Interview with Nick Cobley – Vocals
Interview by Kayleigh McKenzie
Hey, thank you for your time. What is your name and position in the band?
Nick Cobley – Vocals
1. How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
N – An ever evolving whirlwind of different genres smashed together in heavy rock form. We have a no holds barred approach to writing, if a reggae riff sounds good in a part we will, and have used it. Basically we are happy with whatever we are happy with, not what might be expected.
2. What would you say are your main inspirations for your new EP “Nothing Is Heavier Than The Mind”?
N – Coming to terms with the fact that we aren’t all perfect, that we are emotional fucking wrecks most of the time. Self acceptance, and not being ashamed of it. It’s a subject that we have all clashed on as 4 very strong characters from very different backgrounds. Talking about how what is going on in each other’s lives has always been our approach to honesty and staying on each other’s good side, this is just a progression of what we’ve always done.
3. What was the process like for recording this EP?
N – Not gonna lie. It was hard. We had a lot of ideas but we left it close to the wire to finalise what exactly would make the cut. We find every recording process is a learning curve. I think that fact that it’s doubled with our sound always evolving, because in terms of time on the map we haven’t been around that long. Our sound seems to progress from song to song, and sometimes that’s not always easy to deal with. We thought we were going down the Punk and Roll route and the songs we ended up recording were way darker, and almost drew influence from bands I used to listen to as a teenager. Mark is a genius on guitar, and I am not, but I write riffs in my head and mouth them to Mark. He has the ability to work them out and make them bigger and better. Some of the early ideas came to light in this way and all I’ve ever really written is metal core and emo music as a teenager. With Marks spin it added something extra to those basic elements. He really pulled it out of the bag in a time when we all really could have done not to be around each other. The recording itself was different again as it’s the first time we’ve had to act like a machine and nail parts. We are used to recording live in certain elements and that’s what gave our first singles the swing they had. N.I.H.T.T.M is the first time we have gone for a big production sound, with this, cracks can show that you didn’t even know existed. It was tiring, but worth it and it prepares us for the next time. We know exactly how we work best and we can take that away and know the next release will be even better.
4. Within your songs you shed light on issues such as depression and Nick’s battle with Crohn’s disease. Do you believe it is important to be open about these topics with your listeners?
N – I think it’s the only important thing about me being part of the band. I clearly have some demons I need to get off my chest still, and I didn’t even realise it until we started. We are all susceptible to going to dark places in this band. We aren’t angels, we drink, smoke, abuse our bodies blah blah and that’s fine, if you’re willing to accept the consequences. I’m sick of people saying “errrr well you know drinking etc makes depression worse, you’re not helping yourself”. We will always enjoy a drink, we accept who we are and we control it. More importantly we look out for each other and don’t get angry about it. If someone is feeling low in the band they either need a drink and a chat with the boys or to play music. Everyone has their muse, some just aren’t willing to accept it or are too scared to open up about it because of some weird macho bullshit. We will tell you if we are down, you will know we have been through shit if you read our lyrics. The songs aren’t specifically about one thing I’ll often jump to talking about different people in my lyrics. There’s lines about situations all the lads have gone through in my lyrics. Half the problem with emotion is kids being told to suppress it at an early age “awww don’t cry” , “man up”, if I ever have a kid that’s one thing I will never stand for. Deal with the here and now.
5. How do the mental and physical challenges that are faced affect the band?
N – To be honest, I never let anything stop me playing. Neither do any of the boys. Sam played with a broken jaw and infected teeth, 2 weeks after having an operation. You play through the pain. Crohns is sometimes, not always, mind over matter. Get on stage and forget what’s happening. I’ve got a pretty harrowing operation coming up, and this will be the first time I’ve spoken about it. I’ve had most of my large intestine removed already, and the remaining 8 inches has to go as it’s too scared and is poisoning my body. I’ll be having a permanent stoma fitted within the next few months, which isn’t ideal for an active energetic singer who takes his shirt off on stage. It comes with stigma, like anything not openly spoken about. I know it’s ultimately going to affect my mental state, and goes without saying the physical side changes too. But I want to talk about it now so that if there’s a kid out there going through what I did when I was young, they might just feel a little more normal. I’ve been through the bullying and self conscious stuff, I’m too old for that now, but there will be kids thinking it’s the end of their life like I did at their age. I could have ended it all a long time ago, and man I’m happy I didn’t. My life is awesome, no matter where my digested food ends up.
6. How do you handle your mental and physical health on the road compared to at home?
N – I’m no angel, I could do things better, but I want to be and act like nothings wrong. That’s my choice ultimately. I’ve always lived with the burn out not fade away approach. So I drink as much as my mates do, and I unfortunately just pay a higher price. Since finding out about my next operation I’ve reigned it in hugely. But when you own a bar, and you have a stress related disease at the height of a pandemic that could have happened to anyone at this time. I was half expecting a stroke, so things aren’t all that bad hahaha! Joking. I do ok, I take vitamins, stay hydrated and try not to go too heavy anymore and just enjoy the buzz of the music instead.
7. What is your favourite song to play live?
N – I should probably say one of the new ones but we haven’t had a chance to even play them live, only in the practise room. Mine is “Cognitive Behaviour”, it’s got a really open sleazy sounding riff and heavy drums and bass. The ending is really good for getting the crowd involved. The lyrics are “yeah, yeah, something wrong with the way I’m feeling, but you don’t care, you don’t care” everyone grabs the mic or gets it shoved in their face. It’s nice to watch people let go and shout at the world.
8. How are you coping with the slow down of live music?
N – It’s hard, but it came at the right time for me personally with the operation coming up. We thought about doing a live stream, but didn’t feel we could capture our energy without a lot of thought and probably money that we don’t have haha. We may come back to it, but I can’t pour vodka down people’s throats through a screen so we might wait til technology advances. Or alternatively until the shit show is over and we can play probably!
9. How is “Nothing Is Heavier Than The Mind” different to music you have made previously?
N – Production wise as I said it’s not as raw, some will feel for better and some for worse. It feels like a short story to me. It was a little piece of our writing evolution and I personally think it opens more doors for us. We can go heavier if we want, and we can go lighter than we ever have. I think it’s the perfect portrait of how our mood was at that time, we never meant to go heavier, it just happens. Some guy wrote an article about us saying “being heavy Isn’t just about more distortion” he completely missed the point. Heaviness is subjective, the lyrics are heavy to us, the sound is heavy to us. We even gave that away in the title “Nothing is heavier than the mind” . It’s as heavy as your mind allows you to be at that time without purposely trying to write a heavy record. We didn’t stop at any point and say “no that guitar or bass part is too heavy, we aren’t a metal band” we said yeah “fuck it, sounds good let’s keep it”.
10. Do you have a favourite song off of the new EP?
N – My favourite is still the title track, I just find the verses especially work well. Disjointed and stabby, almost annoying in tone in the dischord, but very very effective. The drums and bass sound perfect together, the tom’s are as deep as the bass tone, as daft as it sounds. I want the stems to listen to the instruments alone. The bridge again is very mechanical and almost like a dial tone which was Bob Cooper’s (producer and engineer) idea the build up of back and forth vocals between Sam and I builds good tension for the breakdown which is dark. And of course the lyrics mean a lot to me. I was fighting with my subconscious at the time and it’s all about that.
11. What was it like trying to get recognized coming from Hull rather than somewhere like London?
N – It seems hard only because of the genre we play to be honest. We sit in the middle, it can be good, it can be bad. Hull is getting a name for music, but it’s more commercial / radio friendly stuff that gets picked up. I think a lot of radio stations are probably scared to play this sort of music unless you’re BMTH which is understandable, they grinded for years no matter what people say about them. They are a Sheffield band, so they’ve shown you can hit the heights outside of London in similar genres. It’s probably the best time to be a band from Hull to be honest, people know we exist unlike when I first started in bands. Hull is good man, we got a lot of cool shit going on. The completion for music here is equal if not better than London. We got LIFE who have toured with Idles numerous times who are good mates and even took us out for a few dates, which was risky because they knew what they were getting themselves in for. Hats off to those guys killing it. We have a band called Bloodsport, again good mates signed to a German label making playlists around the world and smashing that genre. Hull is equal to London trust me. It’s just about being in the right place or having people who believe in you/ knowing the right people to take you to that next level at a time. Shout out Dom Smith from Man Demolish Records, small independent label in Hull who has been our main believer and got us here so far. All he wants now is for us to progress and do more with people in the know. What more can you ask for than belief?
12. What’s the best part about being in a band?
N – I personally enjoy hearing the recorded music come together in the studio. You hear things you haven’t heard before and it springs new light to a song. It pains me every time because I think I have the lyrics nailed then I hear something new, but it’s so exciting I can’t write fast enough. That, and live shows, love to let go and try to get the crowd to forget where they are for a moment. No matter how many people are in the room we put the same energy in. I’ve tried crowd surfing on 4 people before, wouldn’t recommend it though.
13. What do you do outside of music?
N – Myself and Drummer Joe Brodie ran a music venue called Dive HU5 before covid. During lockdown we knew we wouldn’t be operating the same anytime soon so we converted it into more of a coffee skate shop feel with the help of our good friends. We did what we had to, to survive, it’s a different place now. But we will always return to putting live shows on, we would never turn our back on our roots.
14. What’s your proudest achievement with the band?
N – Nothing except for still managing to exist. We are 4 different people, we should have killed each other by now. But instead we decide to be open instead of hiding anger, aggression or love. Awwww
15. Do you think image is important within a band?
N – Yeah, I do. I don’t like to admit it, hell no one does. But it’s competitive out there, and if you get snapped up they’re gonna start manipulating your image to a certain degree so why not start with it being the norm. It’s not THE most important thing, but you are selling yourself at the end of the day. However these days image can be anything, a song as you do it well. Hell there’s artists (mainly mainstream) whose image is to act like a complete asshole all the time, or wear next to nothing to sell records but if it’s done well and with confidence people will like it.
16. With Newmeds what is the story you want to tell?
N – I think I’ve said everything that we are trying to say. The summary would be, don’t be too hard on yourself, accept who you are, don’t feel guilty for thoughts or feelings that are out of your control, and always be open and honest, but try to control how you do it. It’s so easy to get angry at something you don’t understand. Everyone’s just living their lives, it shouldn’t affect yours how they do.
17. Thank you for your time. Is there anything that you would like to say to our readers?
N – Check us out on socials so you can keep up to date. If you like music generally follow our venue (@divehu5) we will be coming back strong and helping musicians however we can!