Higher Power from Leeds, UK say they are "for the moshers by the moshers" and there is plenty of the mosh to go around these days after the recent release of their debut full length ("Soul Structure") this past May on Flatspot Records here in the US and Venn Records in Europe. Leading up to this debut there were plenty of signs of hard work within the Higher Power ranks with multiples releases since their 2015 demo on top of plenty of shows and tours including a quick run to the US East Coast in 2016. With the new full length out on the streets it's now back to work with multiple music videos having already been released as well as plans for more touring. Higher Power brings a unique and fresh sound to the table with influences that range from Crown Of Thornz to the lesser known Merauder demo with Leeway's Eddie Sutton on vocals. We caught up with frontman Jimmy Wizard in this May 2017 interview to get more of their story... Special thanks to Natalie Wood for photos used within this interview.
IE: What's up Jimmy. Give us a little intro to who Higher Power is please.
Jimmy: Higher Power is me; Jimmy on vocals, my brother Alex on drums, Ethan on bass and Max and Loui on guitars. Were all between 23 and 26 years old I think, haha! Higher Power started when my brother (Alex) moved up to Leeds from London and was living in my spare room. As kids we never really got the chance to play music together growing up even though we were both into the same kind of music. So when he moved here first thing we wanted to do was record a demo together… just the 2 of us. We started jamming and got Loui involved to help with guitar so I could play bass when we recorded the demo I ended up singing as well. Before we had even released the demo Ethan had heard about it and wanted in straight away.
IE: I first heard the name Higher Power when you guys were included on the Flatspot Compilation late in 2016. Did you find that the band got a lot of exposure from that comp? Growing up I found many bands via compilations and today you just don’t see that many of them.
Jimmy: That's cool. We were super stoked to get asked to do that alongside some of the best bands around so I figured we would get some exposure from it if people were checking it out to hear all these other cool bands. Yeah I got into a lot of bands through the “Punk O Rama” comps and “Give ‘Em The Boot” when I was a kid. It's a shame labels don't do them more but I guess that's been replaced by just posting bands Bandcamps on Facebook or Instagram and it's hard to keep up with everything that way.
IE: You guys have created this positive buzz in the underground scene by coming up with some creative sounds on your new album. When I hear it I hear some Leeway and Turnstile in there but there is definitely a unique style to everything. One of our In Effect staff team even compared your vocals to Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction. What were you guys grooving on when you got together to put this band together and what was discussed at that time as far as the direction of the band’s sound?
Jimmy: The original idea for the band came from me and Alex wanting to create something like the Eddie Sutton Merauder demo. We loved how raw it was and how the music was so hard but the clean vocals gave it so much more dynamic and style. We are both super into NYHC and metal and a lot of bands around at the time we're doing the NYHC thing but not taking influence from some of the things that made it so unique like the clean vocals of Eddie and Maximum Penalty… or the melodic edge of Crown Of Thornz so we wanted to try do something that paid a little more homage to that side of things. That was the original idea to just do a demo of that nature but it's kind of progressed from there especially on the LP. With the vocals I take a lot of influence from bands like Janes Addiction and Alice In Chains… all those grunge/alt rock bands… I love that sound.
IE: I read that this is your first go at singing in a band and that you didn't like the vocals on your demo. Do you feel like you have come a ways along now and how would you rate yourself at this point? Give us your honest opinion on how you think you sound now as compared to when you first started. What things within your singing would you like to get better at?
Jimmy: Yeah I had shouted in a few very short lived bands when I was 15/16 but as far as singing went I had never really tried it or thought I could do it. When we were recording the demo I was trying to find people to sing on it but no one was really interested. I knew exactly what I wanted the vocals to do with the music and how I wanted them to be so whenever I would ask people they would just tell me to do it. I think I had 1 practice before recording the vocals for the demo. I didn't wanna release it after hearing the songs back but my girlfriend sent a video of it to a few friends and they convinced me to release it, haha. I would say I'm very much still learning about my voice and what I can do. I feel it's still kind of a trial and error thing when trying to write vocal parts but I can listen to the LP and feel ok about it. I pushed myself as hard as I could with it and I'm proud of how it came out even if I'm not completely happy with it. I am starting to feel more comfortable with singing and what I sound like. I feel like I'm learning as I go but I guess that's because I didn't have any previous experience. I just try to practice as much as I can so I can be more confident and enjoy it. People seem to like it so I'm just trying to embrace it. I feel like I'm trying to learn but the band is progressing really fast and people are taking notice so I'm trying to keep up now.
IE: From doing interviews with many singers in hardcore bands it's apparent that it is not just getting up there and screaming your lungs out. What were the early stages of picking up the mic like for you and how did you hone your craft sort of speak because you sound pretty damn good for someone only a couple of years into it.
Jimmy: Thanks, I appreciate that. Like I said, I only stepped up to do the vocals for the demo because no one else would and I had this vision. I had a few singing lessons before recording the LP just to try to understand about how it all works. Right now I'm just trying to get better at singing live. It's super hard to put a lot of energy and jump around and try and hold a tune when you are out of breath! So I'm just trying to find that balance live and keep trying to progress so I can get more creative with it. It's also helped me try get a bit healthier. To keep getting my cardio up and eating healthy, especially on tour. It sucks when you’re not sleeping and eating properly and getting ill all the time and losing your voice so it's helped me learn to look after myself more for sure.
IE: Is everyone in the band from the Leeds, UK area? If not where did you grow up and how did you and your friends find out about hardcore? What were some of the first records you bought? First shows you remember going to?
Jimmy: No one from Higher Power is actually from Leeds. Me and Alex grew up just outside of London, Louis and Max are from the Midlands. Ethan is the only true Northerner in the band… he's from Bradford which is just down the road from Leeds. I found out about hardcore through punk and I tried to show my brother a lot of stuff since we shared a room as kids. I think he kind of found it on his own after I moved out though with the stuff I left behind. As for everyone else in the band I can't remember their stories… I remember always having metal CD’s at my disposal because my dad was into Metallica and Megadeth and stuff so I was kind of bought up on that. My first CD’s of my own that I got that I loved were Rancid “And Out Come The Wolves” and Nirvana “Nevermind”… they changed my life after hearing them. I just wanted to find more bands like that. Metal was cool but I wanted to find my own thing as I thought my dad was a loser, haha. I remember seeing Chain Of Strength as another street punk bands top friend on My Space. I thought it was cool and it sounded kind of the same but they didn't dress up so I ordered the CD off E-Bay. I started going to any kind of local punk show there was. I remember my first hardcore show in London was a pre-show for Ninja Fest and I got my tooth knocked out. I thought it was crazy!
PHOTO BY: NATALIE WOOD
IE: Who came up with the name Higher Power and does it have any special meaning behind it? When you pair that name with the title of the new record “Soul Structure” it just gives everything this fresh vibe that kind of blends with what the music is doing. A lot of bands go for tough sounding names and you guys seem to avoid that while still maintaining this hard edge. Care to comment on that?
Jimmy: I just thought it sounded cool and me and Alex agreed on it. I have always been into that spiritual vibe of Cro-Mags, 108, Shelter etc so I wanted something to fit with that and sound cool. I think it's important for everything to tie together. I wanted the name of the record to reflect on what I was trying to write about in the songs. The music is hard, it's hardcore but I'm just trying to figure out my place in the world and better myself as a person. I don't have nothing to prove or wanna give it a hard sounding name because that's not where I'm coming from with it lyrically. That's why I love Crown Of Thornz. The music is hard and they're from this mad place but he's writing about real life and all the emotions that come with the shit you got to go through.
HIGHER POWER @ THE 2016 IEPERFEST HELD IN BELGIUM
IE: Tell us a little about this new record “Soul Structure”. Favorite track musically... and why?
Jimmy: My favorite track on the record is probably “Balance”… mid-paced, groovy rocker… cool harmonies, cool guitar solo… just got that cool vibe about it. Makes me wanna dance.
IE: Favorite track lyrically? What makes it a favorite and where do you usually find inspiration for writing lyrics?
Jimmy: That's a tough one. All the songs are real personal and I kinda use writing to figure out my own thoughts like I'm trying to summarize what's going on in my head or how I'm feeling. I'm not a very open person. I keep a lot of that stuff to myself because I don’t know how to talk about stuff or how to approach it so writing it in a song is a good way for me to try reach out and explain what I got going on. Hopefully people can understand me better and I can understand myself. I try to keep them real simple and catchy. Still I'm not trying to be poetic. I'm not so good with words haha. I usually come up with 1 line or phrase for a chorus or something and try and build on that.
IE: The new album which was announced last year was to be on Carry The Weight Records but now a split release with Flatspot out of the US and Venn out of the UK. What happened with Carry The Weight?
Jimmy: We kind of rushed into things. We took the first offer from anyone who wanted to put out the LP because we didn't think anyone else would be interested but you live and learn. Carry The Weight just couldn't offer us anything more than we could do for ourselves and Ricky from Flatspot and Ian from Venn had been helping us so much of their own backs. We knew we wanted to ask them since they had shown so much interest with nothing to gain as they knew Carry The Weight were supposed to be putting it out… it just felt right to do it through them.
IE: If you scan over Higher Power's social media, the last year or more seems to have been a whirlwind of tours as well as spots on some high end shows. Outbreak and Ieper Fests are two off the top of my head. With all the time on the road is everyone still holding down regular day jobs? If so what does each member do for work?
Jimmy: Yeah it's been super busy but I'm lucky I tattoo so I work for myself and the guys at the shop don't mind me taking the time off saying that I don't make any money when I'm not working but as long as I got work when I get back it's not so bad . Ethan is the master of hustling… paid time off from work. I dunno anyone else who could get months of work and still get paid. It's crazy, he works for a water company here in their office. Alex, Loui and Max have all given up and lost jobs to tour last year. They have just been doing odd jobs to get by between tours. It's been hard for all of us not making money but we all decided there's nothing else we would rather be doing than traveling the world and playing hardcore so we're just enjoying the ride.
PHOTO BY: JORDAN CARROLL
IE: How many shows would you guess you guys have under your belts now and what would you say was the best one from a performance standpoint as well as crowd reactions?
Jimmy: I have no idea how many shows we have done. Time and numbers are not my strong point but it's been crazy the amount of shows we have done in such a short amount of time as a band. The first show outside of the UK we ever played was a sold out show at the Acheron in New York. Joe from Outburst and Jorge from Merauder were there to see us. We we're meant to borrow Red Death’s gear and they didn't show up in time. We had to scab together some gear from whoever was there. It was mad stressful and knowing guys from bands we looked up to current and past we're there made it even more scary but we played and people went off. It was so cool… best and worst experience of my life, haha! Outbreak just gone was crazy as well… people kept saying it was the maddest reaction they have seen for a U.K. band. I couldn't really tell at the time as I was too busy rocking but that's a cool thing to hear. Any show in Glasgow as well. We love playing there. They got a cool scene and kids go off with style.
IE: What are the plans going forward for the foreseeable future with Higher Power? What's on tap as far as touring, upcoming shows, will there be any more videos made from songs on this new album? Thanks for taking the time to do this!
Jimmy: We can't wait to get the LP out now and keep touring and playing new places. We got a bunch of cool tours lined up. I can't say who with right now because they haven't been formally announced and I don't wanna ruin anything but we will be in the US for a month in September and we got a few Euro tours at the end of the year for fests and one with a tour package. Next up is Venice Hardcore Fest in Italy and the release party in Leeds on June 3rd… and 2 shows in Germany with Trapped Under Ice a few weeks after… and another video for when the LP drops. Very exciting. This year’s gonna be busy as I'm sure more stuff will come up. Thanks for asking us, it's been fun, rock on.
CLICK COVERS TO LISTEN
"SOUL STRUCTURE" MAY, 2017
"LIVE IN NOTTS '15"
"SPACE TO BREATH" AUGUST 2015
VIDEO: "FOUR WALLS BLACK"
VIDEO: "CAN"T RELATE"