2019: THE ULTIMATE PREVIEW ARCHITECTS, BMTH, METALLICA, RAMMSTEIN AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE 12 MONTHS AHEAD
Game-changing albums. Arena tour epics. Returning legends and tomorrow’s superstars. If you thought 2018 was an exciting time for rock, you’ve not seen anything yet. With exclusive access and all-revealing interviews across the following 14 pages, here’s
“THESE SHOWS ARE PROBABLY THE MOST EXPOSED WE’LL EVER BE” SAM CARTER
Moscow, the Adrenaline Stadium. As those mournful strings usher in the nonemore-apt Death Is Not Defeat, more than 8,000 voices rise as one. They almost drown out Architects frontman Sam Carter as they sing along to the poignant lyrics: ‘When I leave this skin and bone / Beyond my final heartbeat / I’ll dismantle piece by piece / And I will know that death is not defeat.’
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of red, heart-shaped balloons in the crowd, and they provide a visual representation of the love that exists between this band and its fans. An hour or so later, as Architects come out to begin their encore, those same fans unveil banners proclaiming ‘All is not lost’ – a lyric from the band’s A Wasted Hymn.
This is only the third show Architects have played since they released eighth album Holy Hell in November. It’s an album that deals with the passing of guitarist, founder member and driving force Tom Searle, who passed away from cancer in 2016. It’s one of the most emotionally resonant albums you’ll ever hear and, judging by the handful of shows so far – as well as Moscow, this short end-of-year stretch takes in gigs in Saint Petersburg, Kiev and Brighton – the increasingly huge crowds have taken it completely to heart.
“It’s amazing when you travel to somewhere like Russia and they do something like that,” says Dan Searle.
The drummer, who has shouldered his brother Tom’s role as the band’s chief lyricist, admits that he couldn’t even tell what the banners said at the time due to his short-sightedness. It’s not been the first such gesture, however, and it’s unlikely to be the last.
“Since Tom died we’re always being ambushed by crowds with something surprising and thoughtful. It shows people’s investment and the dedication of the fans all over the world,” he says.
“There’s been a lot of Architects fans that have organised those sorts of things,” adds Sam. “It’s always beautiful when you see it.”
On January 14, Architects will bring Holy Hell back to the UK for a short but hugely significant run that will take in a two-night stint at Manchester’s O2 Victoria Warehouse, a date in Glasgow and an arena show in Cardiff. Oh, and the small matter of their biggest ever headlining show at London’s Wembley Arena.
Sit back and take that one in for a second, because the members of Architects had to.
“We thought it was a piss-take when we first played [London venue] The Roundhouse,” laughs Sam. “That was so far ahead of what we thought we could achieve with this band. You’ve just got to laugh, try not to take it too seriously, but still put on the best show you can. If you think that you’re playing Wembley and you’re the sort of band that’s got blastbeats and breakdowns, it’s a bit too much to take in!”
These won’t be the first huge shows that Architects have played (and again, they won’t be the last). Almost a year ago they headlined Alexandra Palace in London – itself a show that Dan describes as “beyond bucket-list stuff”.
“It was one of those out-of-body experiences, where you can’t really take in 10,000 people singing along to your songs,” adds Sam. “It’s too much for a brain to comprehend! It was very much like Leicester wining the league, I would imagine.”
Football analogy in mind (hey, he started it), there’s now no doubt at all that Architects are now firmly entrenched in the musical Premier League. These latest dates are proof that last year’s step up was no one-season wonder and it’s not just domestically that they’re on a winning streak. The venues are also increasing in size in Europe and beyond, while the singer says he’s particularly excited about the North American festivals they’re currently lining up.
“We’ve never really done those before. Bring Me The Horizon and While She Sleeps are going to be out there, so it will be nice to have a bit of a British gang out on tour. We’re also playing so many shows with Tool, which is amazing as we’re all huge Tool fans,” he grins.
This must be an incredibly exciting time to be a member of Architects. At the same time, however, every new peak they scale and every new achievement they tick off that ‘beyond bucket list’ represents a bittersweet moment. Because the one person who did the most to get them there isn’t here to share in it.
“It’s odd that Tom did so many years with the band but never experienced anything like the popularity that the band has now,” sighs Dan.
“The biggest show he played was the Roundhouse in London. It was a totally different reality when Tom was here and you forget that he wasn’t physically at any of these shows. It’s sad because it’s all built on his empire and none of it would exist without him.
“It’s definitely bittersweet and strange, but at the same time there’s no doubt that he would be happy for us and very proud that we’ve managed to move on.”
Architects may have managed to move forward in spectacular fashion, but it certainly hasn’t been an easy transition. The band have previously spoken about how hard it was to return to live action without Tom, but this tour presents a different emotional challenge, with the set built heavily around the new album.
“Personally, I find it [harder] doing stuff off [2016 album] All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us because I’m singing Tom’s lyrics and talking about his personal journey with what was going on in his life at the time,” says Sam. “Whereas with Holy Hell, singing Dan’s lyrics, it’s coming from the same place that we’re all in. So it’s more cathartic doing the songs from Holy Hell because it’s more relatable and I can get into that mindset of where I’m at and where we’ve been as a band.
“But day by day, sometimes it can be okay and sometimes it can be really hard. Sometimes I’m onstage when I’m having those bad days, and I think it’s important not to hide from it and to show people how you feel because you’re a human being. I want people who are going through their own struggles with things like that to understand that everybody goes through it.”
Death Is Not Defeat is the album opener, but is using it to open the show also a statement in itself?
“I think so,” the singer says after a pause for consideration. “It carries on from where we left off with Memento Mori on All Our Gods…, and it’s Dan having his conversation with Tom through that song. I think it really sets the show up very nicely for us to get in the right frame of mind but also for people in the crowd to understand why we’re still here.”
There are notable absences in the set lists of the shows they’ve played so far, including A Wasted Hymn and the harrowing The Seventh Circle. It occurs that the emotional heft of these songs might be too much to tackle right now, but Dan offers a more prosaic explanation.
“[The Seventh Circle] raised a few eyebrows and caught people’s attention. It’s obviously a very extreme song in terms of the emotional
“WE’LL HAVE A COUPLE OF SURPRISES UP OUR SLEEVES…” DAN SEARLE
sentiment of it, but the truth is we just don’t want to play every single song off the album,” he says. “Because we know we’ll do another tour and we want some songs to switch out. We’re saving that one for a later date.”
And you also have to think about the sonics and the flow…
“Yeah, exactly, and think about which songs stop dead, which ring out, which are in which tuning, which are new, which are old. I think the set will maybe change slightly from Russia. But we’ll have a couple of surprises up our sleeves…”
One constant that has helped Architects to carry on has been their relationship with their fans. It’s not unusual to hear a band speak of their ‘special’ relationship with their fans, even if they’re superstars who charge the equivalent of those fans’ average daily wage for a meet and greet. In the case of this bunch of what Sam calls “five normal blokes”, though, it really is the case. It’s not just the incidents like the balloons and banners in Moscow. It’s also the countless messages they’ve received, online and on paper and in person.
“It’s been massively important and, to be totally honest, I don’t always appreciate it enough,” nods Dans. “It’s been two and a half years since Tom died and we have had all these surprises and messages of support and love. There was so much affection when we started releasing songs from the record.”
As they scale up and move to ever bigger venues however, does it also get more difficult to maintain that bond?
“People will hate to hear it, but it does,” the drummer says. “It’s all well and good going to the merch table, but if there’s 10,000 people at the show, you’re going to be there ‘til the early hours. At the same time, the bigger the band gets, the more you meet friends outside the show environment. I’m not Justin Bieber by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even Sam Carter. But we all get stopped by fans in everyday life, going to the shops or whatever. Maybe that’s now the best time to do it!”
Given the intensely personal nature of the new album, the biggest shows Architects have ever played could also, in a unique way, be their most intimate.
“They’ll definitely be the most vulnerable,” says Sam. “They’ll probably be the most exposed we’ll be, through talking about our own journey. I think it will be quite raw in some respects, but there will also be the pure joy in us from playing these shows and being completely blown away by it all.”
No matter how big Architects get, there are a couple of things that will – hopefully – always keep them grounded. The first is the fact that success on a major scale came so late in their career. Sam recalls with apparent fondness years of sleeping in the back of a van while “living off $2 a day” somewhere in America.
“We put in a hard graft to get where we are and every bit of work we’ve done means that when we get these opportunities we’re so grateful for it. We’re still blown away that we get to tour in a bus, and I’m still blown away that we have crew that sets up stuff for us. We really are living the dream and you’d be hard-pressed to find any of us complaining on tour,” he adds.
And if they do start complaining or sweating the small stuff? The memory of their late guitarist, brother and best friend will be there to kick their arses.
“You can’t be complacent or be throwing your toys out of the pram about rubbish stuff because Tom wouldn’t believe it,” Sam smiles. “You have to enjoy every moment because he didn’t get to do these amazing things, but we’re doing it for him. He was and always will be the driving force for us.”
And what about the future? If you’ve already surpassed your wildest expectations, is there any point limiting your ambitions from here? “Well, given that I would never have imagined playing Wembley Arena, I am beginning to think that the band can just be as big as we are prepared to imagine it could be,” says Dan. “Baby steps have turned into big strides in the past few years… I can definitely see us headlining a Download in the future.”
Just a few years ago that would have seemed a laughably bold suggestion but now? We wouldn’t bet against them. K!
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