INTERVIEW: Drew Shepherd, Adam Mather and James Glover (MAKE WAY FOR MAN)
Perth behemoths Make Way For Man have spent their relatively short time together melting speakers and turning heads with their intricate brand of layered prog-metalcore, more recently spending the better part of 2017 ticking off a long list of supports that metal dreams are made of alongside the likes of heavyweights Meshuggah, Periphery and Miss May I. But to close out this action-packed year, in an exciting turn of events this notoriously hard-working bunch are making way for a new vocalist - and you (yes, YOU) could just be what they're looking for...
With news that vocalist Sean Hendry would be stepping down, Make Way For Man are now searching the country and beyond for a vocalist to join remaining vocalist John Kelly and the rest of the crew - and the auditions aren't just limited to Perth dwellers, it's open to every man, woman or non-binary individual from any corner of the globe.
But before the exhaustive search is complete, guitarist Drew Shepherd, bassist Adam Mather and drummer James Glover took some time to have a little chat about their explosive 2017, plans for the future and what they're looking for in a new vocalist (spoiler alert - it's probably not my sub-par beat-boxing skills. I'm as shocked as you are).
TIANA: Hey Drew, Adam and James...thanks so much for taking the time to chat! I feel like the first thing I should obviously raise is that you guys have opened up the search for a new vocalist. But what series of events actually led to this, what prompted you guys to throw out this "open-mic" kind of invitation to the world for a second vocalist?
DREW: Our vocalist that left, Sean, he told us he was going to leave quite a while ago, but he was still sort of filling in for the shows that we had booked, so we were happy about that. So we've kind of had a bit of time up our sleeve and we decided to trial some people...but we're all time limited, we all have day jobs and we're all pretty busy. So we found some people, trialed some people but they weren't the right fit, so we sort of just came to the conclusion that if we put it out, they'll come to us rather than us having to search behind the scenes trying to find people. So that's where the idea came from.
ADAM: It took us a while to make it public. We weren't sure if that was the right way to go about it, but Perth's such a small place and most of the time you know everybody that would be a fit. And then some of the guys or girls that were a fit, they were usually preoccupied with other things...and so we thought "nah, we're probably going to have to step it up and go public with it"
TIANA: I think it's a really interesting idea, and I believe that you don't actually have to be in Perth to audition? So hypothetically if someone interstate makes the cut it's going to be a pretty interesting adventure going forward!
DREW: Well, if it's an overseas person it's going to be even more interesting (laughs).
JAMES: But personally I would actually prefer if it's someone from your side of the country, because we're not really doing many shows here anymore unless it's a really significant one. And our goal has always been to tour around Australia as much as we can.
DREW: We've got a few friend's bands in Perth and they do the same thing they have a guitarist who lives in Melbourne or a drummer who lives somewhere else and it actually cuts down the cost of touring, cos then we don't have to get another extra person from Perth to Melbourne and return.
JAMES: It's helpful too having someone on the other side of the country that knows people over there as well. Makes it easier
DREW: Yeah it makes it easier for us.
JAMES: Then we've got somewhere to stay! (laughs)
TIANA: I don't want to totally call off the search but sometimes if I've had a few beers I think that I'm really good at beat-boxing, so I'll throw that out there just in case you're looking to take Make Way For Man in a new direction...
DREW: (laughs) Oh, well I'm open to anything!
JAMES: Sounds great!
ADAM: Well, a bit more percussion's always good.
TIANA: Excellent news. But in all seriousness, what's the response been like so far in the audition process, have you had any good potentials come through as of yet?
DREW: Yeah we have, actually the ones that have had the most potential were people that didn't even know about the competition.
JAMES: There's been good ones, there's also been sort of ones that we just straight away didn't think would fit. I guess the other thing is...there's five or four other people who have to like what they're doing. It's just not gonna be that easy for whoever's auditioning to impress everyone, but yeah. It's been pretty good!
ADAM: It's hard as well because we need somebody who can actually scream and sing, and if one singer's screaming we need them to be able to do the harmonic kind of side of things as well as the screaming. And then when the other's singing, we also need that harmonic back up for that as well. So it needs to be someone who's an all-rounder which can be pretty difficult to find.
TIANA: Even in an extremely established band the two vocalist thing can be a tricky, I'm so excited to see what comes out of this.
ADAM: Yeah, with most bands who have two vocalists, they've got a screamer who can't sing or a singer who can't scream, whereas we originally obviously had both singers and screamers and that's why it worked out so well.
TIANA: So hopefully by the end of the year you'll actually be announcing the outcome of this...but you guys have had a pretty insane year already, you've had supports with Meshuggah, Polaris, Protest The Hero, and most recently Miss May I just to name a few, and you're still pretty heavily on the radar after 'Evolve & Repair' came out last year...but has there been a particular highlight so far for 2017?
JAMES: I think it was Periphery, yeah.
ADAM: One of our favourite bands pretty much, and a lot of people have always said that we're quite close to Periphery in our style. And so to get the support for that, that's probably been our biggest highlight. And obviously to meet the guys as well, that was cool.
TIANA: I'm secretly extremely jealous, your supports this year cover a lot of my favourite bands.
JAMES: (laughs) And that's the thing, for a lot of them they're obviously Perth supports for all these bands and our next sort of step is we want to try and get them but in a national sense, you know?
ADAM: And it is hard from this side of the country to get it. We do try and get a lot of the national stuff, we can score the Perth one which is good. But it'd be nice to step it up now and get to the national side of it.
TIANA: I feel like with Perth, you guys have such an incredible heavy scene over there, but it seems like a lot of local talent is closeted in the one spot a fair bit. From a local perspective what are the opportunities like to branch out more?
DREW: I think when we released 'Evolve and Repair', actually when we released the first single ('Limitless') two years ago...we had a lot of offers for shows and even national supports and things, but we weren't really ready. And so then we released 'Evolve and Repair', we've done two Aussie tours from that. I think before we do another one we'll need to back it up with another album, which we're working on. But we'll get to that point and then we'll start looking at getting around the rest of the country and pumping it as hard as we can.
TIANA: And again from an inside perspective, your Facebook bio describes you as "different musicians with one common goal to create world class heavy music". What I find personally particularly interesting is that it's obviously quite technical, with a heap of that snarly heaviness at times, but there's also a lot of positivity coming out of it...Is it an organic balance to create this kind of "prog-metalcore" sound with a positive soul?
DREW: I think the positivity is John our singer. His lyrics are always pretty positive.
ADAM: It's like a positive spin on sort of negative issues, if that makes sense? And a lot of the time it's sort of getting through bad times and coming out the other end. And I think that's what a lot of it is about. But when it actually does come to finishing a song I suppose it's just that everybody's got their own input and that's just what happens, so to speak.
JAMES: It just happens.
ADAM: It is, it's organic.
TIANA: And having so many band members, is it a difficult process in terms of songwriting and recording? Is it something you all enjoy, or can it tend to be a bit strenuous?
ADAM: It's a blessing and a curse because...it's a blessing that there can be a lot of ideas because you've got a lot of people, but it's also a curse because everybody wants to have their input and then a lot of things change - a lot. Like, I think we've probably written three albums really. And then it's just not happened. But it is, it's a lot of messing around and I think that's obviously one of the reasons why our album's not eventuated yet, but we're starting to lock down the riffs now and a lot of the guitars are pretty much done so we're moving on to the other instruments now so it should be getting along soon!
TIANA: Well that's exciting news! And to wrap things up, obviously your music has those prog and heavier aspects, but is there a band or artist that you guys listen to personally on tour or in your down-time that may surprise your fans who know you for such a heavy style of music?
DREW: That wouldn't be me, I'm pretty predictable (laughs).
ADAM: Yeah, so with Drew obviously you can hear influences in the music, so that's pretty much what he listens to. Me...I'm all over the shop, I went through a weird phase where I listened to a lot of gangsta rap, and then lately I've been listening to Def Leppard and Poison and Motley Crue...and (laughs) I have a shed and I work on cars so I just turn music on and just zone out...and that's what I've been listening to lately. But I still go back, I've been hammering Polaris as well which is obviously the "new" band, and I always end up going back to Periphery as well. I randomly change constantly, from rock, rap to really, really heavy stuff as well. SHHHtupid heavy. What about you James?
JAMES: I think we've all good common interests to an extent for bands, that's why we all play the same music but we've all got our own upbringing of what we used to listened to and what we were brought up on. And that all reflects on the finished product that we get out.
TIANA: Well it's been am amazing finished product so far. Is the ultimate 2018 goal to do the album? Or will you just be re-grouping after the insane year that you've had?
DREW: We're going pretty much full steam. So once we get a singer, they're gonna have to (laughs) really get cracking pretty much, because most of the music will be done, and lots of vocals have already been written. I'm sure whoever joins will have the motivation to get stuck into it anyway, but we're hoping to get it out in the first half of 2018 if we can.
TIANA: Awesome. Well I wish you all the best for the vocalist search, even if you don't end up picking my beat-boxing, I won't be too mad. But I'm super excited to see what happens, and thanks so much for chatting with me.
DREW, ADAM, JAMES: Thank you!
To audition for the once in a lifetime opportunity to be Make Way For Man's new vocalist, all you need to do is:
Download the track 'We Will Surely Drown' from the band's Soundcloud page
Learn the Lyrics which are provided in the description under the track
Upload a video of you singing the track to YouTube or Facebook
Email your submission to email@example.com and tag the band in any post(s) related to your audition
Vocal submissions will run for 1 month as of November 2nd - so get cracking!
Make Way For Man will be in contact to arrange a meeting/Skype call if they like what they hear
The final announcement will be made in late 2017!
For more Make Way For Man info head to: www.facebook.com/makewayforman
BY TIANA SPETER