INTERVIEW: High Visions Talk Recording, Experimenting With New Musical Elements And More

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

Photo Credit: Nathan Robinson of Apertunes

High Visions is a pop-punk band from Leeds, UK. The band fuses modern pop-punk from the likes of Trash Boat and Neck deep, while still containing elements of early skate-punk of the 2000s.

The trio are set to release their Passerby EP, on Aug. 17. We got the chance to talk with Louis Flynn (guitar/vocals,) Alex Fell (drums) and Zyggy (bass/vocals) about the recording process, experimenting with new musical elements and more!

Your new EP, Passerby, is the follow up to your 2017 EP, Waving The White Flag. How did the recording process differ between the two?

Louis: It was very similar, 90 percent was wrote in a practice room, but we had more of a goal when writing each song. Before it was more a free for all, but for this record we wanted a variety so we approached the songs in more detail, really scrutinising the parts and each other.

Zyggy: For me, I feel that the processes that drove our debut EP and Passerby were really different. 'Waving the White Flag' was a bunch of songs we wrote in a practice room without much thought, and we took what we liked and bundled them together into an EP. For Passerby, the process was totally different. From the outset, we had a few distinct themes that we wanted to concentrate on. We still wrote most of our initial ideas in the practice room, but sometimes Louis would come in with a cool guitar riff, or Alex would bring in a drum part, or I'd show them some lyrics I'd written... It just felt a lot more like we were putting together something special, rather than just throwing some tunes together.

Alex: With Passerby, we travelled down to The Ranch in Southampton to have our EP produced by Dom Wright, and I think it was the best possible thing we could have done for the band at this point. It was a fucking awesome experience, staying in the middle of nowhere, getting up everyday and focusing on tracking these songs the best we could, free from any distractions. And the studio is on another level, I spent the whole time just nerding out over the drums I got to play on while I was there, and it was great trying out different gear to find out what would work the best for the songs we’d written. But really what made was great working with someone who completely understood what we were going for musically and perfectly captured the sound and personality of the band. Like if you come watch us live, or listen to the songs on the record, they’re the same songs, and we play them the same - there’s no unnecessary studio trickery or pointless extra layers added to make it more ‘epic’ or some other bullshit like that. It’s the sound of three guys putting everything we’ve got into playing songs we’re super passionate about, mainly in small, sweaty, cramped rooms, and I think the recordings really represent the energy and emotion that this band is about. And I don’t think anything we’ve done before achieved that even remotely close to that.

With Passerby, it sounds like you’ve experimented more musically. Is there anywhere in the new EP that you feel like you’ve really grown and want listeners to take note of?

Louis: For me personally the guitar work because in the last record and with most punk records the guitar can be extremely boring if there isn’t a second guitarist. So I really made an effort to created interesting parts and challenge myself as a player.

Zyggy: The things I feel we improved on the most are the musical complexity of our songs and our lyrics. For me, a lot of what we're doing with our instruments, particularly in small segments of these new songs, is a lot more interesting than what we did before. We tried to make an EP that gets more interesting with each listen - I'm hoping that with every listen, people pick up on small things in the instrumentation they didn't notice before!

Alex: So when we were writing Waving The White Flag, we were three drunk guys who had just met, getting more drunk, jamming together and writing fast trashy pop punk songs. There was no real thought in anything we did, and I feel it really shows. There’s no real dynamic to any of it, it’s at 100% pretty much the whole time. With Passerby, there’s bits that are faster and heavier than anything we’ve done before, but there’s also quieter, calmer moments, and it makes for a much more interesting listen (and is much more interesting to play, for me at least). While it came together just as naturally, each song is a lot more well-crafted and we took the song writing a lot more seriously. There’s room for massive vocal hooks we never had before, and I find it also left room for much more creative and intricate parts instrumentally. There’s a lot of moments where we’re playing parts that you don’t stereotypically find many pop punk bands doing at all. I’ve found it shows a lot more of each of our individual personalities as musicians and gives the band a lot more of a unique sound that is truly our own. I also really like the way there’s a lot more vocal interplay on this EP. I’m a massive fan of bands with dual vocalists, like Alkaline Trio, Blink, The Lawrence Arms etc., I really like the duality that brings to a bands sound, and I’m pretty fucking excited I’m in a band like that now! But the way it used to work was generally Zyggy sings the verses, Louis does the choruses, and we stuck to that formula for the most part, and they rarely sang together. And while there’s still moments like that now, there’s also a lot of moments where they sing overlapping parts, or harmonise together, or jump into each other’s sections of the song, and trade off who’s singing lead a lot more often, and I feel it really adds a different element to our sound I don’t see many bands doing in the same way at the moment, and gives us a lot more versatility as a band.

You’ve mentioned that this passed year was rough for you. Did this inspire you or make writing difficult?

Louis: I think if anything it made writing easier, we never struggled at all, I think for us it was quite therapeutic as we didn’t see each other much but when we did it was so much fun and we got a lot done.

Zyggy: Yes, it has been rough. Two of us finished university last year, and for the first time since we formed we've all been living in different cities. Despite that, I echo the fact that it made it easier for us. Though it was hard for us to see each other regularly, we were able to turn the turmoil of the past year of our lives into energy and passion in both our writing sessions and in the practice room. For me, writing lyrics and playing these songs is really therapeutic, as it was a way for me to cope with how I was living my life after graduation.

Alex: I can’t speak for the other guys, but for me personally, the last year or two has been a particularly rough time. Without going into too many details, over the years I’ve struggled with major depression and anxiety, and these songs were written when I was on my way out of the lowest point of my life, on my way to where I am right now, which is thankfully a way more healthy and positive place to be. So I think I feel so passionately about this EP because it will always be linked to this specific time in my life. The thing is though, I’ve always found music is the best escape when you’re in that sort of state. So it ended up being a massive influence on me when working on this EP. Cause when you’re stuck in that dark a place in your life, there’s no better escape than going on stage, or to meet the band to write, and putting everything you’ve got into just beating the shit out of some drums for the night. It really was a cathartic experience making this EP for me. And I think the fact that we were all going through our own shit at the time helped create this a cohesive theme. Like me and Zyggy were going completely different things, but the lyrics he wrote, I relate to so fucking much, even if the actual situations we are in are completely different. We’ve managed to capture a specific point in all our lives in these songs, but I feel it’s situations a lot of people go through every day, and hopefully that resonates with people in some way, cause I know that’s what’s got me hooked on a lot of my favourite bands and helped me a ridiculous amount over the years!

You also noted that not only was it a rough year in general, but also as a band. Was there any major disputes while writing Passerby?

Louis: No major disputes, just with our lives changing, finishing uni, getting jobs, paying bills, going into adult life. We didn’t play nearly as much as we wanted to, and that’s what we wanted to change.

Zyggy: The biggest issues that we had as a band whilst writing Passerby was more to do with geography than anything else. With us all being based in different cities, and this being a radical period of change in our lives, we've found it difficult to stick together and make it as a band - but I think that the fact that we've not only stayed together but made an EP we're all incredibly proud of is testament to the fact that we'll be able to stick together. The main thing we'd like to improve on. is playing shows more often - it's difficult considering that we're not in the same place anymore (and I'm not in the country half the time), but it's something that we're definitely working on!

Alex: I don’t think we have any major disputes musically or professionally with each other. I actually think we have an incredibly positive working environment, where we all want the same thing out of the band and work together to achieve that goal the best we can. The main problem comes from the fact we’re spread out all over the country at the minute. Which makes the way work different to a lot of bands, just because getting us all in the same place at once can be particularly difficult. But then, I’ve been in bands with guys who live 10 minutes down the road from me that were way less productive than this band. I think when every member is this driven towards the same goal and this passionate about what the band’s doing, then you make it work however you can. And if you’re not into the music you’re making enough to jump on a fucking train, then why the fuck are you doing it? It has it’s advantages too though – it means that we can really focus time on the band and work hard when we are together. And we’re not just playing a random show at the same venue in our hometown every couple of weeks, cause we don’t even have a fucking hometown! So instead, yeah we’ll have a month or two off every now and then, but when we’re booking shows in, we’re playing all over the country, night after night, to different people every time, and for me that makes it worth any logistical problems we have to get around to make it happen.

Your track “Shit Out Of Luck” has a relatability feel to it, what do you hope fans take away from it?

Louis: For me personally it’s for everyone that doesn’t know what to do next, that’s what I found myself thinking, after education there is no next step, you’re left to your own devices. I think it’s important that people know that it’s pretty common to think “what the fuck do I do now?”

Zyggy: “Shit Out of Luck" was the first song we properly wrote for Passerby. We came up with the instrumentation in 2016, and I wrote the first draft of the lyrics when I graduated from university. I spent my entire life up until that point in education, and I didn't have a plan for what I was going to do with myself afterwards. For me, the song represents that feeling of anxiety a lot of graduates face when they enter the "real world" for the first time; finding your place in the world is, one of the main themes of Passerby, and this is one of the songs that best represents that for me.

Alex: I love this track every single time we play it. Louis’s parts on this are crazy. There’s not much I can add to this in terms of lyrics, that’s been covered, but musically, it’s the shortest, heaviest, fastest song on the EP. Everyone just goes nuts and it brings the biggest smile to my face! It was the first song we wrote for ‘Passerby’, and I just remember hearing it with this super dark tone and really aggressive sound compared to everything else we’d done at this point, and I was in love straight away. I feel it takes all the best parts of our old EP, that speed and energy, but then made darker, more emotional, and with way more intricate parts musically. I think it’s a showcase of our band and the themes of this EP at its most raw and angry, and it really shows off what we do differently to most pop punk bands.

You’re no stranger to the road and touring, what has been your favorite show to play so far?

Louis: The London show at the end of our last tour was incredible, playing literally in a pub with some of our favorite bands, running round, people going over each other, I didn’t even have to sing half the set because people would take the mic and do it for me, it was the perfect way to end a tour.

Zyggy: Personally, my favorite show has to be an all-dayer in York that we played last year. We were the first band on at 2:30, and somehow we managed to pack this entire venue out - and this is when we felt like no one had heard of us at all! It was one of the first time we truly felt part of the pop-punk community we're so grateful to be involved with, and personally the first time I truly felt like we could make it as a band. Other than that, there's our most recent tour - it's a toss-up between the Leeds and London show, but personally I think the London show was the best for us. It was our least profitable, but we pretty much played in a pub to some of our best friends in the music scene, and we got everyone singing along - it was an incredible experience!

Alex: Hands down my favorite show was at The Joiner’s Arms in London, the last date on the tour we just came off. It was basically just a massive end of tour party, playing with some of our favorite bands in the scene. The whole show had been pretty fucking crazy, but then I remember we played ‘Grave Mistake’, the first single off the EP we’d released a couple weeks before the tour, to close the set and tour off. As soon as it kicked in, everyone was the grabbing the mic off Louis and Zyggy, singing the song for them, which is the best feeling in the world, having people know your songs you spent hours working on basically word for word, nothing compares to that really. I remember looking up from my drums and seeing Louis and Zyggy just running about all over the venue while everyone else sang, and I think that memory will stick with me forever.

What song is your favorite to play for a crowd?

Louis: I enjoy “Shit Out Of Luck” because normally up until that song the set has been very pop-punk, so to throw a heavy, screamed, mega mental song at them is great to gauge their reaction to it. It’s like us telling them that we’re not just another pop-punk band; there’s some edge.

Zyggy: Probably a controversial opinion amongst the band, but personally it's "Not Bent, Just Broke" off of our debut EP. Whilst the songs we're writing now I find so much better, there's something about just thrashing about while playing a really fast minute-long track that I absolutely love. It always gets the crowd going as well!

Alex: My favorite song to play for a crowd is ‘Duluth’, the fourth track off the EP. I really like my parts on that song, there’s a lot of less stereotypical parts musically on that one, despite it sounding like one of the more standard pop-punk songs on the record at surface level. We do a lot of rhythmic changes and cool stuff with the time signatures, which appeals to me a lot as a drummer, but all this technical stuff is hidden in this super catchy, bouncy, summery sounding pop-punk song, and that’s really cool to me! It’s massive fun to play live, I always see people moving to this one, it’s got a real groove to it all the way through despite each section being so different. And despite sounding like the most ‘fun’ song, the lyrical content is actually about an issue close to all our hearts that we don’t feel gets discussed anywhere near enough, and I feel there’s a lot of depth to this song because of that. But that’s another interview.

Be sure to grab a copy of High Visions new EP on Aug. 17 and be sure to let us know what you think of it!

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