Like A Storm, an up-and-coming hard rock band from New Zealand, is pushing the envelope with their unique new sound. Featuring the didgeridoo—a traditional aboriginal instrument—and the baritone bass guitar, the band have combined culture and music into a new heavy metal masterpiece.
Salute Magazine recently caught up with band’s lead guitarist Matt Brooks, as the band gears up for their first headlining tour across the U.S.
What was it that first brought you to bring baritone guitar and didgeridoo into the mix?
Matt Brooks: It’s funny because incorporating both the baritone guitar and didgeridoo have been like an evolutionary practice for us. We took a trip to Australia and [the band’s lead singer] Chris learned how to play it. He got this didgeridoo and just locked himself in his room for three days. So we wanted to find new ways to work that instrument into the music. As for the baritone guitar, we grew up listening to bands like Metallica, Korn, the Deftones, so we found our place in these lower notes.
Your new album, Awaken the Fire, about how long did it take to produce? And where did you record it?
Brooks: It’s kind of a cool story. The first half we recorded while we were out on tour. Like crazy men we decided to do both at the same time. We would write and record these songs all night until we were kicked out the next morning. There wound up being a really cool vibe in the songs that we hadn’t expected.
We went in the totally opposite direction for the other half, picking the most remote location we could find. We rented a lake house in Michigan where we recorded “Wish You Hell” and “Become the Enemy” and the second half of the album.
What was the inspiration behind the title, Awaken The Fire?
Brooks: It’s actually from a line in the first song on the album, “Chaos.” We sort of realized there was a real underlying theme of following your dreams and leading the life you choose. Awaken the Fire really encapsulated that.
So what was it that made you guys decide to cover Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise?”
Brooks: That was cool. Basically we’ve always been huge fans of that song. When we were kids growing up in New Zealand we had it on cassette tape. One time, while we were out, “Gangster’s Paradise,” came over the loudspeakers and we thought, ‘How awesome would it be if a rock band would do a cover of it?’ We went home and fired up the studio. It became this midnight mad science experiment that we worked on. After we heard it, we thought it would sound great with the album.
Another song that stands out on the album is “Southern Skies,” which is a lot more mellow than most of your other stuff. Any reason you guys decided to tone it down with this track?
Brooks: We’re huge fans of all different kinds of music. All hard rock bands, whether it’s Metallica or Alice in Chains, could do these kickass rock songs and do these really cool acoustic songs as well.
“Southern Skies” was a song written about New Zealand, while we were driving through perhaps the furthest place from New Zealand, the Nevada desert. I was looking up at the sky and I saw the Southern Cross, the same constellation on the New Zealand [national] flag, and I just started to think about it. About all the the people we left behind. “Southern Skies” is our tribute to home.
Something that not everyone out there may know is that three of you are actually blood brothers. As the eldest of two boys, I sometimes butt-heads with my brother creatively. Do you find that ever happens to you guys? Has it been easy to be in a band with your brothers?
Brooks: What’s funny is we all grew up playing in different bands. I’m the youngest, so I was always grateful my brothers didn’t beat me up too much. But, we always got along well.
At first we were all in our own bands. When we first started jamming together, we realized there was this kind of chemistry there. We had the same kind of vision, we wanted to make the same kind of music. That’s one of the things that really glues us together, is the fact that our creative vision is the same.
The first single off the new album, “Love the Way You Hate Me,” spent 5 weeks at No. 1 on SiriusXM’s Octane channel. What was your reaction when you first found out?
Brooks: It was unbelievable. It was a record that we had made entirely ourselves. We produced it ourselves. We even did some of the mixing ourselves. We had no idea it would ever end up on the radio. “Love the Way You Hate Me” has a didgeridoo solo in the middle of it, it was the like the most indulgent thing [on the album]. I didn’t think it would ever be on the air, but SiriusXM’s Octane really did give us our break in America. It was like a dream.
Practically every photo I’ve seen of you guys looks like you all just stepped out of the salon. I just got to ask, what’s up with the hair?
Brooks: During photoshoots you’re aware that these photos are a representation of the band. I don’t look like that when I wake up or when I walk offstage after headbanging. Photoshoots are definitely a chance to show your vision of the band. So, to answer your question, we don’t go to the salon, but we do own a lot of hairspray.
Tell me more about your upcoming Didgeridoo Destruction Tour 2015.
Brooks: It’s our first headlining tour. We’re really excited about the whole thing. It’s nationwide. We’re doing the entire country, from the midwest to the southwest to the east coast.
Last, I would just like to give a shoutout to our fans, who quite literally have been the reason that we’re able to tour and make exactly the kind of music we want.
Flint, MI – The Machine Shop
Fort Wayne, IN – Piere’s Entertainment Center
Arlington Heights, IL – HOME Bar
Spring Lake Park, MN – POVS
Denver, CO – Marquis Theater
Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep
Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House
Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory Concert House
Seattle, WA – Studio Seven
Springfield, MO – The Outland Ballroom
Little Rock, AR – Juanita’s
Hickory, NC – The Wizard Saloon
Jacksonville, NC – Hooligans Music Hall
Marietta, OH – Adelphia Music Hall
Halethorpe, MD – Fish Head Cantina
Battle Creek, MI – The Music Factory
Ringle, WI – Q and Z Expo Center