Q&A – Guerrilla Monsoon

Guerrilla Monsoon are a band from Birmingham who write big, punk rock bangers. Veterans of the Midlands scene, these guys have been in more bands than you can count. You can hear echoes of days gone past all the way throughout their tunes, but together, they create something completely different and pretty damn exciting. Their forthcoming EP, Big City Plans, is an explosion of melody, gruff voices and fast tempos, and it’s no surprise that the band got picked up by Paper + Plastick and Beach Community before their first anniversary.

I fired a bunch of questions at Lewis Bloor, one of the guitarists/vocalists in the band, and he came back with some pretty interesting answers. Read this, then buy the record because it’s ace.

You guys have got a rich heritage from bands like Cannons and Tanks (who by the way, I adored – went to virtually every show you did in Leamington), Shermer, Hopewood et al. How have you taken that experience and turned it into something which actually sounds quite different to those bands?

Thanks for the kind words! To be honest, I don’t think that we’ve actually changed all that much with regards to our individual playing styles, it kind of all just clicks. Mark is playing his noodley guitar lines, John is letting rip on the drums, I haven’t actually changed the way I’ve played guitar since I was 16 and in bands that basically wanted to be Texas Is The Reason, and Rob plays bass like he’s in The Bouncing Souls. It all just fits nicely. Mark and I do our clean/gruff vocal trade-offs and it just seems to compliment the rest of the music. It’s nice to find a bunch of guys that are happy musically together that fit so well.

You’ve managed to pick up support from two excellent labels, Paper + Plastick in the US and Beach Community over here. What does that mean to you personally, and what does that mean for the band moving forward?

It’s been a roller coaster of a ride. To get this kind of backing as a new band is amazing and totally unexpected. We recorded a few songs at the beginning of the year and just sent them off. It’s pretty old school really – we’re no YouTube hit band, we haven’t got thousands of likes on Facebook, we don’t have a million followers on Soundcloud… We put up a few songs for free on Bandcamp and it all came from there.

Moving forward, it means that we get to do a lot of amazing things that we didn’t think possible. We get to play Fest in Florida for starters… That’s a massive deal for all of us. Hopefully, if people like our record, we’ll get the chance to tour and play with some amazing bands. I think we’re going to totally indulge ourselves with that. On a personal level, that’s one of the main reasons I’m in a band, just so I get to play with bands I like!

Big City Plans is a combination of new tracks and older ones – was the decision to split them like that purely down to that, or was there a bigger reason for grouping the way you have?

We recorded five songs, we then recorded two songs, we then recorded three songs… we put two of them out a few months ago on a split and there were eight left. The “older” songs on there are only older by a couple of months, but we’d already put them up on the Bandcamp. After a little bit of chat we just thought it’d be nice to bung them all on. They were all re-mastered and had a few mixing issues ironed out, but eight seemed like a nice number for a bigger EP or mini-album.

What’s your songwriting process like?

Tears, frustration, anger… actually, it’s quite nice. Mark comes up with songs he writes himself and we work it out as a band, or Rob and I work on some riffs together and songs come from that. Or, we just jam in practice and make a row with some chords and rhythms. Mark writes the majority of lyrics and we both work out our vocal lines from there. I write the odd batch of lyrics but I’m my own worst critic and I’m never really that happy with them.

Where do you take influence from when writing (not necessarily musically either!)?

Life. Write about what you know, it’s a lot more honest and sincere that way. Our influences are pretty much everything we’ve all grown up with. We’re not kids anymore and we’ve all had a fair amount of life experience, love, loss, regret, recovery, ups, downs… pop it all into a great musical blender and leave the top off.

Lyrically, there’s a lot of ground covered on Big City Plans. Is there a unifying theme threaded throughout the record?

Real life. That’s all we know. Changes around us and within ourselves. Our relationships with each other, our parents and our friends.

You’ve been touring the UK at the moment, and you’re headed off to Fest later this month – what’s been your best tour moment so far this year, and what are you expecting for Fest?

We’ve toured with quite a few bands (if you call tour more than three days in a row) and we’ve made some really great friends from that. We’ve got up to some ridiculous things and it’s been a great summer, so it just adds to the experience. Best tour moments are when there are actually people there that have come to see us! Over the last few weeks, we’ve noticed people actually singing along which is amazing! Fest… I’m expecting a hangover. A big hangover.

As performers, what makes the perfect show for you?

We all give it 100% every time – if it goes without hiccup, it’s amazing for us. Things happen though, like the breaking of strings, john throwing his sticks at us, Rob hitting me or Mark with his bass. We take it all in our stride though. Again, if there are a few people watching it’s great!

Who are your favourite bands to tour with?

All the bands! We’ve met so many great people already and we hope this continues for as long as possible.

The new record’s out on 28 October. We’re dead excited, but how would you convince someone who might be on the fence of the power of #team_monsoon?

Haha, this record has already had that many “releases”, it’s quite funny. The digital date for release was the 6th October, but as we were on tour that week it went onto Spotify/iTunes a week early. Then the vinyl turned up in the UK early so we started selling it at gigs. The pre-order for the vinyl for the UK and US went up earlier this week and officially gets sent out on the 28th October just before Fest. We’re so used to doing it DIY style and getting it out there as soon as we can, and we just can’t hold back. I reckon we’ll be a little more organised if/when we get the chance to do an album… And if you’re on the fence, we suggest you get off before you get splinters and come join the party!

Guerrilla Monsoon are Rob, Lewis, Mark and John. Big City Plans is out on 28 October on Beach Community (UK) and Paper + Plastick (US). Check these dudes out on Bandcamp already.

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