Friday saw nu-metallers Bison make a triumphant return to the scene, after a 15 year absence, with the release of a new EP ‘Perfect Mistakes’. Their first two singles, the aptly named ‘Begin Again’ and ‘Take Your Place’ have seen old fans rejoice and the band garner some new fans. Andy and I had a chat about the new era of Bison and how it came to be.
Bison are back!
Yeah, we are, well somewhat back.
How did that happen after all these years?
We had the opportunity to play a gig a couple of years ago, we have all stayed friends for the last 15 or so years. There was an option to play part of a bill with a few American bands coming out, so we said, ‘Okay we’ll jump back in a room and see what we’ve got’. We started jamming and running through the old songs. One of the other guitarists, Richie, had half an idea up his sleeve so we thought we would flesh it out and that is when the bug kicked in. We decided to explore some new music and it just sort of steam rolled from there. We all got creative again and thought bugger the old stuff let’s see what we have got. That’s basically where it started, and it’s just rolled along from there.
I actually missed you guys first time around unfortunately.
A lot of people did. It’s been awhile between drinks!
Nu-metal is making a bit of a comeback.
It is, it got uncool there for awhile back in the day, but everyone still secretly enjoyed it.
I’m a massive Superheist fan so it’s always been cool to me!
DW (Superheist guitarist) actually produced our first couple of EPs. We were on his Faultline Record label to begin with. It seems like metalcore and metal have kept going but I think people are dipping their toe back in the water with the nu-metal scene. It seems to have come back out and that’s our groove, so we just thought why not. We mainly did it for ourselves to begin with, we were just enjoying it thinking this is actually fun to do this again. It’s hard because we are a lot older and have children and responsibilities and jobs and such. But the creative process, the ideas just kept coming and we just went okay lets get some tracks down and let’s actually record something. Let’s do this properly.
Your EP ‘Perfect Mistakes’ is out this Friday.
Yeah, it’s kind of snuck up. It’s been in the can for a little while now. Once we got the release dates it seemed like ages away. With the releasing of the last couple of singles it built up the momentum and yeah, I actually forgot that it comes out Friday!! That’s how good I’m going (laughs).
How have the old fans reacted to your return?
The reaction has been pretty good. A lot of the old fans have said it’s just a more mature sounding Bison, we ditched a bit of the rapping and stuff we used to do back in the day. We have grown up in what we listen to and what we enjoy. A lot of people said it still sounds like Bison but it’s different. It’s a bit of a grown-up version of what we used to do. The reaction from new fans has been fantastic as well, we seem to have picked up quite a few. It’s been really pleasing because we didn’t know what to expect, we have been out of it for a long, long time. You don’t know what you are heading back into. People could turn around and say this is rubbish, what are you doing? It’s been the opposite. We are proud of what we have done and that was the main box to tick. Are we happy with what we have done? We certainly ticked that box and so far, the feedback has been fantastic. So we will see.
The EP is themed around exploring the lessons that you have learnt. I guess being older you have that more mature take on things that have happened in the past.
We are five pretty different cats; we are not all the same sort of guys. We have all lived different journeys over the last 15-20 years. Brendan who is our vocalist, he’s taken a lot with his lyrics, I think he feeds off a bit of our experiences as well. There has been quite a few ups and downs for some of us. Like he has pointed out there has been addictions and all that sort of stuff but there is also the happiness that goes with it. I think that is his approach to writing the vocals and I work with him a bit on that, bouncing off him. In terms of the music, we are writing I think it’s just what we have listened to over the last 15-20 years, it’s a culmination of everything that each one of us enjoys. We do have similar tastes and it has all just come together that way. It’s hard to put a finger on it and a lot of this was done remotely. We had the basic ideas for the songs down before Covid hit. We managed to get into a studio and get all the drum tracks down, we had the ideas there and then that was it we were shut down. We thought okay what do we do? We grabbed some recording equipment to work from home and then just listening back to the songs we thought there was a lot more we could do. I thought Covid was a blessing in disguise that we had more time up our sleeve to actually sit and add to the songs, really put some more melody in there and just muck around with them a bit more. I reckon they have improved out of sight from what we probably first thought we had. I actually enjoyed the time in lockdown rewriting bits and adding bits in. We had that luxury, and it seems to have worked in our favour.
I’ve had a few bands say the same, it gave them more time to fine tune their songs.
You do, you reassess because you listen to it, its different to the traditional way that we would normally do it. We have never been a big budget band, so we’ve had a studio for maybe two weeks, basically once we are in there that’s it. Once you are done, you’re done, and you walk out knowing you can’t do anymore. I think the way this happened, there were frustrations along the way because it felt like it was going on for too long, but for me like I said I took it as a blessing and really reconstructed parts of the song. What else could we do really. It improved the EP out of site.
It’s damn good. Are you looking to tour it? Or is that something that is still kind of in the air?
The carrot is definitely there, it would be a bit of a downer if we didn’t actually get to play it live. In saying that it is just so difficult for the five of us to get together in the way our lives run at the moment. If we are going to do it, which I am pretty certain we will, it will be around the summertime were we can allow ourselves to get in a room and really get our performance down. We don’t want to go out there and let down what we have done with a poor live performance. I guarantee we will get out there its just a matter of when. Things run a bit slowly in this band so its just a matter of being able to coordinate some time together in a studio to rehearse and just work out what we are going to do. I know that we are all really keen to play live, it would kind of feel like something was missing if we went through all this and then not got to enjoy that part. That’s the part that we all love, that’s half the reason you do this. That’s half the reason we did it when we were younger. I think we are all just a bit apprehensive and nervous about it. It also depends on restrictions and everyone’s work but I’m confident we can make it work.
Are you guys all in the same state?
Yeah we are. We aren’t too far from each other. As I said it’s more peoples work schedules. We are all pretty busy.
Any last words?
We just hope people enjoy it. We have put ourselves back out there, as much as the positivity is there I am sure that there will be criticism as well. We are just really proud of what we have been able to do under the circumstances. Having Sam Bassal from Ocean Grove guide us was a massive help. That just gave us further inspiration to go you know what we can keep doing this, we don’t need to do an album, we don’t need to do another EP. If we come up with another song, we can just start to put a song out every couple of months. Just to keep the fire burning and not just let this EP happen and then be like Oh shit there is nothing left. We will be doing another film clip probably in the next month or two for one of the songs. We would love to get another two songs released this year, its just a matter of getting the right songs and the right ideas together. We all have ideas, its just finding that next bit.
I guess you have 15 odd years’ worth of song writing to get out of your systems. Have you guys all continued to play or just jam over the last decade or so?
Dino the bass player and I are pretty close so even during this period we have been writing other music. Richie is pretty busy with his job; he is still involved in the music scene. We bounce off each other quite a bit, we are all pretty close for a bunch of guys that don’t see each other very regularly. The good thing about the way things are these days is that if I come up with an idea on a Friday night I can send it through instantly and you get that feedback immediately. Our intention is to not let this be the only thing we do. I think we have learnt a lot; this took a long time to get done, and I think we can sharpen up our focus. I think it was finding what sort of music we were doing. It was just gelling again and making sure that we weren’t too far away from where we came from but at the same time not rehashing old ground.
Everything would be a bit different to how you guys did things last time around. Like you said about releasing a song every few months, it is only a matter of whacking it up on Spotify these days and the writing process can be done remotely.
Yeah all the ideas back then were generated in the jam room. That’s when you fleshed everything out. It is frustrating sometimes because I’ll be sitting in my studio with a guitar and I might think I’m going to write ten riffs, if someone was next to me they’d be able to go “Yes that one” and you sort of tie yourself up in knots. I do miss that interaction of getting in a room together and just coming up with stuff on the spot. It has its ups and downs. We are all pretty keen to get into a room together. The way these songs are now, we have never actually played them together as a whole. It would be nice to get into a room and see if we know how to play our own songs as a group! It’s certainly different to how it was fifteen years ago but it is certainly no less enjoyable that’s for sure.