It’s no secret that the effects of Covid-19 have had a huge impact on bands being able to tour and record new material. One of the bands that rose to this challenge were TAKE BREATH, they worked hard and adapted well to the ever changing environment. This determination paid off as they produced a solid debut EP. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to band members George Andrews, Fynn Gillions and Peter Mould about the EP and mental health during lockdown.
You guys are really new, first tell us about yourselves and your sound. Did you get together during lockdown?
Fynn: We’ve been together for over a year, I can’t remember exactly when we got together. We released our first song in January 2020 so before things started getting real.
George: We had such high hopes. We all found we liked the same kind of music and I got in touch with Louis [Doran] our drummer. We talked about needing a singer and I said I can sort of do that. Fynn was already in the band and they had written a great amount of material. The song Sleep was already released and that can be heard on the EP. In terms of influences, we have similar and dissimilar influences. There’s a bit of an eclectic mix in there.
Fynn: That’s a thing we do, we like to take inspiration from as much as we possibly can. You can’t create a new sound if you take influences from the same bands everyone else is taking influence from and nothing else.
George: We try and listen to everything outside of metal. I avoid listening to other alternative bands, especially when we are working on new material. I am the biggest Harry Styles fan, I think he’s brilliant I haven’t stopped listening to him. In terms of influences that sound like us, While She Sleeps is a huge one in terms of the instrumental sounds. For me, it’s all over the place. Linkin’ Park were the ones that made me want to do this.
Fynn: Thornhill is a big one as well.
George: I think Sleep Token was the uniting influence. There’s a cool story about Holding Absence. If you have a physical copy of their debut album you see a photo of one of their live shows on the sleeve. In the bottom left hand corner, you can see me and our drummer Louis right at the barrier. We didn’t know each other at the time. We actually met up at another gig a few months down the line and I remember picking up the record thinking “hang on a minute, that’s me and Louis.”
I think music in general brings people together. We have needed it during this time. You released The Hell In All I Held Too Close in December, which I commend you for as that’s the month saturated with Mariah Carey, Micheal Buble and what’s called Whameggedon now.
George: We wanted it to be out a lot earlier but with how everything went last year it was difficult to legally go and record.
Fynn: We were really unlucky as we had our studio time was booked in March just before we went into lockdown. They announced it two days before our booked slot.
George: We wanted it out in April.
Fynn: I think we were going for June. The plan was we were going to start recording in March.
George: We had all the material for ages. We are really proud of that release. It embodies the first era of Take Breath as a band. It’s old material realistically. It’s brand new for people listening to it but it’s been around for a while.
I really liked your EP. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but when listening to it I was reminded of my college days when discovering that sort of music and going to those crazy live shows.
George: I really like getting that sort of feedback, that’s reminiscent of what you listened to. It’s almost a nostalgic sound, I feel that when I listen to it. It reminds me of Underoath and those sorts of bands, early 2000s metalcore and post hardcore. Those were the bands that got me into this sort of thing.
There are some powerful lyrics in your songs, when writing them were they drawn upon your own experiences? I know one of the songs looks into a relationship with religion.
George: They are mainly auto-biographical, I write the lyrics as well as yelling. Every song on the EP is about a different thing, it’s all from personal experience and I try to be as honest as possible. I’ve always enjoyed that about this style of music because it’s very open and candid. You get a lot of sincerity out of the lyrics. I try to do that as much as possible and be quite real.
Live Without is the one about religion. I went to a religious primary school, my family and I weren’t religious at all but it was very much along the lines of ‘this is how things work, God made it all’. I am not one to disparage other people’s beliefs and religions, you can believe what you want to believe and what ever gets you by is fine by me. For me, I was facing a lot of difficulties at the time as a young kid. This idea that God punishes sinners and I thought ‘what have I done? I’m eight’. That’s when I started falling out with it. It is something I have always wanted to tackle. Again, I don’t mean to disrespect anybody’s religious beliefs. It’s something I have had a funny relationship with and wanted to write about it. I have had people comment on how they relate to the song and how it spoke to them. It was very therapeutic to write about.
Fynn: That’s one of the things I love about our songs. When we write them, it’s us getting our personal things for the world to hear. So all of us have got stuff in there that’s really personal and the fact people tell us they relate to what we’ve written in a different way is very rewarding.
George: It is very reward. Especially being fans of this sort of music. I put my heart and soul into our music as this kind of music was everything to me growing up. Particularly seeing other men speaking so openly and honestly about how they felt, it was massive for me because it meant I wasn’t alone. It’s the reason I wanted to do this, to connect and to have those people who appreciate what we do.
Particulary right now, mental health has detoriated.
George: It’s been shambolic, it’s been so difficult for everyone. I left the house a grand total of five times last year. Four of those were to work on stuff with the band when we were allowed to. That was my saving grace. The other was to see my partner who was a saving grace as well. It’s been a nightmare but it’s great to have music there as that is like a body armour.
I take it writing these songs helped you mentally.
George: Most definitely. I can say that for all of us.
Fynn: Everyone has a thing, all of us are musicians and involved in the scene somehow. The idea that I wouldn’t have music to write would leave me feeling lost as there is nothing else I would do.
George: I would be the most useless person in the world.
Has there been anything outside of music that has helped you during lockdown?
Peter: Doing a bit of biking and walking, that’s about it really. Not much else to do lockdown wise, there’s only so much you can do from home.
Fynn: I moved to Manchester with my partner Leah. She features on the song Heather Fields, she plays piano in that so shout out to her. If I had been living by myself through this, I wouldn’t have got through it I don’t think. Having Leah and these boys here as support has been a huge help. I wouldn’t have survived lockdown without the connections and the work we have done this year.
With regards to mental health, do you think more needs to be done?
Fynn: Realistically, more needs to be done. Mental health needs to be a top priority and more awareness needs to be raised especially at the moment. We all know how dangerous it is to be alone for this amount of time and having these sorts of problems. Everyone has got something they are sad about a little bit of the time so when you’re face to face with that for such a long time, it’s not good for anyone. Last year, George wrote a piece for Heads Above The Waves. Shout out to them as well as stuff like that needs to be bigger.
George: That was about my own dealings with mental health. I have ADHD, I didn’t find about that until I was an adult. It was also about what it was like to be diagnosed at that stage. Heads Above The Waves are an amazing organisation, it’s all non-for-profit and they have a store in Cardiff. They do incredible stuff and they are the nicest people in the world to speak to. A couple of them are musicians too. They are doing great work in getting people talking more about mental health.
Fynn: I think the more people that come out and talk about their own experiences mental health, the world becomes a better place every time someone does.
Is there anything you guys do, bands you like to listen to when you’re having a bad time with your mental health and you need to feel calm and grounded?
Peter: I think outside of music, just being outside in general really helps. I find if I have spent a whole day indoors whether or not it’s playing music, which is perfectly fine, I find myself feeling restless and need some time outside. That would be my go to outside of music.
Fynn: For me, I think the main one is playing music but outside of that, I do bits and bobs with graphics which I haven’t done before. Actually, I did graphics at A-Level so at college. That was before Take Breath had become a thing, Peter and I were in another band at this point. I wasn’t having a good time, I was angry at the system which most kids are at some point in their life. I got a U in graphics as I didn’t go to lessons, I remember on coming in on my deadline day and telling my tutor I didn’t know what I was going to do for my final piece so I was just going to draw and see what happens. So after that, I didn’t touch graphics again.
I don’t what brought me back to, I think it was lockdown. I realised I needed something else other than music to do. Even though I love music to pieces, it was going to get dry and stale if I did it everyday so I needed another little escape. So graphics has also been the main one.
George: For me, I play a lot of video games.
Fynn: Haven’t you got a Call Of Duty record on your CV or personal statement?
George: [laughs] For my uni personal statement, I put my Battlefield 3 KD ratio and I still got in. I played a lot of video games, I fell out of touch with that during uni as I didn’t have the time or energy to like committed to video games. During lockdown, I sunk into games I wanted to play for a long time. I am also a really big football fan, so sitting down and watching a match every week is a big thing for me. Up the reds.
I hope I don’t regret asking this due to how things are currently going, what are Take Breath’s plans for 2021?
Fynn: We have big plans.
George: Everyone says that.
Fynn: You know that one metalcore band that says big things dropping soon and it’s a Billie Eilish cover. That’s not big things.
George: It’s a Harry Styles cover this time.
Fynn: We do have more things in the pipeline, we are working on another release. I don’t want to give too much away, it’s ambitious for sure. So far we found that everything we have done so far has been about personal experiences. For this new one, we will be taking a step back from ourselves.
George: In terms of themes it’s very different, it’s not about me being sad or all of us being sad. It’s been a new challenge to write which I have highly enjoyed. It’s a step in different direction but it still has the Take Breath sound.
Do you have a message for the readers?
Fynn: First off, a huge thank you to those who have been streaming the EP so far. We haven’t expected the huge response we got from it, whether it’s people like you Lotty who have given it a great review and those do so much for us. Whether it’s people that listen to it and enjoy it, we have about 14,000 streams on Spotify now which we’re very excited about.
Also a massive thank you to those involved in making the EP. Sam Law, who produced the EP and he’s a machine. He made it sound massive. Holly Doran, for doing the amazing EP artwork. Leah and Fi for helping out with Heather Fields as that sounds amazing.
So a huge thank you to you all, we really appreciate the support. Keep your eyes peeled.
Thank you for joining us at Rock Out Stand Out today.