You should always support your local bands. If you live in or around Melbourne then you’ve probably heard of the boys in Feed Her To The Sharks. This is a band that is slightly at odds with the extreme low-tunings and ridiculously technical and progressive elements of today’s metal landscape. Though, that doesn’t mean these guys can’t play their instruments, far from it. It just means they are metalcore from a slightly earlier era. To coincide with third album, ‘Fortitude’ hitting shelves and digital libraries recently, Killyourstereo.com had a lengthy chat with guitarist Kim Choo about signing with Victory Records, the new record, his current guitar setup, and video games.
Hey Kim, how are you tonight?
Hey Alex, I’m good thanks, you?
Yeah I’m not too bad, thanks. Lets jump into it. ‘Fortitude’ just came out, how are you feeling with the record just being released?
Pretty stoked. We’re all very excited to get it out there.
I imagine you’re all feeling prouder of this record compared to your first two?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve been in the band from the very beginning, and for me personally, it’s a step up from what we’ve done in the past. We’re not trying to break any boundaries with this – we just wanted to write a record that we’d all really enjoy and I think we’ve successfully done that.
In regards to the sound of Feed her To The Sharks, I’ve always likened you guys to Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engage, are those fair comparisons?
They are both bands that we grew up listening to, listen and we take some big influences from [them]. Definitely two of our favourites, well at least for me anyway. It’s really good when people think of my band and compare us to acts that are that big and successful, it feels really good.
For sure man. With your sound, I find it interesting that a lot of bands these days want the lowest tunings, the most ridiculous technical and progressive elements with the most amount of strings, yet you guys don’t have a lot of those crazy extremes, which makes you stand out more in the scene to my mind.
Even when we started the band in 2009, we saw a few styles of music that were really starting to get popular but this style was something that we love to play and listen to. We never wanted to tune lower or to try all these different styles to just fit in with most other bands. And we have a small, definitely not the biggest, but strong and loyal fan base who are really interested in what we are doing and I think that’s all we can really ask for.
The video for ‘Chasing Glory just dropped…
We were really stoked with that one. We actually shot two music videos over those two days as well. We did it Jason Eshraghian, who did Northlane’s latest clip, ‘Rot’. It was really good working with him. He sussed out all of the locations and was very professional about it. It was a killer time and we are really happy with the turn out for both of these clips.
On the topic of labesl, how’d you get picked up by Victory? Did they reach out to you or did you contact them?
At the time, we were talking to a handful of labels and as we started to talk business, we approached Victory to begin with and then we had emails going back and forth, and they really seemed the most interested in us. It’s all business but at the same time, they showed more enthusiasm into what we were doing and into how we worked as a band. That’s definitely why we chose to sign with them.
I know Victory are really enthusiastic, like the bands they sign up, they support them very strongly. I’m sure you’ve heard all of the horror stories from other bands like A Day To Remember, Hawthorne Heights and Thursday, so I hope its all been smooth sailing lately?
At the moment, yeah, we haven’t had any issues with them. I don’t foresee any problems with them in the future. It is business, that’s the case with any band signing to a label, and we knew exactly what we were signing up for when we went with them, what we wanted from them, and what they wanted from us as a band.
So you’ll be sticking with them for a while I take it?
Yeah man, we’re already planning to release the next few records with them. So its going to be good times.
With that label being really big in the States, that can open up a lot more possibilities for the band overseas, and I imagine that there’s something in the works there…
I can’t really say much at this current moment, but Victory are based in Chicago, so there are plans to head over to the States. As soon as we can make that happen, we will.
All good dude. Regarding your drummer, Andrew [Cortell], is he full-time with you guys now, or is still playing with A Breach Of Silence?
Yeah, he’s our full-time drummer now. At the time, we’d been through a few lineup changes over the last couple years and signing to a world-wide label, we needed a full-time lineup. He happened to be at the right place at the right time. He’s a great performer, a great dude to have in the band and he’s really happy where he is now and so are we.
Are the band friends, or do you guys at least know A Breach Of Silence?
I’m good friends with the whole band. We’ve toured with them in the past and played a few shows with them here and there. Our other guitarist, Marinos [Katsanevas], he’s good friends with them as he used to live up in Brisbane. There’s no bad blood between us either, and they’ve just got a new drummer too, so it’s all good.
You guys are also doing a launch show with them right?
Yeah, we’re doing a couple shows with them. It’s always a good time playing alongside those dudes. They really complement our sound, and we complement theirs, so it’s going to be a good couple of shows.
Sounds good man. Aside from your duties in the band, what are some of your main hobbies?
I’m a bit of an audio nerd. I like to write songs, even if it’s not metal related, though I haven’t done much of that lately due to the band. I like to record mate’s bands and get in the studios and try to help friends get an EP down or something. Apart from that, I like to play video games, hang with friends, normal stuff like that.
On the audio side of things, what’s your favourite DAW to use?
I have a portable setup at home and I use half Ableton, half Pro Tools at the moment. I used to be all Pro Tools, but I jumped over to Ableton, as its better for the electronic stuff and it’s easier for programming the synth for Feed Her To The Sharks. It’s just a great program in terms of song writing. Pro Tools isn’t as user friendly, it doesn’t quite get the creative juices flowing.
Yeah, I’ve found that Ableton is better for creating your tracks, and then having Pro Tools for the majority of your mixing and your mastering.
Exactly! Pro Tools is great for recording live instruments, but Ableton is where it’s at for sitting down and zoning in on writing.
Do you release your own electronic tracks, like on SoundCloud, or is it more of a hobby at the moment?
Not at the moment, no. I’m hopefully going to collaborate with a few friends and try to get something out. It’s really difficult as the band takes up so much of my time, so it’s hard to get ideas out and I have a lot of unfinished songs lying around. Eventually, if I get some spare time or I get a bit bored, I’ll release a three or four track just to get it out there.
What was it like getting the album produced and mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom and Henrik Udd once again?
Yeah, he’s awesome. We’ve worked with him on all of our records actually. I recorded the first album here in Melbourne and then sent it off to him to mix and that’s how the relationship started. Our second album, ‘Savage Seas’, we went over there and recorded with him and it went really well. The process was really great. For this record, we were thinking of whom we wanted to go with and we chose Henrik and him. We might have had someone else and it might not have worked out so smoothly, but we knew what we were getting into with those guys and Fredrick pulls a really good sound.
Those two are like the dynamic duo of the mastering and mixing for metal. All you’ve gotta do is listen to At The Gates, Bring Me The Horizon, I Killed The Prom Queen, Architects, In Flames and you’ll hear it.
(Laughs) yeah, definitely.
Do you try your hand at a lot of mixing and mastering?
When we record our scratch tracks, before we hit the studio, I’ll make them sound as good as I can make them. Obviously, we aren’t hiring the most expensive studios to get the best sounds, but I still want to get the scratch tracks to what they’ll be in the final production. I’ve studied and researched into the audio side of it, so it helps when we get to the studio and Fredrik lets me do a lot of the tracking and help with the mixes. It helps when you’ve got an extra set of ears in there.
One of the hobbies you mentioned before was video games, so do you have a favourite game from last year with the Xbox One and PS4 expanding their libraries?
I’m more of a PS4 person, to be honest. But at the moment, I’ve got a Wii U and that’s the best console going right now I think. Mario Kart, Smash Bros, and a lot of other big, killer Nintendo games are coming out. In terms of the PS4, even though its not a PS4 exclusive, was GTA V. That was amazing. The remastered version of The Last Of Us was really good to run.
Yeah, the PS4 has some great games, but I feel as though there are too many games being “remastered” and “re-made” to sway me across into the new consoles.
So you’re an Xbox kid?
Ah, both. Because Microsoft and Sony won’t really care about me as a consumer so it comes down to the games you’ve got. With Xbox it’s Halo 5. With PS4, it’s BloodBorne and Uncharted 4.
I’d say that Xbox has got the better exclusives at the moment. They’ve got Forza, they’ve got the Halo: Master Chief Collection, they’ve got it pretty down pat at the moment. If I could get both of those consoles right now I would, though I have a PS4 right now and its pretty good.
It has arguably the best controller design I’ve used for a console or a PC. It’s really reactive, and the grips on top of the analogue sticks are a nice addition too.
Oh, for sure man (laughs).
Getting back to the music side of things, do you think that there can be generic band names now? Beause Feed Her To The Sharks really stands out, and hey, at least it’s not a Verb The Noun name.
Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of bands in the last couple years come up with the plural word as a name. They just pick a word and make it into a plural and that’s their band name. I find that a bit unoriginal personal. Anyone can do that. But to each their own really.
It’s gotten a bit cluttered now with band names like that. It’s like, we saw a word in the dictionary and then just put an S at the end.
(Laughs) exactly man. Your band name is definitely important. Your band name should stand out to people whether they like it or not. It can get people to talk about you a lot more and make them remember you.
For all the guitarists out there, what’s your rig setup at the moment?
I’m running a [Peavey] 6505 Plus head through a Marshall cab, a 1960A. That’s my rehearsal setup at the moment. Cabs can vary depending on the shows, as we don’t normally lug all of them around. So yeah, I usually run through a 6505 Plus with a pretty basic pedal board; a noise suppressor, a tuner, an overdrive and a delay. It’s really stock standard. Marinos is the real guitar dude in the band; he’s got a whole bunch that looks like a spaceship control room. I think it’s the G-System. He’s a legend and he pretty much sets up my gear too, which is awesome.
Well hey, a couple pedals and you pull a pretty solid sound overall man.
Live, I’ve never really had an issue, I just run straight distortion stuff. I’ve been playing a lot more of the leads from ‘Fortitude’ now, so I needed to add the delay pedal. But my setup stays the same all the way through – distortion tone for rhythm, chugs and riffing.
Who did the artwork for the album? Because when people are going through stores or through iTunes or whatever, having a cover that really stands out can help to bring new people to your music. And I have to say that ‘Fortitude’ stands out a lot.
It was a company called Forefathers, from the States. They used to be called Sons Of Nero, and they’ve done a lot of cool artwork. I know one they did which was the artwork for Bring Me The Horizon’s ‘Suicide Season’, with the girl holding the blood and guts. The reason we went for it is exactly what you said, because it really stands out. I remember walking through JB HI-FI and seeing ‘Suicide Season’, and I’d never really heard Bring Me The Horizon before then, and I gave that a shot and now they’re one of my favourite bands. So we went with them because we knew they created a really cool cover art and I’m really happy with it.
What’s your take on the whole digital vs CD argument? I bought the new Enter Shikari album recently, and when I opened it up, it had this really cool synapse/neuron, galaxy-looking scheme to it. So do you prefer to have it digitally, or have it tangible?
I grew up when buying CDs was awesome. In this day and age, everyone’s got a million different songs on their phone and that’s how people listen to music these days. If I got the chance, I would start up a small CD and vinyl collection. It’s always great to have the booklet and be able to read through that. It is unfortunate that people growing up these days can’t really experience it fully with it all being available right away. But maybe I’m just getting old.
I’m almost 20 but I still prefer getting a physical copy of the album and going through the lyrics and liner notes, and seeing what the band wrote down and what not, that kind of tangibility is great I think.
I just think that vinyl and music DVDs are such good value for money. Vinyl you get such a big sized artwork and a great collectors piece. With the DVD’s you usually get a documentary, and then you’ve got a live set with the band performing all the songs. And it’ll cost you like $20, so you’re really getting your money’s worth.
Oh, definitely. Do you have a favourite live DVD that you bust out every now and then and can watch straight through?
I think that Machine Head had a really good doco about the band going through the label drop and their hectic personal lives. Both Parkway DVD’s are both great watches as well.
I think my favourite live DVD would be Hatebreed’s ‘Live Dominance’, that’s an amazing watch.
Oh man, I haven’t seen that one, but I’ve heard really good things about it.
You guys played on the same stage as them at Warped Tour a few years ago too.
Yeah, they were really fucking good too.
I actually saw you guys earlier that day and it was great seeing you live again after that break you took. It was a solid day, but the stage you played at, with all the gravel and dirt, all the moshers really made a storm out of that.
Thanks man, and yeah, it was just so hot that day (laughs). I remember just seeing sunburnt faces all through our set too.
Well I think we’ll have to leave it there Kim, thanks for taking the time to do this man.
That’s cool man, it was a really good chat Alex, I really enjoyed this one, so thank you.
Oh, just quickly, KYS have always been really supportive of our band by sharing and posting updates when we do stuff, without us even requesting it or anything. So thank you so much.
Hey no worries man. You guys are locals for some of the writers here, myself included and our editor, and we always make sure to cover the local bands because sometimes they don’t get the support or the attention, which just sucks.
Oh too right man, and hey thanks again Alex.
‘Fortitude’ is out now via Victory Records. Read our review.