Neck Deep are a pop-punk band from Wrexham (UK), composed of Ben Barlow (vocals), Matt West (guitars), Sam Bowden (guitars), Fil Thorpe-Evans (bass/backing vocals) and Dani Washington (drums). Right now the band just ended the promoting tour for their latest album “The Peace And The Panic”, which came out August 18th via Hopeless Records.

On October 29th, the band had a show in Milan (Italy) and I had the chance to sit down with guitarist Matt West, to ask him some questions…

Photo credit: Andrea Kronos Photography

Hi West, first of all thank you so much for your time, it’s nice to meet you! And congratulations for this tour, it’s a massive one with lots of dates and four great bands, how is it going so far?

West: It’s been mad, especially the UK part…

I’ve seen some photos of Machester, at the O2 Arena, it was huge!

West: It was crazy honestly, Manchester especially for me was like…that’s the venue I used to go and see bands playing when I was really young, so it’s just weird being on the other side of the curtain and being on the stage. I came off stage and I was like wrecked, I was crying my eyes out. It was good, really really good.

And now you have a sold-out show tonight.

West: Yeah it’s just been like, every show so far has been close to selling out or selling out which is just wild considering two/three years ago when we didn’t really ‘struggle’, but we didn’t get that many people coming out. Touring the mainland Europe is so much better recently. This has been the best headline European tour we’ve done ever.

I know you’ve been asked this a lot by now, but for the ones who still don’t know, can you explain the reasoning behind the album title?

West: The album’s called ‘The Peace And The Panic’, and it just kind of represent our lives in the past two years, since the last album came out, which is called ‘Life’s Not Out to Get You’…which we still stand by that statement a lot but it’s just reality, and life. It just represents the two sides of life, when a moment is peaceful and the next can be full of animosity and full of trials, tribulations and then it goes back to the peaceful side, and it’s just…a contrast of both sides of life.

In an interview, you guys said that in this record you wanted to talk about some real issues. What made you say ‘I wanna go and write about…’, for example, politics, which is also seen as a very delicate topic?

West: I think I can speak for Ben and say that, he’s always said since we have some sort of platform, even if it gets just one person engaged in thinking about politics, or thinking about something that wouldn’t have thought before, it’s great, because that person might’ve never thought or take an interest in that and say “I feel how he’s feeling”.

Lyrically speaking, how do you guys balance to put everyone’s perspective in a song?

West: Oh, there is one head in the lyrics and that’s Ben. Normally what Ben would do is, he brings like a skeleton of the song in, a full song that he’s written, and then we just like work on different parts and help him out but Ben is a genius when it comes to writing lyrics, he always has been. He’s really good with melody, good with lyrics, his favorite thing to do is coming to the studio and go like “I got this, it’s not very good”, then he sings it, and we go like “That’s great! You don’t need to change anything!”, it’s the typical Ben, every time!

Have you ever not necessarily ‘fought’, but had some more or less strong disagreement over some lyrics?

West: Not lyrics. Never, honestly. It’s always been a pretty smooth sailing on the lyrics side of things.

How did the whole collaboration with Sam Carter happen?

West: We wrote the song, we didn’t really set out this album to have any features on it, just because we had a few on the last album. We wrote the part and we’re just like “Would be great if someone could scream over it” and we thought of Sam because we’re all just great Architects fans and somehow now we’re like friends with them now which is wild, and he just said “Give me a day or two to listen to it” then he came back and said “Yeah, let’s do it”

Can you see yourselves doing other ‘crossover collaborations’ in the future?

West: It depends really. If it fits the song, yes, because we didn’t set out to have a screaming part on the album but it felt like it needed something. We’d never consciously write something for someone else to come onto. So if it feels right and we find the right person and it feels like they should be, sure, why not.

Is there any song that didn’t make it to the record that right now you’re like, “We probably should’ve put that song in here”…?

West: There’s a lot of songs that we didn’t use, we ran into the studio and we have like 28 different ideas. Some full songs, some like a verse and a chorus and we just worked on that. We sat down with Mike Green, the guy that produced the record, and he was like “We can work on this one if you want, but you should do this fist, then if we have time we’ll do this one”, and we did that. There are a few but we’ll see, they might come back in the future, they’re still there…

Photo credit: Andrea Kronos Photography

I know you’re selling limited prints at each show for this tour, how did you come up with the idea?

West: We basically saw Blink-182 do it and thought “That’s sick, we should do it!” (laughs). Especially for the UK dates, it was such a big tour for us and we wanted something personal to commemorate it and it’s such a big thing for fans who’ve come to see us since day one. They just look cool, pretty much!

Do you have a specific design inspired by a particular country or…? Like, we’re gonna use this design for Spain, or Italy…

West: Can’t say…who knows? (laughs)

Since you use this kind of comic visuals quite often, have you ever thought about making maybe a limited edition artbook about Neck Deep iconography?

West: …I have now! (laughs) Now that you’ve mentioned it…I’d love to! A lot of the art side of things, with artwork and merch, I handle a lot of that. All the merch on this tour, I made all of it, all the designs and stuff, I drew and made them all in Photoshop. I don’t know, maybe! It will be cool to dig through the archives and have like maybe a t-shirt we haven’t printed, in a book. Tha would be quite cool, I’d like to do that. You gave me an idea!

I have one last question for you: do you have any Halloween costume planned this year? It would be hard to top Slipneck though…

West: Oooh, right! This is the thing: on Halloween this year, the show that we’re doing is a live on air thing, and they wanted us to do a cover. And we were like “We’re doing Slipneck” and they were like “We want you to do something that is more classic, like, in your genre” and we were like “We’re doing Slipneck” and they were like “…You can’t do it”, so we’re not allowed to do Slipneck unfortunately, so…maybe next year. We still got the costumes and we still really, really, really wanna do it cause it’s just funny. It was mad, how much hate we got for that online, people be like “You’re not Slipknot, how dare you dress up as them!” but, that’s the idea! It’s Halloween! It’s meant to look terrible, it’s meant to look like we’ve just gone to a Walmart or a shopping center and just bought really bad costumes. That’s how it’s supposed to look! So one day, it was great, we got like everyone doing it, it wasn’t just the band. We got our driver dressed as well, our drum tech was on stage, we had a baseball bat, it was mad. I’d love to do it again, but unfortunately not this year, but we’ll see. Who knows…

Again, thank you so much for your time, it was very nice too meet you!

You’re very welcome, thank you!

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