By Will Brown
The Kiwi hard rockers; consisting of Auckland brothers Chris Brooks(lead vocals, guitar, didgeridoo, keys/programming), Matt Brooks (vocals, lead guitar, keys/programming), and Kent Brooks (bass, vocals, keys/programming), with Los Angeles-based drummer Zach Wood, have been touring hard and making a name for themselves in the USA. Their hard work has paid off and have shared the stage with acts such as Slash, Korn, Alter Bridge, Five Finger Death Punch and Creed.
Their song 'Love The Way You Hate Me' reached the Top 30 on the US Active Rock charts, while in NZ acheived Top 10 status on the NZ Rock Radio Airplay Chart. Their latest single ‘Wish You Hell' hit Number 17 on US Hard Rock Radio and in the process became first Kiwi song in history to break that Top 20, resulting in Like A Storm is now the highest-charting New Zealand Hard Rock act in US radio history.
I had the chance to chat with lead guitarist Matt Brooks, while the band were taking a well earned break in Chicago.
You have a month off in Chicago. Is that where you are based?
We're pretty much always on the road. Our bass player pretty much lives in Toronto, but to be honest we tour about 10 or 11 months of the year. So we're probably based on the road. When we go on tour it's just us and our crew. It's been awesome, we've been touring in the States now for about 5 years, so kinda everywhere we go we have friends there, which is awesome.
Your latest album Awaken The Fire, where did you record it?
That's actually a cool story. Awaken The Fire, we actually recorded half of that album on tour. We've always kind of loved recording and we've amassed enough studio gear so we have a mobile studio that we take on tour with us. So songs like 'Love The Way You Hate Me' and 'Never Surrender', those were actually recorded on tour. And we would literally walk off stage, go back to the hotel, set up all of our studio stuff, record all night, then get up in the morning and go to the next show. Which to be honest was a good way to make music because often when you make a record you spend about a year in the studio, which is so far away from playing live, and when you make music out on tour, you have the energy and the vibe of performing on stage. And that carries over to the music that you are making.
We're so excited about the record being released in New Zealand; the album is also out in America and Europe. So we've spent the last five months touring Awaken The Fire, and we're really excited to have the record come out in New Zealand because we're New Zealanders. It means a lot to us as Kiwis.
How long did the album process take?
We kind of did it in two parts. The first part, which we released independently, was the Chaos Theory Part 1. That was the part that we recorded on tour. We produced it ourselves so it kind of became this project, so when other people were asleep we'd stay up recording. Then we had the opportunity to make it into a full-length album, which would get released worldwide, so that's when we recorded the second half - which has songs like ‘Wish You Hell' and ‘Become The Enemy'. And that we recorded at a lake house in America. We took a month off tour towards the end of last year and we made that then. So it was made in two halves, but it was a labour of love when you do everything yourself.
How did you choose the songs to feature on the album?
We had kind of a cool writing process. My two brothers and I, we all write songs... all writing all the time. So when we go to make an album we had a huge list of songs that the three of us had written, and then we go through them and we just picked the songs that we all loved. It was quite a fun way to make a record.
You guys have toured with so many great artists, which have been your favourite to tour with?
You know, we have been really really lucky. One of the highlights was touring with Slash. This year we got tour America with him; we grew up huge fans of Guns N' Roses and pretty much anything that Slash has ever done. So to get to tour the States with him, talk music and see him play every night, it's been a real dream come true.
We also toured with the guys in Creed and Alterbridge about six times. That's been a really amazing thing, because Mark Tremonti the guitar player was one of my idols. So to get to tour so much with them and really become friends with them, that's been an amazing thing as well.
Is there a show that sticks out as being your favourite?
The first show we ever played in America. We'd been in the studio in Los Angeles making our first album for the last year, and the guys from Creed heard one of the new songs that we'd just finished; they were working in the same studio as us. They really liked it and loved the idea that we'd moved from New Zealand to follow our dream of playing music and they took us out on tour. So our first American tour was opening for Creed playing massive stadiums, and the first show was in Pittsburgh playing to 15,000 people. I would say that show will always stand out as being the one that totally blew my mind.
Are there any New Zealand shows on the horizon?
Yeah, we are actually looking at coming back and playing some shows in early 2016.
Besides friends and family, what do you miss most about New Zealand?
I think when I grew up there I took for granted how beautiful it is. Whenever we come home to New Zealand it's like paradise. So I think we appreciate it much more for having been away as much as we have. Our family has a lake house in Taupo, so for me if we've been on a long tour and I'm looking for some peace and quiet, Taupo is always the thing that I think of.