Interview: The Battles of Winter

Following the release of debut album ‘Standing at the Floodgates’, The Battles of Winter are getting set to release their second album ‘At Once With Tattered Sails’. The new album hosts more of a menacing rock sound, the melodies more sly than that of the first. From the LP, be sure to expect haunting riffs, quivering vocals and a deafening climax. But, before you get to enjoy the album in all it glory when it comes out on the 23rd, we though it would be best to sit down and get to know the band and the album a little better.

As an intro to new listeners, how would you describe yourselves and your music in 5 words?

Noisy. Considered. Dramatic. Post. Punk.

How did you all meet and what made you want to make such memorable music together? There’s a lot of musical chemistry there!

Three of us were thrown together in the same workplace many moons ago, doing jobs which gave us a platform to listen to, and discuss music all day with very little interruption. It was an import copy of the White Stripes’ De Stijl album which was the catalyst for actually doing something other than listening. We had very little experience of creating our own music or being in bands at that time and despite the talent and technical mastery on show on that record there was some element of “well if two people can make that noise then what could four do?” As for musical chemistry, it’s rooted in friendship and mutual respect. We are all friends and each bring something undeniably valuable to the table. Coupled with a love for similar music but each with our own strange taste tangents.

Compared to your debut album ‘Standing at the Floodgates’, your new LP ‘At Once With Tattered Sails’ sounds a lot more defined confident and has a more haunting quality to it, what would you say has changed your music?

We never set out to sound a particular way and have always been quite harsh editors of one another so the new record has really just developed. We don’t create reams of material to pick and choose from. We generally prod and poke until the song comes round to our way of thinking, some taking considerably longer to succumb than others. The new record definitely has more depth, more to listen to, more to find out. The less aggressive pace of the songs probably lends them their more haunting undertones as does a more varied and characterful vocal delivery. The confidence derives from what we learned recording and putting out the first album and the reaction it received.

What made you decide to split and mix up the order of ‘Death in a Lemon Grove’?

Hmmm. The split was mainly a result of wanting to play the song live and the constraints of playing a 30-35 min set. Originally part one was the intro but we cut it out to shorten our set and so the parts became independent of each other though very much related. The idea behind placing them in a different order was a narrative one, almost like a prequel in a sense. The pace lends a more dream-like, hazy state consistent with the lyrical content.

‘Hare Hunter’ is one of our favourite tracks on the upcoming album due to its climatic, soaring feel. What was the inspiration behind this particular track?

It’s about enduring love, childhood to eternity level stuff with the titular field being where it all began eventually becoming a metaphor for the changing relationship. From a purely scenic point of view it always makes me (Graeme) think of two things, one way cooler than the other. The first, and coolest, is from the film The Pledge and the second is the dream/death scene from Gladiator where Russell Crowe walks home through long grass, sun low in the sky. The title came before the song though which is an interesting way to construct a song, title first. For us anyway.

Is there something in particular you want people to take away from the album when they listen to it?

Not really. In a recent review the reviewer analysed the lyrics in some depth hitting the mark with some and not with others but we generally try and write quite cryptic lyrics to allow those that like to really ‘hear’ the words, the opportunity to find their own meaning in them. We find straight forward emotion can be tricky to lay out without sounding melodramatic or cheesy. We try to tell stories, some true, some entirely fabricated but only very occasionally are we looking to make statements or get across our points of view. The words are important to us – they establish imagery which is set to a musical piece – which we hope, in an almost cyclical way, also influences the images conjured – if that makes any sense.

Have you got any plans ready for after the album release?

No real firmed up plans. Our main intent is to get out and play more live shows. We’ve only done a handful over the last couple of years and we’d really like to start building a reputation as an exciting live band, particularly with the songs from this new album. That said, we’re also really eager to start working on new songs as well.

‘At Once With Tattered Sails’ is The Battles of Winter’s second album, due for release September 23rd.

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