Making the transition from a solo act to fronting a band seems an easy feat for Matt Warneford, of the Brighton, England, electro rock band (IAM)WARFACE.
The multi-talented musician knows what he wants from his music and with a full band, he’s finally able to achieve it. Multiple fans have called it (IAM)WARFACE the love child of Depeche Mode and Muse. I might not go that far, but it is a sleek blend of electronica and hard rock, while maintaining pop sensibilities.
Every track flows with a hard-driving beat, and the title track of the new EP, “Say My Name,” has been getting rave reviews all over social media sites. The band is definitely making a strong debut.
As they prepared for their EP release party Saturday night, I thought this was the perfect time to sit down and chat with Matt and introduce (IAM)WARFACE to the masses.
Here is our conversation, covering everything from music to art to B Movies …
So … Is this a one-man band or an actual band?
It started off as a solo project a year ago. Then I realised I needed a band to play it live. So far, I’ve written and performed all the tracks that you’ll hear on the final album, but after that, album two will be a more organic process. We hopefully will write a few songs as a band.
So who do you have in the band and what are their instruments?
Louis Matthews plays guitar, Mike Smith plays bass, Tom Howe is DJ/synth and Adam Stanley plays drums and percussion.
So you live at the beach then, in Brighton? That must be inspiring.
Haha! I don’t live right on the beach, I’m about a mile inland, but near enough to smell the sea air. Brighton is a great place.
Is there a good music scene?
Very much so. That’s why I moved here. Even though at the moment, from what I’ve seen, pretty much every band is either grunge or ska — and that’s a good thing. The people are very friendly and accommodating. Coastal life is a happier life it would seem.
Sounds great to me. I see your style listed as “dirty avant garde electro rock” — that covers a lot of ground and you have a ton of influences.
I do indeed. It’s hard to shake all the various influences I have gained over the years, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to a fairly solid sound. Occasionally I get bored and I wanna divert off into other musical territories. That’s just me I’m afraid. I’d love to get involved in movie soundtracks. That kinda thing.
Soundtracks would be a great way to go. Sci Fi? Fantasy?
Anything really. Horror would be a cool one.
Slasher film or zombies?
Probably more psychological stuff. Slow burn thrillers. Weird stuff. I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter and his musical influence.
Oh, classy horror films, not B Movies. Although, if you could score one with Bruce Campbell, now we’re talking!
Bruce Campbell is a legend. I’m a massive fan of the “Evil Dead” films.
Me too. We are loving the “Ash vs. Evil Dead” series he’s doing now on Starz. Wall-to-wall gore, with class, of course.
OK, back to the music … How often do you get out to play now?
Well, so far since I formed (IAM)WARFACE, we have played 3 shows and our show on Saturday will be our EP launch party. Very exciting stuff. Can’t wait to play.
Yeah, the launch party will be big. How many openers do you have? I know you were looking to replace one.
We have a very cool Brighton band called Mantras opening for us. I’m very much looking forward to seeing them play. They are kinda Kasabian and The Verve-esq. Then after that we will play our set. Followed by a DJ to go on til the end of the night. It’s gonna be bangin’.
Wow, sounds like a great party. How many people can the joint hold?
I think the capacity is 150. It’s a very cool venue. Great sound.
That’s important. Lets talk some more about the music. How do you approach songwriting?
I don’t normally have any set way of writing. Some times, I will just have a melody in my head and then I normally get on the drums and put down a beat. Then, either bass guitar of synths. Then sometimes, I’ll just sing a load of old nonsensical waffle. Then, I can listen back to my vocals and try to pick out possible words and sentences. Sometimes they pop out instantly. Then, I will write lyrics around these. But sometimes it’s different. Sometimes I’ll have a really strong statement I wanna make. I’ll then write the song around that.
Which song have you written the music around the words?
“To Die For” and “Atomic White Gold.” In fact, “Atomic White Gold” came to me whilst driving. I got home, put all the parts down and finished the track within 24 hours. Only time I’ve ever managed to do that.
Wow, that one just put itself together. It’s gotta be a great feeling when that happens and you are not slaving over a song.
Yeah, it is. Sometimes, for instance, “To Die For” took over two years to write.
Listening to it, I’d never think it took that long. What wasn’t working?
I just couldn’t get my previous band to play it right. So, after I started (IAM)WARFACE, I decided to resurrect it. It’s amazing how if you are troubling over something, if you walk away and come back at a later date, quite often it makes sense and becomes easy to write. Sometimes the best way is to let songs write themselves.
What’s your favorite song you’ve written so far?
I’d say “To Die For.” It’s the one I’m most proud of. I’ve had a follow-up to that track in my head for some time now. Soon, I will start writing it. It’s in a similar vein.
Sounds great. The track has a good best to it, is kind of simple – not overly complicated – but catchy.
That’s the way I write. Kinda always with a pop sensibility.
Do you ever go acoustic?
We have thought about doing a few acoustic shows in the future. That would be interesting.
Yes, strip the songs down … Very minimal. I’d like to hear “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” … It would almost be a slow ballad …
Now that would be cool. I could do a remake of it, kinda very slow and ballady.
Be sure I get to hear it when you do.
Of course, my dear.
Now, are you working on a follow-up EP for summer?
Well, the next release will be “Red Queen.” Then we will follow that up with the full album in August, hopefully. Then hopefully, we can start booking a tour.
I heard the snippet of “Red Queen.” Very nice … It has a great build to it …
Thanks. That one, I got a friend to put down a load of guitars. Then I cut them up and rearranged them to make the song as it is now. Again, that one took a few months.
I saw you also list interests of painting and digital art. Do you dabble?
I do indeed. I have always been a keen artist and painter. I’ve done a load of stuff for a few movies that never got made but it was good practice. I love the Sci Fi and horror genres. Drawing monsters and aliens is my specialty, but I’m also getting into more abstract art.
Any examples I can see? Are they posted anywhere?
Yeah, on my Facebook page. Under the name of Matt Warneford. There’s a load there. Also a few on the band website store too. I can do commissions as well.
Yeah great, I’ll look. I’ll even include some with this. It’ll be a multimedia interview, lol!
I’m very much interested in human faces so I think I’m gonna start doing portraits. Awesome, thank you.
Yeah, no worries. Do you have any shows lined up after the launch party that I should mention?
Yes we do. We have a gig provisionally booked at a venue in Notting Hill at a place called Mau Mau Bar. That’s on Monday, May 16. A very cool venue.
Any final thoughts?
If you could put in the interview somewhere that my opinion of the music scene in general is that is in dire need of a change or it’s gonna die. I’m not trying to change the world, but I write music that I wanna hear and it would be nice to hear more bands coming up with cool original sounds and breaking the mainstream. It’s all got a bit stale of late.
You can find (IAM) WARFACE online at http://www.iamwarface.com/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/warfacesounds/ on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/iamwarface, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/iamwarface/ and on Pintrest at https://www.pinterest.com/IAMWARFACE/.