NewTracks New Artist: Volts

NewTracks New Artist: Volts

Formerly part of Christchurch rockers The Valves, guitarist Marc Royal has a new project on the go in the form of pop-rock band Volts. He talks to NZM about the group’s exuberant new single Glass Walls which features as part of April’s NewTracks compilation by NZ On Air Music

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Marc Royal from Christchurch – guitars and chief band wrangler.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I didn’t like high school at all. I wasn’t much of an academic so I took music as a bit of a rebel subject which ended up being a great decision.

Any other previous projects we might know you from?

I used to play in a band called The Valves a few years ago. We had some success at a national level but then, like a lot of rock n roll bands, we imploded.

Is that part of the background to how Volts came to be? 

Lorna Coll, our vocalist and I first met in a guitar store a few years back. We began writing music together casually and then started to get really motivated and focused over the past 18 months or so. We wanted to evolve our sound and bring the songs to life as a full band, so we reached out to Andy and Victoria Knopp from bands The Response/Imperial April to complete the core line up.

We also recently recruited Henare Kaa and Tim Driver from Dillastrate for our live shows, so it’s a bit of a dream team.

How did you come up with the name for the group?

I wish we had a good story but I basically just thought it sounded cool as a band name, I suggested it to Lorna and it stuck with us. We are currently very independent, but definitely looking to expand our business team in the future.

Has the Volts’ music already evolved far from the band beginnings?

It has changed significantly, we first started out with an acoustic guitar and vocals so it was very raw. Then we progressed to electric, and Andy and Vic stepped in and added some additional instrumentation and ramped up the arrangements. We are really stoked with where the songs ended up and feel like we have found our sound now.

Aside from this release, what’s been the highlight to date? 

We had a great run of gigs over the summer but Nostalgia Festival was a definite highlight. We had a great crowd and it was one of those gigs where the band just really clicked on stage. Glass Walls also got its first radio spin on Hauraki this week which was pretty awesome.

What makes Glass Walls stand out for you as a single?

So we have recorded a full album, which is due out in the coming months. We laboured over some of the songs but this one came together pretty quickly when we wrote and recorded it. It has a great energy to it, it’s pretty uplifting. We feel like it has our signature pop-rock flavour but also hope that it can get some traction with commercial radio.

What’s the story behind Glass Walls?

Lorna wrote the song about imposter syndrome, which is a fear of being inadequate or not good enough. I guess that’s relatable to a lot of people who may struggle with confidence. I know as artists we can experience plenty of self-doubts when creating new music for the first time and putting it out in the public arena to be judged. Lyrically it’s not intended to be all negative, there’s also an underlying message of pushing through and backing yourself.

What’s your own favourite moment of the single?

The guitar solo, haha! But seriously, the chorus is my fave, it feels like a bit of an anthem whenever we play it live.

Who did you work recording on the single with? 

Lorna and I wrote the bones of the song, so riffs and lyrics. Then Andy and Vic went to work tracking the bass, keys, and drum parts – they are those clever musician types who play multiple instruments. Andy mixed the record and had a guy called Robin Schmidt (Nothing But Thieves, The 1975) from Germany did the mastering for us.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

We are all about growing our fanbase at the moment so hopefully, listeners like what they hear and want to come along for the journey with us.

How do you generally work out what would make a good single?

It’s finding a good balance between the riffs and tempo of the song. Also having a good catchy melody and engaging lyrics are really important.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

We have a sweet remix of Glass Walls on the way which may surprise a few people. Also very excited about the album dropping around August and then aiming to get the band on the road to support that release.
Andy and Vic also have more music on the way from their other band, Imperial April.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song?

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there?

Yes, more often than not your first song, no matter how good you think it is, may not get accepted. Take on board constructive criticism and don’t lose self-belief. It just takes the right song at the right time.

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

Not really, it’s just a case of timing and putting in the mahi. You need to build up your business model for the band so that you can meet the criteria and have a good collection of songs prepared before you start applying.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I’ve been listening to the Bob Lefsetz podcast a bit lately, he interviews some really interesting music people. I went down the rabbit hole for a couple of hours the other day learning about the history of vinyl pressing.

Any last words?

Gin & tonic… it’s been a long day.