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JEREMY FOWLER, PETE GILLIES, KALE KNEALE, KYLE LANE
If it was hard to ignore New Empire before, it’s impossible now. The runaway rock outfit have already clocked up a stellar 2011 with national supports for Good Charlotte, Simple Plan and Owl City, a worldwide publishing deal with Native Tongue and a string of singles all over radio and music TV.
Now with their long-awaited second album Symmetry out September 16, they’re ready to cement their status as one of the country’s brightest new stars. Combining the arena alt rock of The Killers with the bombast of 30 Seconds To Mars and emotional power of OneRepublic, it’s the sound of everything clicking into place for the band as both songwriters and independent artists.
“Symmetry is defined as ‘beauty as a result of balance or harmonious arrangement’ and we felt like that’s where we’re at as a band in terms of our relationships and in our music,’” explains frontman Jeremy Fowler. “It feels like everything is aligning and the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place at this point of our journey.”
New Empire’s journey started back in 2006 when Sydney school friends Jeremy and drummer Kale Kneale met guitarist Pete Gillies and former bass player Sam after high school (Sam was replaced by Kyle Lane this year). They began writing songs and playing gigs around Sydney under the moniker of Freedom 1 and quickly learned some shows could be more painful than others.
“At our second ever show, there was a massive beach ball in the crowd and someone launched toward me,” recalls Jeremy, who’s laughing about it now. “It hit the mic stand, which smashed into my face and my mouth started bleeding. Everyone was just cracking up and I just wanted to cry but I realised this is rock ‘n’ roll.”
As luck would have it, their courage under fire caught the attention of their soon-to-be manager Andy Mak (a respected producer/engineer who’s worked with Silverchair and Boy & Bear) who was in the crowd that day.
With their live reputation growing, they recorded two EPs, before they were forced to change their name because “an old American duo who’d released twenty albums” already had it. “People were going ‘I got your album on iTunes!’” says Pete, “And I was like ‘we don’t have an album nor is it on iTunes. They were like ‘it’s pretty different to what I expected.’”
With the money they earned from gigs and various day jobs (which included being a teacher, a park ranger and a Boost Boy), the lads released their debut album Come With Me in September 2008, selling 13,000 units to date.
They spent the next 18 months touring Australia in a 15-seater bus, living in each others’ pockets and playing more gigs, festivals and schools than they can remember. “We totally kitted the bus out,” recounts Jeremy. “We put a timber floor in and put our own sound system in. We’d lift the tail gate up and we'd have mad speakers in it playing our CD and we hung merch signs off of it, so it turned into a merch store.”
After racking up more than 130,000 kilometres, the band set their sights on their sophomore album. Initially, they spent a few weeks at Byron Bay’s 301 Studios before dividing their time between The Grove Studios and Silverchair bassist Chris Joannou’s studio on the Central Coast.
“We had an amazing time at Chris’,” says Jeremy. “There was a log fire in the control room, so someone would be recording in the morning, someone else went and collected wood. It was a real organic experience. It was great to record in different places, because it just kept refreshing us.”
Well, that and spontaneous Nerf gun battles, the Grove’s quad bike track and the amusing sight of Joannou on his ride-on mower through the studio windows. “We’d have to stop recording when he rolled by because we were cracking up so much,” recounts Pete.
If their debut portrayed a refreshing take on energetic pop-rock, Symmetry ambitiously ups the ante and broadcasts it in high-definition widescreen. Produced by Jeremy and Andy Mak, the album fuses fist-in-the-air anthemic rock with enough heart and hooks to command home stereos and stadiums alike. From the rousing climax of ‘Give Me The World’ to the victorious rocker ‘Worth The Wait’ to the slowburning ‘Ghosts’, it’s the essential next step in New Empire’s evolution.
“It’s definitely more diverse and experimental in nature,” confirms Jeremy, the band’s principal songwriter. “It’s a lot rawer and rougher. We left some mistakes in this time.”
Most impressively the lads have done it all on their own terms without leaning on a label. Instead, by working tirelessly and assembling an A-Team of talent around them, they’ve found strength in symmetry.
“We’ve been able to keep all our creativity and call all the shots,” says Jeremy. “Things have just been able to grow step by step. Our manager came in at the right time and each piece of a puzzle that a label gives you has happened as we’ve grown ourselves. It’s about building a team that shares the same vision and ideals, so it feels like a family.”
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ACROSS THE OCEANS
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Amazing song!!! Great for playing on piano, can't get it out of my head!
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