We’re doing things a bit differently on this #CREATORTALK, with an interview and an exclusive video debut from Serpent Tax. Check out the interview below, followed by the official video for “Fizzy Pop”, put together by bassist Kairat Gizzatov.
PW- Hey guys! How’s it going?
Pretty good. Thanks for asking.
PW- So, first thing’s first. For those who don’t know yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
We’re a three piece band based in London, but originally from Bath. We’ve been described as math rock, but like most bands we don’t really like the label we’ve been given. We definitely have some math in our blood, but we also take a lot from prog and heavier rock as well a little bit of pop. We try and keep all our songs interesting for both the audience who care how many beats we have in a bar and how fast we change keys, as well as those who just want a huge riff. We’ve also been jokingly described as “an instrumental band with vocals in”, which is quite good at summing up a good chunk of how we sound.
PW- Talk to us about the name, “Serpent Tax”, where did that come from?
The name is a homonym of Cerpin Taxt, which is a reference to a character from The Mars Volta album. We’d been playing around with different band names trying to settle on one we really like, but for our first gig we needed to commit to a name when we signed up. I (Ed) panicked and said the first name I could remember us discussing. We liked the sound of it, so we decided to keep it.
PW- You’re releasing an EP soon. What can we expect from it?
It’s our first release as a band and was put together in a bit of short space of time. We formed to enter Bath uni’s battle of the bands competition, where the prize was some recording time. We formed a month before the first event so went in with no expectation of being any good, so we where shocked when we won. That being said, I thing the five songs on it work really well together. It’s not a snapshot of a point in someone’s life or a grand concept: it sounds like three people in a room pushing each other to make the best music they can. Each song feels its own, but because of the short writing time they feel part of a larger whole. Like all projects, there are things we would have done differently, but hearing the rough mixes now we’re super proud of it and we know that people are going to love it.
PW- This blog focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Do you get super inspired out and about, or is it more of a focused effort, where you can shut off from the world and just think?
As far as musical creativity, it tends to depend on what we are currently writing – some songs have taken a lot of focus and work to write and arrange, while others almost seem to write themselves. Interestingly it seems like the more structurally complex songs often fall into the latter category, maybe because not repeating sections or using more typical song structures makes it a bit easier to write what comes naturally.
Personally (Ed speaking now), useful creativity is definitely something I have to wait to come for me. Although our songs are written as a group, they often start of as an idea by just one of us. It can be very difficult for me to give the songs the last push they need to be complete: some songs will lay dormant for years until I’m in the correct mindset to return to them. Leatherbound, the first track on the upcoming EP, has sections that I tried to make work four years ago for a completely different band. Lyrics I’m the complete opposite – I need to actually force my self to sit down with pen and paper and write something down. A lot of our lyrics I improvise at practice, so I usually have some idea, but I don’t really like screaming thematic gibberish all the time.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you guys battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
I think fundamentally it’s important to be making music because that’s what you enjoy doing. Any success you make from it is obviously great and definitely something to aim for, but if you focus too much on it you can lose that drive and your work will suffer as a result. It also helps that we have some common music interests and fundamentally agree on core concepts of the band (such as what each instrument should be doing, how we should approach songwriting and performing and how we should tackle difficulties).
I think it also helps in some ways that the band isn’t everything we do – we have the luxury to fail. You see some bands who decide to quite there jobs and all live in a van to try and make it, and in some ways I’m jealous, but that must be so much pressure to be well received. If you’re in that position and you release something that you love but your fans don’t you have no choice really but to fall back. We’re in the comfortable position of us three being the only true judges of whether a song is good or not. We’d rather fail on our terms that succeed on someone else’s.
PW- And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to, what we can watch/ listen to- no judgement!
We have been really busy recently working on our upcoming EP and music video for Fizzy Pop. We are super excited to share the music we’ve been working on for over a year now with everyone, and hope you enjoy the fruits of our hard work!
Here is the debut video for “Fizzy Pop”. Follow Serpent Tax on Facebook here