Incisions And The Road To BLISS

Incisions playing hardcore punk live in Manchester

Just under a month before the release of their highly anticipated second album BLISS, we caught up with Northern maulers Incisions. Following the release of the ferocious singles ‘No Shame‘ and ‘Fuck The World‘, we asked the band to talk us through what to expect from BLISS and the process that saw them arrive there.

TNS: So, got a new album out then have we? Want to tell us about it?

Jordan – Yes we have! ‘BLISS’ is out on April 2nd and just like every band that’s ever made a record we can’t wait for people to hear it. I’m a bit intrigued too though, to see how people take to it. I’m hoping we’ve managed to make a record that challenges people a bit and also picks up some new friends along the way.

Andy – Indeed we ‘ave! BLISS is the name, it’s the first album we have released with this full lineup, and we all bloody love it! There’s only so much that words can say to describe it, the best thing to do is listen to it when it’s ‘art!

Archie – Yea, it’s good. You should listen to it.

Martin – I’m extremely proud of this album. We worked hard to try and make it a proper album that is a short, sharp journey rather than just a batch of songs thrown together. I am definitely biased but i think we have achieved this.

TNS: In what ways would you say it differs from the first Incisions record?

Jordan – It’s heavier and a lot more personal lyrically. The band has grown in all of our abilities and I think we take everything to extremes a little bit on this one. We have definitely been brave and taken some risks which is exciting.

Andy – The songs from the first album were all written prior to Battle, Archie, and myself joining. Don’t get me wrong, we loved the sound from the first album, but with this new album it has been a collaborative effort from everyone in the band, with each of us bringing our own sound in to it, and I think it shows in the music too!

Archie – It’s darker, faster and angrier than the last one.

Martin – I wasn’t in the band for the first album so i like to think that I brought a certain weirdness to the table with my guitar playing which pushed the bands boundaries and limits a fair bit. I always strive to make any thing I create different from the last(sometimes to my detriment and the bewilderment of the others) but I think all four of us have upped our game on this album. Creatively, technically and in Jordans case lyrically. It’s certainly heavier and more personal than the first album. Its also a lot more of a collaboration between the 4 of us. We might seem like useless wankers to most, but believe me when i say, when it’s time to get shit done. We do it.

Incisions playing hardcore punk live in Manchester
TNS: This is the first LP with the current line-up how has that changed sound/dynamic/direction?

Jordan – Everyone has individual responsibility now and we all really pushed each other to play harder and think about how we were putting the songs together a bit differently. There’s a lot of everyones individual influences in here too and as a band our influences are pretty wide and rarely in sync which has been great once we’ve got past the disagreements. Martin is a brilliant guitarist and doesn’t think about just following what the bass and drums are doing which has really added something new to the way incisions tracks come together. Archie, as a lifelong guitarist, has now mastered the bass and also some of the most suggestive playing stances in the industry. Tet is just a force of nature, just watch him play.

Andy – The direction for the band hasn’t changed, but with getting Battle in, it has given Jordan the freedom to put down the guitar and focus on the vocals side, which is a pretty big change for live shows (remember them?).

Archie – A lot of the first record was actually written before me and Tet joined the band. Most of this one came together in the band room. Someone would bring a riff or an idea and we’d just jam it until it became a song. I guess you could say this record is a better reflection of our wider musical influences.

Martin – I think there’s only Jordan who can answer this properly. I do think having a settled line up has definitely contributed to the ante being upped. Tet & Ken are an absolute unit now as a rhythm section, as well as both heading up the Incisions prat department. Masters of their trade.

TNS: Could you choose any particular stand-out moments on the record?

Jordan – Yeah definitely.

Andy – For me, the start of Insecure puts a big smile on my face when I hear it. A few years back I don’t think I would have been able to get that fill down on record EVER, but I was able to get that down first time around. The rest of the band loved that moment and it sticks with me as a proud moment for me. Now, whether I’d be able to do that after this long of being away from gigs is another story…

Archie – The drum fill at the start of “Insecure” is pretty insane. Tet pulled it out of nowhere in one take at the studio and all our jaws dropped.

Martin – All Tets drumming. An absolute masterclass.

TNS: What sort of themes can we expect on the album?

Jordan – I do think they are similar to the first record but just a lot more direct and heart on sleeve. Not so much about the way shit things affect us all, more about how they have directly affected me. When shit hits the fan, energy that you may have previously invested into hating the state or higher powers gets put on the shelf as you invest that energy into yourself. It’s been a tough couple of years and I’ve personally been through a lot so it’s definitely more reflective and personal on the whole.

Andy – Quite varied. You will hear the usual anti-Tory views that you would come to expect from us, but also themes on drug use, apathy, equality, coping with the state our country is in – quite a few different themes lyrically.

Archie – Loneliness, frustration, self-loathing… you know, feel good shit.

Martin – Big horrible smelly bastards riffs with nasty feedback ringing all over the place.

TNS: There’s a clear approach to the visual aesthetic given the singles you’ve dropped. Wanna tell us about that?

Jordan – It’s a loud and ignorant record and we wanted the artwork to be loud and ignorant to suit. Archie nailed the drawing on the front, probably summing up the mood of the album in that one picture. He’s finally joined the digital age and he’s smashing the artwork out now as a result. We are really proud that he got to do it and I know he is too!

Andy – Nah, not really. Jokes aside, its Archie that did the artwork for the album, and Jordan helped colour it, and we all like it, the album cover speaks to how we all are feeling at this time, and the single artwork ties in with the song, so it works well.

Archie – I did the artwork for this record. We had a pretty good chat about what kind of tone we wanted to establish. I tried to take the themes in the lyrics and capture them in an image, that’s where the cover of the guy pulling at his face came from. Since there was a human figure on the record I thought it would be interesting to focus each single on one inanimate object. We talked about how most hardcore records you see are really dark and morbid looking. We wanted to do something different so we went completely the other way; making it really bright and garish. I think it juxtaposes the music on the record quite well. If you look at some of the early hardcore records from the 80’s (particularly the Ray Pettibon stuff) a lot of it is quite cartoonish and jovial despite dealing with dark and serious themes. That’s something that’s always appealed to me.

Martin – All on Archie Moss-Winterbottom that. Dead proud we managed to keep the art and videos in house. Genuinely reckon we discussed the art a lot more than the songs!! Apparently he dabs ink on his nose for fine ink work. He did a great job.

The cover image for BLISS, hardcore punks Incisions second album.
TNS: How do you feel these songs will go down live?

Jordan – Our gigs are going to be absolute chaos and we will make sure of it. I think while the tracks are heavier musically we’ve still kept the focus on just having good songs that people can sing along to so I’m expecting it all to really come to life once we can hit the road.

Andy – Truth be told, before the world crumbled we were playing a lot of these songs live anyway, they just weren’t recorded, and people seemed to really enjoy them, so I’m confident that they will go down very well once we can get back to it.

Archie – A few of the songs have already been played live (right before covid struck) and the crowd response was excellent. I think people are gonna loose their shit when they hear these new ones live.

Martin – Playing live you notice crowds reactions to certain tracks. All the tracks from BLISS which we have played live , you could sense an extra level of craziness to the crowd, They are lots of fun to play too.

TNS: How have you negotiated the pandemic during this writing, recording and release cycle?

Jordan – We are best mates so we speak every day without fail whether it’s band related or not. A lot of time has been put into getting this record ready which we’ve got through using video calls and stuff. We’re not the best at staying on topic but I think we’ve all surprised ourselves with how productive we have managed to be throughout all this. We were lucky in that the album was written before the pandemic hit so we weren’t mourning the loss of getting in a room and putting a song together. Now that’s done, we are writing again and there is some great stuff knocking about and now we absolutely are mourning the loss of being able to get in a room and put a song together!

Andy – Its been a challenge – we are a band with members dotted around the North. So it’s not been possible to get together to discuss things, but we have a very active band chat that we use and we get together often on video chat to chat shite to each other for an undetermined amount of time. We have been able to get together for short bursts of time when a lockdown finishes and its safer, without taking the piss with it – it’s at that time where we were able to get together to get the album recorded.

Archie – It’s definitely been tough but I think we’ve made the most of a shitty situation. We stay in touch through social media and video call each other fairly regularly. It’s just a matter of being as productive as possible with whatever short opportunities we’ve had. We’ve always worked fast in the studio but I think we broke our own record with this one. We got all 12 songs finished in 4 days.

Martin – When the lockdown restrictions were lifted the first time, we used that time so wisely to get everything done that was needed to, to get the album fully finished. I’ll be honest, at first i enjoyed the rest and having full weekends to myself for the first time in ages. It’s worn off now and I’m just itching to play live again.

Incisions playing live in Manchester.
TNS: Can we expect any surprises on BLISS?

Jordan – That depends how long you’ve been following Incisions for really! Tets drum fill on the last track ‘Insecure’ is pretty outrageous.

Andy – I think the biggest surprise will be ‘Better’, a very welcome surprise at that. Before it was recorded I don’t think I had heard it, but after even the first take from Jordan I was blown away. You can hear the emotion throughout and it adds that extra element to the record. A big surprise with that song, when you look at all others songs we have put out before it.

Archie – Martin Battle always jokes (semi-seriously) about how he hates
“punk rock” music. He has a pretty unique approach to guitar playing that’s inspired by weird noise rock music as much as it is hardcore. I think a lot of that comes through on this record while still being heavily rooted in hardcore punk.

Martin – The word “Ken” is whispered somewhere on the album. First person to notice where, will get a 30 second phone call from Ken himself.

TNS: Are you still Manchester’s hardest band? I’ve heard probably not.

Jordan – You’ve heard wrong mate and if you say that again you’ll be getting a clip round the ear. You’ve been warned.

Andy – Where av’ you ‘erd that from? I need names. NOW. as Micky P Kerr says – “I’m ‘ard as fuck I hit like a truck I fuckin’ taught Bruce Lee then I beat ‘im up!”

Archie – Tried and tested, no question.

Martin – 2nd to Simply Red. Ask Tet if he’ll let you paint his arse green and see what happens.

TNS: Make sure you pre-order Incisions album BLISS on vinyl and CD alongside a limited edition t-shirt –