When Syteria were first announced for Rebellion there would undoubtedly have been a few raided eyebrows from those not in the know. Here though is a perfect example of both progressive booking and a band that is a glove that fits many hands. Yes they have Girlschool guitarist Jax Chambers as their founder, but this quartet are poles apart from the veteran rockers. Jax and singer Julia chatted to Gary trueman about new album Syteria World and the writing process behind it.
We need to discuss the new album Syteria World. How long did it take to write and what themes do you have running through it?
“It took a while to write. It’s been in the works for about six months. We recorded it in stages so the first four songs in one phase and then we completed the album two months afterwards. We released ‘Reflection’ a week before Covid and had this press and interviews and great press and then Covid happened. So we thought let’s not do the whole album in one go let’s do it in singles. A lot of the songs we were already playing live so they were tested. We seem to write better under pressure because the songs we wrote last seem to be the ones people like the most. And all four of us were writing songs too.”
So everyone was having a lot of input?
“Yes everyone did, and it shows in the sound. Compared to the previous two albums we think Syteria World sounds more like we sound live. It sounds like we’ve grown up too. When Jax first put the band together she had a lot of songs she wanted to do so it was mainly her songs. But this time everyone has written. Jax has been writing for Girlschool too. But for Syteria we decided we didn’t need to sound like a specific thing. Before we found ourselves thinking we needed to fit into a genre and the songs we were writing were in that genre. But this time we thought let’s just write from the heart, and it came out really well. There’s a little bit of ska in there, there’s a bit of punk, there’s a bit of rock, there’s a bit of everything. We thought the reviewers would hate it because it’s so different but it’s actually working out that we’re getting ten out of tens.”
Do you think that the alternative music scene has kind of grown up recently and the various parts of it have bonded more and appreciate each other more? So you’re getting a lot more crossing over musically and the fans are more knowledgeable now and less entrenched?
“Yes, we think so. It used to be punks against mods and rockers against them, it was always that you were in a little group. Now it’s such a cross over. There are bands playing Rebellion that are mod, but punk as well. We love it. Why not have a trumpet player in a punk band? You get great energy and a different feel. We’re a bit pop punky and a bit rocky, but we have four part harmonies so it’s different again.”
You’ve got a big mix of youth and experience in Syteria so do you feed off of each other? And also the industry has changed a lot too, that must impact on the running of the group too?
“Yes, we all have different roles in the band and take charge of different aspects. You have to run bands yourselves these days, there are no development deals any more. Record companies are almost irrelevant in the main, apart from the PR part of it. So we do a lot ourselves but we have James at Division PR helping us as well.”
You’ve played Rebellion, had a little hiccup with an unhelpful amp, but played a great set. Julia’s vocals were stunning. By booking you and many other acts too that aren’t typically punk Rebellion is proving to be forward thinking and progressive in much that it does. That should work well for its own future shouldn’t it?
“You need a break sometimes so it’s great to have that diversity. Most punks now like a lot of other things. Even back in the 70’s Jax loved punk music but liked other things as well. Music is music and if it’s a good tune it’s good music.”
Do you think this diversity is being driven by what most of the fans want, by what they are now listening to, and their ability to access more music compared to what was available say 30 years ago?
“We’d say so yes. Festivals are going to try to get as many people to buy tickets as they can. It’s like years ago they put Motorhead and Girlschool on with The Damned to pull in new people. Then they had Motorhead with the UK Subs. So back then they were putting on different genres of music because if it’s all the same then you’re only going to get the same people in.”
Motorhead did have a big crossover appeal in their day didn’t they? One of the first bands to really do that.
“Yes they did. When Girlschool went out with them they sometimes had ‘UK Punk’ in brackets. The Germans thought Girlschool were punk.”
With Syteria what are your plans for the next few months and into next year?
“World domination basically! Honestly though we’d love to get on a support tour. We love gigging and we can’t get enough at the moment. So if anyone wants to book us get hold of us because we’ll play anywhere. We just want to promote this album as best as we can. We’ve had brilliant reviews so we just need to turn that into sales and people listening to it and then coming to see us live. We played a short set here and had to miss a couple of songs that are very visual. The stage (Opera House) is the widest stage in the UK apparently. It was the stage that Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar on – we thought that was at Woodstock or something. Rob from The Exploited told us that, so it it’s wrong blame him haha!”
So if you could each pick one artist dead or alive to perform with on stage who would it be?
Jax: “Well I’d love Alice Cooper but I’ve done that. I supported him, not been on stage with him. So I think Queen and Freddie Mercury. And I bet they’d be a right laugh on tour. I’d be picking Brian May’s brains all the time about his gear.”
Julia: “I’d have to pick Freddie Mercury as a solo artist because he was just so charismatic and so incredible on stage. He was one of a kind.”