Ste Arands from Boss Keloid: An Interview

Boss Keloid has just put out an amazing new album.

And what an album it is — multi-layered, complex, and abundant both in progressive ideas and some serious ear candy, it's one of my favorites so far this year. In this interview with drummer Ste Arands, we chat about writing complex songs, the effect the pandemic had on the band, and early (and surprising) inspirations.

Weirding: Your music is chock full of time signature changes, harmonic asides, and other complexities. So, I'm interested in what your songwriting sessions look like. Do you write out charts of one type or another? Do you go: "Hey, remember to do the duh-da-duh-duh-da part in the 5/4 break"? Or are you all just telepathically linked?

Ste: A bit of each of those to be honest. 

Most of what we write begins with one of Paul's signature weird riffs, and we'll grow the idea from there. Sometimes the riff spawns a counter melody from someone, or a completely new section. Sometimes people will chip in with rhythmic or melodic changes that can be made. 

Weirding: So it’s pretty collaborative.

Ste: It's a collaborative effort from all of us really. 

The whole process used to be a lot more organized, but a lot less natural sounding. These days we generally just jam on ideas until something new or interesting happens, and if it does, we'll record it and carry on.

Weirding: You've got shows on your calendar again! How stoked are you about that?

Ste: I haven't been this excited about anything in a while! None of us can wait to get back out and play in front of people again. It's been so long since we last did, and I think we all took gigs and playing together weekly for granted, to be honest. 

I personally had a hard time at the beginning of all this. It's the first time the weekly routine I've had for basically the last decade had been interrupted, and it was hard work to deal with. 

Weirding: What was it like the first time you all got in a room together again?

Ste: Getting back to our rehearsal space after that break was like Super-Christmas. It was so good to see the lads again and work on some new material. I know I'll never take that for granted again. 

That being said, we really can't complain. We've been extremely lucky considering how hard a lot of people have had it during this pandemic.

Weirding: I wanted to mention that the cover art for the new album is really striking.

Ste: The artwork was created once again by Uncle Crow — Paul S — and his impeccable eye for detail, using photographs from a collection by Sam Droege. 

Weirding: And what’s the idea behind it?

Ste: The general theme of the artwork is intended to tie in with one of the main themes of the album: the strength of the collective over the individual. Each of the seven characters on the sleeve represents one of the seven songs. And each of the songs represents a different experience or lesson learned in life. The idea being that all of the experiences make the person — like all of the individuals make up the species.

Weirding: Last question... Tell me about how you came to play drums. Was there a moment when you realized, "Oh yeah, I was meant to be a drummer?"

Ste: My dad took all the family to see James Taylor live at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool when I was about twelve. My dad's always been a huge fan of his — and as a result of it always being played around the house, I was a big fan by that point too. It was also one of the first real concerts that I'd ever been to — so it was a massive deal for me. 

As floored as I was with James' performance that night, and as great as it was to see these songs I'd heard a thousand times by that point be played live, I couldn't keep my eyes off the drummer. I was lucky enough to meet James after the show, and was star struck enough that I couldn't bring myself to say anything to him. He just shook my hand and asked if I enjoyed the show — to which I responded with a blank stare and an open mouth. 

As big a deal as that show was for me, the prevailing memory of it for a while afterwards was the drummer. Drumming fascinated me — and my obsession grew from that point. A few years later — after as much pestering as parents can physically take from a child — my long suffering mother and father gave in and bought me my very first kit for Christmas. I don't think they realized at the time that this was only the beginning of years’ worth of torture for them, but I'm very lucky that they were patient enough to put up with my nightly racket for years following that.


Find out more about the band:

Linktree | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram | YouTube

Check out the Gentle Clovis video, listen to the full album on YouTube, and order your own copy of the new album.

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