Interviews: Broken Links

On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Electronic Rock band, Broken Links from the UK. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1.Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that?

Coming up with the band name was a long-drawn-out affair. We went through the whole process of writing as many names we could think of onto sheets of A4, some were awful, some were disgraceful, and some were darn right rude! We eventually eliminated the ideas all down and agreed on the name ‘Links’. After testing to see how easy it would be to put our first EP on iTunes, we found out there was another band in the USA called ‘Links’, so we dabbled with the idea of calling ourselves ‘Links [UK]’ online, but after a few days, we felt sick calling ourselves that, and went back to the drawing board. We then came up with ‘Broken Empire’, but didn’t like the word ‘Empire’ as it was a bit grand, so we stuck ‘Links’ in there instead, we liked the ring of it. So, at the time, there was really no meaning to our band name, though of course, we have to make sure all links on our website are fully functional to avoid the cheap jokes! Me being a web developer for a day job doesn’t help either! I like the name now though, as I think it fits well with our song ideas. We fluked it. 2.Why did you want to play this genre? I grew up with parents that didn’t listen to too much embarrassing bollocks. Don’t get me wrong, they did, but they also had Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, Roxy Music in their collection. Not exactly ‘rock n roll’, but it was a start. I’ve sort of followed in my older brothers’ footsteps, he played guitar in bands in his younger years & listens to the harder stuff. So, in my early teens, when I was getting into the Britpop stuff, and took an interest in learning the guitar, he was pushing CDs of heavier stuff onto me to try out. Metallica was the first harder band I really got into, my mates from school Blob, Jake, and Caplin were also into them at the same time, and we all played guitar, so we spent most of our time at school up in the music practice rooms teaching each other bits of particular Metallica songs we learnt, and in-between doing that, setting off the fire extinguishers, jumping out the window that led onto the school roof, and generally acting like little shits.

Top this up with a bit of MTV in the mid-to-late 90s (back when people were still listening to real music, rather than being spoon-fed the warm diarrhoea they love so much now), when Soundgarden, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode were on the main playlist.

This is my kind of musical background and I’ve not massively changed, though I like a fair bit of EDM, a lot of glitch stuff, but also the standard bangin’ stuff. I’ve always stayed with the rock music because nothing else has affected me emotionally as much as rock music through the years, in more ways than one.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

We all went to same school in our hometown of Eastleigh. We were all in different years, though we all knew of each other, but probably never spoke. We were all playing in different cover bands back, learning our trade! So, we unwittingly bumped into each other now and then. Phil is also one of my friend’s brothers. It wasn’t until early 2008 that we all properly met each other after the band I was in split up and Phil had finished University.

Phil’s brother suggested myself and Phil should get together for a jam. I had a pile of songs I had written over the years, so we met up and started out just playing them. After a month or two Phil asked Lewis (his old school friend) along to one of the jams to see if he wanted to play bass. Something just sort of gelled; we were making a HUGE sound in a short space of time. We all agreed we should start up a proper band, it just felt right, it was really easy for us to flow out ideas. So, we spent most of 2008 just practicing, song arranging, messing around with effects, making sure we sounded as huge as we possibly could and capable of putting on a big show before we started gigging.

4. Each band member favourite band?

Mark – Nine Inch Nails

Lewy – The Cure

Phil – The Mars Volta

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

I don’t really like to write songs, I don’t think any of us really care too much about the lyrical content of the songs, we’re not massively political people so we don’t like preaching about anything in particular in our lyrics. For us, its all about making some cool and dirty music with a lot of variety, which WE first & foremost like, for the sole purpose of going down the local music venue to play it live on a Friday or Saturday night so our mates can go along and get pissed, then we’ll all head to the nearest nightclub afterwards so we all can get shit-faced…this is after we’ve of course managed to convince someone driving to take all our music equipment home with them to look after for the night! As we’re getting older though, this is starting to happen less!

Lyrics are a kind of afterthought once we’ve done the music. I guess they’re about the trials and tribulations of life really. Our earlier stuff I was writing in my 20’s, so there’s a lot about relationships and being depressed and stuff, but now I can’t stand writing about that. The new album is firmly focussed on things that really piss me off and the realisation that we’re on borrowed time and we’re all going to be dead sooner or later.

6. Where was your last gig?

We’ve been piss-poor at sorting out gigs in recent years, only because for this new album we’ve been 100% recording, mixing, and mastering it ourselves. So instead of going out gigging and rehearsing, it has been more about “I could do with those nights in to work on the album” etc. Now that it’s finished though and lockdown is soon to end, we better start booking gigs! It’s bloody tricky though, most places out of town want a guarantee that a book of X number of tickets will be sold by us, otherwise they won’t book us. Everyone is seriously underfunded nowadays, it costs a fortune to run a venue, so they need to guarantee income etc.

Our last gig was at ‘The Winchester Gate’ in Salisbury for our friend Nicqui’s birthday in December 2019, great day! Christ, that was a long time ago…. bloody COVID!

7. Where would you like to play?

Glastonbury. I’ve been going since I was 16. The dream has always been to play there. It’s not going to happen now, but it was great to see IDLES do it in 2019. They started the same time we did and have clearly went through the same struggles, but they got a big break. It’s like they’ve done it all for all us other struggling bands.

8. Who would you like to support?

Depeche Mode. Firstly, it’ll be at least an arena-sized venue, though most people would be at the bar or stuck on the tube when we’re on anyway! Secondly, I’ve always felt their fans would enjoy our music the most. It’s tricky getting our music into the ears of the right people.

It’s massive pipe dreams though. We’ve got trouble trying to get the local Depeche Mode tribute act to put us on as support, let alone the real ones!

9. Who not?

Tough question, there’s no-one we strongly hate so much that we wouldn’t support them. I would have to think twice if ‘Hanson’ contacted us to support on an ‘MMMBop’ anniversary tour though, I just don’t think we’re a good match. Sorry lads.

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

Not stage fright as such, though I can say I’ve a form of mental OCD and I used to try and perfect everything in rehearsals, like how to sing particular parts, messing around with guitar sounds endlessly, trying out different pieces of equipment to enhance such ‘n such, gauging if something works by immediately looking for the facial reactions of the other people in the room, it gets to the point where it becomes an obsession, you can’t reach ultimate perfection.

Then after a show I used to severely over analyse the performance, the reactions on the audiences faces at particular parts of a song, continually think my vocals were bad (they probably were, but probably because I was thinking about them too much! Self-sabotage!). I’d basically do this kind of mental torture all the time and make the whole thing of gigging a humungous chore.

After our 2nd album I kind of stopped giving a toss, and stopped fighting to push the band further ‘up the ladder’. Since then, I’ve just rested on just enjoying myself. So, my tips would be, you’re going to make mistakes live, if you think ‘real bands’ don’t make mistakes, then they’re not playing live! People actually don’t care when they hear the mistake, nine times out of ten they don’t even know it’s happened.

Always make your top priority having fun, if you’re not having fun, then its total bollocks and you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing. If you’re treating being in a band like a job and you’re continually trying to get a promotion in your end of year appraisal and its stressing you out then take a step back. At this point in time, there might not even be budget to give you your promotion this time, maybe next year etc!

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

Musically, the list is endless, but the main ones are Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, U2, Massive Attack, Deftones, and The Cure. I looked up to bands like these when growing up. Though, all these bands have spent a long time at the top, they’ve had the opportunity to experiment from album-to-album with not that great a risk, they already have their army of fans that have been built up since the days when music made tons of money for their record labels. I find it a little patronising when long-time successful bands show their support for what happens at ‘grassroots’ level now, as I don’t think they really understand how hard it is nowadays, they’re a bit out of touch. To come in and say “support your local venues, without them we wouldn’t have been able to have our careers”, OK, thanks for doing the bare minimum, that might bring in some money to keep them afloat during the pandemic, but these guys were already going through the wars BEFORE the pandemic. Bands at grassroots level have always suffered because its extremely hard to book a UK tour because most venues won’t book a band unless they can bring in X number of punters. It’s so expensive to run a venue now, that they have to guarantee some kind of profit for the night. So, bands either resort to lying and pissing people off, or not booking gigs at all. I’m harping on about this without knowing the true in’s & out’s, so I may be wrong, but there just needs to be some kind of relief from the government for venues. Music is in British cultures DNA, so they should be keeping it alive. If bigger bands truly want to help, they should spend some time giving back and mentoring upcoming bands.

So, for me now, the bands that inspire me are the bands that continually fight and keep going even though the world is not listening. I feel that is where we’ve been as a band since 2008. We used to put in 120% percent promoting, pushing, and improving the band when we started out till we burnt-out after the 2nd album. We just felt no-one was listening except our close fans, friends, and family. We re-evaluated, and we’ve taken our time to put this 3rd album together, which we’re now immensely proud of. If no-one were ever to hear it, it doesn’t matter. For me, it’s a bit of a miracle it’s here, it has been a long road to write, record and produce this ourselves. For all these reasons above, IDLES have been a band that have inspired me most recently. Despite all that I mentioned above, they have kept going, improving, and fighting as a band and have risen to the top. Just before Brutalism was released, they went on a UK tour, and despite having a hangover, my mate managed to convince me to go down to ‘The Hobbit’ in Southampton to watch IDLES play. It was FREE ENTRY! They were as good then as they are now. It was just an amazing gig & their songs just resonated with everyone. As a said before, it’s very clear they had been going through what we had been, and they took the risk of putting in a ton of work to book these gigs and really go for it, and it paid off.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but what does enter my head is a venue called ‘Subway to Peter’ in Chemnitz, Germany that we’ve played a few times. It’s a small punk bar that put-on bands, and we love it, great guys there. Any band that’s done the DIY Germany tour circuit will have likely played there and know it well! There’re always a few stories to tell after playing there, something always happens, a few characters always show up. England vs Germany table Foosball got heated one year after a gig! One guarantee, is they’ll make you do a shot of their homemade spirit. Not doing it isn’t an option!

13. What do you think of your fans?

We’re about the size where we still know all of our fans first and last names, so really, we don’t actually have fans, they’re friends which we met through having the band! Everyone who supports this band are legends. Everyone is really supportive, even after all these years! It makes me sad sometimes that we can’t do some big gesture to thank them…. if we were big enough, we’d do a free show or something at a tiny venue, but our current gigs are already like that! Ha-ha

We hope its enough that we give them that excuse to just get out the house and have a few pints down local venue wherever that is, and without realising it, supporting our hobby! If they’re in that venue, then they get our CDs for free, we always dish out our albums for nothing at our shows. If people have paid to get in, they should at least be able to take the music home with them, if only to use as a coaster!

14. What do you think of our site?

It’s very similar to our own band site….and great sites look alike! You’ve bagged yourself a real looker, something you could take home to your mother!

15. Something to add?

Keep an eye out for our upcoming 2nd single ‘Replicas’! We’re in the process of trying to figure out how to do another music video during a lockdown, without doing a carbon-copy of our last music video. It’s a friggin’ challenge and a half!

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