Interview: Mallory Knox


Interview: Mallory Knox

Ahead of their show as part of Independent Venue Week, we caught up with Marshall artists James Gillett and Joe Savins, and Eden user Sam Douglas, of Mallory Knox to talk about gear, live shows and the year ahead. Check it out.

How does it feel to be playing a show at The Craufurd Arms today, as part of Independent Venue Week?

Sam: It’s cool, when we walked into the venue we were talking about how many times we’ve played this venue. I think with the last tour we did ending on the Roundhouse, and then coming back playing a show that we used to play 4 years ago that wouldn’t sell out, there’s something cool about coming back here and selling it out in something like a day.

It’s something we’ve never really done before, we haven’t got used to playing the bigger venues by any means, but at the same time we haven’t been able to play a show this small as a headline act for a long time. There’s something really exciting about the fact there’s going to be no barrier and just people in your face. It should be really good, I’m going to feel 19 years old again.

James: It’s definitely cool, going back to your roots again. We’ve played this venue a few times, and they had some of the posters on the table in the dressing room. It’s cool to remember, cause you don’t realise the number of times we’ve played here. I think it’s 3 or 4 times now. Years ago, when we started, it was on one of our first ever tours so to come back book-ending the campaign overall so far is great.

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So if you look back over 2015, which was a huge year for you guys, what were the standout moments for you?

Joe: I think playing London Roundhouse was pretty special for us. Biggest headline show we’ve ever played in any city, and of course London always has that special vibe with all the management, label, and family all there so it was pretty cool. Definitely the defining moment for us as a band so far, not just 2015, but all of it.

Sam: I think if you back to the start of the year, supporting Pierce The Veil and Sleeping With Sirens, our first taste of America, you forget that right after that we did SXSW and Warped Tour as well, but I think if we hadn’t have done that tour we wouldn’t have done the other two. For our first ever show in the states to be an arena in San Diego, that doesn’t happen for a lot of bands, so for us it was the best way to be introduced to America.

We were over there for three months and the smallest show was like 2000, so you think how many people we played to in America and no-one knew who we were, so we just feel very lucky and that’s got to be a standout moment so far for us.

James: That’s what makes it cool coming back here, too, because when we were playing here back in 2012, you’re obviously dreaming of playing those sorts of venues thinking it’ll never come. But when you’ve done that, and you’re coming back you always have a good feeling about selling out really quickly. I think the first time we played here there were 20-30 people here.

Sam: This venue sticks out for me. I remember when we were playing with Verses, the week before we recorded Signals, and I remember this was the best selling show of that tour, selling 120 tickets and we were completely blown away that over 100 people bought tickets to come and see us when we only had an EP out at the time. And I remember thinking some of these shows had around 30 people, but for some reason MK had over 100 and I thought ‘Oh my god, over 100 people want to see us, we’ve made it!’ and it really felt like that. There was a YouTube video of ‘Oceans’ going around and i used to watch it every night thinking ‘Oh my god, kids are singing that song back to us’ and it was the weirdest thing. I think it’s interesting that we’re playing this venue again, out of all the small venues we’ve ever done, this was one of the best.

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Looking ahead at 2016, what are your plans?

Joe: It’s all about the new record for us.

Sam: We’re cracking on with it and we’re at a good stage now where we’ve got enough good songs in the can where we can experiment a bit more without any pressure, because you know you’ve already got those songs written. I always say this is the best part of writing an album because you’ve got that foundation down. I think in the writing process you write certain songs at the start and certain songs at the end. The songs you write at the end you wouldn’t have written at the start, because you might think ‘that’s a bit out there’, so this is my favourite part.

James: You hear the direction you’re going in, when you write the first few songs you don’t really aim for a certain direction so it’s new to us what we’re gonna go, all based on what’s influencing us at the time and so on. Once you’ve got the foundation down you sort of hear the sound of the next album, and that’s where you can take it wherever you want.

Do you feel that the experience you had over in the States, and all you were about to do there, has had an impact on the writing process and mindset of the new album?

Sam: I think it has to, simply because of how mentally it affected us as human beings, not just musicians, it changes you. Maybe not necessarily musically, because we’ve always loved the same sorts of music, but definitely lyrically. I feel a lot older, i feel like I’ve had to grow up a lot in the last year and i think a lot of that has to do with being on the road for so long so you can’t help but put that back into the music when you come round to writing.

What sort of equipment do you have in your Marshall and Eden rigs at the minute?

Joe: I’m currently running a JCM900 and a Bluesbreaker. All Marshall for me. It probably sounds cliche but it’s the only brand I’m happy to use, y’know? I know that’s one for the advert, but it’s genuinely how we feel. Me and James both crave an old school sound, and that’s what it is.

James: All the bands i used to love growing up, Oasis and even The Darkness nowadays, they’re all using Marshall. That’s the name you see. So i use all the old school stuff, I’ve got a 1987X Plexi head and a JTM45, through a 1960TV and a 2 x 12 which, I don’t know if it’s custom made for me, or was a one-off, but it’s a 2 x 12 with Greenbacks in it and the grey grille on the front. It’s a 1936 with Greenbacks. For the Marshall heads, Greenbacks seem to just make them sing. I like Vintage 30’s too, but for me it’s Greenbacks.

Sam: I play the Eden WT-800, which for me really kicks you when you hit it. I’ve got the 400 as well which I’m kind of using as a back up. I ended up using that on tour a lot, I can’t remember why – we were testing it and for some reason it just sounded a lot smoother with everything else. The 800 I’ve had for a couple of years now, and it’s got this twang to it. I really want my bass to stand out from the guitars and drums, so it has to have a good treble to it. With this amp i feel i can get this. I’m not the biggest gearhead like the others, so it also needs to be simple for me to get the sound. With my old heads from other brands, it used to take me a while to get my sound, a good hour at least, but with these it’s 5-10 minutes and that’s important.

James: It’s nice to be able to plug into something and whatever it’s set on, even if it’s set flat, it sounds good. And that’s when you know you’ve got something, because you can mould it. You plug in and it’s pretty much there, so it’s just tweaking.

Joe: I literally run my Bluesbreaker, my clean amp, flat EQ. It’s everything 12 o clock. Apart from the volume, obviously. And i think that’s a testament to the amp really and how it was weird, that just flat it sounds great.