"I think with this music we have finally found a platform where we can truly be honest with ourselves and cut the ego out of our experiences of life" - Roy Watson
On Friday (May 01), GroundCulture will release their debut full-length 'How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?'. As well as being a potent mix of post-hardcore fury and arena-ready ambition, it's a collection of songs built on a foundation of contemplation and mindfullness. It's a record that pushes the limits of your consiousness and makes you question your existence whilst offering plenty of inspiration for how to be the best person you can be, no matter your circumstances.
We caught up with frontman Roy Watson to dissect the inner workings of the record and what he hopes that people will gain from letting it enfold them...
From the self-titled EP through to the moment that you started to work on this record, what changed for GroundCulture?
"If you go back to when we were recording the EP, we actually wrote some of the instrumentals for the album at the same time. We were writing it alongside it really. When we dropped the EP though, it was already about two years old. We had sat on top of it for so long, which is kind of what we’ve done with this record too really. The album was ready to go as far as demos go at the early stages of us doing what we were doing. I think more than anything things have been trial and error. Mattie [Turner, guitarist] will write 40 different instrumental shells of songs and then we will all graft through that. I think that the music has matured simply because of how much we wrote."
So you’ve never been short of inspiration? You’ve had the chance to try anything and everything because you had different foundations in place?
"Yeah for sure. I think that the reason that the songs feel the way they do though is because we weren’t just writing about sanitised situations. We were writing about the most negative experiences in life but with the duality of, how do you portray those things and say something with the lyrics and the music that turns that negative into a positive?"
How did you go about discussing those things with each other?
"I think it’s more a case of us not neglecting or avoiding the negatives in life and hitting them on the head. It’s about not always being positive and buzzing about everything. It’s about being really critical with what you’re saying and wanting to have an effect on things. If you’ve got a song about loss in your life, you want to be able to affect every sort of thinker there is out there. You want to affect pessimists and optimists and have a duality between the two. You’re able to get the same message from the song regardless of how you look at life. I think that was the hardest part of the whole process."
So what it is it about the title of this record that really blankets this whole way of thinking?
"‘How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?’ is a question if put right will make people question their own experiences. It’s hard to explain really. As a society, we’ve all got through 100 per cent of our shit. We’re still here and we’ve got past it. The worst things that you have ever been through, the most daunting and haunting things, are actually the most powerful things if you look at them from the right perspective. It's just trying to channel that honesty and write lyrics with a sense of denial whilst openly admitting who you really are and where you’ve really come from and knowing that it’s okay to have done all of that. Without all of that stuff, I wouldn’t be the person sat where I am now with the mindset that I’ve got. That applies to everybody."
There’s a fear of weakness that exists in all of us. That feeling that something life has thrown at you has dented your armour. Though those dents are what make you who you are...
“True growth can sometimes only come from weakness. You’ll take something good that’s happened to you and buzz off it for a week. Then there will be something that has rattled you and you will dwell on it for months and months. I think if you approach things by looking at that negative and processing the reason that you feel the way you do and trying to find some sort of value in those things, it’s so much powerful than just being focused on the positive things that happen."
What is there about the world around you and the things that you have gone through away from the band that has inspired you to approach your art in this way?
“It was just wanting to tell people not to second-guess themselves really. Everybody is valuable regardless of if they've been through negative experiences that make them feel like they are less of a person. It was the need for us to put something into our music that people understand and allow them to switch their perceptions of themselves.”
How important do you feel it is to have that journey of emotion within life but also within the form of an album?
“I think it’s extremely important, but I think it’s just as important to realise that you haven’t committed to making a journey as such as well. Some people will sit on their hands because they're anxious or don’t have the nerve or mentality to go out and get stuff, so I think it’s important to think in that form as well.”
Well, after all a journey is not always on even ground...
“Exactly, and that’s how we’ve approached this album. Even in terms of our sound, it’s all very much GroundCulture but none of the tracks have the same vibe. We wanted to be really spontaneous so we wrote how we were really feeling in that moment. We could have wanted to write something heavy or we could have wanted to write something poppy depending on the vibes in the room. It’s important to attack all the different spectrums of emotion sonically as well.”
Ultimately it’s not just about doing something for someone else. It’s about making sure you’re doing something for yourselves as well.
“I think that’s our approach in general. Initially our songs aren’t written for anybody externally. They are solely for us. It’s only after you’ve done it for yourself then that the message can truly affect people externally. I’ve always said that you should write for what you love, not for something just because you think it’s cool. It’s only when you reach the pinnacle of what something can be for you that it can start to be beneficial to others. That’s when it’s real.”
Have you ever felt like this band could be something bigger than just music? Is that a feeling that has ever crossed your mind whilst you’ve been creating art?
"100 per cent. When you take everything into consideration, GroundCulture is not a band. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of perceiving the things in your life. It exists to make people think about who they are."
Has the band helped you learn more about yourself?
“Without a shadow of doubt. I think with this music we have finally found a platform where we can truly be honest with ourselves and cut the ego out of our experiences of life.”
Finally, what do you want GroundCulture to mean to the people who let you into their lives?
“We just want people to find themselves.”