If there’s anything that challenges a musician, it’s to be completely honest and vulnerable in their work. Five-piece Melbourne band Storm The Sky have proven that even with such emotional integrity in their music, they still have maintained that balance between being outside of their comfort zones while also remembering their roots that have lead to where they are now. Ahead of the release of their sophomore record Sin Will Find You, we chat to frontman William Jarratt on the creative process of the record, what influenced the band to take on The Neighbourhood vibe to their music and in what ways the LGBTQ+ community can feel less isolated when other people share hateful comments online.
I was just listening to Sin Will Find You and it is so sick. I love how intense the sound influences are coming through the tracks. What initially motivated you to write these songs with such emotional depth?
Going into the record, we were all kind of battling a lot and we were all a bit scared of what was going to happen musically. I mean, before Daniel [Breen] left, we were always heading in this direction anyway. He was one of the catalysts for that. He wanted to sing on this record and before he decided to call it quits, I guess you could say, he really pushed to that. It was never kind of us wanting to change the sound, it was almost the opposite. He just couldn’t really afford to do it anymore and it was really hard. I think that the biggest thing that pushed us to put that thing in motion was our producer. He noticed very quickly that we were all stressed and locked up musically when we went in. We were trying a new way of writing, we usually just write with computers and stuff like that. We actually just went in with acapella voice recordings on my phone with 25 songs and tried to write songs around it in a practice room.
He basically sat us down and as soon as he realised that, he made us completely open up and tell each member of the band, in a circle, kind of everything that we’ve ever been through. It was incredibly, incredibly emotional. Tears and all sorts of things just shared and I think it really made us bring out our deepest, darkest feelings throughout every single instrument. Andy [Szetho, guitar] went through a lot in his life coming up to today and you can hear that in the way he’s brought out his tones in his guitar; it sounds like it’s almost crying at points. It’s a lot easier to bring out emotion in singing but I feel like I’ve gone a whole new step by taking out a lot of the production and making it a little bit more raw. Not just trying to get the perfect take every time and Alex [Trail, drums] especially, brought a lot of his original roots when he learnt drums. He took the double kick off and just really tried to keep it to exactly what he thought the song felt. I think it really comes through in every single instrument.
“…it really taught me just to talk about everything I’m struggling with as it lifted such a weight off my shoulders and it allowed me to be so much more honest in the words that I wrote in the record.”
I think it’s really important to be in that creative focus where you are vulnerable because I feel like songs work better that way. What I gained from the record is that you guys pour your hearts out into the instrumentation and the songwriting. I think there’s this sort of stigma in terms of masculinity where guys especially don’t really share their feelings on personal issues but I think with music, it allows them to use it as an outlet which can be very beneficial.
I’m really glad you said that! I’m a really big believer that vulnerability is a thing of strengths, not of weakness because I’ve read a few books that talk about how a lot of things that are vulnerable are actually the bravest things to actually do. I’ve luckily surrounded myself with male friends that are very emotionally open and supportive of people really feeling and creating. I think the record didn’t skate off as much as how to be a musician, essentially in its older senses of truth. It’s more kind of what a lot of artists did in the 60s and 70s because you can’t hide behind electronics and production when you really are trying to portray that kind of sound. You have to just do it. It’s really scary but so freeing to be able to listen back and go “Fuck, that was exactly what I was feeling.” I can hear it in a guitar being played back to me when I was just trying to write about it and that’s just so amazing to hear.
I think as a musician, you’re really lucky to have that platform where you’re able to showcase all those raw, intense emotions. Experiencing the ‘weight lifted off your shoulders’ kind of thing. Was that a highlight from the actual creative process compared to what you worked on your debut record Permanence?
Yeah, I think that it was just a thing of maturity. We kind of grew up a bit and that conversation was a highlight of my life because it really taught me just to talk about everything I’m struggling with as it lifted such a weight off my shoulders and it allowed me to be so much more honest in the words that I wrote in the record. I used to – not lie at all – but I definitely hid behind things like metaphors and imagery to portray what I was thinking and to try and make it more interesting because I didn’t really believe my life was interesting enough for someone to want to listen to me for an hour talking about it. I’ve never been someone to write too much about politics or the environment because I don’t really think of a lot of artists, especially myself, have a good enough opinion to be able to argue those points. So, I’ve always had to write about myself. It just really highlighted how important it is to be open with the people you’re around and the people that you’re working with.
While listening to the record, I got The Neighbourhood sort of vibe from it where you were using elements of dark pop and I really like how it’s heavy too. What initially drew you to that sound?
I think there are so many influences that we’ve all had as musicians that haven’t really been brought out musically because we didn’t really think that people would vibe it. I think this is kind of the first time that we really didn’t care about that and we just went with,”This is what we like. This is exactly the sound we’ve all been listening to for the last five years before we even wrote Vigilance” and we’re not scared to push that. We think with the whole music genre – not just ours – but in general is really evolving to open up to the fact that an artist can write five different genres on a record and no one can blink an eye; I think that’s beautiful. Even someone like David Bowie who changed his sound almost every record, still maintained something similar in the sound. I feel like with technology, a lot of people’s attention spans have gotten shorter and as much as that is a curse, it can also be a blessing with the ability to write ten songs that stand alone as opposed to filler tracks; to make sure people aren’t disliking the fact that you’ve put in this type of song when you’re a metalcore band or a pop thing.
“Those people don’t deserve to feel any sort of oppression whatsoever so if you see someone that is enduring that – stand up.”
I think that’s really cool and I really do thank you for saying that it’s heavy as well because I feel like we’ve put some of the heaviest parts of music we’ve ever written in a record. We tried to put screaming where it’s needed because I feel like that’s something that has been lost. Punk bands started screaming because they were so passionate about what they were saying that they had to or because no one was listening. I think that’s so important to really portray. I don’t think you need to scream that you miss a girl a little bit [laughs]. You need to scream that you feel like you wanna die because that person is not breathing on the back of your neck – that’s something you need to scream for and I think that’s something that has been lost in our genre and needs to be found again if people are going to be using that correctly.
I know a couple weeks ago, you guys released the music video for “Lilac” and you got some horrible comments regarding the two guys kissing in the video. We’re in the middle of the year, 2016, and some people are still against homosexuality. In what ways do you think people can help make the LGBTQ+ community feel less isolated when reading comments like that on social media?
I mean, you’re never going to stop people commenting on something. I don’t remember the last time I actually commented on something I liked. I think that’s something that I can understand and I never really get too offended by people hating something because it’s just their opinion. When it comes down to that specific topic, the reason I put it in the video wasn’t really to open mouths or create buzz or make people watch the video at all. It was more just because the whole record that I’ve written is just what it’s like to be a 21-year old growing up in Melbourne. In Melbourne, it’s really fucking normal to see that. No one is going to bat an eye or look twice if there’s two guys kissing or going home together at all – that’s just a representation of what it is. I feel like we’re ahead of so many different places in the world, even in just Australia. I think the best thing you can do, individually as a person, is to not necessarily being anything other than a supporter of human rights. So instead of looking at someone and being like,”This is my gay friend,” or “This is my Black friend,” or “This is my Jewish friend,” or whatever you want to say because they’re just your friend.
You’re not going to look at a white Christian person that you’re hanging out with and be like, “This is my white Christian friend.” It’s really subtle and no one really picks up on it and it’s something so easily changed that I feel like that would be one of the main things I would say because I mean, I suffer from it myself. It’s so easy to just make that mistake and you don’t realise it – not that it’ll really offend that person – but it’s just something you can change immediately that will actually help the movement. Also, just fighting back for them, you know? Those people don’t deserve to feel any sort of oppression whatsoever so if you see someone that is enduring that – stand up. There’s nothing worse than seeing a whole train carriage full of people watching someone get beaten up for being Indian or something. There’s thirty of you and one guy – whether it be a lad in Nike shit or whatever – just stand up. You don’t need to hit the guy just to actually help the guy.
Sin Will Find You will be available for release on August 5 via UNFD / Rise Records
Storm The Sky will also be supporting Pierce The Veil on their Australian tour. Check them out on the dates below!
PIERCE THE VEIL
With Special Guests SILVERSTEIN, BEARTOOTH & STORM THE SKY
Wednesday 17 August, Big Top – Sydney
Thursday August 18 – Thebaton Threatre, Adelaide
Saturday August 20 – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Sunday August 21 – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Tuesday August 23 – Metro City, Perth