Saturday, 15 April 2017

1st Birthday Special: An Interview With JUDAS ~ 08.04.17

When the idea of starting a music blog first came into my head just over a year ago, if someone had told me that I'd have the opportunity on countless occasions to work alongside some of my favourite bands, all the while discovering brand new ones and making lots of new friends along the way... I'm not entirely sure that I'd have believed them. When I started Fiction Is Not Imagination, I never for a single second thought that things would turn out the way they have. I saw it as the golden opportunity to combine a lifelong love of writing, photography and of course music, but in all honesty I didn't think anyone would actually read it! Yet here we are 12 months down the line, and I can safely say (even if it is a little bit cliché) that doing this has truly helped me find myself and become a much stronger and more confident person.

When thinking of the best possible way to mark the occasion, the first thing that sprung to mind was to bring back the first band I ever interviewed and catch up with them one year on. A couple of weeks after I started out, I interviewed the phenomenal JUDAS in a freezing cold car park in Barnsley. Granted, it wasn't the most glamorous of settings to conduct my debut interview, but once I got over the initial nerves, it was a hell of a lot of fun. That was only the second time I'd ever met them, and I remember being absolutely terrified. Fast forward 12 months, and I'd like to think of them now not only as a band who mean the absolute world to me, but as friends too. The last year has been one big learning curve for me, but for them it's been lifechanging. For anyone who isn't familiar with this band, they are a four-piece from London made up of John Clancy, Sam Horvath, Todd Blackmore and James Phillips. With countless gigs and festival appearances under their belt already, as well as a four track EP which has seen them receive praise from the likes of the BBC and XFM, JUDAS are fast becoming the name on everyones' lips. Summer of 2016 saw them bag a last minute slot on the main stage at Leeds Festival and perform to thousands upon thousands of people, and they have since been invited back to play again this year. It's great to see them getting the recognition they deserve; watching them perform brings about an almost euphoric sensation, as well as that inexplicable sense that you are truly witnessing something special, which in years to come you'll be desperate to tell everyone about. Mark my words, give them another year and these guys will have well and truly blown up.

The band are currently in the midst of a whirlwind UK tour in association with Double Denim Live, and I was able to conduct a birthday themed interview with them prior to their performance at The Underground in Bradford...

With Fiction Is Not Imagination turning 1 year old this month, I thought it'd be poignant to bring back you guys one year on from our debut interview in Barnsley and have a catch up. So... what's new? Would you say you've changed a lot as a band since then?
John: We're honoured to be the first! The anniversary band. Well we're in Bradford for the first time! We got a new van today as well.
James: John cut his hair a couple of weeks ago.
John: And we've got some new songs which we do keep saying but they are coming. We are better than we were a year ago.
Todd: We're still as immature as we were a year ago.
John: Never change,Todd... just change your hair.

Whilst on the topic of birthdays, what has been your most memorable one? Has anyone been the recipient of any weird and wonderful gifts over the years?
John: I had a midget dressed as me handcuffed to me for my 21st birthday. He's a legend! That's his job as well, he just goes out and gets smashed with people on their birthday.
James: He said he'd do our music video!
Sam: It's Todd's 21st when we're at the Isle of Wight. It's Jay's 21st next month as well.
James: We're in Birmingham on my 21st.
Sam: Watch out Birmingham!

You've been in the studio a lot recently. What can we expect from your new music, and when?
John: 2 weeks, and it's fresh! It sounds new, doesn't it?
Sam: We've been trying to find someone that we think it sounds like, and we couldn't so that's a pretty good thing I think.
John: Definitely a good thing. It sounds amazing!

You ended up on the main stage at last years' Leeds Festival, which is a huge achievement and must have come as such a shock. How did it come about in the first place?
John: Last year was a complete fluke! Or maybe it wasn't... it was destiny! We got asked to play.
James: Parkway Drive pulled out literally 2 hours before they were meant to be on, and then we got asked to do it.
John: We were made up. And then we got asked to do it again this year!

How did you feel when you first walked out on to that stage? It must have been pretty spectacular, but were you scared?
Todd: It happened too quickly for us to be scared. It wasn't till afterwards that we were like "Wow, that actually happened!"

Sam: We've got 5 months this time, though!

As you said, you've been asked back this year. How are you going to top last year?
John: We're gonna have better songs!
Todd: Then we're going to play a gig on the moon.
Sam: That's a great idea!

Would you say that you approach a festival performance differently to how you would a standalone gig?
John: I think in terms of the set, you get a shorter amount of time so you've got to pick the best ones that will get everyone going. There are a lot of people that you don't know watching, and they don't know you, so you've got to get the party going because you don't have much time to make an impression. You've got to grab their attention.

As we discussed, the main topic of this interview is birthdays and celebration... so who's a lightweight, and who's the life and soul of the party and could drink us all under the table?
John: Jay can drink a lot but he's always the one who is in the worst state.
Sam: And in trouble. Todd's the worst for hangovers though.
John: Yeah, Todd vomits every single time...
Todd: But it takes me a lot more to actually get drunk.
James: Shush, Todd.
John: I get drunk quickly, but I stay drunk for the whole night.

What's the most comical thing you've ever done whilst drunk? 
Sam: Jay thinking he was Keith Richards.
John: Jay tried to jump out of a moving taxi. The taxi was driving and Jay tried to jump out of the window.
James: I was particularly drunk that night.
John: I grabbed on to his collar, I was laughing but I held on to him. If I'd have let go, he would have fell out of the window on a dual carriageway. The guy driving didn't even realize! That was funny... it was hilarious!
Sam: I've probably done many things, but it's whether or not I can remember them or whether they're appropriate!
James: Drunk texting. You're the fucking worst for that. Do you just do them every time?
Sam: Oh yeah, drunk texting I do a lot.
Todd: We poured fairy liquid all over each other and had a war. We got in the next morning and I felt so rough, so I went for a shower and I ended up in there for ages because there was tons and tons of fairy liquid in my hair.
John: Remember when we were setting the fire extinguishers off in Selby? That was amazing.
Sam: That was fun! We have a fire extinguisher fetish.
John: It's a particular favourite of ours.
Sam: Remember when we went to that town and we were hanging out of the van window?
John: Shit, yeah! We were spraying out of the van window, spraying people as we were going by. Someone had just got killed along that road as well, do you remember? It was all blocked off when we went through. It wasn't us who did it though! Moving on...

Does anyone in the band have any strange talents or party tricks?
Sam: Todd can bend his toe!
Todd: Yeah, I can bend my big toe by bending the other toe.
John: It's pretty amazing. That little jump thing you do is pretty good, Sam. To be fair we discovered he could do that when we were completely smashed as well. No one else can do it... we all tried! 
James: I haven't tried, but I'm not going to... till I'm really smashed.

If tomorrow was to be your last day on Earth, how would you want to spend it?
James: Not with these guys.
John: Can you teleport? Because I'd like to go somewhere amazing but I don't want to sit on a plane for 12 hours. I'd probably go somewhere for a huge party, like Vegas or something if we could all go drink and get smashed. Basically like The Hangover movie but with us in it. 
James: But then instead of getting a hangover, it's the end of the world.
John: And everyone dies, and everyone's right up for it because it's the end of the world.

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do... the creative process of writing, recording and watching a great track come together- or getting to take it out on the road and see the crowds reaction?
John: The fans are the best thing.
James: People like Faith!
John: When we're writing songs in the house and we're like "Oh yeah, that's kind of cool," and then you record it and it sounds amazing... then you get to play it and people are singing it back and loving it. It kind of goes hand in hand. If you're just doing it for yourself, it's boring.
Sam: John will come down with a tune and we'll find a cool beat for it and it'll sound amazing... then we'll find a cool guitar part, and it'll sound really sick.
John: When you first play it for that first hour, we're all playing it terribly but we're still like "This is amazing!" So that's probably the best time that you ever play a song... until you get fans and you can hear them singing it back to you! We're still working on it.

Would you rather be able to travel back in time or see into the future?
John: Are you still you? Do you still get to think like you or are you seeing it through a TV screen? I'd probably go to the future because you don't know what that is if you wanted to know more about the past, you could just read a history book or whatever. So it's the future for me! Everyone would be on like those hoverboards.
Todd: If you go and see how good the future's gonna be, you'd come back and just be like "Oh, this sucks." but then if you go to the past, you could see all of the cool stuff and be like "Wow."
Sam: Actually... you could go to the future, rob all of the good ideas and then come back and invent them all. You'd be a millionaire!

Finally... what are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future of JUDAS? Where do you think you're going to be in another 12 months time?
Sam: Celebrating the second year anniversary.
John: Yeah, the second year anniversary interview.
Sam: Hopefully we'll be on a private jet somewhere!
John: We'll be bigger and better. We'll just carry on and write better songs, and do bigger gigs. More fans!
Sam: Everything that we're doing now, but on a bigger scale.

(April 2016) Then...
... and now! (April 2017)
Fiction Is Not Imagination has bought me friendship, love and plenty of great music. I for one cannot wait to see what the future holds. So watch this space, and who knows... maybe JUDAS and I really will have to make this an annual celebratory get together!

Listen to JUDAS below:

Where to find them...
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: WeAreJudas

Artwork by Ellie Murphy

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