Phil Cross: Hey I’m Phil and I’m the vocalist for Continents.
You guys just released Idle Hands last month. Tell us a little bit about how these songs started coming together.
We don’t tend to have a method; we go with whatever we are feeling at the time, well at least that’s what we did on this album. We just wanted to show everyone what we are capable of and it seems to have worked, it has gotten great reviews so far. Basically it started with Darryl [Sweet, guitarist] and Tom [Weaver, guitarist]. They came up with some riffs, sent those to Duncan [Hamill, drummer], and then we took it to the practice room to improve it drum-wise and possibly move things around structure-wise. Then I would take it home and see what I had that would suit the mood of the song lyrics-wise as I find it a lot easier to write on my own. I still end up changing things in the studio up until the last minute, as I’m a perfectionist.
If I recall correctly, you had released “Trials” as a single prior to releasing this album. What went into the decision to include this track on the record?
Yeah, basically “Trials” set everything off for us. It went crazy the moment we released that song in the UK, over 10,000 views in the first couple of days on YouTube. So when we signed with Victory, we felt the album was going to be pushed worldwide on a bigger scale. We thought we should record it again and add few little extra bits to beef it up again and it seems to have worked.
Did you have a general frame of sound or lyrics in writing these songs, or did you just write and see where it took you?
No we didn’t, we just generally wanted to show people on this album what we can bring to the table as we had three months to write it and three weeks to record it.
Lyrically, what were some things you felt you needed to touch on or get out on this record, and what are some particular passages vocally that you’re proud of?
I wanted to touch on different topics and test my writing ability on this record and also get a few things off my chest message-wise. “Land of the Free” is something I’m really proud of as I wanted to write about the NWO and the government conspiracies that are going ’round. There are two huge lines in this track: “We’re all going to die” and a huge sing-along at the end “If we make a stand we can be as one“. The track “Exhale” is to all the haters and jealous idiots who we thought were friends who slated us for signing to Victory, “they know who they are, people talk“. Some real strong lyrics in that track. “Idle Hands” tells the story of me questioning my belief in god as I’m Catholic. The lyrics get darker as the song goes on and so does the music. It makes a lot of people lose their minds live and we love it when people can feel the message.
Musically, where do you feel you made your biggest strides as songwriters?
It has to be “Land of the Free,” “Pegasus Pegasus,” “Trials” and “Idle Hands.”
As far as the production is concerned, who did you guys work with, and how do you feel that decision affected the overall final product?
We worked with Stu [McKay] at Studio Six in Swindon (UK). We laid down the foundations there and sent it off to Pete Rutcho to mix and master, who’s also worked with The Ghost Inside and Bury Your Dead. Stu is really experienced and also helped throw in extra ideas and pushed me to my limits. He helped me find who I am as a vocalist. Pete was amazing; the stuff he did on the album to give it such a huge sound was incredible and he took all our ideas on board and delivered in such a huge way.
Vocally and musically, the raw nature of this record shows that while you definitely are confident about what you’re doing, you’re still trying to figure out a sound per se for Continents. Would you agree with that statement, and if not, why?
Yes and no. We like to write what we are feeling at the time. If we feel we want to try something new we will, and that’s it basically, as you will hear in “Exhale” and “Loathe.” We could have made this album bigger than it was I suppose but we told Pete to keep the raw nature, as you said, to show people what we can do and offer. We already started writing album #2 and we are planning a direction on this one that will definitely be a surprise, but we will always be staying true to ourselves.
Many people, including myself, are going to compare you to hardcore acts from the UK that have come before you, namely Bring Me the Horizon. Do you feel like that is inspiration to push even harder as songwriters having already garnered such comparisons, or do such things seem a bit trivial?
I’m a fan of Bring Me the Horizon and what they have achieved, it’s crazy. And they just keep getting bigger, never slowing down. We would love to get to their scale but we will have to wait and see, this is our first album and it’s had great reviews thus far. Now it’s up to us to deliver it live and spread the word as much as we can. UK is a tough tour circuit, not a lot of promoters over here with bookings being very up and down. We’ve been able to do tours all across the UK and midland Europe so far, so we’re really stoked on that. Continents has been very lucky, but that’s not to discount our drive.
Tell us a little bit about how you guys got lined up with Victory. What’s been the biggest benefit of being signed to such a label as opposed to doing it DIY?
We had a lucky break. It’s a long story but the short version is a person named Rhys approached us. He had been emailing Victory on our behalf, which we knew nothing about; he then said they were interested in us. We had nothing to lose, sent out our press kits, and it went from there.
You guys have a bunch of UK dates lined up for the next few months. Are there plans to get back to the states in 2013?
There are loads of shows we have yet to announce, so stay tuned!!