You should have noticed by now that Seven Sisters are one of our favourite bands on the Epic Metal Blog. Therefore, it’s high time to do another interview with Kyle – on the sidelines of the Courts of Chaos Festival, the singer and guitarist, who meanwhile lives in Spain, talked in detail with Igor (Dreamslain) about numerous topics. We hope you enjoy reading this great interview!
Kyle: Ah, excellent!
Kyle: Yes, of course.
Kyle: Sure, I mean, since three years ago, wow, I mean Shadow of a Fallen Star Pt. 1 came out since three years ago, and we have been playing a lot of shows, with Seven Sisters, as a band that’s kind of what we have done since that album came out, we toured more than we’ve ever toured, and like the biggest tour we have ever done. And we’re currently, as we speak, on our second European tour with Riot City. The first one lasted like two or three weeks, this one is gonna be more at four or five weeks. We’ve been to North America, we did a tour there with Haunt. And we’ve done a couple of other bits here and there, some weekends in the UK and Spain, and then we did a tour with a band called Audrey Horne, and that was a Northern European tour. So we’ve been really busy, you know, busier than we’ve ever been, and I feel like … since our latest album has come out, that we’ve really become a solid live act. So like I said, that’s what we’ve been doing, we’ve been cutting our teeth on stage.
Kyle: Thank you! Thank you very much.
Kyle: Thank you.
Kyle: I am now a full-time musician, I’ve kind of forgotten I said that, so it’s quite cool for me to hear that back at me and then realise, oh yeah, I am now! Unfortunately, I am the only one in Seven Sisters that is a full-time musician, and that’s largely due to the other projects I have, Phantom Spell, and other things I do, like I do mixing work for people, I have done some session work for people, live and in the studio; and I’ve kind of geared my life towards being a self-employed musician, which is not an easy thing to do. Admittedly, I’m in a very privileged position to be doing something like this, you know. So it feels pretty cool to say that I am, but I’m very aware of how lucky I am to be able to say that I am a full-time musician. It does surprise, I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I say that to people, you know just at the merch table or in general conversation, like ‘oh, you do this full time?’ and it’s like ‘yeah, for now, I do!’
Kyle: And hopefully, it carries on that way.
Kyle: No, it’s defintively going to be part 2 of Shadow of a Fallen Star, so we’ll complete the story, it’s gonna be two parts. The plan is, after we finish the tour that we’re currently on, we’re gonna get home sort of early June, and then, my job and the rest of the band is to write the next album. That’s the next thing we’re gonna do, we’re not gonna play, we’re certainly not doing any more tours until we have a new album out. We have another show booked at Storm Crusher Festival in September, and I think that is probably the only other show we’re gonna do this year besides these many shows we’re about to play now. We’ve done as much as we can possibly do with this album now, so we need to write a new one, and then see what’s next. So the plan is: write it, hopefully record it this year, and then, with the way things are, you know how long it takes things to be released, we’re probably realistically looking at summertime next year, 2024, when it’s coming out. Everything being well, and us being able to get an album out and done to our expectations and to our standards and the way that we want to follow up part 1. I think we’ve set ourselves a bit of a task, to follow up that album.
Kyle: Sure, no, that’s never been our goal as a band. And I don’t think truly anybody really thinks that way, unless your goal is to just make money. And I mean, if you’re in heavy metal trying to make money, you’re in the wrong genre; go make country music or pop or something. So no, it’s always the aim to better yourselves, to better ourselves, as musicians, as songwriters, and just grow, as a band. Between albums, for us it’s been, there’s like two or three years between albums, a lot can happen in two or three years, you can experience a lot as a person and grow and change. So we wanna reflect that in our music.
Kyle: It’s tough to say, because I can’t speak for everybody’s situation. I think my situation’s pretty unique in the fact that projects that I do, by and large I do everything, I’ll write the songs, and I can also record the songs, mix the songs, and if need be I can release them myself as well, I can do the whole process. Not everybody’s willing to do that and not everybody can really do that because they don’t have the experience, they’re not too sure how to do it. It can be quite daunting, any one of those steps can be quite daunting, let alone the whole thing. But I think a lot of people would be surprised at how many bands don’t make money, even the ones you’d think should be making money, because they seem quite successful, or they’re doing quite big tours compared to the rest of the scene. It’s really tough to make money as a band, it costs so much money to just go on tour and play shows in general. Especially now, post-Covid. You know, taking away the fact that we’re a British band and that there are the obvious Brexit-things we have to deal with; the cost of petrol is astronomical right now. The cost of renting a vehicle has obviously gone up because the cost of petrol has gone up. The cost of merchandise, everything costs more money because it costs more money to ship things. You have to think of every step of the process, it’s like if it costs more for petrol, it costs more to ship the shirts from wherever you need to get them printed to wherever you live. Everything just goes up, so it’s really difficult to fund the costs for the tour, I mean, just off the top of my head, the numbers for the tour that we’re on now, we had to pay around 8000 pounds to do it, and that’s not taking into account the petrol money that we’re having to pay while we’re moving.
Kyle: Yeah, absolutely, totally up front, that’s the cost of the van, trailer, and some hotels that we needed to make sure we definitively have, the carnet that we have; and that’s only because we’re a British band, there’s a carnet we have to buy to take out our equipment into Europe.
Kyle: Ah! No, it’s nothing like that for us, we have to basically present a list to the government. We used a third party to mediate that for us, because I cannot deal with that, there are many things I deal with, and that’s not one them (laughs)! So, we hire somebody to help us with that, and obviously that costs money. And then there’s the extra cost of the Eurotunnel, because the vehicle that we’re using is bigger than what we used before, so everything adds up, so yeah, 8000 pounds just before we’ve even stepped out the door and gone on tour. So we rely heavily on the merch that we sell, hoping that the advances that we’ve been promised, will come on time to pay for this stuff.
Kyle: Sure, I mean, you can’t commit to something like that without the promise of the money being made back. You know, apart from me, because I’m self-employed, but the other people in the band, and also the other people in Riot City, they all have jobs, like what you would call a normal job for lack of a better term; and they have to take time off work, they’re losing money by being here; and you can’t go out and do something that costs such an astronomical amount of money without the promise that you’re gonna make it back. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the fees that we’re gonna get by the end of the tour will cover the cost of what it costs for us to move around, and if, in the best case scenario, we might make a little bit of money on the merchandise, which will then, just in turn, fund more merchandise further down the road. It’s not gonna go into our pockets. No money that’s ever been made by Seven Sisters, has gone into any of our pockets, ever – and we’ve been going for almost 10 years now. So if someone’s listening, and that might shock them, it’s a reality check, what bands actually get out of what they do. It’s not money that we get, it’s just we do it because we absolutely love doing this, you know, it’s a labour of love. And don’t get me wrong, it’s the coolest thing ever, but it doesn’t make you money. It [would have] to be a very big operation, or you have to be very clever, and sort of do things in a different way to make money.
Kyle: I don’t know … you can do it for the kids; and I don’t mean the literal kids, but the friends that you make, like I said, we’ve been doing this for 10 years, so there are people that we only ever see if we play shows near where they live, and they are some of our closest fans. It blows my mind the level of support that we get. Just in general, but also some people in particular, I feel if we didn’t come out and do this, not only would it have a negative impact on my life, and the rest of the band, because this is something that we love doing, that we want to do. I feel like some people would genuinely miss out if we weren’t playing shows, if we weren’t out here doing this. So yeah, to an extent, you do it for the kids, you do it for the people who love your band, and the support. It’s a feedback cycle, the more support you get, the more you are willing to put yourself out there and feed to that support, and generate more, hopefully, if you’re doing things right, perform well. So it’s truly just to go out and hang out with some friends and have a good time. I guess for a musician, and I’m speaking purely personally now, not for anybody else, for me, I really find out where I’m at in my journey as a musician, and with my skills, when I’m on stage. You know, if I can do it on the stage, I can do it absolutely anywhere, because when you’re in front of, however many people, 5 or 5000 doesn’t matter, if you can do it there, then you can do it, and that’s that. So for me, it’s a personal thing, I wanna become the best musician I could possibly become, and I feel like I can’t do that unless I’m on stage.
Kyle: Well … I think it’s growing. Maybe now, it’s growing a bit slower than it was a couple of years ago, possibly. Is it an old boys’ club? Predominantly yes; you rarely … no, that’s not true, there are women, and there are younger people, but that is heavily outweighed by just middle-aged men, generally speaking; me being one of these middle-aged men, it’s just the way it is, they grossly outnumber the women and the younger fans. Sometimes I see at shows, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and just like, people from other walks of life that you wouldn’t necessarily, and it’s sad to say, expect at a heavy metal show; and that really inspires me, that makes me glad, that I’m seeing people from all walks of life turning up. But it’s few and far between. I would like to see more of that. In that particular little heavy metal bubble that we live in, in this Traditional Heavy Metal bubble that we live in, I’d love to see more kinds of people, all kinds of people. I mean that’s quite a big discussion as to why that might be the case. It’s an old genre of music, and it’s a revival genre of music now, and you could argue that because of that, it doesn’t really attract new audiences. But that being said, if I were to look at my analytics on Spotify, for Seven Sisters for example, and it would tell me like the age and the gender of people listening to our music, there is a percentage of people who are under 18, which surprises me, there’s like under 18-s listeing to our music on Spotify, and then the next bracket would be like 18-25, and there is quite a big percentage there as well listening to our music, so there are definitively people out there that wanna hear this kind of music. So that’s promising for me, and I hope that we get to reach those people live as well, because it’s one thing hearing it on Spotify and maybe listening to it on a playlist for example, which might be how younger people access music these days, and then it’s another thing going to a show, right, which I can imagine can be quite an intimidating thing, when you look at a bunch of dudes wearing big patch jackets and scary leather spiky things, and it’s like well, fuck, is this really for me? So yeah, I do hope that we get to see more diversity in music, in this little subgenre, this little universe that we exist in, because it’s…I feel superwelcome, and I know plenty of other people feel very welcome as well. And it is a really loving community, I just hope that it can extend to everybody that deserves it.
Kyle: I think it’s probably … it’s our job in our support for these communities – you have to be. It’s not enough to just not be racist, you have to be antiracist. It’s not enough, you have to be openly antifascist, openly supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Because how would anybody know otherwise? It’s not enough to just sort of be passive in these situations, I feel you really need to show your support publicly, and let people know, that it’s a safe space, and if they want to come, that they’ll be welcome. I mean, like earlier today, it was a really cool moment, someone came up to us and started talking to us, and he just said thank you for posting about, and supporting working class movements, and for being openly antifascist on your social media; and that’s the first time anybody has approached me about that sort of thing, and mentioned it. Because to me, it’s totally normal. Of course, I am antifascist, I am in support of all these minority communities; and it’s just really cool to see that oh, maybe in this little echo chamber that exists online, that some people do read it, and they feel supported by it. I think, one thing that we can do, as bands, is just make sure that people know that they’re welcome. It’s a very easy thing to do, you just have to be open about it. Don’t be passive! Talk about it, address difficult issues, and don’t be afraid to have an opinion on these things, because opinions are important, everybody has them of course, but like I said, you need to make sure that people know that they’re welcome.
Kyle: What if, yeah, it’s like the sort of Marvel and DC What if-series, right? Um, I don’t know. It’s tough to say because we are where we are right now in current times and it’s impossible to really know because those things happened and they happened for better or worse, they happened. And you know, it pleases me that you would listen to us and think that we’re adding something new to the equation, because that’s what we want. We don’t just want to regurgitate some things. It’s very obvious what our influences are. But I would like to think that we are bringing something new to the table. So I guess the ultimate aim is to pay homage to whatever you enjoy, but just be yourself as well. It’s one thing copying your influences and it’s another thing just having influences, right? I’m going to paraphrase somebody, I think it’s definitely been said in a David Lee Roth interview before and it’s like the best artists are the thieves that get away with it, right? So I guess this is kind of what we’re doing. We’re just thieves that are kind of getting away with it a little bit. But there’s a whole plethora of influences. It’s not just heavy metal that I listen to. It’s not just heavy metal that any of us listen to in the band. There’s a whole bunch of things. So of course that’s going to seep in and sort of mix around and make something that’s hopefully more interesting than just another “Two Minutes to Midnight“ riff. So yeah, it’s one of those things. I mean, we get sort of lumped in with the new wave of traditional heavy metal stuff, you know what I mean? And I would say personally I think we sound like a power metal band more than anything. But that’s in my head, because of my influences and the way that I hear things. Certainly the latest album I would say is very heavily influenced by the likes of Queensrÿche and King Diamond, that kind of stuff, which is not really like new album metal at all. You know, it’s a separate movement. So yeah, it’s very minute differences to somebody who might not know these things but I guess it’s just a case of trying to leave your stamp on something that you love. And if it comes from a genuine place, if you truly love what you’re doing and you’re just doing it sincerely, I think people respond that way as well.
Kyle: Well, thank you very much.
Kyle: Yeah, my mind has gone blank now. I mean I’m sure I have like hundreds of them at this point…
Kyle: Well, okay, so we’re in France. All right. So I guess I’ll talk about the only tour – I say it in inverted commas – that we ever did in France was years ago. And this is when our first album had just come out and we were still playing. We were still getting to and from shows in my car and it was like a Toyota Yaris Verso. So it had a slightly bigger boot so we could fit breakables, guitar heads and a little bit of merchandise in there, and we’d go and just play shows and we had decided that we’d do a weekend in France. We played a show here in Brittany in Rennes and then we did a show in Paris and then in Dijon organized by the people that do the Rising Metal Festival, Natalie and Nicole. So yeah, we played the show in Rennes actually, and Herzel played with us in that show. That was wicked, it was brilliant. And we were thinking, oh yeah, this is great, this is a great start, we’re going to have a good time. And then we drive to Dijon, which is a couple of hours. It’s quite a drive. We get to Dijon and I kid you not, literally pull up in front of the venue, park the car and then we think, okay, we’re here. You know, you just get out, acclimatize yourselves, you know, get out of the car, stretch your legs. Somebody comes up to us and says, sorry, you need to move the vehicle. This is a parking space. Great. Get back in the car. And it won’t start. Oh, no, the starter motor is gone. So no starter motor. So we panic and whilst we play the show, we call out a mechanic and the mechanic says, yeah, sorry, your starter motor is completely gone. It just all happens to be a bank holiday weekend here in France. So you won’t get any mechanics out. Great. Okay, so we’re going to have to push start the car for the rest of the tour. So there we are. Four idiots push-starting this car and like, it’s just the most Spinal Tap story. The day after that show, I actually did a push start in reverse, so I just took the handbrake off, let it roll and I started the engine in reverse like crazy stuff. But the story doesn’t end there. The last night of the tour, we think, all right, we’ve got through the tour. We did it with a push start engine. It’s okay. We’re here now. We play the last show and then we go for a lovely meal with the organizer and the other bands. And whilst we’re having this meal whilst the car is parked like literally next to us outside, we didn’t notice, but somebody smashed the front passenger window, stole our drummer’s cymbals and his backpack with his passport in it. So obviously we find this out when we get to the car. Thankfully they didn’t steal the rest of the equipment and also the tin with like a couple of thousand euros in it. They could have taken that, you know. And so we drive we drove from Paris to Calais well back to London even with no starter motor and no passenger front window, literally just a bin bag wrapped around the door. We were driving back and this is in November. So it’s cold. We’re all wrapped in duvets, shivering, driving down the motorway like absolutely freezing. We get to the ferry. Steve doesn’t have a passport. By the luck of whatever luck was shining down at that point I had a scan of his passport on my phone and they let us on the ship with that. Thankfully they obviously just looked at us and took complete pity on us, just like, you know what? Let’s let these guys go home. So yeah, it’s not a cool story, but it’s a very Spinal Tap. Like, you know, we’ve talked about that tour ever since. Like at the time when it was happening, it was disastrous. We were just like, oh wow, this is the worst time ever. But as soon as we got home, we were laughing about it. You know, you have to laugh about these things. So yeah, there you go. That’s a so rock and roll tour story. No starter motor and no front passenger window, Paris to London.
Kyle: I think most people if you were saying you would probably just be like, you know what, I might not do this anymore. And when we get home like, okay, yeah, where would you go next? You know, it takes a certain kind of person I think, to be on the road, uh, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not sure, I’m yet to find out…
Kyle: We only have one silly drive left, which is going to happen like in about half an hour basically.
Kyle: We do, yeah.
Kyle: We’ve got three drivers so we can circulate and yeah, that’s good. We try and make it as safe as possible.