With their second full-length and Hopeless Records debut out in a matter of weeks, we decided to catch up with WSTR vocalist Sammy Clifford to talk album two and find out what chaos they're going to cause at their album release show.
So, the new album is out next month, what’s the current vibe in the WSTR camp? How are you all feeling?
We’re good, we’re really confident, we’re excited. It’s a new line-up, but we feel the strongest we’ve ever felt, definitely. We feel good, we have a lot to rehearse for and a lot to plan for, but overall everything’s really exciting.
Good! That’s what we like to hear. The single, ‘Bad To The Bone’, is that a good indicator of what to expect from the album, or is it going to be a bit of a mix?
It is a bit of a mix, but quite a lot of a mix. I think ‘Bad To The Bone’ indicates that it’s different, you know? It proves that it is different and we feel it’s a little bit more rocky than the last one and we delve into different influences and stuff like that, but not every song sounds like ‘Bad To The Bone’. Every song has guitar tones and different things to [debut album] Red, Green Or Inbetween.
Touching on your influences, are there any particular bands or sounds that influenced this record?
Not so much specific bands, but we just tried to go for a rockier vibe, rather than the whole niche, angry pop-punk kind of stuff that we’ve been doing before. We obviously love that stuff, we really enjoy writing it and playing it, but with the new stuff, we just went for more of a broad, bigger sound. That obviously depends on everyone else, if they think it’s bigger or not, but yeah there weren’t any bands in particular, we just wanted to sound more rocky and we were inspired by 80s movies and stuff like that. It seems a bit more authentic I think than the old stuff we were doing.
What about lyrically? Were there any themes or anything in particular that influenced your writing?
Lyrically, I think it was a completely natural progression. I didn’t sit down for ages and think about it, it just kind of changed, but it is a lot more stripped back. I concentrated on doing the little things well, rather than trying to cram everything in and do really fast-paced, angry stuff, so we stripped it back a lot and it’s a lot more straight to the point, more universal I guess. It’s easier to relate to, rather than just using a lot of metaphors and making everything sound pretty, we didn’t really do that on this record.
With the whole writing and recording process, did you want to do anything differently from the last record, or where there any lessons you learned for when it came to writing this one?
Yeah! We decided that we didn’t have to go overboard with loads and loads of layers, which with our first record it was like, “wow we get to do an album, how do you do an album?” so we just tried to up ourselves from the EP, and it basically was the EP but just a lot more polished. It had a lot more layers in there and crazy drum solos, the guitars and stuff were quite edited and tight – whereas on this one, we stripped it back and it’s a lot more simple. There aren’t many pretty fillers in there and the tones we used were a lot more natural, it’s less edited and it just sounds more like a rock record.
It’s got more character and anything we used to try as a laugh, like we used to put little cool bits in solos and stuff and then we’d just laugh it off and be like, “yeah imagine if we did that”, but in this record we did all those things and we left them in, and the bits we had the most fun writing and recording, were the bits that before we would have never in a million years done anything with. We’re a lot more fearless on this record.
That sounds pretty epic, we can’t wait to hear it!
Well I hope so, I’ve bigged it up now haven’t I haha.
Are there any moments or songs on the album you’re particularly proud of?
I love the whole record, it’s my baby. But, we always said we were never going to do an acoustic track and we did do an acoustic track on this record. I don’t think it’s too soppy, but I am quite proud of that one.
And obviously signing to Hopeless Records is a pretty big deal, how did that all come about? What’s life like with the big dogs of pop-punk?
It’s weird because it’s all new to you guys, because we only announced it earlier this year, but we’ve known about it for about two years, so it’s not as big-hitting for us as it is to the outside world.
It’s amazing though, bands you grew up listening to and idolised as a kid are now, I guess like peers in a way. I wouldn’t have dreamt of it anyway, when I was a kid I would never have imagined being on a record label, I didn’t even know that was a real thing, unless you were Blink 182 or something. It’s crazy, there’s a lot of great bands on there and the team seem really good and really excited, it’s what you want isn’t it.
Yeah it’s pretty ideal! What advice would you give to bands wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Uh, don’t follow in our footsteps for a start, haha. I’d say, if you’re right at the start, get out of your town as much as you can. Just keep going and play as many shows as possible and iron out the cracks before you shop around for a label or stuff like that, because you don’t want to be on a label when you don’t still really know what you’re doing, so that everyone can see all your member changes and cracks in the limelight.
Also, don’t care what anyone says or thinks is cool. Just be fearless with it and just write how you want to write. If there’s some stuff that people think is cringy or whatever, that’s good, they’re usually the better things and usually the better songs, in my opinion. Focus on your branding as well, I’m not saying we’re amazing at that or anything, but I think it’s quite important nowadays to focus on your branding, because social media and stuff is a big deal, so that helps.
We never really had any expectations ourselves and we never really knew how or why any of this happened, so I’m not really the best person to give advice on it, because it did just kind of come out of nowhere and overnight so it’s kind of a hard one, but I tried my best haha.
You’ve given some good advice there! What are your ambitions following the release of the album then, where are you hoping it’ll take you?
Well, before this we always wanted to go to America and we’re going there quite soon actually with Neck Deep, so that’s one ticked off the bucket list. Beyond that? No idea. Hopefully just selling out some headline shows, there’s nothing crazy, I’m not getting too ahead of myself, I’m not gonna be like, “yeah I want to headline Glastonbury” – I mean, that would be nice. America has always been part of the dream though and we’re doing it so, it should be good.
Smashing it. You’ve got the album release show coming up in your hometown as well, so what chaos can the fans expect?
If you’ve been [to a WSTR show] before, then I guess you already know what’s going to happen at that show, if you haven’t I would definitely prepare for some chaos. I’m not sure what the situation is with the barrier, but we might try and get it removed, because it’s always better, particularly for a hometown show. It’s gonna be good, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Finally then, tell everyone in three words why they should go and pick up the new album.
In three words? Um, It. Is. Good.
So inspiring, wow.
You’ve got me here, this is hard.
Best album ever?
Yeah? Haha. I don’t know, this is so hard.
Okay, we’ll make it easier, do it in one sentence. One sentence as to why people should pick up the album.
If you buy this album, I’m pretty sure it’s going to change your mind about WSTR, whether it will be in a good way or a bad way, it’ll definitely change your mind.
It’ll change your life!
There we go! Change your life.
Our friends at Ticketmaster recently filmed an acoustic session with the band, too! Check it out below.
O2 Academy Liverpool: Friday 31 August Buy Tickets
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