WORDS: Eddie Sims
To be fresh in the hardcore scene, you have to do something truly special. CONTINENTS have steadily building their name in their short five year career. On the back of the very impressive Reprisal, the band are building their fanbase across the UK and before a show in Stoke-on-Trent we caught up with vocalist Phil Cross and guitarist Darryl Sweet to talk about the new album, the modern hardcore scene and expanding beyond the borders of hardcore
How do you think Reprisal has done when compared to Idle Hands?
Darryl: Difficult to say so far. The reviews have been good, better than Idle Hands…
Phil: Don’t think we’ve had a bad review have we?
Darryl: Not yet…don’t fucking say that! [laughs] But it’s hard to say because we haven’t played since its release, we had our fist show yesterday, second one today and it’s been alright so far. So long as I’m happy I don’t care.
Phil: there were a couple of people singing Life of Misery last night; you know the first single and all that. It’s had a really good response, but it’s a lot different to Idle Hands. It’s a lot rawer and in your face.
There was a shift in sound from your more traditional metalcore to a more riff lead hardcore sound. Was that a conscious decision?
Darryl: Well the story is when we recorded idle hands we had just signed with Victory [Records] and our manager had set it up and everything. Victory said “Have this band got an album to record” and without asking he said “yep”. Then came back to us and we had three songs so we were all like “oh shit!” I like Idle Hands, I’m proud of it don’t get me wrong but it was a rushed job. This one we had nearly two years to write, and we’ve done what we wanted to do rather than “shit, we need to finish this now”, this is more us.
Phil: I took a step back and sorted myself out as well vocal wise. The technique I was using wasn’t healthy, not gonna lie, but I never set out to be a vocalist it was just like “I wanna be in a band, let’s have some fun” but it’s getting a bit serious now.
What was the writing and recording process like? When watching the Idle Hands studio diary it appears like you guys had a lot of fun, was that similar this time round?
Darryl: Urm, sorta. Like I said the writing process was far longer, like the opening track Drowned In Hate was actually written before Idle Hands came out.
Phil: The lyrics for that kept getting stripped apart and re-written I think about 10 times in the end I think it was.
Darryl: Yeah, the way we do it is we don’t write 30 songs and pick the best 10, we write 10 quality songs and we’ll revise them over and over and over again.
Having been in the scene for a few years now, have you been watching it develop over time?
Darryl: I’ve watched it develop and then fade off.
Phil: I don’t think it has, but you don’t really pay attention to bands coming through.
Darryl: I am a recluse. A scene recluse.
Phil: He stays off the internet basically. I think it’s going well, but we didn’t necessarily write a hardcore record, everyone just seems to think we have. We just wrote what we wanted to write and because you can’t put it in any specific genre so people just call it hardcore. There are a lot of elements in the record that aren’t hardcore.
If you don’t think it’s a hardcore record, what lead you to the sound you achieved with Reprisal?
Phil: Probably a lot to do with all the influences we all listen to…
Darryl: I guess, I just wanted to write riffs you can bang you’re head to. How I write is to come up with a main, theme riff and then I build everything around that riff. It’s never written like ‘we want this style of track’.
Phil: I’ll be sat in the room, because I can’t use any instruments and I’ll be sat there and I’ll have to give them the nod if it’s good enough…
Darryl: …And if he shakes his I don’t give a fuck anyway, fuck him [laughs]
What were the main overlying influences going into Reprisal?
Phil: With Darryl he doesn’t really listen to much, you just stick to your old stuff…
Darryl: I’m still listening to LIMP BIZKIT.
Phil: I dunno, there’s been a lot of influences and drama that went through the last two years, sometimes we thought we weren’t going to carry on
Darryl: That’s what it’s all about isn’t it, what emotive state you’re in when you write the track. There’s a track on the album, Awake, and it’s a weird, down tuned, fucked up sorta thing and I was really pissed off when I wrote that and you can tell because it’s just gross and sludgy.
Even if you don’t affiliate with it, hardcore is a genre that’s always trying to change the world. Do you think a genre can do that?
Phil: Yeah I think it can, just goes to show with THE GHOST INSIDE incident, at the end of the day everyone pulled together and started donating. I still say we are hardcore in ways but we’ve stepped aside a bit more. Not to say we don’t want to affiliate with them it’s just we don’t wanna be put into one crowd.
Darryl: It’s paying off though, like we’ve played the most hardcore shows ever. We’ve played with DYING FETUS and that’s full on metal, we played OUR LAST NIGHT who are more poppier…
Phil: …and funnily enough the kids loved it!
Darryl: We try to touch as many genres as we can.
Phil: Our manager has told us we have to do a show with FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS…
Darryl: How hardcore is that?! [laughs]
Phil: I’d play with BLACK VEIL BRIDES if it meant playing to a bigger audience.
Reflecting on the year, what was your favourite moment bar the release of Reprisal?
Phil: Hevy fest, Hevy was definitely the best.
Darryl: Yeah Hevy was the best, we opened main stage.
Phil: To be honest we thought like, we were the first band on main stage, everyone is gonna be pissed and hungover and no one is gonna be bothered. We went out and it was like “FUCK! There are a lot of people here!” and it was class. Everyone went off.
When you mentioned that you weren’t going to carry on, was it moments like that that made you continue?
Phil: Yeah, it was after that we got introduced to a lot of new people, got a new agent and now things are looking up for next year, coming at ya now!
Where do you hope Reprisal takes you next year?
Phil: We’ve got Thronefest up in Scotland in January with BETRAYING THE MARTYRS and HEART OF A COWARD, and I think we’ve got a run of dates leading up to that. Then we go away with KINGDOM OF GIANTS and HIGH HOPES for a full month all over Europe in February and then we’ve got a load of festivals to announce as well. There’s been talk of America as well but we wanna focus on our rep over here first
Darryl: It costs a fucking fortune as well!
Phil: Yeah it does cost a fortune and they may want us over there but we want a crowd over here first.
Reprisal is out now via Victory Records.