Stronger Than Before: Prides on losing drummers, switching genres and maintaining their Mental Health

It’s been two years, but Prides are back with a new masterpiece. We catch up with one half of the duo, Stewart Brock, to find out what they’ve been up to.

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Everyone has one of those friends you don’t see for ages, but when you catch up, it’s like you saw them yesterday. That’s what it’s like for Prides fans, who have been waiting two years (two years!) for the band to release new music. But despite the time away, it hasn’t been spent doing nothing. They’ve been trying new things and writing for not just themselves, but other musicians too, honing their sound and getting ready for the months ahead.

There’s been a lot of change since we saw Prides last – with Lewis, their drummer, putting down his sticks and moving into his other passion, producing. He produced every Prides track we heard on the last album and worked his magic on this one too, alongside production OG’s Duck Blackwell and James Reynolds. But with no drummer, new producers and a new label, what did they do with this new found freedom?

“This is our sandbox record – Lewis was always the responsible one” laughs Stewart Brock, he’s the dad. When we were making this album, both part one and two, we didn’t want to do the same thing as before, there’s more guitar stuff and a natural sound. It was daunting at first, but when we sat at the piano, writing started to flow.

“When it came to writing, patterns started to appear – part one of the album (track 1 – 7) is a stepping stone from the last with a more electronic/dance sound. Part two (track 7-14) has a rockier edge. Together, the album didn’t make sense as one, but as soon as they split it into two parts, that’s when it all came together. With part one, we’re taken on a bit of a journey through the mysterious world of the human brain, touching on Stewart’s experience with mental health. There were a few easter eggs in the last album which touched on the same subject, but they were so subtle that no-one would notice them – or so they thought. After each gig, fans would come up and talk about their experience of mental health, and how much Prides’ music helped them.

“I’m proud of the fact that I have a voice and a platform. I first started writing songs to figure out my own brain and lyrics give such an insight into those internal battles – they show you what goes on behind closed doors. We try to be as honest as possible and if that can help in any way, that’s amazing. The title of the album comes from the track ‘Born to Be Whole’ which is in part two. It’s indicative of the concept – a tide has highs and lows, just as we can experience the same.”

It’s this honesty in their music that really resonates with fans, and it’s something that Stewart and Callum have made sure to carry through to this album. There’s a lot of pressure for bands to deliver on what people know them for, but for Prides, it was more about being authentic to how their sound has developed over the last two years. A particularly eventful two years that has resulted in a lot of change (which isn’t always a bad thing).

“We made a conscious decision not to confine ourselves by ‘is this a Prides song?’ – it’s Callum and me, we are Prides after all, that makes it a Prides song. This album is an avenue to try out more genres – we can straddle across electronic, rock and piano, pushing one more than the other, depending on what fits. It’s a lost art, allowing musicians to experiment wildly. In the 70s and 80s, a band could do funk one minute and folk the other, and it was the thing. Now if you have a sound, you have to always sound like that, and sometimes it can hinder creativity.”

This album is exactly that, a release of creativity in everything from the music itself to the album art (they insisted on releasing both EPs on vinyl – Stewart’s a massive vinyl collector and wants both parts on record). With so little constraints, going with your gut is really the only thing you have to measure, which always works as a good indicator for anything, really. That gut feeling and a sense of responsibility to give something of value to those who have been waiting for two years have fueled the entire process, from piano to production to press play.

“The thinking behind this album is – ‘how can we speak to these people more directly?’ People build a personal connection, let’s absolutely make the most of that by writing songs that speak to them. Making music should be about enjoying yourself. We have to believe in that connection, and that’s what this album is all about.”

Follow Prides on Twitter and Instagram
Follow Stephanie Boyle on Twitter.

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