As Mallory Knox reach the last leg of their tour, before flying off to Australia, we were lucky enough to have them play Southampton’s local venue, the Mo Club. The rising rock stars have had an incredibly fast-paced and memorable year so far and from here it looks like they can only carry on ascending. Loaded with their brand new album Signals, a growing fan base and epic support acts, this tour has appeared to only strengthen their appearance on Britain’s rock scene. Before the show, I had the privilege to catch up with bass guitarist Sam Douglas and drummer Dave Rawling to talk about their tour, their year and how they are coping with their growing fame.
So you’ve had a long tour so far. When was it you started – the 9th?
Sam: Yeah, it was the 9th, and that seems like the longest time ever and the quickest time as well.
How would you generally sum it up so far?
Sam: Incredible. Almost overwhelming. We didn’t really know what to expect because for us this was our first proper headline tour, so we weren’t really sure how it was going to be and I think something like thirteen of the shows sold out. So yeah, overwhelming is what I would say.
Well I guess it just shows how recognised Mallory Knox has become, doesn’t it?
Sam: Yeah. I never thought we would do this and we’ve been playing so long. You never think you are going to play a tour to this many people and it really is just amazing. We did the whole ‘playing Southampton to ten people’, then to twenty people and now there are six hundred people here. It really is just crazy.
How have you been getting on with the other bands Blitz Kids and Crooks?
Dave: Absolutely brilliantly, the bus has pretty much been the hub of all parties I think. We have just been introduced to this new game thanks to Blitz Kids called ‘Mafia’. I won’t go into it but it’s an absolutely brilliant game. It’s brilliant and we have had some days staying up until seven o clock playing this one game, it’s incredible.
Is that what you guys mainly do on tour then, just mess about?
Sam: Yeah man. Bu there are some days where the bus calls are really early. I think Bristol had a 7am bus call, so the only things we thought we could do was either go out, get really drunk or go to bed and there’s only one winner there.
As a student I know what you mean.
Sam: Yeah! Exactly and, you know, Blitz and Crooks have been amazing guys so there haven’t been any real fallings out for the whole tour and so the whole thing has just been great. We have all got on so well which always helps. I’m saying this because you get some bands that are a bit, well you know, so yeah it’s been a really good tour.
Have there been times where you guys have had arguments with each other?
Sam: Oh yeah, absolutely, I mean we haven’t really argued but when you’re in the same box for so many days, especially on a bus where there are sixteen of you, you do kind of get in the way. But we are like brothers, you know, we spend all this time together. So it’s a good thing we are all best friends so we aren’t afraid to tell each other to fuck off.
So it’s a bit like a kiss and make up situation?
Sam: Pretty much. I mean, I had a little tiff with Mikey the other day but it was instantly forgotten about five minutes later because we’re on tour and that’s what happens.
That’s good to hear. Anyway, it’s been a big year for you guys, Reading and Leeds festivals being a big part of it. How was it playing those shows?
Sam: Well yeah, they are some of the biggest shows ever. I said before that if you asked any band what stage they would wanna play, then a lot of those bands would come back and say mainstage Reading and Leeds. I mean one of my favourite bands headlined there three years ago, Blink 182, so it was great to play the same stage as them and it’s just insane. You see your family and friends there as well and I think it was the first real true moment for us as a band. To have family that have supported us from the start and then to see them there to witness it was brilliant. I saw my sister on someone’s shoulders in the crowd. I mean, there were sometimes I was trying not to cry. Yeah, it was a real moment because we had worked so hard to get there.
Dave: Yeah definitely, it’s such a nice feeling being able to turn around and just see your parents waving at you and watching you. You can tell that they were really, really proud of us. There was the first five initial minutes when we were like ‘what are we getting into’ but then we looked at the crowd and it was just amazing.
How was it supporting Biffy Clyro earlier this year?
Sam: Amazing really. We all have different tastes in music but out of the few bands we can all agree on, Biffy falls into that category. So, even though to them it was a small show with 3000 people, to us it was fucking massive. Before we went on stage we met the guys and Simon was like ‘good luck on your headline tour, have a great time in Australia’. We just looked at him like, ‘what? You know what we are doing?!’ So the fact that they even knew who we were was insane. So sharing the stage with them as well was just incredible.
What was the crowd like?
Sam: There was a problem with people getting in so we only started playing to like half the room, but halfway through the set list it was full. Obviously, they were mostly Biffy fans but I think we won a few of them over which is what you’ve gotta try and do.
What did it feel like to have your first feature in one of the UK’s biggest rock magazines, Rocksound?
Dave: When that came through, we were all a bit gobsmacked.
Sam: It was out of the blue wasn’t it?
Dave: Yeah, no email, so when we got told we would be on the front cover of Rocksound it was like ‘fucking hell’.
Sam: Yeah it’s great because they are putting faith in you. Out of all the bands in the entire world, they’ve chosen you to sell their magazine for a month. I think all of these moments… they haven’t really sunk in yet. Obviously, you really appreciate it but you don’t have the time to stop and take it in. Two years ago we never thought about it but now that it’s happened, it’s just crazy man. And the article is really good as well, it was one of the best we have ever had.
Until I write one of course?
Sam Douglas: Until you do of course, yeah, until this interview.
Another big moment was obviously your release of Signals. If there was one track you would recommend to the readers, what would it be?
Dave: A personal favourite of mine from that album is ‘Wolves’. It’s the rockier side of the album and that’s all the stuff I listen to. I mean, I try to listen to a wide spectrum of stuff personally but I do like the heavier things, more ‘in your face’. I guess that goes along with my personality more than anything.
Sam: I’ve always loved ‘Lighthouse’; I’ve always loved that song. But ‘Creeper’ as well. But yeah, if I had to play to somebody that didn’t know who we were and I had to explain to them what we are about, I would play ‘Lighthouse’.
How did the release of it differ to your EP Pilots?
Dave: Well obviously we first released Pilots as a free download. This was when we were just starting out and nobody knew our stuff. We obviously released Signals when we had been signed by labels and stuff and it was great getting into the Top 40 chart.
Sam: The first time, with Pilots, was obviously just a digital release. I guess, when it came to Signals, it was the first time we felt we had any real backing to get us to achieve something. We had radio adverts and it was like a real campaign, which made us think ‘oh shit this is actually really serious’. So without all the radio stuff and TV stuff, I’m not sure if it would have done as well as it has done. Obviously being on BBC radio one was a big reason we had the Top 40 and they really did get behind us which was amazing.
What was with the big delay of releasing Signals?
Sam: Well it was originally meant to come out in May 2012 and then people behind the scenes said ‘no hang on for a bit’ but then we got told to do it January and we all thought that would be too long to wait. But it was a great decision because we got to release some singles first and built a bit of hype around the album, I guess. So when it came out it just went and we never thought it would get to Top 40 in a million years.”
Will there be a big gap between Signals and your next album?
Sam: I hope not because we kind of want to keep the momentum going. We don’t want to disappear for too long so we have already demoed about fifteen new songs and look to record the album sometime next year. I don’t know when, nothing’s 100% set in stone but the songs are written, they’re there and they’re ready to go. So now it’s all about getting into the studio and just cracking on.
A single’s video that really stands out from Signals, for me, is Beggars. Did you have fun acting as ‘A Clockwork Orange’ themed characters?
Sam: Well, first of all, when we started doing that video, I was the most hungover I have ever been. Where did we go the night before?
Dave: I think we had another show, didn’t we? I just remember getting back at stupid o clock in the morning.
Sam: Oh I can’t remember. Well, it was the first video where we were characters, I guess, and we weren’t ourselves. We turned up and they just gave us these white things to wear. It was freezing. It was in Charlton. Probably the roughest part of London I have ever been to and I was walking around in a bright white fucking shirt with a baseball bat and thinking ‘I’m going to get my head kicked in’. So shooting the video for that was absolute hell. I felt even more sorry for Bill, the guy with the massive beard who had to walk around topless and lay around on the concrete. I felt so sorry for the poor guy. Now that I think about it, I was moaning that I had a shirt on and he was almost naked, the poor guy. But yeah, it came out really well in the end, even though it was one of those videos I was really sceptical about.
When I saw it I did think ‘well this is different’.
Sam: Well yeah, that’s exactly why we did it because it is different. It’s funny though because the diehard Clockwork Orange fans left us comments on YouTube like ‘I hope you fucking die’, but we all just think that’s pretty funny. We just tweeted back saying ‘Mallory Knox, ruining your favourite movies since 2009’ because first we ruined Natural Born Killers and now this one, apparently.
Do you think you will ever take your music in a different direction?
Sam: It’s never been about, in the nicest way possible, trying to please other people. It’s just what we all want to do. In the end it all came naturally and we didn’t write for a long time after Signals which was a bad move because it took us a while to get back into it. I guess when we got back into the flow, it all came back naturally. Our music will always sound like us, I guess, but we aren’t afraid to write a pop song or a heavy song. We just write what we want and we try to keep that mentality as best as we can. Obviously, in the back of our head we’re thinking ‘well Signals did really well, we have to follow on from that’ but if you try and recreate something you’ve already done, you become scared of trying other stuff in case people don’t like it. So at the end of the day, we are always going to be the band that we want to be.
In one word, how would you sum up the tour?
Sam: Umm…I’ll go with overwhelming.
How about the year, for you guys as a band?
Sam: Oh okay then, I’ll change the year to overwhelming and the tour to… amazing. Yeah, the year has been overwhelming. I mean that in a very, very good way.
Dave: I’ll go with unbelievable; it really has just been unbelievable. And cracking, definitely cracking.