. There is no doubt how focused and motivated Burns is regarding all things of a Feral Sun nature. It becomes evident that this approach full of the many experiences that the band have been through, adds fuel to their creativity and purpose to keep going.
“Last year I lost both of those parents within three months and wrote two or three of the songs that are on this album around that time, so all of the lyrics sort of came on around that time, especially Breathe. The single that we’re releasing now is so much around my experience of letting go of my Mum that it’s the biggest song on the album in a sense, for me, as a person and as a musician.”
The Evacuate album was recorded at a respected studio located on an island in the River Thames, London. Stakeout Studios is the studio for Jason Wilson and his team of mixing engineers who have worked on music by We are the Ocean and You Me at Six amongst a whole collection of other bands and artists. “Two separate friends that are in two totally different bands, y’know you’ve got a punk rock band and a solid rock band type thing that recorded there. I heard the quality and decided ‘let’s go check it out’. Not only did they have a good sound, but they also were quite affordable compared to some of the London studios” explained Burns as he revealed how Feral Sun recorded their debut album at the location.
As Feral Sun gear up for the release of their debut album, another interesting development is taking place thanks to Stephenson the drummer and his connections through DJing and attending various sports related events. Sony Entertainment Games are working on a high-energy related game and are in possession of the band’s music which may well be incorporated. Understandably, if this does come to fruition, Burns is very excited regarding the potential rewards.
Noting that Burns is the main guiding and driven force for the band, surely he was musically gifted at a young age? “Funny enough there wasn’t a music instrument in my house. Nobody in my family was really musical orientated. They loved listening to music as such but not actually making it. So my upbringing was focused around football actually. I was very sporty and I never actually thought of music until I hit around, about 15.” He continues with his thoughts of his childhood. “As you do, you start drinking, smoking and trying to get into clubs and all the rest of it, and we were just being absolutely silly as you do, got horribly drunk started picking up tennis rackets and started playing to every Nirvana album every single weekend. This is how it started with my closest friends being absolutely silly stupid in a sense. Then the one day we just turned around and said ‘you know, why don’t we get instruments?’ And that sort of kicked us into getting our first jobs. I got my first guitar like that; actually I wanted to be a drummer. But I couldn’t afford drums so I ended up getting a guitar.”
When a friend showed him how to string his guitar and tune it, after about six months or so Burns explained that he was showing his friend how to play parts on the guitar. Later on with Burns finding a natural aptitude towards his new-found instrument, he gained the nickname of the human jukebox as he was able to play all sorts of songs.
When asked what Feral Sun meant to him, Burns took a deep breath and then rattled off how much the band meant to him. “Everything sort of revolves around that, you know, all our thought processes, what we’re going to do, what’s our next step, the people we meet, the other bands that we go and watch that come support us and we support them, so in a sense it is a way of life. The music we listen to, that we try to mix it up a bit, see how we can influence our style of writing by hearing different sounds.”
This isn’t just a story about a band containing four individual members who bring their own style and influence to the overall music on offer, but also about conviction in what can be ascertained with hard work and discipline. Feral Sun are on the verge of making an announcement to those who are willing to listen, that they have finally arrived with a sound that is natural to them and is cohesive and emotive. It is a sincere form of hard rock music that is the result of real life experiences, and remarkably, is only their first album. As time elapses, it’s going to be very interesting to hear what they come up with next.
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