INTERVIEW: Jayden Ridley (STEPSON)
'Tis the spooky season of October, but don't be afraid of things that go bump in the night - embrace all the things that go thump in the night with Halloween Hysteria, the blowout of all things heavy taking place on Saturday October 27th in Brisbane.
Brandished as a celebration of all things loud, the inaugural event helmed by Hysteria Mag Editor-in-Chief Joel McGahey will bring 30 bands across 3 stages at the iconic Jubilee Hotel in Fortitude Valley.
Promising scares and more for the punters, this melting pot of punk rock, metal, acoustic and more boasts headliners The Bennies and King Parrot, as well as a stack of local legends, including Brissie hardcore punks Stepson. And before they bring the noise later this month we grabbed Stepson bassist and vocalist Jayden Ridley to chat must-sees, memories and the soundtrack that shaped his musical future. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hi Jayden! Great to talk to you today, let’s dive straight in here and chat about something quite exciting on the horizon for Stepson, you guys are obviously about to jump up onstage at Halloween Hysteria festival later this month. How keen are you guys for this little shindig?
JAYDEN RIDLEY: Yeah, we’re super stoked! When Joey (Joey McGahey – Hysteria Mag Editor-in-Chief) from Hysteria first hit us up, he sent the rough line-up through and I was like “woah!?!”... It was like a Skitz Mix bill. And we’re a bit of a mixed genre sort of band anyway, so mixed bills suit us heaps! We’ve never played at the Jubilee before either, we’ve heard good things!
TIANA: And Halloween Hysteria is going to be quite the heavy music heaven, obviously headlining with The Bennies and King Parrot, but there’s a RIDICULOUS lineup of other local legends as well…have you got a band on the Halloween Hysteria bill you’re most keen to catch live?
JAYDEN: I’m really excited to check out VOIID, from what I can tell they’re this super awesome, girl-power punk band, which is always super rad to see. So I’m heaps keen to check them out, I’ve never seen them, and I’d never actually heard of them before this show got announced, so they’re definitely one I’m down for. And our friends in Alpha Wolf, they always put on a ridiculous set, so I’m pretty stoked for that one as well.
TIANA: I’m gonna be stuck in Sydney while all this is going down, so I’ve got excessive fomo right now. I’ll have to live vicariously through you guys. And 2018 has already been a pretty huge year for Stepson, including recently jumping up alongside Polaris in July…what was it like opening for those legends?
JAYDEN: Yeah, they’re good friends of ours, it was cool to link up some more shows, unfortunately we don’t get to do it much anymore now that they’re huge rockstars. But those shows were really good. We’ve had a bit of a focus on trying to smash our home state of Queensland this year, we did a North Queensland run with In Hearts Wake at the start of the year, then polished it off with those Polaris dates as well. They were great shows, and we were glad to be a part of it, and a fair few of our mates and fans came out, which always makes us look all right with the big dogs (laughs). But Polaris – they’re gonna take over the world, so we’re thrilled to still be able to do shows with them.
TIANA: And prior to this year you guys have a played a heap of shows….has there been a personal standout live show along the way with Stepson, whether it’s been good, funny or bad?
JAYDEN: There’s been a big mixture of heaps, there’s been some shows that….were just awful (laughs). I can’t put it any other way, whether it was tech issues, things blowing up and stuff like that! We’ve had plenty of funny ones where we’ve toured with friends and the night’s more about the atmosphere than the actual music which is always fun! But a standout show for me that we’ve played would’ve been the Sydney all-ages date with Storm The Sky’s ‘Sin Will Find You’ album tour. We were the main support for that tour, and in Sydney…..Sydney’s a weird one for us. We’ve always done pretty good there, but it never felt like we had a solid foothold. But that show was insane, it was sold out and it was just rows and rows and rows of people hanging off everything we did. And at the end, I’ve never taken so many photos and signed so many iPhones in my life (laughs). So that one’s probably a standout. AND. We played pretty good, which always helps (laughs).
STEPSON IN ACTION DURING THE STORM THE SKY TOUR // pic by Sauvage Photo
TIANA: Always an awesome side note to play well! What’s interesting about you guys as a whole is, as you mentioned earlier, you seem to straddle a lot of the boundaries within the heavy/hardcore/punk kind of world, even chucking in some electronic stuff and more from time to time…do you feel as a band that you guys are ever pigeonholed, or do you just kinda just go with what you feel is right and not give a damn about genre labels?
JAYDEN: One thing whenever we’re writing or when the band first started, we never wanted to pigeonhole ourselves to just melodic hardcore, or just punk or anything like that. All five of us contribute to different aspects of writing, we’ve all got different influences and I think that carries through in our music. And that’s why we’ll have a random section that you could say is almost Blink-182 and then we’ll just have a big fat breakdown in that somewhere. I hate listening to music where every song’s the same, for me it just takes out those standout moments. Just as a music fan in general I like things to change it up and spice it up, so that carries through in our music as well.
TIANA: Spicy Stepson! I like it. And on the note of influences, there are a few things obviously kicking around sound-wise for Stepson. But on a personal level, what kind of music did you grow up listening to, did anything in particular really lead you to who you are now as a musician?
JAYDEN: The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 Soundtrack.
TIANA: The BEST SOUNDTRACK OF ALL TIME.
JAYDEN: I know right?! And that’s pretty much what I’d put down to my music tastes and what I’m into now, just from playing hundreds and hundreds of hours of that game. My family’s got no real musical bearing, mum and dad would just listen to Top 40 when I was growing up, and that’s all I had. And it wasn’t until I reached early high school that I took a real interest in music in general, and particularly the punkier stuff. And then mid-high school I got into all the emo stuff, like Taking Back Sunday. So that’s sort of where my roots stem from, that could be part of the emo part in Stepson.
TIANA: So then these days for the band as a whole, what would you guys generally listen to when you’re on the road travelling together?
JAYDEN: When we’re driving out on the road, we take it in turns and try to keep everyone guessing. So we’ll set up a playlist and each member will choose a song, add to the queue and then pass on to the next person. And we just do that for a little while, and we get the most random playlist going on (laughs). There will be full deathcore and then suddenly it’ll be EDM. The band I’m super into at the moment is Don Broco, so at the moment the band just gets spammed with that until they like them as well (laughs).
TIANA: Being a Brissie band, how do you find the heavy music community there. Do you feel like there are more and more opportunities for a band like yourselves?
JAYDEN: I really like Brisbane. Brisbane can be a bit weird sometimes, and out of all the major cities, apart from Adelaide, it’s definitely the smallest. But it’s a really tight-knit little community, and one thing I’ve always really liked about it is that people who are into different genres…they all sort of link up at these same shows, and all get along. I feel like in some other cities, pop punk kids only stick to pop punk, and the metal kids hate anything other than metal, whereas in Brisbane I feel like it’s a bit more all-inclusive. Which I really like!
TIANA: Now it has been a little while since we’ve heard some new tunes from Stepson…obviously you had ‘Come With Me’ out last year. Is there a chance there will be some new things to inject into our ears from Stepson anytime soon?
JAYDEN: I’m not entirely sure if it’ll be anytime soon, but we did spend the whole first half of the year writing, and the whole middle part of the year recording our debut album. It’s pretty much been four years in the making so it’s very exciting. We got our first mix back not so long ago, and there was a really good feeling going on, so now we’ve just gotta do all the behind-the-scenes stuff and make sure it’s perfect before we put it out for everyone to hear!
'COME WITH ME' (STEPSON)
TIANA: Well that’s exciting! Now for my final question….it’s a very important one. Since Stepson will be appearing onstage at Halloween Hysteria festival in a few weeks…will you guys be dressing up for the occasion?
JAYDEN: I’m not sure?! This is the first time I’ve been on something like this, is that what is standard?! (laughs).
TIANA: Maybe you should instigate it. I don’t want to steer you down the wrong path, but…I dunno, those moth memes are still kicking around at the moment, there might be some costume ideas right there?
JAYDEN: (laughs) Well it is the spooky season. We haven’t really talked about it yet. But our guitarist Benno (Nick Bennett – Stepson guitarist), whatever he wears is usually a bit of a horror show. So, he’ll be in costume regardless (laughs).
TIANA: Always prepared! Well whatever transpires, I hope Halloween Hysteria is fantastic, I can’t wait to live vicariously through you guys. And super keen to hear more from Stepson in the future! Thanks so much for the chats!
JAYDEN: No worries, thank you very much!
STEPSON WILL BE JOINING A HORDE OF AMAZING HEAVY ACTS AT THE ICONIC JUBILEE HOTEL IN BRISBANE FOR HALLOWEEN HYSTERIA 2018 ON THE 27TH OF OCTOBER
FOR HALLOWEEN HYSTERIA 2018 TICKET INFO, HEAD HERE.
AND FOR EVERYTHING STEPSON RELATED, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER