We had a chat with vocalist Kial Churcher and drummer Kier French of Oxford maniacs MSRY, all about their forthcoming EP Loss – out on November 8th. They share the story of how their Liam Cormier feature came to be, and delve into what exactly it is about the subject of loss that they felt so compelled to write about.
Your live sets are insane. Have any of you ever injured yourselves?
Kier: Yes! We’ve got a song named after that. The song ‘Safety First’ is about exactly that.
Kial: It’s really weird because the Safety First EP came out around the time that I’d just broken my hand.
Kier: You broke your hand getting on stage and landing on your mic.
Kial: Yeah, the least acrobatic thing I could do. Climbing up venues and that lot: perfectly fine. Trying to get back on stage, I broke my hand.
Kier: Then the same week me and Charlie [guitar] were both in two separate car crashes. One was at Common People in Oxford – the festival. And then later that year you broke your ankle on stage with Black Coast.
Kial: Yeah! That was within the first 30 seconds of the first song on the first date of the tour.
Kier: It’s safe to say they’re a little bit hectic.
Well, I’m glad I asked the question!
Kial: We’ve been told not to go too hectic on stage [today].
Kier: It’s not gonna happen.
Kial: Of course it’s not gonna happen!
Will you be playing any new songs today?
Kier: We’re gonna play our lastest release, ‘Still Breaks My Heart’. Liam Cormier features on the track.
Kial: Obviously, we’re doing it without him right now.
Kier: Liam’s not here, so we’ve gotta make up for it and just play as well as we can without him. But again, you can listen to the track. We’ve got a new live video with him in it as well, from when we played with Cancer Bats.
Kial: You can check it out on our YouTube, you know, check out the track on Spotify and everything. Hello, hello.
How did that feature from Liam Cormier come about?
Kial: Oh, God, that was mad. We played in Brighton; it was about July-August last year…
Kier: We were playing Brighton, and we had a power cut or something where the laptop stopped working.
Kial: It was a power cut because absolutely everything died.
Kier: So we managed to recover the guitar amps and PA system and stuff, and we were just like, “Alright, let’s just try and play a song that we can do without the backing track.” And the only one we really knew was Cancer Bats’ ‘Hail Destroyer’.
Kial: Even though Charlie was just like, “I don’t know how to play this anymore, I don’t know!”
Kier: We somehow managed to stumble through it; we played it, and then the sound guy came up, and he was like, “That was really sick; I actually work with Cancer Bats; I know all the guys; I do sound for them.” And then Kial cheekily goes, “How much for a guest vocal?” And he goes, “I don’t know – a couple of hundred quid or something like that.” So soon as he said that, I was like, “Right, give me your details!” And we wrote a couple of songs for the EP, and we knew what we wanted Liam to feature on, so we just hit the guy up and [were] like, “Can you put us in contact with Liam?” And he pulled through, and then Liam’s like, “Yeah, rad, I’ve heard of you guys before.” So we were absolutely in our element. And he goes, “Cool, I’m over in January for the tour. I’ll come to you and record.”
Kial: I remember that drive back from Brighton because we were just gobsmacked, and we were looking at each other like, “We might get Liam Cormier on a track! One of our favourite vocalists ever!”
Kier: It was absolutely mad.
Kial: He’s just the nicest guy!
Kier: Comes to my house; I’m having coffee with my parents, and then just recording the vocals for the track with him. It was nuts.
I always find that when things start off bad, or if something bad happens, something good will counteract it.
Kier: We’re just negative. As soon as something bad happens, we’re just like, “It’s gonna get worse, it’s gonna get worse!”
Kial: That’s our saying, that is. We’re called MSRY for a reason.
Kier: That is literally the outlook that we had when we first formed.
Loss comes out on November 8th. What is it about loss as a subject that you felt compelled to write about and theme the whole EP around it?
Kial: I think with Loss, it’s kind of taking it from everybody’s perspective of what losing something is. [It’s] completely different.
Kier: Everyone’s been through a loss of some kind.
Kial: Whether that’s down to losing somebody close to you, whether it’s the loss of a friendship or a break up in a relationship, [or] losing something that means the most to you, whether it’s an item or possession, or something that you feel spiritually inclined to. It’s just such a perfect subject to really talk about, especially from all of our experiences and all of our different perspectives we’ve got on the concept of loss itself. Over the past year, we’ve lost so much – personally, spiritually, emotionally – that it was the perfect subject to write about, to talk about, and to scream about.
Kier: We’ve all been through a lot. We’ve all dealt with a lot of shit, and a lot of it’s getting our own frustrations, emotions, and everything out, as well. But at the same time, a lot of people can relate to it. A lot of people can understand it and see where we’re coming from, and it can be a way for other people to kind of relax and get their frustrations out at the same time.
Kial: With all the subjects that we’ve got in every single song, it hits a certain emotion with everybody that, at one point, somebody has felt. And if we can relate to somebody [and] we can get somebody- anybody – it doesn’t matter if it’s one person, 10 people, a hundred people, a thousand people – but if we can just help one person through what they’re going through, because they relate to a song that we’ve written, that’s it. We’ve hit our fucking mark because of it.
A lot of people find writing about things cathartic. How important do you personally feel it is to write about certain subjects?
Kial: it’s incredibly important, especially to me and Kier.
Kier: If you’re not writing about something that you truly care about, it’s not worth writing about. If you’re writing about some made-up story, you’re not going to have any true emotional connection to it at all. Therefore, you can’t portray it as well as you want to; you can’t sing it vocally as much as you want to. You can’t put in the emotions [or] the effort behind the song that I feel is required to write a good song.
Kial: Especially when it comes to vocal junction and doing it live, and everything like that. If you have a personal connection to it, if you’ve got that emotion inside you- if I was writing, if I was screaming about a subject I have no idea about, basically, I’m screaming empty words at people. Whereas if this is something that I’ve gone through, this is something I relate to and I’m spilling out onto a page, people can hear that.
Kier: People can understand that there’s an actual emotional connection to it. Therefore they can relate to it, or they can understand what we’ve been through, what we’ve had to deal with. Whereas if it’s just empty words, people know it’s a bit of a facade. Personally, I don’t want to go out onto the stage and play my heart out for something that doesn’t mean anything.
Kial: That’s basically been us since day one. We’ve always written with an emotional connection to the songs. We’re not a hair band that goes out and screams about girls all the time. We’re not one of those bands.
Kier: Basically, there’s no song that we’ve released that there hasn’t been an emotional connection [to] in one way or another. Everything’s been relatable to what we’ve been through, and we’ve dealt with.
That really comes across on Loss, actually.
Kial: This is the most emotional release that we’ve had. It feels like [on] the first EP, the emotion was there, and the subjects were there, but I’m not sure that we crafted it enough. Safety First was very much in your face.
Kier: Like, “We’re not happy – this is what we’re not happy about.”
Kial: But Loss is very much an emotional, “We’ve gone through this; you’re going to listen to this, and we hope you relate to it as much as we’ve gone through it.”
Obviously, Harvey [bass] isn’t here, but it’s his first release with you. How has he slotted in?
Kier: He’s just been everything that we’ve been missing. At the time without him, we’d been through six or seven bassists.
Kial: Yeah, it got ridiculous, it really did.
Kier: We were all getting frustrated, and then we played a gig with TRC, and Harvey came up and bought a t-shirt or something. We got a message on our page the day after saying, “Oh, have you guys got a bassist?” So we were like, “Well, no, but we’d be open minded to it.” So we organised the practice, and he was very, very confident. He was very willing. He knew exactly what he was doing, all the parts. And he [had] quite a positive outlook on what we were doing.
Kial: His personality is the same as ours. That’s the main thing that we always look for. It’s not so much about your technical ability; it’s not about how well you know the songs – anyone can learn a song. But if you connect with us, you’re in. He slotted in so nicely. That’s hard to do, as well.
Kier: When we first got him over to the practice, we practiced with him for an hour, and we were like, “Alright, let’s go to the pub and let’s see how we can all just chat,” because it’s more important than being able to play an instrument. If we’ve gotta sit in a van for hours with someone that we hate, it’s not going to work. But he’s the best bassist in the world. Fortunately, we don’t dislike him. That much.
Wow, it all just came together!
Kier: All the planets aligned.
I do honestly believe that things happen for a reason. If you think positively – and I know you’re MSRY – but good things will happen.
Kier: We’re probably more positive than people think.
Kial: Yeah, with a name like this, you’d expect us to be so glum.
Kier: But at the end of the day, we are still people. We do still have emotions, and we do get down. Everyone does. But it helps us put out what we want to say.
Kial: We channel all that negative energy through music so we can live life in a more positive manner.
What would you like people to know about the Loss EP?
Kier: It’s out on the 8th of November.
Kial: Listen to it! Pre-order it!
Kier: It’s great, buy it!
Kial: I mean, I think it’s probably the best EP.
Kier: It’s the best thing we’ve done so far. I think the collection of songs is more uniform. Everything seems to tie well with each other.
I agree. It’s like one like piece of art.
Kier: Yeah. Everything as a culmination works together. There’s nothing in it that I dislike. Whereas [with] the other EPs, there’s always been bits that could be better. But for this one, I feel like…
Kial: We can transition it to the stage, and nothing will change.
Kier: We can go out, and we can play it, and we can still love the songs.
This is gonna sound cliche, but it really feels like you’ve found your feet.
Kial: It is trying to level out, because we’re all into a lot of beatdown; a lot of hardcore…
Kier: We’re into a lot of different stuff.
Kial: We try and figure out where the middle ground for everyone is. We don’t want to be so light that we don’t like playing it because it’s a little bit too on that end, and we don’t want it to be too beatdown and too heavy.
Kier: Even now, we’re writing for an album and even now we’ve-
Kial: That’s an exclusive!
Kier: We’re all putting in ideas, but it’s all getting from the light end to the heavier end. Everything that we’re writing at the moment is very, very different from what we’ve already done.
Kial: It’s still the same sound. It’s just in- I don’t want to say commercial, I don’t!
Kier: There’s commerciality to it. There’s also heavier aspects, and it’s just trying to find our feet again.
There’s nothing wrong with that. You can’t make the same thing over and over again.
Kier: The new EP that’s coming out-
Kial: On November 8th! [Laughter]
Kier: Is exactly what we need to be doing. Whereas the next stuff, again, we’re finding our feet; where we need to be; what we’re doing.
Kial: But that’s the thing, we’ve done it on a yearly basis, where we brought out one, and then a year later we’ve done another EP; now we’re bringing out Loss out on November 8th [laughter].
Kier: We haven’t said it enough!
Kial: It’s November 8th, and it’s going to be on all streaming sites and download sites, you know, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, everything. Moving on swiftly from November 8th, we write about what we know at the time and how we’re feeling at the time. And [whether] that progresses more on a negative spectrum or on a positive spectrum, we write the music to how we feel at the time.
Kier: Writing is never, “We’re gonna write this style of music; we’re gonna aim to be this.” It’s if and when we’re inspired, we will write, and whatever may come from that is what we end up putting out.
Kial: Yeah, because I remember when we were writing for Safety First, the first couple of things that you wrote [were] very Qemists-based electronica.
Kier: A lot of electronic elements…
Kial: But then it got stripped away.
Kier: It got essentially crafted into what’s Safety First now. And then writing Loss, we’re all in similar moods and stuff, and it was just trying to not be too dissimilar from what we had already done, but still tie in elements from that, but still progress as a band; still not alienate anyone from what we’ve already done.
Kial: Which is the main crux of it. That we wanna write music that [people] who liked us before and who listen to our music now still enjoy and like. But at the same time, we wanna branch out and see if other people would be able to enjoy this [and] get into us, and then maybe look back on the back catalogue that we’ve got and go, “Actually, that was dope! Why are they not doing stuff like that now?” So we can go back and then do the heavier stuff [again].
I feel like that’s the best way to do it. Perfect progression.
Kier: Yeah, like you said, I think there’s a good progression throughout our stuff, and this is probably the best stuff that we have done so far.
I always feel that bands who do that, who evolve their sound over the years, always have longevity and go much further.
Kial: That’s the thing. Longevity comes from never standing still, and never resting on the fact that you’ve got this one sound; that people are gonna listen to you for years and years and years. [Thinking] 20 years later, “I can release the same album, and those same people are gonna listen to it.” That ain’t how it works in music. You have to evolve your sound. You have to evolve the way that you are as a person and how you are as a musician to not only connect with people but connect with a new generation that suddenly comes up. If we’re still around in 20 years from here, we’ve got an entire batch of new kids, teenagers, adults that are listening to us and going, “Who are these fucks; why should I listen?” You’ve got to give them something to listen to.
You’ve got to stay relevant.
Kial: But also not jump on every bandwagon and train that comes through. You have to be real to yourself and to the audience.
Kier: That’s the long and short of it. We just do what we want to do. We record what we wanna record, we play what we wanna play, and there is a progression because as a band, we’re still progressing. We’re still understanding more and more about each other. And it’s just crafting that and utilising everyone’s best aspects, and still keeping people interested. But at the end of the day, we’re not gonna release something that we don’t wanna release. We’re not gonna write something that we don’t wanna write just to make someone happy. We’re gonna write what we wanna write.
Kial: That’s been an aspect of the band since we started.
Kier: Yeah, since day one, it’s always been doing what we wanna do.
Kial: Whether it’s something we post online, or some of our merch that we release, our music, videos. If we don’t like it, we’re not releasing it. If it’s not a t-shirt that we’d look at and go, “That looks sick; I would wear that,” we’re not gonna release that merch.
Kier: Any aspect of the band, if it’s not something that we’d do, we’d watch, we’d wear – it’s not us.
‘Loss’ is out on November 8th 2019. Pre-order it here. MSRY head out on tour this November, the dates are as follows:
Check out the video for their latest single, ‘Guilt’, below: