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Interview: WSTR

Liverpool quintet WSTR put a capital ‘P’ back into the pop punk scene with the riotous rampage of their debut album, ‘Red, Green And Inbetween’. We caught up with guitarist Sammy Clifford to get the skinny on the band’s plans for #DL2018 and if there’s any chance of a collab with their mates Neck Deep.

WSTR’s name may have originated from the band feeling like they “were just wasted space”, but their heady three year trajectory has proved otherwise. The band’s infectious hyper post punk, influenced by a sugary diet of US post punk giants Blink-182, New Found Flory and Sum 41, saw them signed up by American indie label No Sleep Records Before they’d even played a show.

Cutting their teeth out on the road with buddies Neck Deep, the band released their debut album ‘Red, Green And Inbetween’ last year to a rapturous reception. With album #2 already recorded and in the bag, we can’t wait to see their sure to be supercharged performance on The Avalanche Stage Hosted by Kerrang! Radio Fresh Blood.

Guitarist Sammy Clifford battled a cold speak to us about his ultimate Download memory, who he listens to when he’s battling a break-up and if the band will be dropping Limp Bizkit back into their set.

You released your debut album ‘Red, Green Or Inbetween’ last year nearly two years on from your debut EP, SKRWD. How did it feel to get it out? How do you think you’ve changed in those years?

We didn’t actually have that much time. We released our first EP in September 2015 and then we were in the studio writing and recording the album at the end of 2015, so I don’t feel we had that much time to change massively. We wrote similar songs, but they seemed a lot more proper and bigger…we wrote better, bigger songs, I think. We didn’t have that much time to change massively, so I don’t think anything drastically changed from the EP to the album. I think it was a step up though.

Whereabouts did you record it? Who did you work on it with?

We recorded it with my friend Seth Barlow in Wrexham where I’m from. We’ve recorded everything we’ve ever done with him; we feel the most comfortable there and I think we bring the best out of each other.

You’ve been open in saying the album is about a break-up. What did you want people to get out of the album? Was it cathartic for you to write?

It was for me, but I feel like it’s not a mental experience no one has felt before – it’s pretty standard and relatable. It’s not the end of the world, at the time you think it’s the end of the world and you’re not going to get past it, but it’s not is it? It’s going to be ok.

That’s what mainly all the WSTR songs have been about so far. It pretty much was a break-up record, though. I think a lot of people can relate to [it], especially at the age of a lot of our demographic; they’ll be having their first relationships, thinking that that’s ‘the one’ and when it isn’t they think it’s the end of the world but it never is.

When you were going through your break-up did you have a go-to album you were listening to?

For me it was ‘Sticks And Stones’, New Found Glory. That was my personal one.

How’s it been playing the tracks live?

Really fun, we much prefer the new album songs to the EP songs and we think they go down a lot better as well. They sound a lot bigger and more like proper songs. Some people are saying they’ve lost the edge compared to the EP, but they seem to go down better live. There’s always people who hate on it and stuff, but we’ve never really bought into that too much.

Are you releasing any more singles from the album?

No, there’ll be no more. The  ‘Red, Green Or Inbetween’ cycle has ended. We’re written a new album, it’s recorded and stuff.

You were out on the road a lot last year on your own headline tour and supporting Neck Deep, Roam, Seaway, Trash Boat. What are your favourite memories from those shows?

There’s so many! I remember our first bus tour with Neck Deep was the first time we ever came out of the country and that was pretty special. We all shared a bus: there was us, Neck Deep and Creeper all on one bus – a 24 bunker – that was pretty crazy. There wasn’t any space to move! There was a lot of drinking and a lot fun on that tour. That was probably my favourite from the memory bank.

You used to include a cover of Limp Bizkit’s ‘Break Stuff’ in your set but dropped it. If you were going to include a cover in the set what would it be?

We only put that in because we were on the Neck Deep tour and we’d only just started and we didn’t have enough songs to fill out the set…someone said: “you need to add something” and we were like “what’s the easiest song to play?” ‘Break Stuff’ came to mind and we just practiced backstage, not even properly, before Southampton Guildhall which was our biggest show to date at that point.

It went down too well, to be honest. We never heard the end of it and now every time we play people just shout, “break stuff!”…It’s always good, we bring it out at headliners every now and again. Covers now? Maybe we could try ‘Rollin’ next time [laughs].

You’re playing Download for the first time on the Avalanche stage. Have you been to Download before as a punter?

Yeah, Download was the first festival I ever went to. After my GCSE’s my mum, because my birthday’s around then, bought me tickets years ago. It was the first festival I ever went to, so it’s going to be a special one for me.

What’s your favourite memory of Download?

I don’t think I can remember that much to be honest [laughs]. One of my favourite memories from Download ever was Slipknot. It was when Slipknot headlined for the first time…that was probably the best show I’ve ever seen. That was amazing.

Slipknot Download 2009

You’re friends Neck Deep are headlining the Avalanche Stage. Any chance of a collaboration on the day?

Yeah, we’ll probably hang out. We don’t get to see them a whole bunch anymore. I hung out with them over the album, because I recorded it at Seb’s house who’s Ben’s brother and Ben was off for a bit and he was there for a lot of it. We don’t get to see them that much anymore, so we usually hang out quite a lot when we’re playing together.

[A collaboration] is not out of the question. I’m not sure, we haven’t spoken about it or anything but we could do that would be cool.

Who else are you looking forward to seeing at Download?

I wanna watch Manson, he’s there. Avenged Sevenfold, that’s one for me.

What are your three festival essentials?

Just beer three times.

Obviously we have the Download Dog. Do you own a dog and what’s your favourite breed?

I have a Jack Russell called Lily. She’s pretty crazy and very hyperactive. She’s one of them that thinks she’s way bigger than she is. She’s one of those dogs that’s so hyper they almost backflip – she bounces off the walls. I really like bulldogs at the moment and overly massive dogs; i like the Tibetan Mastiffs as well.

At Download we have Old Sarum tattoo parlour. What’s the best WSTR inspired tattoo you’ve seen?

This girl came up to me, in Frankfurt maybe, and it was really busy and someone past me a piece of paper and said: “can you write ‘happy ever after’ on this?” Which is one of our lyrics and I said “yeah yeah sure” in a rush. And, then the girl came up to me in Munich and said, “i got this tattooed on me”. I was like “oh sh*t, i didn’t know this was a tattoo”, otherwise I would have made more effort on it. It was pretty sick though, it looked good and I was quite happy how it came out considering I had no idea.

Have you got any band tattoos yourself?

I have one of our band, i have the first EP title screwed on my wrist. I have Blink-182 lyrics on my shoulders, which is the only other band thing I have on me.


WSTR will be getting The Avalanche Stage Hosted By Kerrang! Radio Fresh Blood  bouncing at #DL2018. See you in the pit?