Bristol band Tax The Heat are one of the most exciting prospects going around on the international music right now. Think bands of the calibre of Don Broco, The Temperance Movement, The Darkness, Mallory Knox, Lower Than Atlantis and Black Star Riders! band’s brilliantly received debut album, 2016’s Fed To The Lions, established them as one of the most electrifying new bands in the country. Change Your Position does more than just build what they achieved with that record. It pushes the TAX THE HEAT sound to the next level, adding a razor-sharp modern edge to their rock ’n’ roll approach. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Alex Veale about the album and whether their tour might make its way to Australia.
Congratulations on Change Your Position it is an absolutely brilliant album. Tax The Heat are one of my favourite bands at the moment. I can’t put it down.
Oh, wicked, man.
When you were writing the album and some of those tunes, did you start high fiving each other knowing that hey, we’ve created something pretty special here?
Not really, I think we all believed in it. I think we were just following our nose with it, just letting the ideas happen and trying to see where it would end up. I don’t think we, at any point, thought, I don’t think we knew. I think we felt that it was pretty good, and I don’t think we would have ever gone into the studio if we weren’t confident in the material. So, that’s always a good start, but I think it was when we sent the demos to our producer, Evansson, his reaction really gave us the confidence in what we were doing.
It’s an exciting sound, and sometimes with albums you normally get a couple of dud tracks, or it starts to fall away towards the end of the album, but not this album, from start to end the band have really nailed it.
Oh, thanks, man. Cheers. It was exciting, it sounds a bit more modern in some ways from the things that we’d done before, but everything is still us playing, the lead line is still a guitar. A lot of people think it’s a synthesizer, but it’s not, it’s still a guitar. It definitely is like a core moment on the album, to track Change Your Position just felt like it was a really integral part of the album, and that’s why it was a fitting album title as well.
Did you feel like you won the lottery with that song once you’d written it and recorded it?
No, no, I’ve never felt like that, to be honest, with a song. Maybe those sort of feelings come over time. I think it felt like a good tune. I think there’s a lot of those on the album, but I think it’s time will tell with songs, as well. I think if they still have life after a few years then, yeah, you know you’ve got something special and I think with Change Your Position, I think it has got potential to do quite a lot, but you never really know either.
You have to be really proud in the sense that there’s such strong growth and progression from the first album and that you’ve really taken it up a level with the second album?
I think for us, it’s a bit of a cliché thing, but it’s just a natural progression from being on the road, playing a lot, getting used to each other, how everybody plays and works in the band, and doing it, and making an album in a really short space of time. I think those things all helped create the beast.
You feel like you’re coming into your own a little bit, which is really good, and I think once we had wrapped up the album, we sat back, and thought wow, we have actually changed a little bit, this is a bit different. I don’t think we were necessarily even aware while we were writing, we were just writing.
Has the writing process continued on even though you’re right in the midst of celebrating album number two?
It hasn’t started yet. We’ve got a few ideas kicking around, a few riffs and jams, but I think, for me personally, I don’t think anything will really happen until there’s a bit of pressure, or I know it’s time for the next one. While we’re still caught up in the second album and in the throat of that, I think, for at least the short term it’s still getting a whole lot of focus. We’re still rehearsing these songs up to make sure they’re going to be as good on the road as they possibly can be. So, there’s no kind of headroom for those other things at the moment, but I’m looking forward to what we do next, for sure.
How did you guys meet, what were the sorts of shared influences you had, particularly at the beginning when you started on this journey?
Well, the drummer, Jack and I, grew up in the same little village in the West Country in England, and we were aware of each other, we weren’t school friends or anything like that, but we knew of each other. We came from the same place and it was years later, in the little town that we both live, I didn’t even know he was living there, I got chatting to him, went out for a beer, I was winding down a band that I was in, when I was talking to him we just realised we had a very similar vision of what we wanted to try and do and we were both itching to do something musically so we just started jamming. We didn’t really think any more than that, started jamming and it was when we wrote a batch of songs we thought this actually sounds like it could be a band. Then we went a bit further into it and tried to source out the other members, and that’s how we met Antonio and JP. So, we were really fortunate to meet and as a group of four, we are all on the same page as each other and have a shared vision. Even if they might be slightly different or come from different influences it all makes the band what it is.
And the name Tax The Heat, how did the name come about?
When Jack and I were rehearsing we got to the point where we were like, well, we should really start sending this to people just to try and find band members, or just to see what people think, we need to give it a name. We were really thinking about bands from the ’60s, at that point, and the energy that they he had a list of names, and one of them was Tax The Heat from The Beatles song Taxman. It just felt so fitting that it was from a band from the era that we were listening to a lot, and also it wasn’t taken, it was just mind boggling that it wasn’t taken, it just felt right. It felt like the right fit.
Do you have a favourite song from the album?
I think, Change Your Position is probably my favourite to be fair. There’s something quite quirky about it, quite unique. I think it just encapsulates where we’re at the moment. I keep going through phases of finding things I like about the songs that maybe I wasn’t overly passionate about before finding a new thing within them, if that makes sense.
Do you think the tour will eventually wind its way up here in Australia?
We would love that to happen, but there’s no plans for it to happen at the moment. If you get offered the opportunity to do it as a support act on a cool tour over there, or if there was a demand over there we would love to do it. So, until we’re number one in Australia I don’t know, but we would love to do it. You’ve just got to do your thing and see what happens.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Tax The Heat’s album Change Your Position is available through Nuclear Blast