Co. Down Classic Rock 4 piece, Screaming Eagles, have come a long way since their inception in 2011. With one successful album (‘From The Flames’) under their belts, new single ‘Save Me’ cooking up a storm and greatly anticipated second album, ‘Stand Up & Be Counted’ due for release, we felt now was the perfect time to catch up with the band and have a chat about the past, present and future. Charismatic frontman, Chris Fry, supplies the answers to Al Gilmore’s questions.
► Describe the turn of events that first formed the band, got the album together and then brought you here to this point – especially for those readers who perhaps don’t know much about you.
For those who don’t know the story of how the ‘Screagles’ (the band’s nickname) started, it all happened near the end of 2011. Ryan (Lily), the bass player and I have been friends for years and I used to go to and listen to his and Adrian (McAleenan’s) band Soundstone quite a lot. When the boy’s called it a day with Soundstone and told me they were looking to start up another project along with Kyle (Cruikshank – drummer), so I jumped at the chance.
So, we got together for a jam and, after a few tunes, it was clear we had chemistry as a band. Almost straight away, we went to work writing a few songs and 4 short months later we went into the studio to record what would be our debut album “From The Flames”.
► What are the successes that ‘From The Flames’ has achieved for you and, could you have imagined it’d do so much for you when you first made, what I am sure, was a difficult enough decision to record a self-financed album?
When we set out to write ‘From The Flames’, we never dreamt of the success and acclaim that it’s brought four smalltown hallions like ourselves. To have our songs played around the world, and selling albums from Japan to Brazil is a magnificent feeling as a songwriter. And then came the call from Sony, wanting to use ‘Rock N Roll Soul’ in one of their mainstream American TV shows – ‘Justified ‘…… that was just the icing on the cake.
Of course there’s pressure when you release every album, especially when you’re financing the thing yourself…there was a lot at stake. But we had faith in the songs and it seemed to pay off.
► ‘From The Flames’ later secured a deal with English label Off Yer Rocka records. Can you tell me more about how that came about or what it has meant to you in terms of furthering your career? What kind of support have they been able to give you and what sort of input do they then have regarding album No 2?
Off Yer Rocka have been a great help since we signed and it’s gave us a major step up the ladder, in terms of getting our music out there more.
They’ve also been a huge help in getting this new album up and running. They’ve shown a lot of faith in us and put a great amount of time in promoting the “Save Me” EP, which is doing quite well in sales I’m told. Much of that’s down to their PR team
► Did you feel a lot of pressure coming up with songs for album No 2 – known as the notoriously (if somewhat clichéd) ‘difficult second album’, especially given that you now have to deal with record company expectations?
I know it wasn’t only me who felt a bit apprehensive when we started writing album 2. Because the 1st one was such a success musically and commercially, we had an extreme amount of pressure on us to not become one hit wonders.
That’s why we took our time and a lot of long hours in the studio with this one, but hopefully you’ll hear that all the hard work has paid off.
► And in terms of that songwriting, who writes the songs? Is it a band collective or is it taken on an individual basis? Does someone write the riff and someone the lyrics? And, have you been writing consistently since the first album or did you just get down to writing seriously once album 2 was confirmed?
We pretty much used the same formula we had from the debut album. Aidy would come up with a riff or progression, play it to Ryan and Kyle, and they would work on it together. Then once they had enough for me to work with, I would take it away and put the melody and lyrics to it.. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….
We didn’t really start writing the 2nd one until maybe a year ago, though it was always in the back of our minds.
► Your sound, which I know you guys won’t deny, is heavily influenced by classic rock, especially the guitar sound of Messers Young & Young of AC/DC – did you feel any added pressure to move away from that sound with album No 2? I certainly haven’t read any criticism that you guys are ‘DC wannabes, but has there been any or have you felt pressure from within to expand your sound or move away from those ‘DC-inspired riffs?
There’s a definitely an AC/DC influence on our music (Aidy is a ‘DC fanatic!), no question, but even on the first album there were songs which didn’t have that type of sound. On the new album we’ve progressed quite a bit with our songwriting and got some real diversity on the record. It keeps thing interesting for us as well as everyone who buys our records. On this record we’ve definitely made solid steps in developing our own sound and identity.
► The title of your new album, ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’, seems like some sort of message you’re sending out. If so, what is that message – is it personal or is there a message there for any or all of us?
There’s a teeny tiny message there, I think from the bands point of view, it being the dreaded 2nd album we wanted to put out a message, that we’re not going hide behind the success of ‘From The Flames’. And that we’re here for the long haul.
► ‘Save Me’ (see video below) is the lead single and comes as part of a part studio/part live EP. What was the idea behind an EP coming so close to the release of the album?
We thought it was a great idea for a teaser, to get the juices flowing and something cool to get a buzz going for the album out a few weeks later. Plus, we’ve never released any live stuff before – so it was a perfect opportunity.
► And why did you chose ‘Save Me’ as the single?
Hahaha.. Well there was a lot of debate into which song was going to be released, at one stage everybody had a different opinion and right up to 4 days before the video shoot we had doubts. But I think we all agreed in the end that save me was definitely the right choice of song for the single.. We wanted a strong, powerful and catchy opener and I think we got one.
► The video for ‘Save Me’ features local fans and some local journos (some of whom write for this website) lt looked like a lot of fun to make. How did that come about and was it as much fun as it looks?
Believe me, it was even more fun than it looked! It was all the brainchild of our very own “Keith Moon” – Mr Cruikshank. He took care of organising all the fans, props and of course gimp suits. Plus all the free beer that the guys seemed to enjoy more than anything else. There was a great fun-loving atmosphere, and I think that came across on the video.
► Moving on to live work to promote ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’ – what gigs do you have lined up here in Northern Ireland first of all, to coincide with the release of the album?
At the moment we have a few big shows organised to debut ‘SUABC’. The first show will be August 1st on the main stage at SunflowerFest near Hillsborough, which I believe is the best local festival there is. Then we’re off to NI’s rock ‘Mecca’ which is the Diamond Rock Bar in Ahoghill on August 8th for the official album launch. We also have the small matter of sharing the main stage with Black Label Society, Saxon and UFO at Hard Rock Hell in Wales on November 12th. We’re in the middle of booking more English shows for later in the year and next year.
But my favourite gig has to be our local one in Banbridge. We haven’t played there in almost 2 years, and to have all our friends and family come support us in our hometown is going to be amazing.. So get your ass down.
► You have done a few gigs on the mainland and on continental Europe – festivals etc – but no full-blown tours as yet. Are there any in the pipeline, either in your own right or a good support slot? Or is that the next step you hope to take?
A great support slot tour is definitely on our ‘to do’ list. We have a few small things in the pipeline at the moment, but nothing concrete. But definitely something I would love to see happen on a big scale….
Given the list of items already marked off Screaming Eagles’ ‘to do’ list, who would bet against them fulfilling this and many more besides in the forthcoming months? Given what we at Chordblossom have already heard of ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’, I think only good things await the ‘four smalltown hallions’.
‘Stand Up and Be Counted’ is available from the 13th July from http://www.screamingeagles.bigcartel.com/