KONCORDIA are brand new to the rock scene. They have brought forth their own style of synth rock that is influenced by their love of video games. Their debut EP Diamond Heart is out now and quite rightly receiving high praise. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to the duo Jonathan Liffen and Curtis Allam about the debut EP, their song writing and what video game universe they would like to be a part of.
First question; for those who haven’t listened to Koncordia before, how would you describe your sound?
Curtis: I am the drummer for the band, I also play bass. Then you have Jonathan who is the lead vocalist and guitarist on the EP. Our influences came from growing up with video games in the nineties, Sega was very big for both of us. We both owned a Sega Megadrive so sounds Sonic The Hedgehog and Strict Blade come through in our music. We are also both big fans of rock so I think that bleeds into the music as well.
Jonathan: I think that sums it up really. We blended our love for video games and rock music which led to us coming up with synth rock; it’s a progression to synth pop if you like and the new wave stuff. We selected two genres that we both liked and smashed the two together.
The prologue of this band was a band called The Crown, which we were in before. We did an album so we had a whole album of songs that were of this style. But that was ten years ago, we were the first band to play at Bar 42. That was weird that gig, we got one of our friends to set up and bring all their gear. We were the only band playing and we did two forty five minute sets. They had a Slush Puppy machine with vodka in so it was pretty messy. So that was the prologue and we had our friend Danny introduce us to electronica.
A few years down the line, we started Koncordia. We did it initially in 2015 but it didn’t go anywhere as we were all so busy. I was busy with Bleed Again stuff. Bleed Again came to an end for me and Curtis didn’t have any projects so we decided to resurrect this and here it is.
When bands can tour freely again and Koncordia play shows, will there be a Slush Puppy Machine with vodka? That could be a band tradition.
Jonathan: That’s a really good idea.
Curtis: I think it could take up a lot of our equipment space.
Jonathan: But so worth it. This time though, I think I would not add vodka then people can have what they would like in it. So rum, vodka, it would be their choice.
You have recently released your debut EP Diamond Heart, it’s a fantastic EP. Have you found it’s gone down well with listeners and critics?
Curtis: From what I’ve heard, the feedback has been really good. Everyone was pleasently surprised because everyone asks ‘What sound are you’ and I find it really hard to describe it. Feedback has been positive; I haven’t had any negative reviews apart from my Dad. He liked two of the tracks that were rockier, he didn’t really like the eighties vibe.
Jonathan: Curtis is totally right though. It’s one of those weird things, when you tell your friends that ‘I have this band’ and they haven’t heard the music before they look at you and they’re probably thinking ‘this is going to be a bit shit’. Then when they hear it their reaction is positive and then when you tell them it’s on Spotify, they think it’s even cooler because they have it on their phones and they don’t realise how easy it is to get stuff on Spotify. It makes you look really pro alongside having these online stores and I think that’s where we got this good feedback from since they have had a chance to listen to it in their own time.
That’s really great. I am a huge fan of eighties rock so I really liked it. I also knew you Jonathan from Bleed Again, which is more melodic death metal so like the rest of us I didn’t know what to expect from Koncordia.
Jonathan: It was interesting switching genre and how well Bleed Again fans have taken to it. They seem to be really behind this new sound as well which is great.
Talking about some of the songs on the EP. The first thing I noticed was the excellent song writing, normally it takes a few listens to figure out the lyrics but I picked them up on the first or second listen. What influences do you draw upon when writing songs?
Jonathan: Talking lyrically, I’ll take this one. I think with this EP it was interesting because we have written these songs over a vast period of time. So, I think the oldest song is about nine years old and the youngest one is months old. It’s a mish mash of that and some of them were from five years ago. It’s interesting how they have all worked together and how we have worked them into a concept. Lyrically it’s mainly about being hopeful and resilient, like a diamond heart. It’s about having a heart that can never break.
Do you guys have a favourite track on the EP?
Curtis: I have always liked the last track of the EP, Narrowly Missed. I really enjoy playing it as well. I always find Diamond Heart gets stuck in my head. I will just sit there, hum the riff and I am thinking “why am I singing this? I have to play this over and over. It’s going to get annoying”. So those are my favourite tracks on the EP.
Jonathan: I mimic Curtis on that. I really like that one. I tend to like parts of songs, bits that I have really really well and things like that. In Narrowly Missed, there is a really nice bridge; I love how that comes in and enters into the chorus. I love the lead riff on Diamond Heart. We originally scrapped the track Control, we then came back to it. I love it now, I love how it transitions from one part song to the other. There isn’t one song I can pick but I love individual little bits.
Curtis: I originally saw Control as the weakest song we had because we scrapped it and re-worked it twice. We then settled on the song’s third take and it sounded really cool. We then got it into the studio and I really like it.
Jonathan: I love that people have listened to Control and have added that personal touch. It’s one of the things I love about writing. I had the same experience with the song Legacy with Bleed Again and people came up to me and told me “that song means so much”. They want Legacy played at their weddings and things like that.
I suppose with writing those sorts of lyrics, it helps people relate as they go through these every day struggles for example mental health issues. Is there anything that helps you to cope when things get overwhelming?
Jonathan: Definitely alcohol, no I’m joking. For me, it’s video gaming as it really brings me down a few levels. You enter another world for a bit. I also like to sit and play the guitar. Music and video games are the two things that help get my mind in a good place.
Curtis: I echo that answer. I do play a lot of video games, I’m never not going to. I use it as an escapism, especially with RPGs and stuff like that. Music as well. I listen to a lot of music, I use that as an escapism. I am finding more avenues to help with that as we become more aware of mental health. The way Jon writes those lyrics in for example Control, he probably felt that way at one point in his life. We’re open to talking about it and music helps us get that message out.
Do you have particular albums or bands to turn to when you need a boost?
Curtis: There’s an album called All These Countless Nights by a band called Deaf Havana. I absolutely love that album and adore his song writing. There’s another album by them called Fools And Worthless Lies, it meant a lot to me especially when I was touring as it is about touring and your mental health during a tour. It talks about how it feels like a chore and how he feels like he hasn’t accomplished anything in his life. That’s a good album for me. I also like Twenty One Pilots, they explore mental health a lot. I love their song writing and the way he captures how you might be feeling. It’s really weird but at the same time I thought ‘damn you’ve done it’.
Jonathan: Twenty One Pilots are good to be fair. Curtis got me into them and I haven’t put them down since. I have always loved Nirvana and Kurt Cobain as a person. I know he had his problems but he was so ahead of his time on how he thought about things. He was particularly anti-misogyny and anti-corporation. He was a socialist ahead of his time and that was unheard of in the nineties. You can hear how he thought about things through his music plus, Nirvana rock. I have watched their Reading 1992 set on YouTube several times, it’s manic but it’s amazing and I wish I could have been there.
We are currently living in a pandemic, have you come across any new films/TV shows/music etc during lockdown?
Jonathan: I have been watching Community because I didn’t see it first time round. It is so funny. That’s probably the only thing I have been doing.
Curtis: Series wise, nothing really new. There was Umbrella Academy Season Two, which I loved. I watched all of New Girl during lockdown and that was brilliant. Music wise, there was a lot because me and a couple of friends created a WhatsApp group at the start of lockdown where we recommend an album a day. It stopped after a month as no-one replied. That got me into new bands, well not new bands just bands I haven’t listened to. Video game wise, I started The Witcher 3 again and clocked up at least seventy hours during lockdown and then I had to stop because there were moments where I stood outside and thought I was Geralt Of Rivia.
Given your video gaming influences, what video game universe would you like to be a part of and thrive in?
Jonathan: I would love to be in Fallout as I love that post-apocalyptic, 1950s kind of style world. Everything about that game I just love. I wish I could decorate my house like a camp, have a moth man on the wall. I think my son would like it although it might give him nightmare. I don’t know if I would necessarily thrive, I would probably get eaten by a Yao Gui or something. A death claw might come and rip me to shreds but I would try and survive eating pork and beans.
Curtis: I don’t know where I’d thrive. I wouldn’t want to do Fallout because I don’t think it would be as goofy, it would be a lot scarier. I think living in the Elderscrolls universe would be really cool because it would be funny to put a bucket on a shop keeper’s head, nick his stuff and sell it back. If I went into The Witcher universe, I would be pretty much screwed because it’s a bit too serious. I think Hyrule in The Legend Of Zelda would be cool, not necessarily as Link but as an NPC watching Link smashing up pots.
Do you have a message for your fans or anyone not coping with lockdown?
Jonathan: First off, listen to our EP. It’s really cool and it will cheer you up. There’s the plug. I also think take it day by day. During my furlough, I had my son everyday and it was slowly deteriorating my mind watching children’s TV day in day out. It was hard as I didn’t know if I had a job to go back to but things get better and it’s good to take it day by day.
Curtis: I would probably say try and get outside if you can. That helped me a lot as I was working from home continuously and still am. I had to get out and get some air then I found myself going for an hours walk. Message to fans would be please will you be our fan because we need some. We’re so new, I don’t think there is a message for fans but those who like us and have listened to us thank you. Share our music and spread the love, let’s get a cult vibe going.
Thank you guys for speaking with Rock Out Stand Out today.