Interview with Rising Rockers Mallen
Antihero: As Mallen you have music out and touring but I wonder if I could take you back, what was your first introduction to music?
Dann Pritchard: Mine personally was where my parents. My dad mainly, has also listened to classic rock; Queen, Meatloaf, that kind of stuff, Guns n’ Roses, so that’s pretty much what pulled me into listening to it. And then when I got a little bit older, in my teens, that’s when I started, fell upon Linkin Park and System of a Down, and that’s where I kind of got into the heavier listening, if that makes sense.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: I think for me as well, my parents’ influence, I think even from a young age. For me, it was listening to people like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston as proper ballad-type and powerful singers, and my dad was very much into Thin Lizzy, and then I grew up and sort of got into Green Day and Avril Lavigne at school, and it went from there really.
Antihero: What about the band itself, how did you get together? First of all, what about the name itself?
Kelly-Jane Mallen: The name is my surname, so we were playing around. We were obviously trying to find a name for ourselves, and we couldn’t think of anything, we were trying to go for something unique, we couldn’t think so we just took all our surnames and decided to go with my surname, and that’s how it come about.
Antihero: What specifically are the origins of the band? How did it get together, did you guys go to the same gigs, how did you all meet up?
Dann Pritchard: I started off a band looking for musicians, so me and my old bass player we stumbled, Kel introduced me to a friend of hers which was Tom, the drummer. At the time, Kelly wasn’t part of the band, so me, Tom, and our old bass player were just jamming around looking for members. It just happened that me and Kel started writing a few tracks, just for a bit of a laugh, see how it went, and then we kind of just gelled together. We ended up getting a new bass player. Started, spent about a year as a four piece with Kel singing, and then it just went from there. We ended up doing an acoustic show at the LG Forum for Motley Crue’s last gig.
Antihero: Very impressive for the band’s CV, “We have supported Motley Crue.” So, how did that happen?
Dann Pritchard: That was last year, so last year we hit the Forum and did an acoustic show in the lobby area and we took on another guitarist just to fill out the acoustics sound, and we just couldn’t get rid of him after that! We just, he just worked live and he worked on the heavy side as well. So that ended up, obviously, to do with the rhythm behind the solos and stuff, added an extra dimension to writing and another layer of guitars, so we just went from there, and that’s the line up as it is now.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Yep!
Antihero: Did you get an opportunity to meet Motley Crue?
Dann Pritchard: Unfortunately not, no. Their security was very tight. Even getting into the building they were, they were hounding us as to who we were, what we were doing, even though it was those guys, even though it was the LG, the people that had booked us in to come and play. So very, very strict.
Antihero: I would imagine so. What about gigs? I mean, where are you based, north, east? Do you find it easy to get gigs? What is the live music scene like where you are located?
Dann Pritchard: We are based in the West Midlands.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: We are in the centre really, aren’t we?
Dann Pritchard: It’s kind of a good music scene around the West Midlands at the moment, it’s very vibrant. There’s a lot of bands going on so the venues, the local venues like the Academy, the good venues, the Slade Rooms, the Civic, they like to take on bands that have got a good following. Bands that they know they can sell tickets. So, it all depends on that really, you go through the local promoter to get on the good shows or when you get to a level where you can’t sell tickets, you can start talking to the venues themselves and get in shows. That’s really what we do, we see a gig coming up and think ‘oh we might fit the bill’, just contact the venue and see if they will let us hold a show for them or sometimes we get contacted ourselves.
Antihero: Do you find generally that the audience comes out for the support bands? Because I know living here in Manchester, we tend to be a bit spoiled for gigs and people don’t go. They sit in the pub and then go in for the headliners. Do you find that, or do you find that you get people coming in early doors to check you out?
Kelly-Jane Mallen: I personally, find from gigs that we play in, I found that the crowd comes in for the first and maybe second bands, and then the headliner band comes on and it starts to dissipate and there’s not as many in the room. I mean, we played a gig just recently, didn’t we, and we just found that the crowds are in all at the beginning, and then it just started to, like I say, dissipate and people started to leave. I think it depends who they’ve come to see.
Antihero: You’ve released the EP, you’ve released several singles, next obvious question: when’s the album coming out and what stage is that at?
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Well, we are going back in the studio next month to do a sort of a Mallen two-parter, we’re going to do another EP. So, in regard to an album, you might be looking at the end of the year, maybe the start of next year. So, we are trying to write a lot of new stuff at the moment.
Dann Pritchard: Yeah, we are going to try and build up a bit of a buzz around the band before we release an album, try and get, maybe release an album a bit more worthwhile than just releasing it to the small followers we have at the moment. So, bring out that EP, get a buzz up, if it turns out the EP is really successful and the guy that we are using to produce it decides that EP, kind of do a Bullet for My Valentine route, whack the EP on to the album so just add another five songs on top. It really depends the way the EP comes out, which route we take.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Yep.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Well, we’ve got a new CD that we’ve released with two singles, we released “Jack of Cards” with the music video and we just brought out “Owes You Nothing,” which is more of a ballad-type song and we put that on a two-track CD. So, we’ve been going around at the moment doing gigs and we’ve been selling those and then those two songs will go onto the EP and we are hoping to get a five or six track EP.
Dann Pritchard: We brought out an EP when we first started, so we tend to not go above our station, we try to open shows rather than play 45-minute sets because we don’t have the material to, well we don’t have good enough material yet to play those sets.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Yeah.
Dann Pritchard: So, we know our limits, we know our boundaries, we have about an eight-song set list, barring the new songs we’ve just started writing. If we ever do feel like I’m going to and we recently did, we recently opened for a friend last year. And we threw in, what was that cover that we threw in?
Antihero: Gary Moore, no?
Dann Pritchard: That’s the one, yeah, “Out in The Fields.” Yeah, then there was that and an Alter Bridge song we threw in just to add a bit more…
Kelly-Jane Mallen: “Find the Real.”
Dann Pritchard: “Find the Real,” yeah. Which, it turned out great, I mean we are not really fond of just doing covers because we just find people start associating you with those covers and they just come to listen to those covers. So, we try and play our own stuff as much as possible. But, like I said, if we need to fill out a set we just throw in a few that we enjoy playing, that’s relevant to us then.
Antihero: How did you hook up then with Natalie and Electrify Events PR?
Dann Pritchard: It was a couple of months ago, we went for a photo shoot with our, well our recent bass player left and we took a new one on, and we thought reimage ourselves, get ourselves back out there. So, we did a photo shoot with Billibee Creative. So, Lisa and Rob and that just led to… they’ve become really good friends of ours and we took them on as being our official photographers for our bigger shows. And it was actually Lisa that introduced us to Natalie and what she can do. To be fair, Lisa and Rob have been really great towards us, they’ve given us loads of contacts and it’s looking great for the year.
Antihero: So how directly has that hook up with the PR company helped you. Has it helped you get gigs, just more exposure?
Kelly-Jane Mallen: More exposure, really…
Dann Pritchard: Yep, exposure, way beyond what we thought it was going to be. It’s saying, every day we are getting, we are finding there’s, we are getting some comments on pages from links to, well we did a PR for “Jack of Cards” just to get us out there and be a bit more, but it’s massively helped. It means we can take a step back from the promotion and really concentrate on writing which we need to do. But Natalie and the hired crew have done a fantastic job of getting out there so…
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Yeah.
Dann Pritchard: Yeah, definitely, it was. When we had the original meeting with some of the names that were thrown out just sold it to us like Wayne Static, there’s the High Road, they’re friends with Journey, he’s the personal PR for the guys from Journey, they work with Linkin Park when they first came out and so it’s just been, those kinds of names are the names that got us into music, which really sold it for us.
Antihero: It’s difficult to make a career in music these days. There’s less and less money about, you don’t have the record companies support. Why choose music as a career?
Dann Pritchard: Because we love it.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: We enjoy it, we enjoy writing songs, we enjoy playing, we enjoy entertaining and if we ever do make a big breakthrough that’s a bonus for us. We’re just going to keep doing what we are doing, we really enjoy it.
Dann Pritchard: It’s that buzz you get when, when you are on the other side and you’re standing and watching a band and you get that buzz and like they make you feel better, it’s always great when it’s you doing that, so when you wrote songs and people have gone this song has got me through a tough time, really enjoy your songs it really makes me happy and I love listening to it, it’s that kind of stuff that carries you on to want to do it. To know that not only are you enjoying yourself but other people, you are helping other people’s lives change a little bit.
Antihero: It’s fast approaching festival season, I just wondered if you guys have any plans or even any approaches from any of the UK Festivals?
Dann Pritchard: Not really as of yet, we are not on any weekend festivals. I mean we’ve got a Dementia Aware Fest that we are going to be playing at the end of April, there’s also the Bike4Life Festival down at RAF Cosford that we will be playing again. We played it last year. But this is where the PR comes into play, we need someone promoting us to get those eyes and someone to say why not have them on the shows and stuff so. We will see we are still waiting.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: I think we were hoping that this two track CD that we’ve brought out with “Jack of Cards” and “Owes You Nothing,” depending on what feedback we get from there, maybe someone would be interested and offer us something.! so we are kind of finding out really, still getting it out there.
Dann Pritchard: So, hoping next festival season we will be on a few more, hopefully get a manager backing us to get us on those as well so….
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Hopefully.
Dann Pritchard: …fingers crossed.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: We’ve got the two small festival-type gigs, they are just days that we’ve got at the end of April. We’ve got a good gig lined up for 6 May at The Station in Cannock.
Dann Pritchard: Which is a headline show.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: We’ve actually got one coming up at The Robin 2 in Bilston, we are supporting an Evanescence tribute act, did I say the date of that, 26th of this month.
Dann Pritchard: Yes, this Sunday.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: Yeah, this Sunday.
Dann Pritchard: And in between that we are going to be in the studio in April, June and July.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: April, June and July, yeah.
Dann Pritchard: To make a studio recording.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: We are going back up to Manchester to City Recordings to see Dave and to record our new EP, so it’s all exciting…
Dann Pritchard: Potentially touring at the end of September. The details haven’t been fully finalised on the dates yet, so we won’t tell you who that’s going to be with, but that’s going to be a big one for us. Getting quite excited, so yeah.
Kelly-Jane Mallen: What, a big-name tour?
Dann Pritchard: A big name in AOR World, so yeah. They are quite well known, they recently played, the news was that they blew the show away and they weren’t even headlining, so it’s looking quite exciting.
Antihero: You indicated doing a recording in Manchester, is that where you recorded the previous EP?
Dann Pritchard: The first EP we did we recorded with Alex Cooper when he used to do work on recordings. The last two songs that we recorded were at Red Sea Recordings with Dave Jones who, is the ex-Heaven’s Basement guitarist. And he also helped write their last album they released before they disbanded. So that, again, we’re big Heaven’s Basement fans, the whole band are, so that’s just a great honour to take our tracks to him and have him sit down and listen to them going ‘try this, try this and try this’, it’s, give us ideas and give us advice on what we should do, it’s great.
Antihero: That’s coincidental. I’ve just got the new Aaron Buchanan album today. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it, but I’m expecting great things from it.
Dann Pritchard: And the Cruel Knowledge as well, the guys that were in Heaven’s Basement, the guitarist, I’m a bass player so, but they worked with Dave on that so it’s looking like he’s getting well known and his business is picking up, so it’s all good.
Antihero: OK, that’s great, thank you very much.