Broken Empire are rockers from the Towcester and Oxford area. Ieuan Owen is on vocals, Matt Stevens on guitar, Marco Arena on bass, and Ricky Hill on drums. New Boots celebrates their recent two singles by asking them what them tick in our patented in-depth conversation/interview.
How did you guys get together?
Ricky Hill: In 2017 Ben [band manager] put out an advert online about starting a new band project and that we require a guitarist, bass player and vocals. Matt got in contact and we had a jam together which just clicked straight away. A few months after that we found Marco and we knew he would fit perfectly. After starting to put together a few complete songs we found Ieuan. His influences on the songs we had roughly written was spot on for what we were looking for.
Marco Arena: I remember it was one day before my birthday! The day before I had a chat with Ben, and he asked me if I was available to join the guys for a jam the next day!
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Ieuan Owen: I’d describe our sound as hard rock/metal, although we don’t tend to fit into a set subgenre. We’re a very riff driven band!
Matt Stevens: Our sound is modern but with plenty of influences from history. It’s a sweeping range of bands from Killswitch Engage to Alter Bridge, and I personally like throwing in Petrucci and Jason Becker touches.
Ricky Hill: Personally my main influences are Alter Bridge, Disturbed, Periphery, Tremonti…the list could go on and on! I think our sound reflects on all of our influences and creates a great combination of heavy metal and hard rock.
What was the reaction like to your self-titled EP from last year?
Ieuan Owen: The reaction was exceptional. Considering it was recorded quickly just to get it out there, it has exceeded our expectations, and the songs themselves are still largely staples in our set!
Ricky Hill: I was blown away from the reaction that we have received for our EP. It definitely helped having a lot of online radio stations playing it, which gave us a wider audience, and as for the streams on Spotify I think it’s done extremely well for a self promoted and produced EP.
Marco Arena: As a new, self promoted band in the music scene I would say we got really decent feedback from our previous record. Hopefully it’s going to be even better in the future! Fingers crossed!
Matt Stevens: The reaction was awesome as we self promoted, and over several months picked up almost 20,000 streams across the record. Really appreciate the promotions from local radio and online radio stations and Facebook reviewers.
Tell us everything about these new singles, ‘No More Light’ and ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’.
Ricky Hill: ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ is definitely the most commercial out of the two I’d say: quick fast, short and punchy with meaningful lyrics – which of course can be interpreted in different ways and would mean different things to different people. ‘No More Light’ has a touch of our heavy side but still stays true to our sound, both portraying the battle people have with mental struggles.
Matt Stevens: From a music standpoint we wanted ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ to be in your face, make you listen and keep driving all the way to the end. ‘No More Light’ goes through a range of emotions, from steady rhythms to staccato, to minor/major feels and dark dissonant sections to really portray the difficulties people suffer internally.
Ieuan Owen: Both of these singles are fun to play, and to listen to. Both are lyrically coming from the battles people struggle with, a war of the mind as such, and I hope that people who delve into the lyrics can find there own meaning, for whatever hits home for them.
What are your live shows like?
Matt Stevens: Our live shows are all about the music; we focus on making the sound and the tracks as good as possible so people will want to listen!
Ricky Hill: Full of high energy and definitely keeps people interested throughout. We all have a unique stage presence and this definitely comes across when we’re playing live. Come and see us and find out for yourselves!
Ieuan Owen: They are fun, and as a band we pride ourselves on being tight and polished live. We enjoy performing and hopefully it shows.
Matt Stevens: We try as much as we can to have the most similar sound that you can hear when you listen to our studio songs. We also used to add some live intros and some interludes in our live show which you can’t find in the studio songs.
Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire/Oxfordshire, playing with like- minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
Marco Arena: O2 Academy Oxford is a cool venue for sure! Stormbringer is definitely a band that I would gladly play again with. Which is good as we are playing with them again very soon!
Ricky Hill: We play at a variety of venues with loads of different bands. It’s always good to get gigs with similar bands so that the energy is in the room throughout the night. But equally playing with different bands is just as good. Playing at the O2 Academy Oxford was amazing but I really enjoy playing at small, intimate venues as well – one of my favourites being Fat Lil’s, Witney.
Matt Stevens: Northants and Oxford are doing a lot to support rock music. Of course things could always be better, but there’s a lot of dedication from the rock promoters out there. Dedicated rock venues are always killer.
Ieuan Owen: Some of our favourite venues are The Wheatsheaf in Banbury, Fat Lils in Witney, and Wheatsheaf in Oxford. I personally enjoy going to local and larger gigs as and when I can, inspiration and influence can come from anywhere! Stormbringer were probably my favourite band to play with so far, they are such nice guys, and our music fitted well together. We’ll always enjoy gigs supporting them!
What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Ieuan Owen: Probably headlining the 02 Academy, because not only was it awesome to do, but we didn’t feel out of place being there!
Ricky Hill: Marco deciding to set fire to someone else’s bass amp on stage – albeit not his fault, but still a hilarious moment.
Matt Stevens: Marco showing us what is under the hood! You won’t see him without a hat.
Marco Arena: Playing the Finals of Metal 2 The Masses was probably my top moment!
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Ricky Hill: Of Mice and Men – Restoring Force: Full Circle
Ieuan Owen: Reverence by Parkway Drive – can’t get enough of that album!
Marco Arena: Pantera discography. (I felt a bit nostalgic!)
Matt Stevens: Twelve Foot Ninja – Outlier
What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Matt Stevens: Download Festival main stage with a three-part harmonised solo with Jason Hook, Mark Tremonti and Matt Stevens!
Marco Arena: Trying to share a stage with Alter Bridge would be pretty good!
Ricky Hill: Would love to play some big festivals and just generally get our name out there a bit more to a wider audience. Would be amazing to record a live session in a world famous studio and if I’m not asking too much, then maybe go on tour with Alter Bridge as well! Loads of gigs coming up and plenty of recording happening though so who knows what the future holds for Broken Empire.
Ieuan Owen: In the future we hope to play further away, as well as bigger local shows. We’d love to do a small tour of some sort should we get the chance. But one step at a time, we’re proud of how far we’ve already come!
‘No More Light’ and ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ are out now via the usual digital platforms