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RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW NEON FIELDS

What made you decide to start the band?

Ed

After a 10 year musical hiatus, in 2018 I came across some of the old tracks I’d written with my previous band or by myself years before and I felt inspired to write again. Previously I had been limited by what I could sing whilst playing guitar or piano. However, I realised that the big difference, now a decade on, was my access to recording software like GarageBand on my iPhone. I could now use it to record layers and build up electronic instrumental tracks that I could write vocals over with a lot more melodic and rhythmic freedom.

I found it much easier to focus on creating good vocal melodies because I wasn’t needing to play an instrument at the same time as singing.

Gradually over the next year, I created many demos that I’d always considered ’sketches’ to one day be made into a ‘proper’ song by ‘real’ musicians. (Something I don’t consider myself to be.) 

Interestingly, my car became my vocal booth! Once I had the base instrumental track to sing over, I would loop it in GarageBand to make the track length the same amount of time as my drive to work. I’d press record just before setting off for work and improvise loads of different vocal melodies during my journey! I’d do the same on the way home and then that evening I would listen back to what I’d recorded. This is one of my favourite parts of the process. Discovering what melodies work best and using different sections of what I’d recorded to form the vocals.

I shared some of my demos with a musician friend of mine who was very complimentary and encouraged me to put them up on Soundcloud, which I did.

By the time I had 8 tracks up there that I felt represented the type of music I was keen to write, I began trying to find and contact musicians that might have wanted to start a band with me.

Piers

When the band first formed in Autumn 2019 under a different name, it comprised vocals, drums, guitar and bass. I had recently stopped working on an electronic and purely instrumental project called Nine Borders that split due to work commitments and I was keen to continue writing music collaboratively. In the early months, the band was focused on reproducing tracks that Ed had previously written as well as writing a few originals. The sound was much more traditional rock and didn’t include any of the soundscape or electronic elements that it does now.  

Once the first lockdown was announced in 2020, we were unable to meet and rehearse so I took to producing electronic music at home and released a two-track EP. After hearing this record, Ed was keen to write lyrics for them and after some experimenting, we landed on something we were both excited by. Within a few months, Ed, Luke and I reformed and rebranded as Neon Fields and set our sights on creating a unique blend of electronic and alternative music. Some of the tracks that Ed previously wrote, we reproduced and they feature in the EP and will feature in future releases. 

Introduce us all to the members and your musical history?

Ed Barrett (lead vocals)

Growing up, music was always playing in my house. A varied selection from rock to soul but the majority of it being Motown and soul. I enjoyed singing along to the music and I was always encouraged by my parents to perform as they loved to hear me sing. I was bought my first guitar when I was 7 and based on that I should be a far better player than the novice I am!

At school I sang in a band which was heavily influenced by bands like Muse who have always been one of my favourites. This band split up eventually in 2006 when we all went to different universities and struggled to keep meeting up regularly.

Over the 12 years that followed, I hardly did any music. I would get out the guitar or keyboard occasionally and begin writing a song but rarely would they go anywhere and I would never record anything. Then, in 2018 I started writing again!

Luke Russe (drums)

When I was younger I had a very eclectic taste in music, I would end up listening to a lot of 70’s and 80’s through my mum but at the same time I would pick up CD’s of artists like 50 Cent or S Club 7, I had the first Pop Party CD which I would play out my window for all the kids in the neighborhood. It wasn’t until I started playing drums at age 14 I discovered Rock and Metal. From there I just snowballed into other genres, especially once I hit college and started gaining influence from other musicians.

Piers Ward (keyboards/guitar)

I was surrounded by a variety of music growing up from Django Reinhardt to Nirvana and none of my family, who all had their preferences, were concerned about listening to one genre of music or music from a particular decade. This gave me an eclectic foundation that, after starting guitar at the age of twelve, grew as I have always had an interest in listening to as much new music as I can.  

In terms of my career, I’ve been in a few cover bands and a couple of tribute bands including an Alice Cooper act, but my true passion was always focusing on original music. I’ve been part of bands that focus on a good live performance and some that were much more studio-based. Both styles have their pros and cons but with this project, I aim to marry the two and deliver dynamic and multi-layered music in a live context.  

What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

Ask us again in 3 years and we might have an answer!



Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

A no from Ed and Piers

Luke:

I love hearing conspiracy theories, genuinely. Whether I think they have merit or not going down the ‘rabbit hole’ of somebody’s findings and what they think it means is utterly fascinating. I definitely don’t believe every story I hear, most stuff can be explained by using a bit of logic and I’m not going to comment on anything political but I will admit, I’ve heard a few very good arguments over the years.

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

Luke:

Did some gigs with a covers band at a fairly sizable venue during what is typically club night hours. Getting cheered like rockstars by 500 or so very drunk people who are just loving every cheesy song we play was great fun.

Piers:

It’s hard to pick out one gig but when I’ve gone on stage with a band, particularly when playing original music, and we’ve rehearsed and played together for enough time that everything technical is committed to habit so you can just enjoy the gig is an awesome feeling. Going on stage when you’re underprepared is a horrible experience and usually means that everything that could go wrong will.  

What was the worst experience on stage?

Ed

When I was 12 I performed a solo in front of a full congregation at Arundel Cathedral. My solo was the first verse of a hymn and it was to be sung unaccompanied by music. Nerves of the occasion got the better of me and when the pianist played the single note to give me my starting note I lost concentration. I came in on a note much higher than I should have and realised instantly so went back down to the note I was supposed to be on. Apparently I did a good job of the rest of the solo but that first note sounded ridiculous and I felt embarrassed for months. I gave myself far too much of a hard time about it as you can imagine any 12 year old would! The kids that were there from my school didn’t let me forget about it either! Classic!

Luke

I used to be in this sort-of punk band. Think Weezer and Ween had a slightly aggressive baby. We got asked to play this village fete hosted in the beer garden of a local pub once and let’s just say the locals didn’t really understand our kind of music. They were quite relieved once we got off.

Piers

In 2009 I was in an originals band called Tuesday Coma. We played indie-pop music and we gained a small local following and had great fun playing live. In October of that year, we were due to do our biggest gig yet at, headlining the Brook in Southampton. I called the promoter a week before the big day and asked him who was supporting, what were the times and what’s going on with the promotion. We had worked with him before so I was confident he had it under control but he answered my call from China where he was on tour with a great band he managed from Portsmouth. He essentially told me that it was my gig, my problem. I frantically called around for bands we had played with before and ended up overbooking. The venue was furious and in short, the stress got to us, we played terribly and we never got a gig there again.  

Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about? 

Luke

I once played guitar in a covers band that specialised in doing rock/metal covers of pop and disney songs.

Ed

Although I’m British, I was born in Oman and had lived in 6 different countries by the time I was 14.

I did a lot of musical theatre growing up and at one point acted alongside Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield in a production of Bugsy Malone. (He was ‘Fat Sam’ and I was his sidekick ‘knuckles’!)

In a previous band, I played alongside Mystery Jets a few times when they were first getting going. Our drummer was close friends with Blaine, the lead singer. We had a lot of fun with those guys!

If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe them? 

Our signature style was once described as ‘sophisticated darkness’ but I’m not sure if that will help our alien here!

The instrumentation comprises predominantly of synth / keyboards / electronic elements but then we also have electric guitar feature in many of our tracks. Drums are performed on a kit rather than programmed electronically which we feel helps maintain the dynamics of a rock band. The vocals tend to always be melodic and throughout a track will often go from soft / atmospheric to bold and epic. They aim to convey the emotion in the story of the track.

We use the elements and tools at our disposal to build up many layers of instrumentation within a track and so they tend to have a full and atmospheric sound.

What makes you stand out as a band/Artist?

Ed

I decided to put this question out to our listeners via our Facebook group. Who better to ask right?! We loved the response.

The first answer we had back was something that hadn’t occurred to me at all: We stand out by how much we try to engage with our listeners and fans to build a relationship and community with the people that enjoy our music. They said, the fact that we were asking our listeners the question in the first place was an example of how we engage with them and genuinely want to include them wherever possible. We’re certainly not the only band that does this but it’s very important to us to be accessible to anyone willing to support us (so send us a message today!)

Other answers were that we have a unique and original sound that is hard to compare to other bands. That people are drawn in by the atmosphere and intensity of our tracks, and the storytelling of the lyrics.

We are so lucky and honored to have received such wonderful answers to this question so I’m very pleased we asked!

Luke:

We’re not your typical rock/pop band. I think we’re darker than most current bands with a much more orchestral/atmospheric feel. The fact there’s only 3 of us to produce this huge sound too makes us quite unique in that sense. Oh and Ed’s vocals are really bloody good.

Right now, what’s pissing you off the most? 

Ed

Brexit consequences. Personally, I didn’t vote to leave but I think regardless of how they voted, most people are pretty pissed off with some of the consequences we’re all experiencing.

Other than that, my four year old son waking me up before 5 am every morning can get pretty tedious! Hahaha

What’s your favourite song to play live and why?

Ed:

I really enjoy playing our track Bleak as I particularly hook in with the energy and soul in the vocal in the end section.

Piers

My favourite live track of ours is Bleak. It’s got a lot of layers that work well live but I’m always a bit biassed towards Light Them Up just for the huge guitar part at the end.

Angels by Robbie Williams, oh… this band? It’s hard to say, either Cage Of Lions or Time To leave… maybe Bleak. Ask me again in a few months and I’ll probably say Meant To Be but given I haven’t been able to practice much it’s really bloody hard to play!

I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it?

Meant To Be is our 7th release and probably our most commercially strong track to date. It seems to be very popular with our fans and we’re very excited to get this track out there!

We consider it to be the flagship single of our album which we plan to release mid 2022.



Talk me through the thought process of the single?

The track takes the listener on a journey from a mellow emotive vibe to an energetic and frantic ending which is intended to help tell the story of unrequited love and sinister obsession.

We wanted to write a love song with a twist. The first verse sounds like it will be a standard love song but as we go into the first chorus we find out that it’s unrequited. Not only that but ‘she’ feels the need to hide from ‘him’…

The love interest is a girl, serving behind the counter at a coffee shop. The voice recording we hear in the instrumental is a recording he took without her knowledge when buying his coffee. He gives her a compliment which she finds creepy but remains friendly, saying: “Oh thank you… Have a nice day”

From this encounter, he invents the rest in his head. Convinced that the smile she gave him that day had deep meaning behind it. That she felt the same way.

He becomes more obsessed with her and convinced they’re ‘Meant To Be’.

Now when he visits the coffee shop she actively avoids him. He can’t understand why her feelings for him have changed when in fact they were never there in the first place.

Regardless, the only one he needs is her and he won’t let go. They are meant to be.

What was the recording process like?

Every single element of ‘Meant To Be’ was recorded in our home ‘studios’ that have gradually formed so that we could continue producing music during lockdown.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing songs in this band?

Luke

For this band I had to change my entire mindset when it came to writing and recording drums. With other bands we would either Jam something out in the rehearsal or I would get something where the rhythm was very clear to me. With Neon Fields, we wrote most of this during the pandemic and therefore most of the time I would get sent a project from Piers that already had these huge atmospheric sounds with long sweeping synths and legato strings/string like instruments, there wasn’t always a rhythm there for me to latch on to. Some songs actually took me multiple attempts before I found anything remotely fitting, in some cases I was even messaging the band asking if it even needs drums. I think I’ve found my feet now when it comes to song writing in this band but that’s not to say it isn’t still extraordinarily difficult at times. But that’s all part of the fun of it.

Piers

The biggest learning curve for me in writing our first set of tracks is how a song can change during the writing and production processes. I enjoy building up layers of instrumentation and things often get to the point where it sounds muddy. Working with amazingly talented individuals such as Jack Daffin, who mixed each track we’ve released so far, helped me understand how elements can be appropriately spaced and balanced so that each layer can be heard or at least have an effect on the music. This has allowed me a lot more freedom in writing harmony sections and experimenting with textures. 

Would you change anything on the tracks you’ve released?

Luke

There’s possibly a few drum parts I would tweak, some things I play ever-so-slightly different live and there’s one or two things that got pointed out to me after release that I’d be lying if I said don’t bug me slightly. But overall I’m really happy with how the songs have come out.v

Piers

Although I think we’ve grown between tracks and there are parts that I think could be improved, I wouldn’t go back and change them. When you’re working independently and particularly when you can produce and record at home, you don’t have many pressures on your time apart from what you apply yourself so it’s easy to get stuck in a loop trying to perfect something to the point you never finish. Each track has been like a steak in the ground that showcased what we could do then but rather than going back, I’d much rather move forward and apply what I’ve learnt to something new.  

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

We are working hard towards releasing our debut album within the second quarter of 2022. It will contain ‘Meant To Be’ as well as our previous 6 releases that can be found on our debut EP. The final tracks we are creating for the album are written and are at different stages within the recording / production process. Once ready, we’re planning a virtual launch event which fans will be able to sign up to nearer the time of the release. The event will run over the 10 days prior to release and participants will receive access to exclusive bonus content each day as well as a free download of each album track.

We also can’t wait to start performing live and that is a very important part of what we shall be doing in 2022! Many people are surprised to hear this but we have never performed live as a band. I began forming the band at the end of 2019 and we’ve been in and out of lockdowns ever since! This allowed us to concentrate on honing our sound and writing / releasing tracks, but it’s about time we got out there and started performing our music! We can’t wait to start gigging during 2022!

Our intention is to perform local gigs but also to put on a live stream show do that we can include our many incredible supporters we have across the world. We have a small following but through the nature of social media, they come from many different countries. They are all such incredible advocates for our music and we owe it to them to include them in any way we can.