Shvpes are becoming one of the metalcore bands to watch out for.
The Birmingham-based act was officially born in September 2014 when vocalist Griffin Dickinson joined the members of the group Cytota, and decided to rename the band and take a new music direction.
Since then, they have released a studio album, “Pain, Joy, Ecstasy. Despair” (Search & Destroy/Spinefarm Records, 2016), and toured with some of the most known metal and hardcore bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Memphis May Fire, Bullet For My Valentine or Young Guns.
The metallers landed in Spain on Friday, March 17th, as part of its European promotion tour with heavy metal legends Trivium and mathcore and progressive metal band, SiKth.
We took the opportunity to interview vocalist Griffin Dickinson before the show at Sala Apolo, Barcelona. We talked about the band’s new material, the current tour with Trivium, his influences and about what his life would look like if he wasn’t in Shvpes.
HB – Let’s start talking about the origins of Shvpes and your incorporation to the band. How would you describe this musical trip?
It’s been pretty easy to be honest. I met the guys five years ago. I was doing merch for my brother’s band [As Lions], and they were supporting. I said from the beginning that they are good musicians, and they are very young, but they need to change the singer, the name and the sound and about three years later, they kicked their singer out, and asked me to join. I joined and I was: “Well, let’s do this!”. I get along with them very well.
HB – Lyric-wise, what is the main source of inspiration behind “Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair”?
Frustration. It is usually that thing that I want to write about. The thing that I have most to say and it is the most honest. Frustration with relationships, society, with myself, past times.
HB – We were listening to your track-by-track commentaries on Spotify, and you said that you the lyrics were also about celebrating individuality?
Yes, a lot of that it is in frustration about my past self, where I didn’t feel I could be myself. All the problems that I had and thinking about previous times when I wanted to talk about all of this.
HB – We guess that this album is autobiographical. You tell your personal stories.
Yes, but I tried to keep it relatable to other people as well. It is not like: “me, me, me, me”. Get other people to be able to relate to it as well.
HB – How was the writing process of “Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair”?
Some songs were… I had the lyrics done in one hour. Some songs would take me three, four weeks. It was different depending on the song or the subject. If I was trying to think about something that happened like 10 years ago, it was quite difficult. If I was trying to thinking about something that was in the moment, I thinking about right then and there, I took me an hour.
HB – How was your experience working with Carl Bown and Jim Pinder [producers]?
Unbelievable! I spoke to them recently. Two months ago I went for a beer with Carl, and I was just saying about how much better our music, our demos are now. Having come out of the studio and spending time with them. Carl was saying it was because “we think that you came to the studio as a fan of music, someone who wanted to be in music, and you left as a musician”. I completely agree.
HB – Were they kind of being behind your back and pushing you out of your comfort zone or were you more like free to do whatever you wanted?
We were always free to do whatever we want, but they were like the voice of guidance. I said: “Let’s do this!”, and they turned around: “Do you really want to do that? Is this what you wanna do?”.
If they thought that one of our ideas was terrible, they would tell us. If they thought they were great, they would tell us, but it was always up to us to decide.
HB – Talking about your current tour with Trivium and Sikth, how is to share the stage with them?
It’s mental! They were the band that got me into heavy music when I was a kid, so from like a fan perspective it still is insane to watch one of my favourite bands every single night. From a band perspective it is just great because we get along so well, and this is like a big brotherly vibe.
The Trivium fans seem to be very open minded, for metal at least.
HB – Can you tell us an anecdote from the tour?
Several people said that we are the best support band they have ever seen.
HB – Great compliment!
Yes, I am sure they say it to everyone. [laughs]
HB – Do you have a warm-up routine?
Yes. Over the course of two and a half years, I’ve been trying to sing properly, so I’ve been doing some warm-up techniques. Seven months ago I was speaking to Matt Heafy [Trivium’s singer and guitarist] and he recommended me how he does his warm-ups. So, I’ve been doing that basically ever since. Apart for one thing that I’ve learnt from Jamie Graham from Heart of the Cowards, everything else I’ve learnt from Matt Heafy. It has transformed my vocals. He gives me tips here and there. It has changed my voice.
HB – In the past you also were opening for other known bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine or Crossfaith. How was your experience?
I was’t actually in the band when they did the Bullet show, but I’m sure it was pretty cool. I was there for the Bring Me The Horizon, we were supporting them for one day, and it was our first taste of something that nuts we have never had. It was us and then Bring Me, and a 900 person venue [Rose Theatre in Kingston] that was sould out in 15 minutes. We went out on the stage and the entire floor was just jumping up and down with us, so we never experienced anything like that. It was fantastic!
HB – You previously said that Trivium is one of your main inspirations. Who would you say is your biggest reference as a musician/songwriter?
Oh fuck! This is a really hard question! [waits a few seconds to answer]. I can take a lot of influence from Eminem and Zack de la Rocha [Rage Against the Machine]. It kind of how my rapping stuff comes out. Vocally, like singing-wise a lot of it it’s kind of Jason Butler from Let Live, Tyler Carter from Issues, and then Chester Bennigton from Linkin Park. Then musically, a lot of influence comes from Limp Bizkit. I still love that band. The other two… This is before they went to prison: As I Lay Dying and Lostprophets. I used to love what they did musically. I think subconsciously a lot of that is kind of built in. But it happened that the leads singers [Ian Watkins and Tim Lambesis] are fucking assholes!
HB – Talking about other artists. Which band are you into at the moment? Is there a song that you cannot take out of your mind?
Loyal Canna. He is a UK hip hop artist that just come out. Damselfly [feat. Tom Misch] is the one song that I keeps being played. It’s chill hip hop.
HB – What do you think you will be doing if you were not a singer?
I’ve got a clothing company that I run, but I do not think it would be my sole job because I quite like things to be wild, unpredictable. I kind of always said to myself, a job I wanted from I was a kid is to be a cop, but do it somewhere that is shit, that is fucking crazy like go to Brazil and be a cop. You know, everyday is like choppers, guns, drug dealers, narcos. Do something wild!
HB – What do you love to do when you are not touring or recording?
Gym, my clothing company, write music, and travel.
HB – To finish up, how do you see yourself as a band in say 5-10 years?
In 10 years I want to be… I am trying to be realistic, but I picture this band as big as to play in stadiums. As long as the songs keep coming and we can keep getting fans they way we are getting at the moment, I do think that the sky is the limit! So, in 10 years I want us to be doing arena shows.
HB – If you could choose one place to play?
I would like headline Rock in Rio or play in Madison Square Garden. That would be pretty insane!
You can grab your copy of “Pain, Joy, Ecstasy. Despair” here.