32 Leaves – Pensive Music For The Soul

Since briefly touring in support of their album Panorama in 2009, not much has been heard from the band. 32 Leaves is a unique breed of music. Haunting melodies and atmospheric vocals fill the voids between energetic guitar riffs and pounding drum beats.

I remember discovering the band in 2006. One of my friends had been completely immersed in listening to their music. I never even gave them a second thought after he’d mentioned them. Another one of my friends let me borrow one of his mix CDs to rip a song. I merely stumbled upon “Your Lies.” I couldn’t figure out why they sounded familiar.

Suffice to say, I had been missing out on one of the greatest bands I could have ever listened to. By the time I had gotten into them, two years had passed.

32 Leaves released a five track EP titled Fik’shen in 2003. The first three tracks would later make their way onto their first full-length album Welcome To The Fall in 2005. Beginning with “Sudden Change,” the album chronicles pensive emotions like no other. “Blood On My Hands” starts with a looming bass, and in comes the spidery guitars, crawling into the skin. “Your Lies” pushes the boundaries on the standard use of drums. “Wide Awake” takes the listener on the journey of a person in an insomniatic state, rendered lucid with fear from an inebriated significant other. Descending from an emotional cocaine high, “Overflow” paints a vivid picture of coming down one step at a time. The lead single from the album, “All Is Numb,” follows suit with its predecessor songs in telling vocalist Greg Norris’s narrative.

The next two years, 32 Leaves would tour in support of their debut album with Crossfade, Smile Empty Soul, Evans Blue, and similar in sound, 10 Years. They were able to attract Universal Records to sign a deal for their follow-up album Panorama, but it ultimately did not work out. Independently releasing the long-awaited second release, the band toured only minimally.

Panorama takes off from where the previous record left off, but with a slightly different approach. Songs were still thought-provoking, but not nearly as brooding and pensively. Guitars took on a different mix, slightly on the higher side, changing the overall sound of Panorama. The single “Way Beyond” was released as a part of the album. Songs like “Human” and “Protocol” show the evolution of 32 Leaves four years later, and stronger than ever.

32 Leaves is a definite must-have for any rocker’s arsenal, especially if they’re fans of 10 Years.

Herotide – “Music Was My Only Outlet”

Hailing from South Africa, Herotide have been making a name for themselves. Started by John Dirker after breaking his back from a dirt bike accident, the band has trudged its way through the local music scene attracting much attention. Beginning with a 5FM Unearthed contest under the name Switchback, Dirker ended up winning the contest with the song “Troublegirl.” It’s never been about selling millions of records and claiming fame for them. They do what they love, and it shows through their music. Occasionally, criticized for trying to imitate bands like Seether and Theory Of A Deadman, the truth is that they just write what they feel, and any similarities are simply coincidence. Dirker’s personal story of how he started writing music is inspirational, to say the least. Being laid up in bed, losing many who were close to him, and almost never walking again, it’s a testimony to something greater looking out for him. It’s something that has inspired others and helped them keep going.

There’s a certain honesty in your lyrics that I feel anyone can relate to. How do the lyrics come about when writing your songs?
Thank you. Yeah, I just write about what bothers me, or what is going through my head. I don’t try and be a poet or over think it at all, or try and impress people that I have a vocabulary, just plain English and plain feelings. We all have love, miss, hate, etc.

For most of the fans I’ve talked to, “Want You” is the reason they started listening to Herotide. For me, the song “Friend” was the song that hooked me when I first heard it. While most of your other songs are upbeat, this one slows down the tempo and seems somewhat mournful. What was the inspiration behind “Friend?”
You are so right about “Want You.” I think it’s the song and sound people liked, and that they can compare it to their favorite artists, place it so to speak. It wouldn’t be bad idea doing a music vid for it.

“Friend” — The inspiration about that song was from being in the hospital. I had many, many friends, until I broke my back. I could count them on my right hand. I wrote it lying on my back and the words just came out by itself from what I was feeling.

Within the last year, your fan base has exploded and you are playing RAMfest 2012. What are you anticipating for that festival?
Thank you, it surely has. It’s merely ‘cause I got members again and we started doing shows. Thats how it all flamed up again. We landed some big gigs as a new band “Herotide” doing a massive New Year’s show and Ramfest coming up. The Festival should be cool and very well received. They will be having it in 5 cities across S.A.

Being in the US, I haven’t had the privilege to see Herotide play any shows. What songs do you usually play in a setlist?
It depends what crowd there is. We always have to feel them, or if it’s a conservative setting, but “Track of Time,” “Losing Me,” and “Want You” are normally on the setlist, but we always throw in new ones and test them out too.

What’s your favorite song to play live?
Track of Time

I originally discovered your music because I found a blog saying you sounded a little like Shaun Morgan of Seether. How do you feel about people making comparisons to what you write and other bands?
Yeah it’s becoming old news, its irritating, but it’s a good and bad thing at the same time. But I guess it makes people notice right? lol nothing against Shaun or Seether though, cause I know him. He’s even been at my Recording Studio, Tanglewoods Studios, and home.

I guess it’s the Nirvana influence we both have, my accent and my voice, like Sick Puppies from Australia. There’s a few bands in Australia that sounds similar to them ‘cause of the vocals department

What does your pedalboard look like when it comes to effects. Is it the standard clean/distortion, or are there other nuances that you add?
I play with a Mesa Boogie Triple rectifier with 4/12 Cab

The core of Herotide has been you and your brother Andre. Is that how the band started?
Not at all. Long story short, there’s been many members that have come and gone and that’s actually how Andre started. He saw with what nonsense I had to put up, he wanted to do it. Well he pulled it off big time and now I couldn’t ask for a better drummer, and being my brother, what a bonus.

herotide_banner[1]You’ve been competing against other bands in the South African music scene for almost a decade now. How do the other bands differ in sound from what you do?
There aren’t bands really from SA that has a similar sound to us. Most have a Indie sound, like The Killers. A lot play with synths and tracks, or your metal bands.

Halo was released in 2008 under the name Track Of Time. You changed your name from Switchback to Track Of Time, to Herotide now. The one thing that I’ve noticed remained consistent through most of it was the use of the angel wings in your logos and promotional material. What is the meaning behind the wings?
Yea, both names ended up with legal issues, but hey at least we have a name now that comes up first on all search engines haha.

The angel wings inspiration comes from me being nearly paralyzed, like I had a guardian angel watching over me, and that I could walk again.

When can we expect the next album to be released, and what is the possibility for you to be signed by a major label?
We will be releasing EP’s this year. It’s more material and content in a short span, and then do a album compilation after a cycle.

Don’t know about the major label thing as we haven’t given it any thought. The industry isn’t big here, well for English rock there isn’t. There was a lot of interest in the U.S. from many industry people. Roadrunner was one of them. I even have the e-mails still, but each time when something great happened, it fell through. I guess its cause were on a different continent, and it’s a risk for them, but who knows what the future holds or who’s eyes are looking at us.

You’ve recently played Mossel Bay, the KFC sessions, and other huge shows, and it seems like Herotide is gaining momentum. What’s in the near future for you guys?
Thank you, it’s just keeping at it and what you love to do!
We will be doing a crossover to a different language Afrikaans and release Afrikaans material that were currently busy with but join us to see what were up to www.facebook.com/herotide.