Interview with Independent Music Showcase
(Broken Empire are - Ieuan Owen on Vocals, Matt Stevens on Guitar, Marco Arena on Bass, Ricky Hill on Drums)
Broken Empire are a four-piece band from Oxford and Towcester. They cite some of their influences as Five Finger Death Punch, Alter Bridge and Disturbed which should give you a good insight into their style of playing. Their debut release was in 2018 and was received very well indeed and their latest ep is amassing excellent streaming figures across all media platforms. They have toured with Ryders Creed, Hollowstar and Skarlett Riot so with a current break in proceedings, we caught up with them for a chat.
First up on the agenda and having established that the band formed in 2017, what we really wanted to know was how much practice they had to put in before releasing their debut.
Ricky Hill - “We spent about 3 months as a full line-up writing and practicing together until we booked our first gig”
Matt Stevens - “We were working solidly for a year looking for the right musicians, regular practises, auditioning, scrapping songs, making contacts.”
Ieuan Owen - “I joined the band in October 2017, and it was only really about 3 months of writing/rehearsing before we started playing gigs, but the lads had been practising for several month prior.”
The band are gaining fans all the time but having only been together for a couple of years we asked them how they were finding their musical journey so far.
Marco Arena - “It's not easy to get your name out there, especially when the music scene doesn't seem so bright at the moment, but we are trying really hard! For sure I am glad to play with the lads and delighted for the hard work Ben (our manager) does all the time - he is kind of the fifth element, not many bands are lucky enough to have one.”
MS - “It's been awesome to hear the feedback so far and to see people singing along with the songs is just the best feeling when you're on stage.”
IO - “It's been amazing! I didn't think I'd ever come this far, so this band is something I think we're all very thankful for.”
RH - “I love being in a band and for me this is probably the first band I've been in where the genre of music is right up my street.... I feel that this definitely helps when it comes to writing and playing, I feel a lot more passionate about this kind of music. Being on stage is like a drug, a very addictive drug, I feed off the crowd’s energy!”
One thing that we noticed during our research was that on streaming platforms such as Spotify, the figures were in the thousands but that didn’t seem to reflect when it came to the bands social media so we wanted to know why the band thought that was.
IO - “We've been pushing our songs a lot through online radio stations, so a lot of our plays come from there, or in other people’s playlists.”
MS - “I think people are already moving away from certain platforms of social media, it's quite a fast-evolving aspect of our tech lives, so we need to keep on top of that and make sure we promote ourselves to everyone.”
MA - “I am not sure about that. But for instance, Twitter seems to work much better than Facebook, despite the hard work we put on our FB page; writing & sharing new posts quite often! Probably Facebook works better with bands that are already established.”
At IMS we were very impressed with latest release ‘Fractures’ and with bated breath we enquired about the possibility of an album in the near future.
RH - “No album for this year anyway but we'll definitely be working on that for the future, but we are currently in the process of recording some new material so will definitely have another few singles and another killer EP for everyone this year which is exciting!!”
MA - “To be fair there is the inner desire about recording an album, but we are not sure yet. The next release perhaps, could be another EP!”
MS - “An album is definitely in its embryonic form; we want to keep releasing music and keep fans happy. There are no gimmicks with us; it's literally all about trying to make the best music for as many people as possible.”
IO - “Moving forward another EP or album is certainly in our minds!”
One thing that we notice quite a lot on band pages, is that they get tagged with a genre that in our opinion is not actually good enough to describe the music. We told the guys that for us, we thought that they were much better than the Hard Rock tag they had been given and wanted to know what their opinion was.
RH - “This has always been a tricky subject as I'm not even sure about what genre we fall into, some of our songs I would say fit into hard rock but some are metal and some are even just rock, I feel like we almost need to let the audience decide.....We have a bit of everything for everyone which I think is a real positive thing!”
MS - “Appreciate that, it's a hard one to define, I think we straddle metal and hard rock but there isn't really a tag that suits. We're not trying to be part of a genre, so I guess it doesn't really matter what people want to tag us as.”
IO - “I think that genres in general are quite limiting. Some of our songs probably do warrant that 'hard rock' label, but others are much more metal, so I don't think we like to be defined by that. If I had to describe our band, I'd simply say we are riff driven.”
MA - “Tough one, I’m not a huge fan of the Hard Rock tag either but not sure where we fall right now?!”
Although we are fortunate to catch the guys on a break, they have quite a busy year ahead. Its also nice to know about festivals that are coming up. Broken Empire are already confirmed for Hop Fest and Rabidfest so we asked if there were any more on the horizon not yet confirmed and which ones if any they would like to play in the future.
RH - “I love festival season! Before Hop Fest and Rabidfest we are playing Nor Lye Festival which we can't wait for, love a good outside stage, let's just hope the weather is on our side. I'd personally love to play at Download Festival as I think our music would be perfect for there, also would love to play Glastonbury!!”
MS - “Amazing to be playing some cool festivals this summer, really looking forward to them. Maybe next year amplified, tall trees, sonic temple, bloodstock, download, who knows!!”
MA - “Definitely Download!!”
IO - “We are excited to play these festivals, and obviously in the future we'd love to play things like Bloodstock, Download or Amplified, so hopefully we'll get there.”
As well established as Broken Empire are becoming in the UK, they definitely have followers abroad so did they have plans to travel further afield in the future?
MA - “My motherland Italy could be a good one to start with. After we’ve played in every single corner of the UK first, of course!”
IO - “As long as money and time off work permits, we'd love to do gigs abroad! It would be an amazing experience!”
RH - “We would love to play in a number of different countries, but especially one where we know that we have fans like the US or Italy. Plus, I think it gives all the people who follow us and listen to our music online from other countries something back, to be able to finally see us live! Although I really hate flying, so I will have to get over that somehow!”
MS - “As soon as the opportunity comes, we'll be heading out. I encourage all our international listeners to get in touch with where they want to see us play.”
Having read as many reviews as we could lay our hands on, Broken Empire have always received high praise from the press and media, but they also add to their fanbase wherever they play. As is standard we wanted to know if they had a message for them.
RH - “Just a massive thank you to everyone for all their support, you don't understand how much it means. Fans are one of the most important things about being in a band and growing as a band. Without you guys we are nothing! So, we hope to keep bringing you new music that you love and keep supporting!”
MS - “The fans are the best, they are the reason we love playing so much. But love to them all”
MA - “I would like to thank all the people who believe in us. Receiving all of these excellent reviews make us proud and it means we are working really well! AD MAIORA!”
IO - “We appreciate any feedback we get, whether that’s good or constructive, we're just surprised at how much of it is good! So, thank you to anyone and everyone for their thoughts and opinions, it’s nice to hear what we sound like form an outside perspective.”
Another thing that we also like to find out on a regular basis is how a band views the independent music scene at the moment.
RH - “I think it's becoming harder and harder for small bands such as ourselves to gain a name in the UK as the live music scene isn't great anymore.... All you hear about is yet another music venue closing down, soon we won't have many left and that's what small bands rely on massively to gain fans and start the steppingstone to becoming a well-established band! It's hard because people are less willing to go out as much now because they can effectively listen to everything they want in their own home without really spending that much money. But nothing beats a live kick ass gig! Keep the music scene alive in the UK!!”
MA - “I will make it short! If a place like The Cellar (Oxford) is no longer open, you can quickly understand how it is going... You can only try to do your best, working hard and try to get as much as you can out of what the musical scene has to offer (or what's still left of it)”
MS - “Independent music is one of the hardest, costly and time-consuming practises in the UK. There is so much more we could do, and we want to encourage everyone regardless of their taste in music to go to a local gig, like once a week, many are free, and most are cheap. You wouldn't believe how much indie bands appreciate you guys, and they're there to entertain and provide a good evening as part of that appreciation. It's a good way to get out, a good way to meet people, and a good way to remove any feelings of isolation by being part of a crowd.”
Although musicians who perform regularly and are always writing we thought it prudent to find out how the guys spent their spare time.
RH - “Music is a huge part of my life, but I also have a serious amount of petrol running through my veins, any form of Motorsport I'm there. Love riding my motorbike and going for a drive down a windy road in my car, can't beat it!”
MS - “I'm a huge Andrzej Sapkowski fan so you'll find me in a book or cracking out Witcher 3. Either that or checking out new music.”
IO - “When we aren’t playing gigs we're often writing or rehearsing. Outside of that we're all mainly working to make all these kinds of things possible! Being in a band is costly, but totally worth it!”
MA - “I am an astronaut in my spare time!!!”
Although we do not live in an ideal world, if we did, we asked the chaps where they could see Broken Empire in five years’ time.
IO - “I'd love to say that in 5 years we'd have a solid fanbase, maybe played a couple of major festivals and have the capacity to tour regularly. Living in hope!”
MA - “Playing at Wembley!”
RH - “In 5 years’ time I could see us playing some seriously big venues with some well-established bands; I'd love to think that we could possibly be supporting some of our very own favourite bands which would be insane! Bring on whatever the future holds!”
MS - “I'd like to say things keep going from strength to strength and in 5 years we will be playing with our favourite bands on the best stages across the globe. Dream big right! Either dream big or muddle along.”
And last but not least. Final words.
RH - “Come and join our Empire!!”
MS - “Big love to everyone supporting independent music, big love to the fans, and if anyone fancies sending me a music man majesty tiger eye that would be just smashing”
IO - “Just to keep an eye out for us and be sure to check us out if you haven’t already!”