Interview: Brett Bellomy of Empire Springs

Empire Springs is a progressive rock band hailing from Birmingham, Alabama. I discovered them thanks to a friend, and when I researched the band for my most recent 3 Bands/Artists You Should Be Following, I was impressed. It was very exciting to have the opportunity to speak with vocalist/bassist Brett Bellomy.

First and foremost, thank you so much for doing this! And congratulations on the release of your debut album [The Luminescence, April 2022]

BB: Thank you so much, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us!

Let’s start with some basics. How/When did Empire Springs form?

BB: Empire Springs, in its original form, started in 2016 when I was in college. I was playing bass in a different band and the singer quit somewhat unexpectedly. He had been the primary songwriter in that band, so even though the rest of the band wanted to keep playing music we didn’t feel comfortable playing his songs without him. I happened to have a few songs written that we hadn’t worked on yet, so we decided to play my songs and have me take over vocals. We changed the name to Empire Springs and started writing/recording songs under that name. The band was just a studio project for several years, but after several member changes we started playing live shows around 2018. 

Where did the band name come from?

BB: There’s a road sign between my hometown and my current city that reads “Empire” and “Blount Springs” for two separate counties. Because of the way the sign is formatted, it looks like Empire Springs is together. A few months after starting the new band I was driving between the cities with a friend of mine. They pointed out that “Empire Springs” would be a good band name and I liked the idea so the name stuck.

It really does work well. Your friend was right. So, what made you want to pursue a music career?

BB: I don’t remember a specific moment where I knew I wanted to pursue music professionally, but my parents really wanted me to go to college after high school. Music had been my primary elective/activity in high school (marching band, choir, etc) so when the time came to choose a major music was really the only thing I was interested in. 

Who are your biggest influences?

BB: For me personally I would say bands like Coheed and Cambria and Saosin influences my vocals the most. For the band as a whole it’s a little harder– we all draw influence from different places. But if I had to pick one, I think our most agreed upon band is definitely The Contortionist. 

Where do you draw your inspiration for your songs?

BB: That’s a really tough question– I think it largely depends on the songs. With our album The Luminescence, the songs came from a place of storytelling. We were really trying to make a cohesive collection of songs that work together to paint a bigger picture. Because of that, it’s not really rooted in personal experience as much. However we have some new songs (that I can’t talk too much about yet) that are all much more grounded in personal experience and my own perspective. 

Ah, okay. I’m excited to hear new music from y’all! While on the subject of The Luminescence, can you tell me a little bit about the songwriting and recording process?

BB: For sure! I am the primary songwriter for the band, so most of the time I have a demo recorded that I’ll send to the band. Everyone tweaks their own parts separately, kinda building off of the skeleton of the demo. We’ll usually bounce ideas for the demo around via email and everyone kinda works on it remotely. Since we don’t all live in the same state, when the time comes to record there are some songs we’ve never actually played together in a room. At first I found that intimidating, but now I really enjoy the long distance collaboration– the process may seem a little disjointed, but it really works for us. There’s an element of trust that we have with each other that is really unique because of our circumstances.

I found there to be a lot of complexity throughout the album, and I love the balance of mellow and heavy, clean vs. harsh vocals. Has anyone in the band studied composition? That may be a badly worded question, but I am amazed at how a mind must work to put music together like that.

BB: I really appreciate that! That’s definitely one thing I think we excel at, and we’ve definitely worked hard to be able to balance those things. Three of the four members have music degrees, and our keyboardist Chadwick actually has two– one in piano performance and one in composition. Even though my degree wasn’t specifically in composition, being the songwriter for our band has forced me to study the songs and bands I like very seriously so I can better understand my role. 

Well, that answers my next question. I wanted to say that the interlude was beautiful and ask who the pianist was.

BB: Chadwick wrote that piece. He also wrote the back half of our song “Khan” (when the piano and orchestra takes over). He’s very talented at knowing how to write and arrange for piano and orchestra, so we try to take advantage of that when we can.

For my own personal curiosity, what is the story behind “Drawing Lines”? (That was one of my favorite tracks.)

BB: “Drawing Lines” was actually the first song I ever wrote for Empire Springs. When I decided to take over being the singer, it was the first demo I presented to the band. Because the song is unusually personal for me, I usually try to stay somewhat vague when explaining its meaning. But to speak broadly, I was at an impasse in my life. The direction I felt like I should move would put me outside my comfort zone, and carried a lot of uncertainty with it. I struggled with it a lot, but ultimately it ended up being a really good thing for my life and mental health. “Drawing Lines” for me is a personal testament to that point in my life, but I think it could be interpreted differently for others. Either way I’m thankful that you and others connect with it.

I love when songs are personal to the artist, yet presented in a manner in which everyone listening can find some part they connect with.

You’ve teased a little during this interview, so I’ll ask outright – What’s next for Empire Springs?

BB: I hinted at it earlier, but we are working on some new music that I am really excited about. Hopefully some tours soon too? We are really trying to hit the ground running next year, so hopefully we’ll be busy!

Anything else you want your fans to know?

BB: I would just like to say thank you to anyone who has ever supported us. Whether that’s listening to our music or coming out to a show– It’s honestly still crazy to me that anyone would care about the songs I write, so I truly don’t take it for granted.

And lastly, where can my readers find out more about Empire Springs and get their hands on the music?

BB: We’re on all of the typical social media platforms so feel free to follow us there. As far as music goes, we’re on all the big streaming platforms as well as Bandcamp!

**

As you can see, Empire Springs is gearing up for an exciting 2023! I highly suggest checking them out (if you haven’t already), snagging yourself a copy of The Luminescence, and getting ready for what’s next!

Interview: Andy Bawden of Call of Sirens

Call of Sirens is an alternative rock band from the UK who uses their creativity to take listeners on a journey. Heavily influenced by an array of artists, as well as the story behind their namesake, this female-fronted foursome is sure to have you hooked from the first note.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with co-founder and guitarist Andy Bawden about the band’s start, their upcoming single and debut EP, and much more.

First and foremost, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate your time. So let’s dive right in. What made you want to pursue a music career? 

AB: As a teenager when I was learning guitar and writing my first song I like most people dreamed of being a huge rock star. Over the years as I played in different musical projects whilst working normal day jobs I realised that making it big was very very hard and was very much a 1 in a million chance. I was cool with that. Once I accepted that my music was going to be a pursuit of enjoyment and release rather than something I relied on to pay my rent, I became more free creatively. Music is still my release and escape, but do I always have that hope of making it big? Of course.

Who are your biggest influences?

AB: In terms of music I was brought up with country rock and British R’n’B of the 60s/70s. Bands like the Eagles were huge for me in terms of songwriting, and bands like Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, Cream as well as more progressive bands like Rush. Later on I immersed myself in all subgenres of rock and metal, but these early sound sources still to this day influence the sounds and songs I contribute to. Each band member has an eclectic and diverse range of musical influences, and we try to bring elements of all these styles into our music somewhere.

I noticed the varied tastes from your Spotify playlists. Y’all definitely run the gamut of genres. So I’m curious; for you personally, what made you pick up a guitar?

AB: My dad was a pro country musician in the 70s and showed me my first chords. And I learnt by books and listening to the radio and CDs. I started playing in school bands in my teens, as well as in my dad’s semi-pro bands. My godfather is actually country music star George Hamilton IV. So I have grown up with music. In terms of guitarists, I learnt from the usual – Slash, Marty Friedman, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, etc.

Who are your favorite guitarists?

AB: Don Felder, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Alex Lifeson, and Adam Jones are my personal top five.

And just for fun, what is something you listen to that you think might surprise people?

AB: I’m a bit of a musicals fan. My favorite film growing up was Singing in the Rain. I am also a huge fan of Les Misérables. And I am a massive Taylor Swift fan. Saw her live at Wembley on the Reputation Tour a couple of years back. Great songwriter, master promoter, and shrewd businesswoman.

You have a background heavy in music and have played with quite a few bands. Tell me how Call of Sirens came together.

AB: In early 2021 off the back of a solo home recording project I had completed during UK Covid lockdowns, I was keen to find some collaborators to write new music with. On meeting bassist and dynamic songwriter Nick, we started to develop ideas and new sounds between us. We eventually introduced a female vocal and drums to the mix as we developed our sound and style. With a couple of personnel changes over the past year we are now a solid quartet, with Connor [drums] and Leilani [vocals] being the correct and final pieces of the puzzle.

Call of Sirens (2022)

What is the songwriting process for the band, and where do y’all draw your inspiration from?

AB: We unusually start with a riff or a chord progression then match that with a theme or message we have been exploring. It can be a thought, a feeling, a concept, a historical story, etc. We then develop it into a rough song structure and phone video ourselves playing it, then share it around the band so we can feedback and work our own parts. Once we get into the practice room, because we have done a lot of the work remotely, things usually come together pretty quickly into a final product. The legacy of the pandemic is that we created ways of working that in many ways were more efficient and more collaborative. These have continued for us as it works.

With your tendency to follow a theme or concept when writing, what is the story behind your latest single “Kenopsia”?

AB: ‘Kenopsia’ is a noun found in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig. It is…

“The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.”

The song is the story of a girl trying to find out where she is in this new dark and empty world. In every corner she sees ‘after images’ (ghosts) of people she might have known, but she can’t quite see them. She slowly realises that she is actually alone. She is a victim of this ‘Kenopsia’. 

The band name grabbed my attention immediately. Where did it come from?

AB: I was obsessed with the idea of ‘the siren’ (a less than virtuous mermaid), a creature who would call sailors to their deaths. Mysterious beings that some believed were real, and are still real today. The theme influenced some of our early songs and the possible visuals were interesting also. It seems to fit well for us in terms of having a female lead singer as well as the general vibe of us as a band and also our approach to theme-based songwriting.

It sounds like you have a vision for this band and a lot to work with. So tell me, what’s next for Call of Sirens? 

AB: Our debut music video for “Kenopsia” will be live before Christmas, with our next single “Gravel Tree” being released on 20th Jan, and our debut EP itself called Gaia being released on 24th Feb.

From 14th Jan to 5th May 2023 we will undertake a 7 date tour in support of the EP’s release. This will predominantly be around the south of England. More information can be found at callofsirens.com/tour.

What can fans expect from those live performances?

AB: A very energetic live performance but with some more considered moments. We always focus on producing sounds that make people want to listen and appreciate a theme or story. We very much want to take people who come and see us on a journey in the 45 minutes we have them focused on us for. It’s more of an experience than a gig.

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the upcoming EP. Did y’all use a thematic approach to the record, as with “Kenopsia”?

AB: Yes. Gaia is Greek for Mother Earth. Nick [bassist/songwriter] came up with the title for us to work with. We really liked the idea, but we then had to link all the songs to it.

Our take is “the death and struggle of the feminine. Seeking to find the balance again in one’s self and in the natural world around us. Abandoning the world of man in favor of the mother. “Gravel Tree” [written by Nick, set to be the second single] is more linked than the others. It specifically connects to the Gaia theme, whereas the others fit in that they are about searching for something – a person, a ghost, a greater meaning, oneself. I guess that’s the loose overarching theme of the EP.

What is your favorite song on Gaia?

AB: I like them all. Two are my compositions and two are Nick’s. My favorite to play live is “The Monsters,” as it’s fun and energetic, but “Gravel Tree” is the best song, moody and interesting, and the lyrics are amazing.

The track listing is as follows – “Kenopsia,” “The Monsters,” “A Stranger (To Myself)”, and “Gravel Tree.”

Anything else you want your fans to know? 

AB: Just that we are very grateful for all the likes, follows and comments on our socials and also the wonderful amount of streams and listens of our music over the past few weeks, and hopefully the next few. We are very happy that people are excited and interested in what we do.

**

Call of Sirens is going to be quite busy well into the new year. Be sure to visit the band’s website for more information and follow their socials so you don’t miss anything. And keep an eye out here, as well. I’ll be sharing the singles as they drop!

For a glimpse into that wide array of influences I mentioned, go peruse their personal Spotify playlists.

Fit For a King Announces 2023 North American Dates With Northlane, Alpha Wolf, and Kingdom of Giants

Fit For A King is bringing their The Hell We Create Tour to North America soon! Get tickets at fitforakingband.com.

  • 2/16 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
  • 2/17 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
  • 2/18 – Los Angeles, CA – The Belasco Theater
  • 2/19 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
  • 2/21 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House
  • 2/22 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
  • 2/23 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
  • 2/24 – Lawrence, KS – The Granada
  • 2/25 – Minneapolis, MN – The Lyric at Skyway Theater
  • 2/26 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
  • 2/28 – Fort Wayne, IN – Piere’s
  • 3/1 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection
  • 3/2 – Detroit, MI – Saint Andrews Hall
  • 3/3 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall
  • 3/4 – Montréal, QC – L’Olympia
  • 3/5 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
  • 3/7 – Millvale, PA – Mr. Small’s Theatre
  • 3/8 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage
  • 3/10 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
  • 3/11 – Worcester, MA – Palladium
  • 3/12 – Philadelphia, PA – TLA
  • 3/14 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
  • 3/15 – Tampa, FL – The Orpheum
  • 3/17 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall
  • 3/18 – San Antonio, TX – Vibes Event Center
  • 3/19 – Dallas, TX – Amplified Live

Gideon: More Power, More Pain Tour 2023

Gideon is launching the More Power, More Pain Tour this week in Tampa, FL. Support comes in the form of For the Fallen Dreams, Orthodox, and Guerilla Warfare.

Tickets: gideonal.com

VIP: gideon.soundrink.com

  • 2/9 – Tampa, FL – The Orpheum
  • 2/10 – Orlando, FL – Henao Center
  • 2/11 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade (Purgatory)
  • 2/12 – Greensboro, NC – Hangar 1819
  • 2/14 – Richmond, VA – Canal Club
  • 2/15 – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
  • 2/16 – Brooklyn, NY – The Meadows
  • 2/17 – Frenchtown, NJ – Artie’s
  • 2/18 – Long Island, NY – Amityville Music Hall
  • 2/19 – Hartford, CT – Webster Underground
  • 2/21 – Pittsburgh, PA – Crafthouse
  • 2/22 – Pontiac, MI – Pike Room @ Crofoot
  • 2/23 – Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle
  • 2/24 – Chicago, IL – The WC Social Club
  • 2/25 – Iowa City, IA – Wildwood
  • 2/26 – Lincoln, NE – 1867 Bar
  • 2/28 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theater
  • 3/1 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
  • 3/3 – Tacoma, WA – Real Art
  • 3/4 – Portland, OR – Bossanova Ballroom
  • 3/5 – Sacramento, CA – Goldfield Trading Post Downtown
  • 3/7 – Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Berkeley
  • 3/9 – Anaheim, CA – Chain Reaction
  • 3/10 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
  • 3/11 – Phoenix, AZ – Nile Underground
  • 3/12 – Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
  • 3/14 – San Antonio, TX – Vibes Underground
  • 3/15 – Fort Worth, TX – Ridglea Theater
  • 3/17 – Birmingham, AL – Zydeco
  • 3/18 – Nashville, TN – The End

Kissing Candice Premiere “Inveterate” on Knotfest.Com

“Inveterate” is a track from Kissing Candice’s forthcoming record Manifest. You can listen to the song below, and you can visit Knotfest.com to watch the official video.

Psyclon Nine: From Hell & Back Tour 2023

Psyclon Nine is embarking on their From Hell & Back Tour alongside Clockwork Echo and Our Frankenstein. Tickets and VIP packages available at Psyclon Nine’s Bandcamp page.

  • 2/16 – Sacramento, CA – Old Ironsides
  • 2/17 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge
  • 2/19 – Portland, OR – Band Booked
  • 2/21 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
  • 2/22 – Spokane, WA – The Big Dipper
  • 2/25 – Lincoln, MO – 1867 Bar
  • 2/26 – West Chicago, IL – WC Social Club
  • 2/27 – Ann Arbor, MI – Necto
  • 2/28 – Lakewood, OH – The Winchester
  • 3/1 – Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
  • 3/3 – Mt. Holly, NJ – Union Firehouse
  • 3/4 – Richmond, VA – Fallout
  • 3/6 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade (Purgatory)
  • 3/8 – Winter Park, FL – The Conduit
  • 3/10 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Respectable Street
  • 3/11 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar/Brass Mug
  • 3/12 – New Orleans, LA – The Goat
  • 3/14 – Colorado Springs, CO – Vultures
  • 3/15 – Greeley, CO – Moxi Theater
  • 3/16 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
  • 3/17 – Las Vegas, NV – The Dive Bar
  • 3/18 – Los Angeles, CA – Bar Sinister

An Update on Fozzy’s Save The World Tour 2023

Fozzy was forced to reschedule some of their fall dates due to Chris Jericho having a vocal injury. The new dates are coming up quick! Support for this portion of the tour comes in the form of Seventh Day Slumber and The Nocturnal Affair.

Get your tickets at fozzyrock.com.