Interview: Napoleon

Throughout the past several months, Napoleon have truly proven themselves to be one of the most noteworthy up-and-coming hardcore/punk acts the UK has to offer. The band’s career trajectory has quickly gone from 0 to 60, as is evidenced by their billing alongside massive acts such as Meshuggah and Converge as part of the 2012 Hevy Music Festival – all of which was made possible by the group’s shrewd decision to self-fund their debut EP and music video, and release it all online…for free. Now that the What We See EP has firmly established Napoleon as a band to look out for, the group are continuing to add dates to their already demanding touring regimen, with hopes of breaking into overseas markets as soon as fortune will allow. Needless to say, ThisConnect.ca is stoked for these gents, so we thought it appropriate to have a word with vocalist Josh Baker in order to learn more about the thought process behind the band’s EP, and what it’s done for Napoleon since its release.

 

This past April you guys released your debut EP, entitled What We See, for free online download. What inspired you guys to pursue this more modern approach, instead of going through the more traditional path of signing with a label, putting the music on iTunes, etc.?

Originally, we were talking about getting hard copies of the EP and releasing our tracks on iTunes for the cheapest possible price, assuming that people would genuinely want to buy it for such a bargain! However, that being an option, it soon dawned on us that it being the 21st Century, CD’s are now about as popular as a pair Crocs! We assumed that people would hardly want to buy a product from a band that they may never have heard of, be it a hard copy or via iTunes.

Why buy the Cow? When you get the milk for free, right?

 

In the future, do you think you’ll stick to the business model of releasing music for free online, and then making money through touring and merch sales?

We have already decided that we will be releasing our up and coming album (in the making) for absolutely nothing. We are very happy with how the What We See EP has been received, and it most definitely has a lot to do with the fact that it was released as a freebie. The only income that the band makes is from touring. Anybody who has been to one of our shows/met us can probably tell you that we practically give our merch away as well. We always enjoy seeing people wearing our garms. Money does unfortunately make the world go ‘round, and we aren’t by any stretch “rolling in it”. But we make enough to be able to warrant the touring we do. And it makes it even more worthwhile when we can make someone’s day by selling them a t-shirt, whilst still allowing them enough money to get the last train home at the end of the night (provided they haven’t missed it hanging around to watch the last band).

 

Do you guys plan on pressing hard copies of the EP as well, in order to please fans who’d be into that?

At this current moment in time we have no plans to do anything further with our EP. We play all the songs from it live, however we are really excited to get onto the next project now. We have been touring pretty relentlessly for the last six months, and it’s only been recently that we have had a chance to get back to writing (between shows). So although people might be saddened to learn that there may never be a hard copy of What We See, we do hope that the excitement of a shiny new video with a brand new song over the next month should pop a smile on a few faces.

“The World Outside” features guest vocals from Jonny OC of Liferuiner. They’re a Canadian band, while you guys are from the UK. How did you go about getting Jonny on the track? Were you familiar with each other prior to recording the song?

There is absolutely no trickery here. We played a show back in November with Liferuiner in Lowestoft?! (Understandable if you haven’t heard of it). After the set we were talking to Jonny, and as ‘a bit of a laugh’ we mentioned that if Jonny would guest on our EP it would be really cool. He told us he would be honored to be a part of our EP, as he thoroughly enjoyed our set! It was at this point that we all ejaculated in a synchronized fashion, and the rest is history.

 

You guys also released a music video in March for your song “Liars and Sellers”. Did you guys fund that project yourselves? And why did you choose that particular track to be the first to have a video shot for it?

We chose “Liars and Sellers” to release, simply because it was our favourite track at that current time. We were enjoying the speed and punchiness that the track seemed to demonstrate, and hoped that it would give people an idea of what we were all about, without scaring people by making them think we were a bunch of Goths. We feel that it was definitely a good enough track at entry level for us. But now upon reflection, we cannot wait for everybody to hear what we have in store for the next video/track release. The video was self-funded and shot by our dear friend Mr. Joshua Mansfield for a very reasonable price.

 

Who designed the artwork for What We See? It looks fantastic.

The design came from Tom Gordon at Fuggart Design. We were always big fans of his work, plus he’s a local boy so it was ideal, really. Check out his work.

 

You recently posted a picture on Facebook of a van that’s been painted to resemble the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, with a caption stating that this flamboyant vehicle would be your new tour van. Is this legit? If so, you guys are without question the most badass band in the universe.

I would absolutely love to tell you that our van is not an Ex-Postal Red LDV Convoy that goes by the name of Pat, with a sun-stained Royal Mail sticker outline on the sides…so I won’t; it is in fact the Mystery Machine, ergo making us ‘the most badass band in the universe’?!

 

The band has a very interesting sound that seems like it’s inspired simultaneously by old school and more modern punk/hardcore bands. Is this accurate to say? Can you share some bands that have directly influenced your music/songwriting? 

We try and take influence from any and every band we hear/meet/tour with. Everyone in the band all take influence from different things. For example, all I listen to when not touring is hip-hop and composers from RJD2, DJ Shadow, Rhyme Asylum to Ludovico Einaudi. Whereas Sam is very much influenced by bands like Hundredth, Letlive, Trivium, The Ghost Inside, and Architects. For James, it’s bands like Veil Of Maya, Born Of Osiris, Stick To Your Guns…and Ryan loves Basement. So when we are writing, we have plenty of things to feed off of. We all love each of these artists collectively but we never find it easy knowing the style we want to be.

 

You guys are touring the UK and Europe extensively this summer alongside Fathoms. Afterwards, do you have any plans for tours in North America, or anywhere else in the world?

We have in fact just come off of this tour, so I hope that is the one you are referring to.
We are not really willing to go back on tour with them again for a little while as they all smell!

But that tour was amazing, and we made some of the best friends and played with some amazing bands including Fathoms (www.fathoms-uk.com).

We have some cool plans for the rest of the year. Nothing is set in stone currently, however we are 100% aiming to be back in the EU a few more times this year.

…But if you are a booking agent and are reading this, feel free to book us some shows in North America and/or Ayia Napa!

 

Any words you’d like to leave with readers?

Yes, don’t pop tinfoil in your mouth if you have fillings!

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