What have you missed most about touring?
“The entire life! It’s not just like, ‘Oh, damn, I didn’t get to play some gigs….’ Once it’s ripped away, you realise it’s everything. It was who I was, and who the other guys were, right down to the cores of our bones. Then, suddenly, it’s not anymore. I miss every single part of it. I miss being able to play our songs and connect with the audience. I miss being able to come offstage feeling like I’ve left every bit of energy out there, having accomplished something. I miss smelling like crap for a month straight out on the road and being able to finally have a good shower when I get home. I miss the feeling of not being able to sleep properly because the bus is rocking as it’s going down the road. I miss shitty catering. I miss all of it!”
You effectively lost the whole touring cycle for Viva The Underdogs. Did that feel like a derailment or more like a chance to recharge and gain perspective on those little things you love?
“It’s both. It was a blessing and a harsh reality-check. It’s not like we ever really took this life for granted, but now we never could. It was a good circuit-breaker. It made me question how much gas we really had left in the tank, and whether that relentless drive we’ve had going for 17 years straight could have led us to a burnout. I didn’t watch the Viva The Underdogs movie for like a year after it came out, but I did again when it came on Netflix over here a couple of months ago. It made us say, ‘Holy shit! Look how much we have on our shoulders!’ So I think it was good to have this reset period. Even if it has cost us a touring cycle, it’s better for the longevity of this band, and it fuels the hunger to come back.”
What have you been up to during the time away?
“At first it felt like we were just surrendering to the fact that this ain’t ending soon. Sinking into a different reality. We’ve always said that, at some point, the end goal is to get out of this grind to be able to spend more time with our families and appreciate where we’re from. This was that being forced upon you. We’ve spent so long away from our loved ones, it was just great to be there and be 100 per cent present. Two of the guys in the band have had second kids, so their families have grown. It was actually nice to disconnect for a little bit and feel it flow away from you – because you couldn’t really fight it, to be honest.”
“Then we just started up with what we’re passionate about: writing some new songs, planning for the future, doing what it is that we do, but without the pressure of knowing that in a month’s time you need to be back on the road, and then you need to be in the studio. That [traditional timetable] is a very exhilarating cycle to be in, but once you’re in it, you’re never released from it. It felt like since we’d first created a set’s worth of songs, we just hadn’t stopped. To be in a situation where you can start creating again without an end-date is just an incredibly liberating feeling. It cuts it back down to the fact that you’re putting together a concept that resonates with you, and writing music that you enjoy listening to. It was just about the simple joy of being in a band.”