Stepson, whose members hail from Brisbane and Port Macquarie respectively, released their latest EP, ‘Echoes In An Empty Room’, only last month. Our review stated that once you hear the collection of tracks, it should then become clear that Stepson have skill and potential far beyond their years. Equally, if you go stream the EP, in full, at the bottom of this feature, you should hopefully understand why we praised it so much. For our July Aussie Feature, Killyourstereo.com caught up with Stepson vocalist, Brock Conry while the band was down in Melbourne for their EP launch tour.
The original AA show, the second show of the tour, was originally meant to happen at the Lilydale Bridge Builders, but issues with the original promoter then saw it moved over to Wrangler Studios (thanks to Jayden Roy). Prior to their set, we had a chance to speak with Conry (pictured in the middle) about how he and the group have found their inaugural trip down south to Melbourne.
“This is actually our first time. It’s pretty scary not knowing what we’re getting into. So far it’s been good. Like even tonight, I just thought we would be playing to bands, but Winfield came through and got a lot of their friends out here. Conry continues, “We don’t want to classify this as a headline tour, as it’s just celebrating the release of our EP, but we’re really excited about it.”
It’s an important first step for the band to take and hopefully it will mark the beginning of a healthy fan base across the country, as, already, they definitely deserve it. As for touring with Fresh Nelson, who are in the midst of fine-tuning and redefining their own sound, Conry tells us that the fellow locals were an obvious choice for the main support slot.
“We met Fresh Nelson about four or five years ago in an old band of ours. They’re just the loosest dudes on planet; they complement our personalities so much. Every time we’ve come down here for both EP’s, they’ve always had our back, so why wouldn’t we bring them?”
Fresh Nelson, who also put on a solid set made complete with all new songs and a sneaky Joyce Manor cover for good measure, are a perfect fit for Stepson. Yet, while the headliners are a younger band in terms of their musical lifespan, they have been very productive from the get-go, even more so than most of their peers.
“We’ve only been a band for nine months now. It came about really quickly. Ben was in this other band and was writing his own stuff, and I’d never done vocals before, as I played guitar in the old band, and he gave me a crack at it. Luckily, it all turned out really well.”
Furthermore, instead of writing just a mere three or four songs and then learning a cover to enable them to play full sets, the band had six songs in the barrel, ready to go, from very early on.
“We had six songs written early on, we released the single, and then went back and did the five other tracks. It was October or November when we released that first EP. We did the first music video in the first month of being a band, and we came to this one and thought ‘Why not? We have the songs.’ So we’ve had two EPs out in less than eight months, which is pretty good.”
Not many other local bands can attest to having two solid releases out in much less than a year, and to be of such a resounding quality too. That kind of drive and push to get a foot in the front door of the local scene leaves Conry‘s pervious band for dead.
“We just toured and played shows, we had one demo, an EP we didn’t even officially release, and two music videos. With this band, we were more concerned with getting music out there and having people to come see us instead of jumping on another bill.”
Now, that’s a lesson other locals could and should learn from. Before this venture, the vocalist played guitar in a band called Abel Talisman, but states he prefers Stepson so much more, and explains why each song on the EP sounds different from the last.
“It’s very different, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s really stress free since the old band.”
Also, different from Abel Talisman is the lyrical content of the songs. When asked if Conry feels that he may put too much of himself in the lyrics, Brock strongly disagrees and isn’t worried in the slightest.
“It’s very therapeutic for me. A lot of people tend to bottle up their emotions, and they dwell on it and it brings them down. I have a creative outlet that I can put my energy into, takes me out of the slump I’m in and lets other people know.”
The next point that Conry brings up about the social workings of how people with mental illness cannot be stressed enough.
“No one really lets others know that it’s happening as they feel vulnerable or weak. With this outlet, I’ve seen what people have written to me, and how it’s helped them come to terms with what they’re going through. So I’m very happy to share my experiences as I know how bad I’ve felt in the past, and it’s really good to being able to help others through similar experiences. It will never be too personal for me, as it is up to me. Although I do use clichés, they’re clichés for a reason. It’s because a lot of people do use it and people can relate to it so that’s how I feel when I write.”
One song that truly encompasses these experiences and the message of reaching out and overcoming the difficult task of seeking help is in the captivating ‘Blue’. Considering that their ‘Broken Bottles/Drunken Hearts’ release was just go-go-go, whereas this song, in particular, is where the upstart band slow it down and draw in more outside influences.
“We’re open to every idea, and if we want to try, we’re definitely going to do it. With that idea, we draw influences from lots of other bands and if they can do it, then we can try it too. Especially with ‘Blue’, I came up with the idea of it and told Ben about it, and we were hesitant at first, but we have three songs with clean singing on this EP so we just ran with it. It’s a lot different but it fits and it’s something we won’t get sick of.”
As the new EP is a mixed bag of sounds and influences, how would Stepson themselves label their own music? Well, many bands like to label their music as simply that, ‘music’, or as ‘alternative’, and to an extent, Stepson are all of a similar opinion about how they view their own music.
“We always had the intention of being a punk band, as it’s so broad. But, if you listen to both of our EPs, you’ll be able to tell what songs are what, not us as a whole. Like ‘Blue’, it has the clean singing and acoustic guitar at the start and that’s not hardcore, but with ‘Bruised’, that’s definitely hardcore. I wouldn’t pigeonhole us in any genre, but I’d say punk, as it’s so wide, and it’s cool,” the singer laughs. “I never intended it to be a melodic hardcore band, that’s just the way it came out. If people want to label us as that then that’s fine, as I do like the genre and listen to it quite a bit. Yes, the lyrics are quite emotionally driven, but as I said, as long as it helps people out, I’m happy to share what I’ve been through, as I do like my lyrics.”
Both EPs, while sharing similarities, are also quite different from one another. As stated, the first was fast and more ‘punk’ orientated, where this release is far more dynamic and melodic. We’re told that stems from how many members of the band actually wrote on ‘Echoes…’ and it’s definitely a different sound when compared with its predecessor.
“The writing process is that Ben comes through and writes drums and guitars and sends it to me, then I write the lyrics and then we jam it out when we can as we all live all over the place. I write guitar [parts] as well, and we have four people who write guitar, that’s why the new EP sounds so different as I’d write one, then Ben would write one, and so on. We write music for us, we don’t want to be pigeonholed into any category. For example, Ben said he wanted to write a boppy Hellions part, I’m obsessed with Foals, especially with the clean vocals, I bring outside genres into our style. Whatever comes out is just whatever comes out.”
In the past year, the topic of bands saving lives has come under a lot of discussion. Most notably was The Amity Affliction’s Joel Birch stating that he found it hard to deal with the messages that fans would send him as it weighed on him constantly. When asked if Conry has ever felt the same, his response is quite passionate.
“No way! This will sound really pretentious, but I don’t do it to relate to people, I do it for me so I can get my emotions out of my head. If it helps them, then great and it’s an awesome feeling, as purely, I’m helping someone. If we can do that in nine months, then I’m excited to see what we’ll do later on when we reach a bigger audience. At the moment, if anybody said to me that they don’t like my lyrics, I wont take it to heart as it’s for me, not for them.” Brock asserts this even more, agreeing that he would never try to be something that he’s not through their music. “I’m not making stories up, every song I can tell you the exact meaning behind it”.
Moreover, he agrees that guessing what the group will do next is hard. “You know, it is like rolling the dice, but I’m not going to ever say that we have to write a “punk” song or a “hardcore” song. We’ll write what we want,” the musician states. With two EPs and a live set that shows off a lot of their influences and diversity, it’s hard to guess what they’ll do next, which is the most exciting part of all.
After our chat, Fresh Nelson wrapped up their brief set, Stepson’s setup and sound check started and finished in a matter of minutes. The intro of ‘Bruised’ begun, Conry telling people to move back and he begun to jump and throw himself around like he’s possessed, screaming as hard as physically possible. The small gathering of punters watch in earnest as Stepson play their second ever show down here in Melbourne.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Stepson‘s music is quite emotionally driven, and when the band closed out their set with ‘This Is How It Feels’, and the lyrics are screamed back in their face by a handful of punters, it’s hard to deny, that for such a young band, they are indeed having an impact. It may be small, but hopefully it’s a glowing sign of what’s to come.