Like A Storm Guitarist Matt Brooks Talks ‘Awaken the Fire,’ Touring + More
New Zealand rockers Like A Storm are heating things up with their new album Awaken the Fire, and they have trekked around the States in promotion of the new release. We had the chance to chat with guitarist Matt Brooks about the disc, as well as his passion for being out on the road with his brothers who also happen to his bandmates. Check out the interview with Matt Brooks of Like A Storm below:
What would you say is your favorite and least favorite part about touring the States?
I think my favorite part of touring is just how much of America we’ve gotten to see. We come from New Zealand so for us every city we go to is like being on vacation. My least favorite thing, it’s kind of the best and the worst thing about America is how big it is so the drives are – for example we’ll play a show in Alabama with Slash and then our next show is in New York City and the drive we did would be New Zealand two times over. [Laughs]
Awaken the Fire – what does this title mean to you personally?
Well to us it really summed up the vibe of the record, it’s a record that we wrote and recorded and produced ourselves and it’s really an album about everything we’ve been through in the last couple of years. “Awaken the Fire” is a lyric on the first song on the record called “Chaos” and we just felt that Awaken the Fire was a perfect description for a passionate and defiant record.
How was the process of re-recording and re-creating some of these songs for this new release as well as new tracks?
It was cool we basically had the opportunity to take seven songs that we had recorded previously for Chaos Theory and turn that into a full album that has been released in Europe and in America. For us it was about continuing the vision that we had with the first seven and what new direction we can push the songs in. One of the new songs we wrote for Awaken the Fire was “Wish You Hell” where we really kind of experimented with combining blues and hard rock.
You guys have recorded a rendition of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” — what made you decide to cover that song?
It’s kind of a funny story, we were out one night trying to get away from being in the studio. We thought it was time to go out, let off some steam, we’d been recording for a while. “Gangsta’s Paradise” came over the speakers and I guess without thinking about it, you’re still in that writing mode and even though you’ve left the studio, the studio really hasn’t left you. When the song came on all we could do was look at each other and think, “Imagine if a heavy rock band did a version of this song.” We had always loved that song and in the headspace we were in of writing a rock album it just seemed like the logical next step.
So we went back to the studio that night and began this process of every night we finished recording the songs we were supposed to work on we’d fire up “Gangsta’s Paradise” [Laughs] as sort of this mad scientist midnight experiment. By the end of the record the song had come together and sounded so cool that we thought we just had to put it on there.
If you had a chance to cover any other artist or song, who would it be?
That’s tough, we’re always trying to find things outside of our genre to cover, that’s what was cool about “Gangsta’s Paradise” because it’s a different style of music you get to put so much of yourself into it. I guess the next cover we do maybe it will be a Christmas carol or something. [Laughs] No, I don’t know just something we can put our style and our voice into.
My feeling is, you can never beat Metallica at Metallica, those guys are the Gods of what they do. There’s something really cool and challenging creatively about covering a totally different genre and making it sound like it fits on a hard rock album. That’s part of the reason it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album because it was challenging.
Where did the decision to incorporate the Didgeridoo into your music come from?
It was kind of an organic, actually. Chris [Brooks], our brother and lead singer, he taught himself how to play the didgeridoo after we took a vacation to Australia. The crazy thing about it is, it’s one of the hardest instruments on earth to learn and he taught himself how to play it in three days. As soon as he started playing all these cool sounds and rhythms we just thought it was the most amazing sound we ever heard. We thought it would be cool to see in what different ways we could incorporate this ancient instrument into hard rock music.
As we’ve progressed and written new songs and made new records we’ve found new ways to put it in rock music that’s never been done before. In “Love the Way You Hate Me” we use the didgeridoo as a feature in the breakdown of the song, and in the first song on the album, “Chaos,” we use the didgeridoo in sync with the guitar riffs. It’s been a really cool musical adventure to find this amazing instrument and then see all the different ways you can combine it with modern music.
What does the rest of 2015 have in store for Like a Storm?
A lot of touring which we love and with the new record being released we’re going to spend the rest of the year touring America and Europe supporting that album. For us we get to spend the rest of the year living our dream and play this music every night that we worked so hard to create.
With all of this upcoming touring what is one non-electronic thing you must have on tour with you?
Does an acoustic guitar count? I’d say an acoustic guitar because otherwise everything I use is electronic. For me trying to play as much music as you can while you’re on the road is always an awesome thing and being on the road you’re always inspired and if you don’t get these ideas out they sort of drive you crazy.
What’s crazy is that half of Awaken the Fire was literally recorded on tour. We have a mobile recording studio that we took with us and we’d come offstage every night, go back to our hotel, plug in the studio and that’s when we wrote and recorded “Love the Way You Hate Me,” “Never Surrender,” “Southern Skies,” “Break Free” — those songs were all written and recorded in hotel rooms. For us, making music has a lot to do with the energy and inspiration of being on tour.
Our thanks to Matt Brooks for taking the time to chat with us. Pick up Like A Storm’s ‘Awaken the Fire’ album at iTunes.