During a frantic Download Festival Weekend, VH’s Laviea Thomas caught up with Harry Jennings – drummer for Birmingham ‘sonic-alchemists’, SHVPES, to talk about the band’s upcoming mix-tape plans, and Hip-Hop/Rock crossovers.
Is Download the first festival SHVPES have done this year?
Erm, is it? Yeah, in terms of scale and stuff. We did something in Milan the other day, but it was only four bands and it was outdoors. But in terms of this, this beautiful festival, this is our first, big time, this year.
Have you covered Download Festival before?
Yes we have, we did it a couple of years ago, the summer before our first album came out. I also did it with the band we were before, when we had a different singer and a different name.
What was the name of that previous band?
Cytota, we did that a couple of times, but now it feels newer this time round because we feel like a fresh new band, with a new sound. We’re just putting ourselves out there really, for people to judge us in every way they want, which is kind of, i think these days the only way you can get yourself noticed. Just do your thing man, do what you want to do, screw what everyone else wants you to do.
How did SHVPES form from Cytota?
The only difference was the singer, The Prosecutor was under Cytota and then a few years later things just weren’t working out with the singer who was on that EP. In the end we got together with Griffiths Dickinson who is our new singer. It felt like it needed to change. What we were writing and the energy just weren’t reflecting that. So, around 2015 we were just like, ‘let’s do it, change the name and just go from it.’ Since then it’s just been great times, it’s done really well for us, we’re really happy about it and it’s been a great three years really.
Wow, those three years went quickly?
Yeah man, I remember our first show with Griff – it was in Paris with Crossfaith. That was great as well. But it’s honestly been such a quick three years, but the best is yet to come.
So, is this the first-time you guys have played the Dog Tooth venue?
Yeah! I’ve been saying to everyone, ‘I can’t get my head round what’s just happened.’ Like our guitarist was saying how when he walked on stage he was nearly crying. The amount of people, it was proper emotional. It felt like a real, ‘this is what we’ve been waiting for.’ A great milestone, the amount of people that came to watch us and the amount of people singing our songs. It’s blown my mind, I’m still just a kid, but I’ve had a great time already and I can’t wait for more.
Are you working on any new music currently?
So, basically, we’re working on mix-tapes. We have three mix-tapes coming out, the fourth one will consist of all three and then four brand new ones on the end of that, with some surprises in there. Mix-tape one is coming out July 6th, which has our new single, ‘Undertones,’ on it. A few months later we’ll release mix-tape two, then after that three and then it’ll all come out the start of next year. We just want to keep it fresh, constantly dripping out new content, new music. We were so proud of what we’d done, we didn’t just want to release it all at once and then let it fade all into the distance. Especially for a band that’s just trying to break themselves, so we’re constantly dripping it our there and hopefully it’ll catch people’s attention and get a good reaction.
Where have you been recording these mix-tapes in?
We’ve recorded everything in the same place, even when we were kids. We’ve recorded with Carl Brown and Jim Pinder at Tree House studios – they’ve just done the new Bullet for my Valentine album. They did Trivium’s In Waves album. They just really get our sound. They know how to put our ideas into music. They knew we wanted to go on something a bit more weird and different on this new one as they know we are massive hip-hop fans. We wanted something to reflect that, we have interludes that are on our mix-tapes that are nothing like metal, and a bit more hip-hop/ trap. Since those guys get it, we knew we wanted to work with them again.
What are your thoughts on Hip-hop and Rock crossovers as a music genre?
I think they 100% are pretty much the same genre, they have the same ideals. It’s like you see, these days you have trap artists who at live concerts say, ‘I wanna see a mosh pit.’ Like that’s the only genre, other than metal, that you can mosh to the music of. There are also so many rappers out there who love rock – Post Malone is a massive metal fan, one of his favourite bands is A Day To Remember. There’s also a rapper called Ghostemane from the U.S., he started out on hardcore bands. You know, I think the two can become one, but I think they already started to be that. Even Cyrpress Hill have metal vibes to them. Enter Shikari have massive hip-hop vibes in there. The Fever, who are a new band coming up at the moment. It’s the next thing to happen and I’m glad to be apart of it, because it’s interesting.