Interview: My Passion

We last spoke to My Passion in a dingey little pub on the Quayside of Newcastle, back in April, when the band were gearing for the release of their debut album Corporate Flesh Party and buzzing about being featured in Kerrang! Magazine for the first time. How times have changed, as a few months on, we’re now talking to frontman Laurence René 20-mins before he takes to the stage at the O2 Academy as they open up for the Kerrang! Relentless Energy Tour, here’s what went down…

Faye: How are you today in Newcastle?
Laurence: I’m excited, I really like Newcastle, we’ve had some great shows over the last couple of years building it up. We played the big Academy once before, but only sort of half the capacity with Kill Hannah, and that was pretty insane, and this is going to be twice the amount of people with the balcony as well, so it’s going to be really good. We’ve met fans outside already, they’ve been queuing since early this morning and there’s a lot of My Passion, which is really nice to see.

Faye: You’ve got quite a big fanbase up here, it seems.
Laurence: Yeah, it seems to be growing and word seems to be spreading around, but with the Kerrang! Tour, there’ll be a lot of people who’ve never even heard of us or just haven’t heard our music, and it’ll be a chance to win over those people, so it’s really exciting.

Faye: I last interviewed you in April last year, what’s been happening in the world of My Passion since then?
Laurence: Shit, a lot, just before that we just received our first Introducing… feature in Kerrang! Magazine, then we did the small April tour when you saw us, we released our debut album Corporate Flesh Party, we got nominated for a Kerrang! award – we didn’t win, unluckily, we played some festivals – Download, T In The Park, then we did some headline tours and then we got booked up for the Kerrang! Tour, so lots of touring really and then writing our second album at the same time, up until Christmas and we’re recording that in April, so it’s just been full-on. [laughs] We get a little breather after the Kerrang! Tour and then we’re back out.

Faye: So, how’s the Kerrang! Tour been so far?
Laurence: It’s been amazing, it’s just been insane, crazy people, really open-minded crowd and just every night is really responsive. The reaction has been brilliant, because we’re slightly strange, not your standard rock band, really, I’d say. I think a lot of people expect one thing, then they come and they get a lot more than what they expected My Passion to be like, because it’s a lot different to maybe how they imagined when they saw us, or something like that. We’re winning a lot of people over, which is all you can hope for when you’re touring in front of thousands of people every night that haven’t heard us, so it’s all about winning new friends and getting more people to join the My Passion cult.

Faye: You and Young Guns rotate every night, do you mind?
Laurence: They’re really great guys, we get on with them really well and that’s really important when you’re on tour, The Blackout as well, and All Time Low are good party guys as well, and that’s one the most important things, just getting on with each other. Us and Young Guns are both new rock bands from the UK and we’re both after the same things, so it really doesn’t matter where you are on that bill, because people come out for the Kerrang! Tour and they’re just excited to be a part of it, and to come to see it. Young Guns had some huge support slots last year, Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Fightstar, Lostprophets, so they’ve probably been seen by a lot more people and they’ve had quite a lot of back from Radio 1 with their latest single, so they’ve kind of had a lot of exposure themselves, there’s a lot of people who know the words to their songs, it kind of works well, they’re a good live band. It really doesn’t matter about the first on thing, we’re glad to be a part of it as much as they are, we just rotate every night and it’s kind of nice, it mixes it up a bit.

Faye: Like you mentioned, you released your debut record Corporate Flesh Party last year, were you happy with the response?
Laurence: Yeah, it’s all we could have hoped for really, we recorded it the year before, at the end of 2008, so it was quite a while ago, and the stuff for the new album, we’ve moved quite a lot, but we’re still happy with the first initial recording we did, because that captured the journey we took up until that point, so we were more than happy with that. We knew it wouldn’t be a multi-platinum album, because we’re an underground band, we’ve always done things ourselves, so it’s kind of something that’s a continuous building and growth of My Passion. It was so important to get that album out to say ‘This is My Passion’ – at that time in our lives. Now we’re getting more known, it’s like, shit, this is what we dreamed of when we were 19 and 20, but we’re a bit more mature and the song writing has come on, so that’s why we’re so excited about the next one, because the songs have still got all the elements we done on our first one, but they’re just taking it off in all directions, so it’s more electro, but it’s more heavy at the same time, it’s more epic, and there’s a bit more maturity to it, I guess. We’re playing a couple of the tracks tonight that will probably appear on that album and they’re more similar to the songs that are in the set, like high-energy, but, again, there’s more stuff that’s different, we’re going to use some choir stuff, we’re going to use some pianos, there’s more synth stuff, there’s probably a bigger guitar sound, our voices have come on as well. When we recorded the first album, Jonathan still had quite a young voice and now he’s a man [laughs], so his voice has matured a lot and so has mine, I’ve got a better range that can sing a bit lower now, and you don’t find that until you start developing your voice, it just happens naturally. It’s not thought out, like we’re going to do something in a certain style, we’ve just moved on naturally from where we were before and I just think it’s going to be great, I can’t wait. Obviously, it’s not even done yet, we’ve just got the songs at home, and we’re still working on a lot of them, but the feel we’re getting is kind of like, it’s going to be a really great album, something we’re going to be excited about.

Faye: Is there a release date for the new record yet?
Laurence: We’ve only got a recording date and that’s April, we’re going to be recording it for the whole of that month, and whatever happens from there. We’re not even sure how we’re releasing it yet, we might release it in stages, we might do some singles, because since we’re in control of it, we can do whatever we want, really, and see how it works, try out a few unique ideas, because that’s the beauty of being out on your own – at the moment, anyway, unless something amazing comes along, it’ll be release on our own. We’re not sure how we’re releasing it, but it’s just important to make it and get it out there, and with all the exposure happening and all we’ve built on this tour you can kind of do-it-yourself these days. We’re not really one of those old-fashioned bands who waits around for your golden ticket and millions on pounds, we know we’ve got to do the work to get it. The music industry is forever evolving and changing, and a lot of those record labels, they’re a bit lost and they don’t know what to do, so to put a lot of money into a weird band like us might be a bit risky for them. We are still a small family, but steadily becoming bigger band, it’s kind of crazy. Our sound man and stage engineer, they’re friends of ours, who, luckily, have great skill and do a great job. The t-shirt designing is still done by us and we all make the music together, it’s very much a family vibe and that’s just the way it’s evolved and I think that’s what makes it stronger than in other situations where you’re waiting around for people to do things, we’ve only got ourselves to rely on at the moment.

Faye: Were you happy with the promotion of Corporate Flesh Party?
Laurence: There was quite a lot in Europe and quite a lot of advertising with it, we’re going to put out another single to coincide with a tour we’re doing in March-time, I think, and that’ll be another single from the album. We had Day of the Bees which hit the telly and is still up there on Scuzz, Kerrang! TV and NME TV, so that’s what we wanted from the first album, to get that extra bit of exposure, and now it’s sort of leading on from there, like the Kerrang! Tour, it’s a great stepping stone.

Faye: Do you feel Kerrang! Magazine, in particularly, has played an important part in getting your message further afield?
Laurence: Yeah, obviously, it gets you out there and it’s not what you imagine. I remember when I was a kid and I saw my favourite bands in the magazine, and people message us saying, “Oh, you’re in Kerrang! now, you’re huge.”, but you don’t instantly sell out Wembley Stadium because you’ve been in magazine, but to get support from a brand like Kerrang!.. They back someone who they think is unique and that they believe in, basically, and it’s good to see a magazine that still exists like that. We aren’t a band who’s got millions of pounds to give them and say, “Put us in your back page.”, “Put us on the front page.” and they’re supporting us and helping that growth. It’s nice because it’s real and bought, which is what happens in the music industry, everything is bought and pushed in your face because of money, and My Passion hasn’t gone way, it’s just gone because we’ve worked bloody hard. [laughs] It’s makes a difference like that.

Faye: I remember back in April when you were so excited about being featured in Kerrang! Magazine for the first time, and, now, you’re practically in it every week, how does that feel?
Laurence: Yeah, the response we’ve had in Kerrang!, from fans and new people picking up on the music, has meant that the magazine want to put us in, because people will buy that magazine, because the fanbase is growing and our fans are the kind of fans that will buy a magazine if you’re featured. Hopefully, we’re helping each other a little bit, the magazine and My Passion together.

Faye: Did you ever expect yourselves to get to where you are today?
Laurence: We were one of those bands that were kind of different to everyone in our local area, and lot of bands start it up for the enjoyment and we did it for the enjoyment of it as well, but we had this determination and big ambition, it just fell natural to us, always. When we started, we thought we’ve got something that the world needs to hear and needs to be a part of, we always felt a bit different to other bands who might just play at the weekend for fun. With us, it was a lot more of a lifestyle, we kind of decided to commit our lives to it and then see where the music took us and see My Passion took us. I suppose, the initial dream was to get to where we are now, which is living off music that you love making and with your friends that you get on so well with, as well as getting to see a lot of world at the same time, and to get to do that, instead of a 9-5 job is sweet.

Faye: You touched upon your merchandise before, My Passion Fashion, you sell some weird items, like skinny jeans...
Laurence: Yeah, Andy, our manager, he researches a lot of the new lines and then I do a lot of the designs. Again, a lot of other bands may only think of just doing a t-shirt, but try to build on more than just a couple of t-shirts on a stand, because people want My Passion in their lives and people will buy t-shirts, but they’ll also buy mugs and skinny jeans, and that’s how you make your money and that’s how you survive being out on your own, it really helps us stay alive and helps push towards the success of My Passion, really. It’s the whole package, the look of us, the merchandise going with it and the music, it all kind of fits together, in a weird way, but it works.

Faye: What can we expect from My Passion in the near future?
Laurence: We’ll be taking a little break, a little rest, and then more touring, we’ve got to finish writing our next album, then we go straight into the studio to record, for a month or so, down in Reading, then we’re out on tour again after that and we’ll be announcing more tour stuff when it’s solidly confirmed, and then, hopefully, some festivals.

Faye: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Laurence: Every night we’re listening to Young Guns, we’re listening to The Blackout and All Time Low, and that’s a good a good varied mix to listen to, so that’s kind of fun and you get to see them live. The Blackout are a brilliant live band, I think they’re really good. Young Guns have got some great songs, and are good to watch as well, we’re just lucky to be on tour with those band, it seems to work well, and we enjoy them.

Faye: Is there anything else you want to say?
Laurence: No, I think I’ve babbled on long enough. [laughs]

Faye Turnbull.

Many thanks to Laurence for the interview, and for more information on My Passion, visit: www.myspace.com/mypassion

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