An Interview with Matt Brooks and his brothers about their band, their music and their tour in the US
Interview By Joseph Timmons: Xombiewoof Magazine
With their record-breaking new single, "Love the Way You Hate Me", smashing its way onto American airwaves, Kiwi hard rock act Like A Storm have now achieved more successful US Hard Rock singles than any other New Zealand band in history. Hard rock anthem "Love the Way You Hate Me", which features singer Chris Brooks playing the didgeridoo, has made an impact with rock fans all over North America - hitting #1 on satellite giant SiriusXM Octane.
I interviewed Matt about the bands experiences “It has been an incredible year, the last 4 touring the US, so many bands we idolized and respected made us feel welcome and made us part of their lives.” Since their debut album, "The End of the Beginning", in 2009, Like A Storm have created a compelling musical catalogue and earned the reputation as one of rock's hardest working bands.
Five years of relentless touring has seen them share American stages with rock giants Creed, Korn, Alter Bridge, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and many others. As a result, the band of Kiwi brothers has developed one of the most loyal fan bases in the country, and is now a headline act in their own right. Like A Storm's diehard fans - many of whom are inked in the band's artwork and lyrics - are widely known to travel huge distances, and show up hours early, to see the band play at some of the most iconic rock venues in the US.
Originally formed a world away in Auckland, New Zealand, Like A Storm was born when musician brothers Chris, Kent and Matt Brooks first jammed together. Growing up playing in separate bands, the combined chemistry was apparent in an instant. "We just felt this amazing musical connection," remembers guitarist Matt Brooks, "We knew that we had to start a band together."
Matt went on to say “There is a chemistry that is supportive, starting in separate bands, when it came to working together, there were no sibling rivalries, and it all came together”.
Leaving New Zealand with the dream to play their music on the world stage, Like A Storm's American career was kickstarted in 2009 in a Los Angeles recording studio. Producer and mentor Mike Plotnikoff, with whom the band lived while making their debut album, blasted the first single, "Chemical Infatuation", for Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti. As a result, Tremonti offered Like A Storm the opening slot on Creed's nationwide arena tour - an opportunity which won them thousands of fans all over the US, with their debut album, "The End of the Beginning", charging onto the Billboard charts from tour sales alone. Since that explosive entry, Like A Storm have established themselves as one of the most powerful new rock acts on the US tour circuit.
I asked Matt about his ideas on the bands direction,” We look at keeping our sound creative and real, we try not to sound like what’s on the radio, we self-produced our album, so we were able to make exactly the kind of music we wanted to make. We always wanted to be a band that had a unique perspective on music”.
Combining crushing baritone guitar riffs, ambient textures, and their three vocal attacks, Like A Storm's sound has been described as dark, yet uplifting. The band's hard-hitting rock anthems can be heard on the radio on both sides of the world - in the USA, Canada and on New Zealand's biggest rock station, The RockFM. The record-breaking new single, "Love the Way You Hate Me", showcases the band's massive musical growth on their recent sophomore effort, "Chaos Theory: Part 1" which was initially intended to be recorded in a typical US studio, but due to their insane touring schedule, the band decided to instead make the record while out on the road.
As a result, Like A Storm's second album was recorded in backstage rooms and hotels all across the US. "Basically we didn't sleep for two months straight," laughs singer Chris Brooks, "After every show we would wheel two carts full of recording equipment into our hotel rooms… Asking the staff to put us as far away from the other guests as possible."
Whilst initially proving to be something of a logistical nightmare, recording an album while out on a nationwide US tour turned out to be hugely positive for the band. "It was actually a really awesome way to make a record," says Matt, "Walking offstage every night and going straight into making our new album really enabled us to capture all the energy of our live show."
Recording outside of the constraints of the regular studio environment also gave Like A Storm the freedom to realize their ambitious vision - an album where hard rock contrasts haunting acoustics, and progressive metal collides with the primal tones of the didgeridoo - all while retaining the powerful, meaningful lyrics that the band are known for. Matt let us in on a bit of Like A Storm lore, “Chris taught himself how to play the didgeridoo in less than 3 days and it came to be part of our shows and who we are. It is part of our sound and connects us with our home”
"Chaos Theory: Part 1", produced by the multi-instrumentalist Brooks brothers, and has been widely regarded as a huge step forward for the band. The record has already yielded two successful singles - "Never Surrender" (voted "Song of the Year" by Mid-Atlantic Rock Review), and their latest hard rock anthem "Love the Way You Hate Me".
Ironically, the chart-climbing "Love the Way You Hate Me" was never intended to be a single. Surprised by its recent success, Chris says, "We honestly never thought it would be on the radio. It was just this heavy song that we thought would be awesome to play live! We even put this long indulgent didgeridoo breakdown in it, which we thought would probably stop any station from ever playing it." he laughs. But after Michigan station 101.5FM The Banana unexpectedly spun the song one night on their "Cagematch" song competition, listeners responded overwhelmingly.
"Love the Way You Hate Me" went on to win every night for over a month until it was retired from the competition - shattering the station's existing record. Radio stations all over North America started taking notice of the song - with its unique musical statement, "Love the Way You Hate Me" has grabbed the attention of rock fans all over North America.
Matt said during the interview “We love to keep in touch with our fans and meet with them and converse on social media, through videos and meet and greets. We want the videos and content is consistent with the vision of the band. Since our first tour with Creed, we meet and talk, take pictures, we are literally the last band out and we build a relationship with whoever we can.”
In their video for "Love the Way You Hate Me", there is a strong message, not just a “zombie” video, but so much more, Matt told us “The video has a symbolic view; “the Zombies” are haters, those that detract and tear you down, pulling at you and trying to take you apart. Our fans have been a big part of our success and made it possible for us, so we had our fans in the video.” When asked how it was to work with the fans so closely, matt added, “Well, No missing fingers or toes, although the fans did embrace the roughing up part, we got a bit beat up. The video was done in a 24 hour shoot over 2 days and it went better than expected”.
In closing, Matt shared this though “I would describe our music as a sound that moves people and it has a vibe conveys our thoughts and emotions, what it’s all about, we want to mean something to anyone and everyone who hears us. We want to make music that is larger than life”. I am new to Like A Storm and their powerful, raw yet technically polished sound, but now, I am a big fan, and like all of their fans, a real “Storm Chaser”.
Join the chase! Visit the following links and check out their music and possible catch them live!