Manchester progressive metal band Collibus are readying the release of their highly anticipated debut album, The False Awakening. Guitarist Ste and Vocalist Gemma Fox speak to Manchester Rocks about the album, having Dr. Brian May as a fan and what's in store for 2014.
'So, who exactly are Collibus' you may ask. Collibus, as Ste puts it "are a female fronted metal band with progressive elements.," although he admits they are not strictly progressive. "You Can't exactly label us as progressive entirely (an example would be Dream Theater) but there are certainly proggy moments present. The string orchestrations, for example, add a bit of an epic feel to our sound at times. The music can vary from heavy, to soft, to technical, yet there always remains a 'hook' in each song, and something memorable for the listener.
"I don't really like labelling us as female fronted either," he continues. " That seems to spark assumptions that we are going to sound like Nightwish, Epica or Lacuna Coil, with very feminine and either operatic or softer pop-like vocal styles. Gemma seems to be the complete opposite with a more aggressive, and dare I say, masculine approach to singing, yet dynamicly a softer side to the music when needed."
With The release of The False Awakening finally here, the band are childishly excited for people to wrap their ears around the fruits of their labour.
"We've been through a lot to get here, so it feels good to finally release the album" states Gemma. "We kept breaking promises last year regarding its release due to a tonne of set backs, but we got there in the end! We just hope everyone thinks it was worth the wait!"
"I'm really excited to get the music out there," adds an ecstatic Ste. "It means that the months of slaving away in the studio working on this album have all been worthwhile."
For Ste, who wrote the majority of the music, it means he has something to show for the hours whiled away in his home studio.
"Basically, the majority of the music side has been written by myself with exception to a couple of tracks where I have collaborated with RJ [bassist]. During the writing process, I write and record at the same time in my home studio.
"I've never really been that fond of, or comfortable with writing in the practice room. When writing, I will usually record a rough demo of the song with full instrumentation and then send it off to everyone else for opinions, and we build from there.
"As for lyrics and melodies, Gemma writes the majority of her own, with RJ occasionally contributing with lyrics, and myself with melodies."
The next album, which Gemma reveals is already a topic of discussion within the circles of the band, will be a more collective effort however.
"It will take on a different approach, as now we can write knowing we have a complete line-up, and the bulk of it won't be on Ste's shoulders this time. Dan [rhythm guitar], for example, already has a load of song ideas, as does Ste, and I'm pretty sure RJ has a few riffs up his sleeve."
Despite being a metal band, the sources from which they avidly pluck inspiration are more varied they you may imagine.
Says Ste: "When it comes to metal, bands which come to mind for me are the likes of Opeth, Nevermore, Testament, Lamb Of God, Dream Theater, Meshuggah, Pantera and anything Devin Townsend has done. Too many to name to be honest; I could be here all day listing them! But I also enjoy classical music. Which is what inspired me to add string orchestrations, as well as other parts which might be classed as "non-metal", such as synth, mellotron and piano. Dan even plays flutes on one of the songs!"
The one and only Brian May has often blown the trumpet of the Manchester troupe, which is a little surreal.
Says Gemma: "I think surreal is an understatement. Queen have been my idols for years, Freddie and Brian in particular. To not only meet the man, but to have him watch me perform and then praise me after... I have to pinch myself."
"I was a bit speechless when I found out he was a fan of our music. Brian has always been one of my favourite guitarists due to his sense of melody and use of harmony," Ste gushes. When he told me that he thought I was an amazing player, I was really left quite speechless, and even more-so when he expressed an interest in my 7 string guitar!"
2014 then, looks to be huge for the band, being booked for Download 2014 is the icing on their cake. Gemma recalls her emotions about being asked to join the bill.
"It was a strange one as we were told literally about an hour after we found out we'd won the Rock The House Award. Two days later, Ste and I were on our way to Parliament to collect the award... Very strange and surreal. Playing Download Festival has always been a dream of mine, personally, ever since the first time I went back in 2005. Wow, was it really that long ago? Seems I've been chasing the dream for quite some time, but feels good to finally catch it!"
She the gives the lowdown on how the rest of 2014 is shaping up. "We've got a few things in the pipeline. A new music video being shot very soon; booking some gigs including an album party in Manchester of which we'll have details for over the coming weeks; management is working away behind the scenes on things we don't even know about yet! Safe to say, it is going to be a very busy year for us. Can not wait!"
For more information, visit www.Collibus.com
The False Awakening is released 20th January.