With recent music trends bringing rock and alternative styles to the younger generations, the audiences on the recent Vex Red tour, with Halo as support have proven that gone are the days of Nick Carter and his baby-oil saturated cohorts. The over-hormonal fourteen-year-olds of our society now crave a bit of rough with their smooth; a few guitars, some baggy jeans and a few liberally placed facial piercings or dreadlocks perhaps?
Rumour would have it that Halo are one in a succession of new “rock” bands on the production line, created and manufactured entirely for the financial benefit of Sony and branches thereof. It’s a pretty sweeping accusation and one that would definitively rob Halo of any street-cred they’ve ever had amongst the underground music circles. Thus, enter DiS. Let’s see what the band have to say for themselves!
Half an hour of sweeping the Internet revealed a concerning lack of history on Halo at all, other than that they’re all from Bristol. Do they actually have a history? First thing on my mind was to find out about Halo post-S2.
Together for (“a group compromise of approximately”) 8 months, the band’s only early release was their demo, which guitarist, Iain, explains was recorded “mainly to send to record companies... but also to play to our friends so we looked cool”.
Indeed, it must have made them look very cool, when the demo instantly caused a stir and stole interest from various record labels, none of which were accepted until the bands’ first firm offer was put forward by Sony mini-label, S2. “There was a rumour going round that we were signed to Sony and they’d never even heard of us. So they came to a gig on the off chance… and they loved it!” gushes an extremely animated and enthusiastic drummer, known as Jim.
The band seem pretty vague when it comes to talking about their past and I begin to wonder if those rumours are true… until, that is, the conversation drifts onto the subject of King of Manufactured Pop Acts, Will Young! “I HATE him!” Instantly showing a great deal of passion and fury about the subject, Jim scornfully explains himself, “I find it really insulting that they can just do that and suck everyone in… and he’s this years most successful artist!! It’s just karaoke pop!”
Iain continues, “like with most pop songs as least you can tell there’s something behind it, some kind of integrity, but to just go and release a song off a Westlife album or something… that’s just the lowest of the low really.”
The band make their distaste for chart angled releases and cover versions poignant. Laid-back, slightly more subdued bassist, Steve starts, “I think someone covered Coldplays ‘Trouble’, I just couldn’t believe they’d done that! Its only a few months after the original was released… but it’s a sure fire hit”. Front man heart-throb, Graeme sums up, “They just do it to break the boundary. I think a lot of bands must get a lot of pressure to do a cover.” Talking of which…
One of the first things that spring to my mind at least, when talking about boy bands is the lack of control, y’know; decisions are made by the fat, balding office types and then puppeteered by the all singing, all dancing pretty-boys we see. These are the kinds of pressures that Halo completely deny. Any thought in my mind that Halo might have some industry sorts telling Iain how to do his hair today and teaching Graeme how to maximise his onstage sex appeal through pelvic thrusts and ceiling fixed gazes are abolished before I’ve even had chance to finish the question. “We’re totally in control. They’ve never told us to change anything” exclaims a mouth hidden somewhere behind a tangle of half-bleached dreadlocks and spiky nose-studs.
So… they don’t do cover versions, and they don’t let their record label push them around… this really isn’t looking hopeful for my expectations of a boy band! …What about their fans?
“I think we have a really good relationship with our fans. Whenever we’re touring or something, we always make a point of going to watch the other bands. We go out there and have a laugh and… get twatted” and as Halo are men of their word, after their set, Jim and the rest of the band can be found at the back of the room, watching Vex Red, signing autographs and talking to their fans. Not only do the band make an effort to meet their fans on tour, but also, when they have access to the Internet, post on their official message board (which are in the process of a revamp as the band themselves admit that “the one we’ve got at the moment is crap”) and they recently partook in a formal web chat, which acted as an impressive measure of Halo's already huge following when the band, not expecting much response, entered the chat to find it “raining questions”.
I have to admit that I was slightly apprehensive about the interview; I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had a nagging suspicion that they were going to be, well, a bunch of arrogant pricks to put it bluntly. On the contrary, Halo are one of the more friendly, appreciative, forthcoming bands I’ve come across. Of course, any band who offer me Skittles as soon as I enter the room and then go on to tell me about their adoration of bands such as The Cooper Temple Clause and Sigur Rós are starting off on the right foot. But not only are they friendly and have good taste in music and sweets, Halo seem to have a pretty unified firm idea of what they’re about and where they’re heading, too.
Of course, they wouldn’t have had so much money invested in them already if their record label wasn’t lining them up for the stars, but the chances that Halo have actually been manufactured solely for that purpose seem extremely remote. Even if that is the truth, the band are now leading the show… and are doing so extremely well! With their fan-base continually on the increase, now’s the time to take an interest in these four, while you can still get their autograph without having to fight off hundreds of screaming, man-obsessed, glitter coated “rock chicks”.
As a follow up to the bands first single, ‘The Cold Light of Day’, a re-recorded, heavier version of ‘Sanctimonious’, taken from the ‘Still Here EP’ is to be released on May 13th and is definitely worth a listen. Both singles are to be on the bands debut album, which they mentioned during the interview was recorded last year and although a release date is not yet certain, it’s likely to be around June/July.