"There are a lot of strands of positivity in there too though, but I feel like it is a much more honest and mature outlook on life." - Napoleon frontman Wes Thompson on their upcoming album 'Epiphany'.
Ahead of the release of their sophomore album 'Epiphany', we sat down with Napoleon frontman Wes Thompson to talk through the follow up to their 2016 debut 'Newborn Mind'.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY BE IN A POSITION WHERE THIS ALBUM IS NOW SET TO BE RELEASED INTO THE WORLD?
Says Wes: "Yeah, this band has a history of taking ages to release stuff. I think that the band toured the debut EP for the best part of three years before I joined. Touring just four or five songs for that many years is absolutely ridiculous. Somehow they managed it and managed to grow the fan base. Then ‘Newborn Mind’ came out and now, even though we have been sitting on this new album, I’m just damn happy that we are able to release ‘Epiphany’ and let the people who have supported the band over the years finally hear it and get something out of it. It’s been frustrating for us as individuals though. We have our own lives and having to prioritise the band over that, even when it is quite stagnant. It is what it is though. We’re just glad to finally be here."
SO WHAT HAS CHANGED THIS TIME AROUND? WHAT HAVE THE TWO YEARS BETWEEN ‘NEWBORN MIND’ AND ‘EPIPHANY’ BROUGHT TO THE TABLE?
"Well lyrically and artistically speaking from my own vision, when I was writing ‘Newborn Mind’ I was going through a really tough time and the album subsequently was all about getting through being depressed and down and in a rubbish place. It was a way of offering a hand to people saying that you don’t have to be alone. It may sound really cliché but I wanted people to listen to it and feel like they were on their own in terms of feeling miserable. It was a case of how can I write a record that makes people feel a particular way? So ‘Epiphany’ is more like a mature version of ‘Newborn Mind’ in the sense of me saying all of those things previously was a bit naïve. I guess the new record is me saying “shit things are going to happen, bad things are going to happen, you’re going to be disappointed so good luck”. I think if I could describe ‘Epiphany’ in two words it would be ‘good luck’. I feel like it is much more of a negative perspective on life. It’s much more of a negative realisation too. There are a lot of strands of positivity in there too though, but I feel like it is a much more honest and mature outlook on life. Rather than pretending to be happy, two years later I’ve realised that things may be shit but we will just get on with it. It exists for people to interpret in their own way."
IT’S MUCH EASIER TO WRITE MUSIC THAT FEELS LIKE A SAFETY BLANKET AND IS SUGAR COATED. IT TAKES A LOT TO TELL PEOPLE THAT THINGS PROBABLY AREN’T ACTUALLY OK. IT’S A DIFFERENT WAY TO SHOW PROGRESSION.
"A lot of personal development can happen in a few years and a person can do through a lot of different thoughts and different opinions in that time. I feel like that really reflects in the lyrics."
THOUGH IN TERMS OF ACTUAL SOUND, THE MUSIC IS VERY MUCH STILL QUINTESSENTIALLY NAPOLEON.
"Saying that, there is still a lot of things in there that Napoleon have never really done before. There’s something for everyone on there. It’s more technical yet it’s also more accessible. When we started writing this record we wanted to try and make the music a bit less proggy so when people hear it they aren’t thinking it’s just the techiest fucking song they have ever heard and that they can’t listen to it. I don’t people to feel like they are listening to a maths puzzle."
MOVING FORWARD, IS BECOMING AS ACCESSIBLE TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO BUILD ON?
"For me, yeah. I think the other guys feel the same too. Every band wants to get as much exposure as possible. With the new record we just have to see what happens with it. There are so many ways to get bigger when you’re in a band, but for me I just want to tour as much as possible. There are so many places we still haven’t been in the world. The big one is America. Ever since the band has been going, America has always been the one. Out of all of our YouTube and Spotify streams, America is always at the top. Maybe on top of that, this album can help us to open up a different market of listeners. It’s all about making a connection with as many people as possible."
WHAT IS IT THAT CREATING ‘EPIPHANY’ HAS TAUGHT YOU ABOUT NOT JUST YOURSELF BUT ALSO THE BAND AND THE MUSIC YOU ARE CREATING?
"I feel like when I wrote ‘Newborn Mind’ about my depression, it was really interesting seeing the sorts of people who were coming out to the shows and talking to me afterwards. I was getting more grown men coming up to me and saying how the record touched them. It will be interesting seeing how people interpret everything this time round. I wanted to be as honest and raw as I could. Since I’ve known the other lads in the band, we’ve all just wanted one thing. Just for people to have a connection with the art that we are making. I feel like I have definitely got better as a songwriter more than anything. Though it’s annoying because we have had this record recorded for over the year and even now I feel like I could do an even better job. It’s just one of those things though."
HAVING THIS RECORD FOR A YEAR AND THINKING IN THAT WAY ALSO HELPS PROPELL YOU TO THE NEXT STEP AS WELL THOUGH.
"I feel like I had a lot more room to express myself on this record. Stuff having to the band and on the news gave way to a lot more cathartic expression. Even now, I could write a whole other record. It would be about the same stuff but it would be even more mature than this record once more. It would just become a more updated version. But for now, we’re all proud of it and we’re all proud of the message and we’re all proud of the music. I think it is definitely some of the best music we have ever written."
Napoleon's brand new album 'Epiphany' is set for release November 02 through Basick Records.