New Empire are on the brink of something big. After acheiving international recognition with their last album, ‘Symmetry’, the Sydney four piece have just released their latest album ‘In A Breath’ – their first record since signing a record deal. Lead singer Jeremy Fowler recently took time out to chat with Killyourstereo.com just before the album’s release this month.
You’re release your third studio album ‘In A Breath’ this month. How are you guys feeling in the New Empire camp?
We’re feeling a whole bunch of different emotions. I think relief is the biggest one. It’s been a little bit longer than a two year journey for us, so we’re really excited just to be able to share it. We got the cd’s back yesterday, and it’s really a bit of a surreal feeling. A lot of work goes into the little square.
Like you said, ‘In A Breath’ has been in the works for quite a long time now. I think you started playing ‘The Sun Won’t Sleep’ and ‘A Little Braver’ over a year and a half ago now. How would you say the songs that you played in your set before recording have evolved over that time?
I think that as we’ve written some of the songs – because they’re written over a two year period – are basically quite close to what you hear on the record. As we’ve played them over the past two years though, there are little tiny ways in which they’ve evolved and changed over time until we did the final mix, which was actually fairly recent. There’s been a small evolutionary process over the two years, especially relating to the instruments used on each song.
We used songs that were written over two years ago, as well as songs that were written towards the end of last year, so it’s been a very long process. The last song we wrote for the album was the title track, ‘In A Breath’, and the first song we wrote was ‘The Sun Won’t Sleep’.
In what ways would you say that ‘In A Breath’ improves upon your previous releases?
It’s kind of hard to compare different songs or different records, but I think naturally as we grow up, our lyrics become more mature and more in-depth. I think we’ve definitely become more genuine and honest as a band as well, so I hope that that helps us to make a deeper connection with our listeners.
From a musical point of view, we experimented with a whole bunch of new instruments that we’d never played before. We used a whole bunch of instruments from Africa and a whole bunch of instruments from the Middle East to give it a more diverse feeling, as well as the conventional type of instruments that you expect from a pop rock band.
Are there any artists that had a particularly huge influence over ‘In A Breath’?
There was a few. The Killers, Kings Of Leon, and Coldplay’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’ album were all pretty big influences over the album. Even Adele’s album, ‘21’ as well. I was listening to a lot of all of those when we were doing the album. Also, a guy called Jonsi, who’s the singer of Sigur Ros. I was listening to him a lot writing this album, and I think a lot of those bands had a lot of influence over this album.
You had a chance to test out a whole load of new songs on that ‘Say It Like You Mean It’ tour in October last year. How did you find your fans reactions to the material?
It was really, really positive for us. When you bring out new stuff, you always wonder how people are gonna take it, but it was great. We’re very thankful of the response and the support we got.
Up until recently, you guys have worked independently. How has it been this time around to work with the guys in Tooth & Nail Records and Shock Records for ‘In A Breath’?
To the creation process, nothing. It was totally finished when we signed with both of them. We had complete creative control over everything before we signed. Those guys are great bunches of people though, who really believe in this record and in our music, who believe it can make some stride in the global music scene. I think it’s really important to get alongside people who believe in you and what you do. For us, this means that we can expand and have a greater team, and hopefully have a bigger impact with this record.
How did you do things differently in the writing and recording process for ‘In A Breath’ to other albums?
Well, for Symmetry, we recorded everything over a three month period in a studio called The Grove Studio over a period of three months. Since then, I’ve started my own studio, and so we got to spend as long as we want on it without having to pay per day in a big studio. We got to fine tune absolutely everything that we wanted down to the finest details, because it wasn’t a race against the clock or against our budget.
This is your first album without Peter Gillies, and as well as that, your first with Nate Cairns, and first with Kyle Lane playing playing guitar. With the line-up shifting around, how did the dynamic between the band change?
Well, I think people bring their own personality’s. With Pete leaving from guitar, he’s now in an assistant manager position, so he feels as much a part of the team as he ever has been. Nate Cairns coming in on bass has been a huge breath of fresh air. We’ve known him for years, so it’s not like we’ve got some random guy coming in, it’s a close friend. We knew he was a great guy and knew it’d be a great fit. He’s one of the best bass players I’ve ever heard anywhere, so stylistically, that was an easy choice.
With each release, you guys seem to expand your sound a bit, and we see that in a huge way on the song ‘Left Behind’. Were there any key influences that lead you to take that song in the direction that you did?
Not at all. I wrote that song on the day of the Boston bombings, which was actually a year ago today. Basically I was in the studio that day, and I had bought a whole bunch of synth stuff, and I was writing and experimenting and that’s how it came about. There weren’t really any big influences on that.
On the back of your last album, ‘Symmetry’, you ended up having quite a few opportunities to tour internationally. When you started New Empire, did you ever think you’d be playing something like Warped Tour?
No, not at all. Or being signed to Tooth & Nail or anything like that. You always hope and always dream, and you’re always encouraged to dream by friends and family, but when these things actually happen, you step back and go ‘far out! This is just crazy’. Some of these things have come as a real surprise to us, and we’re really grateful for it.
What are some of your favourite memories from your international touring?
I remember when we toured New Zealand for Parachute Festival two years ago, we were playing late at night in a venue that holds about 6000 people and we were just thinking ‘no one’s gonna turn up to this’, but then we could hear murmuring outside before we went on stage. Then the lights went off and this roar came out of nowhere, and the place was just packed out. You couldn’t get a spot anywhere! We just freaked out because we weren’t expecting it at all. It was one of those shows when we felt like there was absolutely no gap between us and the audience. It was like a big family moment.
Who has been your favourite artist to share the stage with, and why?
I’d probably say Switchfoot. I grew up listening to a lot of their songs, so to be able to play and tour with them was a real honour for us.
On the topic of touring – when can Australia expect to see you tour on the back of the new album?
We’re touring in June. We’re about to release the dates for that, and afterwards we’re heading overseas on a world tour, and then we’re going to come back and do Australia again.
I might just give you a few quick ones to finish up – If you could tour with any band in the world, who would it be?
Coldplay. Definitely Coldplay.
Who are your favourite up and coming Australian artists?
Probably Tigertown. I love them, and they’re definitely up and coming. They’re good friends of ours and they make great music.
If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
The Beatles – No. 1’s
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
The soundtrack to A Beautiful Mind
Any final words you’d like to finish on?
Thank you so much for the support – We can’t wait to see you on the road in June.