Thanks to the lovely folks at Soundwave, we had a chance to speak with Kyle Todd, bass player with Canterbury-based Moose Blood. Nominated for the Kerrang! award for Best British Newcomers, their impressive debut album, I’ll Keep You in Mind, From Time to Time, is winning the band a steadily increasing fan base, featuring memorable riffs, emo-tinged alternative guitar melodies, and a dash of punk for good measure. Today, Kyle talks to us about what the ride’s been like for Moose Blood so far, how the guys initially got together, and the career goals they’ve already achieved that they’d only dreamed of not too long ago. Moose Blood will be playing for their enthusiastic Aussie fans for Soundwave ’16 and are every bit as enthusiastic to be heading down under as their fans will be to finally catch them live.
SR: You’ve been announced as part of Soundwave 16’s line up. Are you excited to be coming down here, and what have you heard about Soundwave to date?
KT: I’ve heard it’s one of the four luxury festivals and that they’re so far apart you’ve got to fly between each venue, which we’ve never, ever experienced before.
SR: And you’ve got the Vans Warped Tour coming up on the 18th. Are you looking forward to that, and which other festivals would you be most keen to be a part of in future?
KT: Oh, I’m really excited about that. We were really lucky this year. We did the whole of the Warped tour in America, and so the family element of being together with someone for two months kind of came together and we’ll actually get to see them again in London, which is really nice. It’s kind of our home town and we can show people around, so that’s kind of nice. It’s going to be good to see everyone again. It’s a huge venue, as well. Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) has the capacity for 10,000 people, and we’ve never, ever played in front of that many people before.
SR: Who do you have the most fun with, on tour?
KT: I think we made a lot of friends on that tour, which was absolutely brilliant. We made quite close friends with Transit, good friends with the band Citizen, and Paris were really nice to us as well. Yeah, there were so many bands.
“…The fact that people know the words and choose to buy the record – it’s honestly mind blowing…”
SR: You’re playing a one-off headliner in California in December. How did that come about and have you spent much time in the States, aside from the Vans tour?
KT: We’ve been over for, as you say, the Vans Warped tour for the two months, but we’d been over to America before to record our debut album. We’ve got some management in America and we’ve made friends with the guy that recorded us, Beau Burchell, for the album. It was more of an opportunity that got offered and we just thought there was no way we could turn it down. It’s quite daunting, branching the market in another country because you’re never quite sure if anyone’s ever heard of you. So, yeah, the opportunity got offered and we couldn’t really say no.
SR: I have to ask you – who came up with the name Moose Blood?
KT: Eddy and Mark used to work together – the guitarist and the singer – and it just became a funny joke of theirs. And we didn’t really know that the band was going to take off at the time and it just kind of stuck. Once you pick a name, you’ve got to stick with it (laughs).
SR: How did you guys first meet?
KT: Myself and the drummer used to go to school together and we were in projects when were at school – learning instruments and things. We’ve kind of grown up playing in different bands together. And, at the same time, Eddy and Mark had grown up in different bands and they’d worked together. And then there were crossovers where we’d played in a bunch of other bands linked with each other and then, finally, we all came together as the group we are now, with the four of us, and it just took off. We’d all played a different style of music before. We’d played in a bunch of hardcore bands and heavier projects, and then this was kind of the outlet with a bit more melody to it. And then, yeah, it just stuck.
SR: Oh, destiny.
SR: I’ll Keep you in Mind from Time to Time made it to Number 9 on Rock Sounds’ Top 50 chart. What was that like, and what did it feel like when you first started hearing your songs on the radio?
KT: It’s a feeling that I can’t compare to anything. It was absolutely incredible. The fact that people know the words and choose to buy the record – it’s honestly mind blowing. When we first started out, we didn’t really have this aim to hit any sort of goal or chart or anything like that. We didn’t really have any direction or specific template that we were going for. We just decided that we were going to get together and this is the way it all came out. And a lot of the lyrics and things are quite personal to the band members, so the fact that people can relate to it is absolutely incredible.
SR: Your album features memorable choruses and catchy riffs, as well as the very emotional lyrics you were discussing. Can you tell us about the journey you’ve been on, from writing through to touring the album, and which your favourite tracks from the album are?
KT: I definitely think the writing has all come from personal experiences. Some are quite close to home; some are more light-hearted. And tracks like Gum, where Eddy wrote it kind of about his wife, at the time…He was getting in a relationship and it was a bit of a fun song, like Bukowski, really. It was done in a light-hearted, romantic kind of way. And the track Chin Up is quite personal to Mark and was written about his relationship with his dad. So things like that are completely from the heart. I think one of my favourite tracks to play is maybe Gum, because when we went to the States, which was the last kind of really long journey of the tour that we did, it was completely new. We’d just released a video at the time and we really didn’t know the reaction to the track – we hadn’t really played it too much on the tour circuit and people just seemed to go crazy for it, so it was really refreshing and really nice.
SR: I was looking at your Instagram and the great pics on there. How long have you been into photography?
KT: Oh, it’s Glenn who runs the Instagram – our drummer. We were lucky enough to make contact with a photographer and he came out with us on the Warped tour, and he took a bunch of pictures and managed to help us out, really. He took a bunch on two super-cool cameras, and I unfortunately have no idea what they are. But he’s very talented.
SR: How important is social media to you and do you get a chance to personally respond to a lot of your fan mail?
KT: I think that social media in this modern day and age is absolutely crucial to anyone’s progression as a band. And I think that contact with fans, personally, is very important as well, because it kind of brings you down to the same level. Because, at the end of the day, we’re all just kind of people, hanging about, listening to music – I try to find new bands all the time, whether they’ve got thousands of fans or a few hundred or have never been discovered by anyone. Yeah, we definitely try to make contact through social media, personally. We tend to run our Twitter through Glenn and Eddy and the rest, we try to share our duties. It’s really good when we’re on tour because we’re together all the time and we respond to them as a whole. Yeah, I think it’s absolutely huge.
SR: Who first made you want to pick up the bass?
KT: Ah, it’s interesting. I actually used to play guitar, originally, and then the slot for a bass player came up and I thought, ‘Oh, it must be quite similar.’ I actually sold a bunch of equipment and bought a bass guitar and joined the band. So, it was more of an influence through guitar, really, I suppose. I definitely have influential bass players now. I’m a big fan of Death Cab for Cutie, and I think their bass licks and the way he kind of mixes his melody into each track is almost unique now. Like, not a lot of people tend to do the same kind of style of playing that he does. There were definitely players when was younger. I definitely used to like Rancid and things like that. I kind of changes when you get older, but he still kind of holds my grass roots, I think.
SR: So you’re from punk roots originally?
KT: Yeah, absolutely.
SR: Who are your favourite punk bands?
KT: I really like Rancid. I think they’re really good. I kind of have an eclectic music taste, I guess, as I’ve got older. I’ve kind of embraced a bit of everything, really. When I was younger, I was quite narrow minded in basically listening to anything that could play as fast as they could. If someone could play faster than I could play, I was ultimately intrigued. I didn’t understand how they could do it.
SR: Which bands have you been most excited about meeting to date?
KT: I think the more we start playing festival circuits, it honestly opens your mind and kind of incredible. There are people that you’d never, ever dreamt of meeting in your whole entire life. We played the Reading and Leeds festivals in England, and our trailer on the Reading date was next to Refused, who we all grew up listening to, and it was absolutely incredible. You never ever dream of meeting celebrities or anything like that. We were put next to them in the same kind of block of caravan-type things, we were put next to Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. He came over and said hello, and that was incredible as well. It just kind of blows your mind; you have to just pretend to stay as cool as they are and not fan over them so you can be friends, as opposed to the weird guy that just wouldn’t stop shaking your hand.
“… I thought that a dream that would never occur would be Soundwave. I thought it would be absolutely mind-blowing if we did that, and then all of a sudden, it got offered…”
SR: And you’ll be playing Soundwave ’16 with Refused, too. We interviewed them only a few weeks ago.
KT: Oh, absolutely incredible, yeah. Absolutely incredible. I was really excited when I saw their name, actually.
SR: As a young band, you’ve no doubt been given a fair bit of advice. What has been some of the most helpful advice you’ve received?
KT: Near the beginning, we were kind of taken under the wing of Funeral for a Friend, who are a band from Wales and who are, unfortunately, calling it a day. When we first met them, we were quite star struck and it was quite a big deal to us. Matt from Funeral for a Friend kind of pulled us aside and said, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter which direction you choose to go in. You just keep doing what you’re doing and really enjoy it.’ And I think, from somebody that you look up to and grow up listening to, it was really kind of refreshing and inspiring – to hear that from someone you kind of hold close. So that kind of opens your eyes to the position of where you are. I don’t think any band is a small band, once you start off and have passion and drive. Yeah, I think that was kind of really impressionable to me.
SR: And what advice would you give to young bands first starting out?
KT: I would actually give the exact same advice. I don’t think you should ever compromise on any kind of direction you want to go in. I think if you want to sound like everyone else, that’s completely fine. If you want to sound completely new and weird, I think that’s fine as well. I think you should always surround yourself with positive people, as well, because that definitely affects your mood and everything and could change your whole future. So that, in a creative sense, is really important as well. Yeah, just do what makes you happy. I think that’s quite a good one.
SR: Where would you like to be, as a band, in five years’ time and do you set career goals?
KT: I think our career goals have been absolutely smashed out of the water. I think that a life dream I had was to play Reading Festival, and that kind of popped up and we did that. It was absolutely as good as I thought it was going to be. And I thought that a dream that would never occur would be Soundwave. I thought it would be absolutely mind-blowing if we did that, and then all of a sudden, it got offered. We tend to set career goals. I think we’ve all got our favourite band that we’d love to interact with in the future. I don’t want to give too much away, in case it doesn’t happen. But I wouldn’t even know necessarily what to do. I think that in five years, we hope that we’re still doing it: I hope that we’re still playing to people who want to hear us.
SR: Oh, I think you will be. Which band member has the most annoying habit, and what is it?
KT: (Laughs). Oh my God, I would say it’s probably me, or our tour manager, however lovely he is. We both snore and we can’t help it; and so, if we’re ever put in a combination position, we tend to get pushed into another room – somewhere where we won’t wake everyone up.
SR: Have you got any funny or weird fan requests or tour stories you could share with us?
KT: Oh, it’s not funny, but we often used to get requests when were onstage – as I’m sure every band does – where they yell out a song. And you can never really justify putting it in the middle of a set or something like that. It would kind of break my heart when you’d see people travel long distances and then we don’t play the song that they want to hear. We managed to break that, I guess, on the last headline run that we did, when we played our entire album from start to finish. But that’s the only time that we’ve done it, when we haven’t let anyone down.
SR: What’s your Soundwave setlist looking like at this stage?
KT: I’m not too sure at the moment. We’re going to try to work it out over the next few weeks. It’s kind of nice, getting a good mix of songs. And the more we are progressing, now, we are starting to write new tracks, and it’s whether or not it’s time to put new tracks in the set or not.
SR: Finally, do you have a message you’d like to send out to your Aussie fans who are looking forward to seeing you down here for Soundwave?
KT: We can’t wait to meet you as much as you can’t wait to meet us. We are all really, really excited for this.
Moose Blood Playing at Soundwave 2016
Saturday 23 January, 2016 – Brisbane
Sunday 24 January, 2016 – Sydney
Tuesday 26 January, 2016 – Melbourne (Australia Day public holiday)