Comply Or Die Interview

5 09 2011

Here’s a reprint of an interview I did with Comply Or Die for the Big List. Their new album  ‘Depths’ is out today. Check it out.

Comply Or Die

Continuing our year-long catch-up with some of NI’s latest and greatest bands, this month we meet Michael Smyth, singer/guitarist for local noise rock anti-heroes Comply Or Die. Enjoy.

Hi Michael and welcome to the Big List. First off, your new single ‘Shanghaied’ is currently out and about in the realm of the interweb. Can you tell us a little about this virtual slab of wax?

“‘Shanghaied’ is taken from our forthcoming album ‘Depths,’ which was recorded at Einstein Studios with Mr. Frankie McClay. We put it out ahead of the album to wet people’s appetite and generate some buzz around the band. It’s a pretty straight ahead track for us compared to say ‘Nyl’ off our ‘Invocation’ EP. I guess its pretty hooky and maybe even catchy, but don’t expect any bubblegum pop from us!”


Why did you decide to offer it up as a free download?
“For a consumer, free is the best price! We really just wanted to reach as many people as possible with it. Again, it helps to generate a buzz around us and the album and since we are marketing gurus, our research showed that this was the best way to generate revenue for our end product…Bill Hicks is probably spinning in his grave…”


Your previous release before that was a split cassette-only single with Slomatics, which in many respects couldn’t be any more different to an MP3. Why did you choose to put out an ep on this format?

“It was really just an opportunity to do a split with our friends in Slomatics, I think it was really Matt [Crothers, drums] from our band and Dave from Slomatics that liked the idea of a tape and they just ran with it. It features ‘Vermin’ from the album ‘Depths,’ which is one of the heavier songs of the album and we thought it would sit well alongside the Slomatics’ songs. Putting it out on tape makes it a bit special as well. In saying that, we did include a free digital download code so people could put it on their MP3 player, see there’s that marketing genius again.”


We understand you’ve finished recording your second album ‘Depths.’ How’s it sound?

“It’s been done since October or November last year, we’re just getting the printing and duplication done now. It sounds loud and vicious and huge. Frankie did a great job with it. We had worked with him before on the ‘Invocation’ EP, so he had an idea of our sound already and he was able to build upon the work we did together on the EP and just step it all up for the album. It jumps out of the speakers at you, like an angry mountain lion.”


Can you give us any exclusive news on it? 

“There are 8 songs on the album and its ordered as though it were a vinyl record-so it’s split into two sets of four songs. Each ‘side’ ends with a long song, the first side ends with ‘Vermin,’ and the second side ends with a 15 minute long instrumental song named ‘DMT.’ If you’ve heard ‘Shanghaied’ and ‘Vermin,’ you know how different those songs are from each other and that continues throughout the album. There are no two songs that are the same. They all touch on different ideas and sounds, so hopefully it’ll keep people interested. The album is 45 minutes, which might seem long for eight songs, but it bounds along so it never gets dull or stale. The art was done by Glyn Smyth. He did an amazing job with it. It’s a really strong aesthetic to compliment the music. Turning the art over to someone else was a huge thing for us, as up until now we’ve done all the artwork within the band. We basically gave the album and the lyrics to Glyn and just said ‘go for it.’ We wanted to see what someone else’s take on it would be and we’re all very happy with the outcome. The album should hopefully be out in August, but that’s not set in stone…”


Finally, do you think this will be the album that helps the band book bigger dates? (Personally we can’t understand why you guys haven’t been included on the line-ups of some of the larger local festivals).

“You and me both! It would be great to get some festival slots or even just some bigger gigs around Northern Ireland. We’re in a difficult position in that the music we play doesn’t necessarily slot nicely alongside most bands. We’re not punk and we’re not metal, but there are elements of both in our music and that seems to be difficult for people to get their head’s around. Hopefully the album is as well received as the single and people pick up on it. We’re constantly sending stuff out to promoters and it’d be good to see some of them come back on it. We play probably more often than most bands in order to help sustain ourselves and reach more people, but it would be great to get out of the smaller bars and into a big gig setting.”

For more information on Comply Or Die check out