INTERVIEW: Kadeem France & Erik Bickerstaffe – Loathe

LOATHE, hailing from Merseyside, are one of the newer bands to break through in the UK hardcore scene. After the release of their debut album, The Cold Sun, the band have seen success headlining shows around the UK, supporting bands such as BAD OMENS and BURY TOMORROW, and have announced a US tour. Their trademark sound reeks of brutality and bleakness, channelling their raw hate through a disgustingly low, chaotic soundscape. We caught up with vocalist Kadeem France and guitarist Erik Bickerstaffe to get the lowdown on all things LOATHE.

Congrats on your recent tour announcements, are you guys excited to bring LOATHE overseas?

Kadeem: Yeah definitely, this is our first US tour – we’ve played there once before but not properly, nowhere near like the number of places on this tour. It’s pretty crazy seeing people commenting on posts saying ‘yo, I’ll see you in New York!’, it’s mad.

Erik: People are finding us on our personal pages and saying that if we need places to stay or we need food, hit us up, it’s crazy. For me and Kadeem, it’s been going over our heads for so long. We’ve been wanting to tour the US since we were, like, 14.

Kadeem: Since we started the band, our biggest thing has been that we need to tour America. For us, that’s where it’s at for heavy music.

More so than the UK?

Erik: It used to be very centred around the US for the new breakout bands, but I think the UK is definitely coming back. A lot of the bands that are coming out now are doing it right, and doing it properly with their own sound. It’s just kinda bringing back that old school, English vibe with the music, and it’s really cool to be part of that next movement.

Definitely, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to class LOATHE as being a part of this new movement in metalcore, with bands like CODE ORANGE and OCEAN GROVE. What sort of inspirations did you take when you formed your sound?

Kadeem: I’d say the two biggest bands are probably DEFTONES or MESHUGGAH. We take a lot of influence for our clean vocals from DEFTONES, and even down to the riffs and everything. The same goes for MESHUGGAH, with the heaviness and the chugginess.

Erik: When you think of MESHUGGAH it’s like a picture of a huge monster, something that’s larger than life and you don’t really know how to describe it. So when we write our stuff, we’re definitely trying to paint the same picture of something that’s huge and powerful. In terms of our more experimental stuff, there are bands like RADIOHEAD and others – we have a very wide taste in music and we try and use all of those influences and put it into everything we write. Hip-hop, house music, pop – we’re not the sort of guys to say that something is lame just because it doesn’t have a breakdown in it.

In that vein, how would you describe your musical style compared to the rest of the scene, and what’s your opinion of the scene in terms of the bands that are making it big at the moment?

Erik: It’s thriving. We’re pretty close to a lot of the bands that are breaking out the moment – like HOLDING ABSENCE, we’re on the same label, we love their style and everything that they do. We definitely see us as being like brother bands because we’re on the same path, we have the same aspirations, just a different colour. MODERN ERROR are another one to look out for – it’s our music video director’s band, they’ve just released two songs. LIFETIGHT is our driver Tom’s band, and another band that’s gone under most people’s radar are GOD COMPLEX, they’re a local Liverpool band and they’re hard as fuck.

Kadeem: In terms of what I was saying earlier about us having many influences, I’d say we like to interpret our wide taste in music in our own heavy style. With songs like Dance On My Skin, you have the samba beat – it’s just little things like that that we like to put into our music to give it our own vibe, and at the same time keeping it heavy and keeping it metal.

Yeah, I definitely get the idea with your sort of writing that the music progresses and no one song is written to be similar to another. Was that the idea with The Cold Sun, to make something more ‘outside the box’ and progressive? What was the concept behind the album?

Erik: I’m interested to hear what you think the concept is behind the album. We get asked this a lot, but really what we want to hear is what everyone has taken from it.

Kadeem: Yeah, because it’s kinda more open for interpretation than one straightforward story.

More from the instrumentation than the lyrics, I guess it conveys sounds of violence and turmoil. As the album is so brutal and so angry, I get the idea of frustration from it.

Erik: That’s exactly what we were thinking when we were writing it. We wrote the songs based on how we were feeling at the time, and with you saying that you got lots of frustration from it – that’s the idea. The album is very bleak, and that’s reflective of the time. So, to hear that people are getting that from the record means that it’s serving its purpose.

Kadeem: We wanted each song to represent a feeling, rather than just a story. With Dance On My Skin for example, it’s almost like a panic attack, and that’s personal to me because I suffer from sleep paralysis. That song is very heavily influenced by that.

Erik: We had the same idea with the musical side of things. For the concept of each song, we chose what was musically suitable for each theme, and we worked together to agree on each song accurately representing that feeling.

That sounds like a very forward-thinking way of writing. I got the idea that it wasn’t written in the traditional way.

Kadeem: We wanted everything to sound as organic as possible, and not forced. Everything we write, for us, needs to come from the heart and not just ‘we need to write a song and it needs to sound like this’.

There does seem to be a movement in the metal scene at the moment where bands are straying away from the formulaic and pushing out music that’s organic, as you said.

Erik: It may sound a bit pretentious but I just think people are finally starting to realise what good music is. There was such a long time where everything was so stale, and nothing was inspiring, and I think that’s what pushed us to widen our tastes.

Kadeem: I think it’s just a case of maturing musically and as people. When we were seventeen it was all about breakdowns, but now we’re getting older we’re exploring and getting into other types of music, and just really maturing our own sound.

You do still have some pretty good breakdowns though.

Kadeem: [Laughs] Thanks man.

Your message in general as a band seems to be often summed up with the phrase ‘LOATHE as one’. What’s that about and where did it come from?

Erik: The honest answer is that it came from our URL on Facebook. We went through a few and we didn’t want it to be ‘LOATHE Band Official’ or ‘LOATHE UK’ because we didn’t want to be just another band coming out and doing the same thing as everyone else. I think a lot of people take that kinda thing as gospel, but right from the start we knew we wanted to be different. So, we went through a few different handles and ‘LOATHE as one’ seemed to make sense – we don’t see the band as five different musicians, we really do see it as a collective.

Kadeem: It’s the same for our fans – we like to think our music creates a place for people to come together and let out their emotions and how they’re feeling, because that’s what our music does for us.

I think the meaning of the word LOATHE also plays into that, sort of bringing the hatred together, as it were.

Erik: Absolutely, people completely let it out at our shows, and when you’re listening to our music, just push it all out. We wanted it to be as welcoming as possible, because the only thing we survive on is the encouragement and support from the people that are also enjoying our music. At first it was kinda gimmicky, because we just wanted to do something different, but now it really resonates with us. I hope it resonates with all of our fans, too.

That’s definitely the idea that I get from your shows, people seem to come together and just generally have a really good time. I hope that the Americans show you the same love.

Erik: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about how we’re going to be received, because we’ve played England so many times that we kinda know the score wherever we go, and what sort of reaction to expect. Going to America is going to be a whole different ballpark. They’re very different people, so I’m excited to see how we go down with them.

Hopefully your tour with BURY TOMORROW will be a good warm-up for that. From your shows in the UK, would you say that there are any places in the UK that are particular favourites of the band?

Erik: Mine would be Liverpool, obviously, because it’s home.

Kadeem: Yeah, Liverpool is always the best because all our friends and family come out, and we know everyone. It’s where we started out, and it’s always a good night. Same applies to Manchester, we know a lot of the local bands and people there, a lot of friends come down every time we play Manchester, it’s always a good vibe. I’d say recently, as well, I’d say London. Our last headline show there was incredible. We had so many new people reaching out to us, it was really cool.

As a band, what genre would you label yourselves as, if you had to?

Erik: Metal.

Kadeem: Yeah, just metal. I feel like we have so many different influences that we’d be metal-hardcore-grind etc etc, so we just call it metal for us.

Or just call it LOATHE.

Erik: I was going to say that, but I’m not sure that we’re there yet.

It could be sooner than you think. So, to round off, what are your plans for LOATHE in the future? Where are you headed?

Erik: We’re actually in the studio right now, writing and recording. Apart from that, it’s just playing as many shows as possible, really. We’re gonna be pushing the new releases that we’re gonna be putting out soon, and just really spreading the word of LOATHE as much as possible.

Sounds good. Thanks for chatting with Distorted Sound, guys!

Kadeem: Thanks for having us.

The Cold Sun is out now via SharpTone Records.

Like LOATHE on Facebook.