Ward XVi are band with the potential to be a real force in alternative music. Dave talks to them after their Bloodstock debut to find out more about their unique concept.
Thanks for giving up your time to speak to us!
Dr Von Stottenstein- Thank you! It’s a pleasure
You recently played Bloodstock for the first time! How was it?
Dr Von Stottenstein-It was a dream! We had been given a 1030 am slot so we were obviously concerned that we’d be playing to an empty tent, so we literally spent the first 2 days promoting the band, handing out fliers, putting stickers in every portaloo (sorry portaloo people), talking to people about the show. We also ran a promotional ploy of offering free party bags filled with our merch to the first 100 people.
We were nervous sound checking at 0930, then looked across the site at a stampede of people storming towards the tent, I mean hundreds of people, and we packed it by 1010. It was the most amazing feeling, then we went on to surpass that feeling with a massive circus pit.
Since then the feedback and love has been fantastic, and we have just been awarded a P.A from Bloodstock (I assume for being a stand out band-or maybe a hint we need better sound ha ha ).
Psychoberrie and I barely saw a band until the last night due to the amount of band P.R we did, and it paid off.
You’ve come with a very interesting and unique concept- can you tell us about it?
Dr Von Stottenstein- Ward XVI is based upon an infamous ward at Whittingham in which alleged abuse occurred upon psychiatric patients.
“The Art of Manipulation” is a 12-Track concept album telling the introspective story of a female psychopath locked away in a high security asylum, who had previously drugged and manipulated a victim to murder for her pleasure prior to being caught.
What was the writing process like?
Dr Von Stottenstein- A mix of songs evolving naturally at rehearsals, a few of us write themes at home and bring the ideas to rehearsal which tend to strip the idea to its foundation then slowly rebuild it.
Sometimes I’ll ask Psychoberrie for a theme/ idea of a song and how she’d like it to sound. She’ll send a text of her humming a tune or visa versa. I like to jam with the group, it’s the best way to learn to grow as a musician as you learn how to adapt on the spot but I also have a phone file full of ideas that we haven’t yet tried to work on.
Psychoberrie- The band has always been a jamming band and that’s something I don’t like to interfere with. The majority of the album was written like that aside from a few where the vocals or keys came first. They’d jam and if I heard something I liked I’d record it on my phone and go away and write some lyrics which would then perhaps evolve into a chorus and so on. I can’t jam vocally, it’s not a problem for me. I can hear what the music should do next and suggest what the guitars/keys should do but when it comes to my parts I’m a loner and that’s how I like to write. I have to be by myself to get in the zone and inspiration usually comes in the small hours or whilst I’m riding my bike/ driving my car. A couple of songs came about where I wrote my parts first but I love it when those guys jam as the songs seem so natural.
What was the recording process like?
Psychoberrie– For me personally I found the album a lot more challenging. We ambitiously tried to record the whole thing in 10 days just cause we were skint and I’d talked everybody into going with a top studio which was a little hard on the wallet. I don’t regret that decision as it sounds massive but there was extreme pressure on each of us to get it right. We slept wherever we could, one night we just put our tents up on the concrete outside the studio so by the end of it we were knackered. I went last and the last song I recorded was Ward XVI. I had no energy left, my stomach muscles were killing. I didn’t think I would be able to push for the big angry note on the end of the second verse but I gave it all I got and afterwards I was done, completely exhausted but I felt great because I’d finished the main vocals for the album. Now I remember both the exhaustion and sense of achievement every time I hear that note.
Beardy Mcstumble – when it came to recording the bass it just went wrong. Nothing appeared to be working. So frustrating. I ended up with a tin foil hat just to make sure there was no more interference.
Psychoberrie- That’s not even a joke, he did wear a tinfoil hat. Haha! Although if i recall I think we talked Mark (the producer) into telling him he had to wear it to stop the interference that he was having problems with, but it was complete bullshit.
Dr Von Stottenstein-This was my first real experience of recording so i didn’t know what to expect. in hindsight, id have ensured that we all had prepared more so that we utilised our time more efficiently, but on the other hand, songs evolved more naturally when put on the spot. I’d have liked to do my solos again by playing along to the whole song to allow the energy to really dictate the direction of the solo rather than playing isolated 60 second snippets of a song where it was hard to draw upon the underlying emotional context of the music. I also was very conscious that a proportion of the songs were written by Dale (the guitarist before me) so i wanted to honour a lot of his work within my playing. I felt a massive amount of pressure and responsibility in this, and felt that ‘all eyes were on me’ as i certainly didn’t want to be the bloke that destroyed what he had written so well. The experience of sleeping on beer garden lawns/ cars/ carpark floors were something that as a 40 year old thought would never experience, but each of these hardships add so much more to the album for me. So much more than just going into a town based studio surrounded by suburbia and going home after each session. Also..6 people in the band does lead to a lot of negotiating and loss of musical passages in songs that i loved-
You’re got quite a few UK tour dates coming up, what can we expect from your live shows?
Dr Von Stottenstein- Yeah we are entering Halloween season so we are about to get busy win which you can expect drama/ good music/ blood/; chainsaws and circus pits.
Dave– You can check out the tour dates below:
16.9.17 Sanctuary Rock Bar Burnley
30.9.17 Bad Apples Leeds
6.10.17 Dog and Partridge Peston
7.10.17 The Bath Pub Morecambe
13.10.17 Stalybridge Tavern with Novacrow
14.10.17 A splendid Day Out Steam Punk Festival-Morecambe
20.10.17 Halloween at the Tache-Blackpool
28.10.17 Halloween at the Sir Charles Napier -Blackburn
29.10.17 Halloween at Grand central Manchester
4.11.17 the Parish Huddersfield with Bad Polyanna/ Sinnergod
What’s on your stereo at the moment?
Psychoberrie– Whilst trying to come up with album art I walked into HMV and told myself I had to buy 2 CD’s from artists I’d never heard of just based on the Cover Art as a sort of experiment to see if I would like the music if I liked the art. I bought Creeper and a CD that said Bad Vibrations on the front. I removed the sellophane wrapper and it had “A Day to Remember” written under the HMV sticker. I was instantly gutted that I’d wasted my money on this crap but I decided to overlook the fact that all their past music is dreadful and gave it a chance. I got two songs in and decided that it was an absolute insult to my car stereo and I would’ve slung it out the window were it not for the fact that I’m a massive hippy who cares deeply for the environment. Then I tried the Creeper album which I did get all the way through but I was ultimately disappointed as unlike the cover it was very generic. Moral of the story, don’t judge a CD by its cover and don’t expect to discover interesting new music in HMV.
Dr Von Stottenstein- i’ve stopped buying mainsteam music to a certain extent and am buying more eps/ albums from the bands that we play with like Soldato, sin circus, emperor phunk and voodoo blood. I know how much money it costs for band’s who don’t get any gigging income to produce and record this music so I think I have to support these guys first. I have no money to buy ‘mainstream ones ‘ although I think it may have been the new Iron Maiden one. I donated to the funding of the New Jason Becker project which hopefully is released next year.
Lex Whittingham -Hurricanes and Halos by Avatarium
How do you relax away from performing?
Dr Von Stottenstein-fitness-running/ cycling/ lifting, also family time with the kids
Psychoberrie- I have a horse which is another time consuming hobby, I like all things art and design and I’m a motorcycle enthusiast, both riding and tinkering, although regrettably the street fighter project has become one of those “I have a bike in several pieces in the workshop that I started work on 5 years ago and I will get round to finishing at some point.” I don’t have enough time. I need the band to become my main occupation because I’d also like to add every extreme sport to my hobby list in addition to learning every instrument and becoming a master of every manufacturing process.
Is this a one-off concept or is a long-term project for you?- What’s next for you?
Dr Von Stottenstein- Most definitely a long-term band. We are planning the next album to be the prequel to the art of manipulation so it will go into the genesis of Psychoberrie’s character.
Are there any final words for our readers?
Dr Von Stottenstein- Come and catch the show to get the real 3d experience. You can get the album via http://www.wardxvi.Bandcamp.com, or alternatively amazon, itunes, googleplay etc.
Dave- Thanks so much to Ward XVI to speaking to use. We look forward to the tour.
Don’t forget to check out our review of The Art of Manipluation’ here‘