Photo: Daniel Waverley Grey
Potentially one the biggest breakout successes of 2017, Employed To Serve have been enjoying the spoils of success following the release of their fantastic and crushing sophomore record The Warmth Of A Dying Sun last year. After leveling the Avalanche Stage at Download 2018 we got to sit down with vocalist Justine and guitarist Sammy to talk about the Download experience, creating a collective space between the band and fans and watching someone being shackled to stocks and having their hair shaven off whilst listening to the Nyan Cat song.
Hi! How are you guys?
Sammy: Yeah good man!
Sammy: Yeah, absolutely buzzing after playing.
So this was your first time playing Download, how did you find it?
Sammy: It was awesome.
Justine: Yeah, we couldn't ask for more. The crowd was great, staff are lovely, really happy about it.
Sammy: It was near enough perfect, we played quite an early slot but the turnout was amazing, we couldn't ask for more people and yeah, just chuffed. I've been here when I was younger so to finally play now -
Justine: It's just a childhood dream isn't it.
You guys clashed with Helpless, who are another Holy Roar band. Was that something you found frustrating?
Justine: Yeah, I'm so gutted about that, I really wanted to see them!
Sammy: Yeah, we're good friends with the guys in Helpless and we love their band as well, so we're gutted we couldn't see them.
Justine: We can't have it all I guess!
So you said on stage you'll be here all weekend, who are you guys planning on seeing?
Sammy: I need to check again because I didn't look at all the stages before we came and within the last week I've kind of been like 'holy shit, they're playing!' Today I wanna see Napalm Death, I wanna go watch CKY, annoyingly I think we're missing Stick To Your Guns.
Justine: Yeah I really wanted to see them, we managed to catch Stray From The Path, they were sick, they're so awesome man.
Sammy: I'm excited, I'm just looking at the poster now to remind myself, headliner wise Bullet For My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold is going to be cool tonight. But yeah, there's plenty of bands, Rolo Tomassi and Milk Teeth are playing over this weekend as well.
Justine: They're awesome, both of those bands are killing it.
Speaking of Milk Teeth, you guys went on tour with them last year. What was it like supporting a band who's fans might not be familiar with extreme music?
Sammy: It was really cool wasn't it? We obviously really like the band and love the guys anyway. But we we're apprehensive about the tour because we were like 'is it going to work, it it going to be too much of a clash?'.
Justine: We just really like the band and they're sort of in a similar sort of situation, a different scene, but still in the UK scene. It was just like 'fuck it, lets try it'. I get really bored of playing the same lineups, I like our lineups to be diverse and have something for everyone and I think that was a brilliant example of that.
Sammy: Yeah, you don't want the same thing over and over and it just kind of proved that people were into both bands and genres. It was cool seeing people either in our shirts or their shirts, singing along to both bands. I'm sure there were a few people who were there for a specific band, but for the most part everyone was down to catch everything. There wasn't a big segregation between the fan bases, but yeah I love tours like that.
Justine: I think the press had a great influence on tours like that with Kerrang and magazines like that covering all bands on the bill. It was very much a Kerrang like crowd with people going 'Oh Kerrang are bigging these guys up, this is awesome'.
Sammy: One of my favorite tours was actually that run.
Warmth Of A Dying Sun Is just over a year old now, looking back how do you feel about it's release?
Justine: It opened up so many doors for us, which is obviously a very cliche thing to say. But when we were writing it we didn't think it would go this far. It's not like we didn't have confidence in our work or anything or think it wasn't very good, it's just like you never know do you?
Sammy: No, and it definitely opened up a new crowd for us as well, because there's definitely a lot of stuff on there that's very similar to the first album, but we definitely tried to do some heavier and groovier tracks rather than it being like the first record which is quite chaotic throughout. We were kind of like 'oh shit, are people going to be into this' and stuff and luckily people were, honestly we couldn't be more chuffed really on how it went.
So Justine you released appeared on Jamie Lenman's new single Long Gone. How did that come about?
Justine: So I was mad for Reuben when I was younger because they're all from the same area as us in Surrey, so that was really awesome. Then he started releasing all his solo stuff, which I was really into. I'm I don't know how it came about, I think it might have been when we played Lenmania...
Sammy: I think we're obviously aware with his work but I think he became aware of us because we have the same PR, but anyway, he checked us out at 2000 Trees last year and I think because of that Lenmania came along...
Justine: Oh that was it, Robbie and Rich were really drunk and went up to him saying how much they loved Reuben and something like that so yeah, that happened and then he became aware of us.
Oh I see! So what was it like recording with Jamie then?
Justine: Oh he's sick, he's so awesome. He's so genuinely lovely. It was just generally a really nice experience, you kind of look up to these people when you're growing up so to get to actually collaborate with it was nice.
So could we potentially be seeing a tour with you guys and Jamie Lenman?
Justine: Aha, maybe!
Sammy: That would be cool.
Justine: We wouldn't say no to that, that would be awesome.
Sammy: I would be down for that,once again going back to the whole Milk Teeth thing, it's just so nice being able to play with such a wide selection of people, I think we were saying the other day to someone within like less than a year we played something like Damnation Festival then we did a tour with Milk Teeth. For me that's like perfect because it keeps it so interesting in terms of who we get to play with.
Justine: We listen to everything. It's such a cliche to say but I don't listen to Ska, but I listen to lot to a lot of different things and genres...
Sammy: If Less Than Jake are listening, we'll still tour with you.
Justine: But yeah, it's just nice, you can't listen to metal all the time.
Sammy: It is important to play to new crowds. We're in a very fortunate position to be in, being a heavy band but being to play to a very diverse crowd. But it's kind of a funny one, I listen to a lot of metal but even for me listening to metal pretty much everyday is boring, I still need to slip in other bits of music just to keep it fresh. As a band as well, when you're writing material I think it's nice to have different influences to get inspired by different bands going different things.
I know what you mean. Lets talk about your windbreakers, how did the idea come about to wear them as a uniform?
Justine: Well we all really like Slipknot...
Sammy: It was more so the idea of what they're doing with it, we kind of want to come on as a unit, being like this is who we are and this is what were representing and more so moving forward with our music as well, with the people who listen to us as well, like Justine saying with Slipknot, I always loved the whole imagery.
Justine: Like Converge as well, with the whole Jane Doe imagery.
Sammy: But more so with Slipknot, because of the whole thing with maggots and stuff and growing up I felt like I was part of something, for there was like music and then there was Slipknot and it's we want to create that kind of thing with people who are listening to us, they can feel like they're part of us.
So you want to create a collective with you and your fans?
Justine: Yeah, at the end of the day a fan is nothing without the people who help, support and follow them so why not include them and create an environment where people can be like 'oh hey you were wearing an ETS shirt, I like ETS too.' I want it to be a talking point and almost a way of people to connect, it's just nice making new friends and being a part of something.
Sammy: We want to make it a collective and it feels so nice going out on stage and everyone is wearing our jackets. I know it's such a small thing but you do feel like a tight unit and representing who we are, you know what I mean?
So whats next for Employed To Serve then?
Sammy: A new album and more touring, we'll have new music out really really soon and just more touring.
Justine: We're going to see how far we can take it really.
Sammy: I'm really happy with new album, touch wood people like it and we're really excited to see what comes from that really.
Can't wait to hear it guys! So last question, whats the most oddest or memorable thing you've seen at a festival?
Sammy: So with my old band we played this festival in the Czech Republic called Obscene Extreme, and you see some absolute crazy stuff out there. So they have two things, there was this thing called the hell show after all the bands have finished. So there was this dude dressed up as an angel I believe who was pierced in by back by hooks. So he was holstered up and then this girl who was dressed up as an angel, she went up...I don't think they actually were doing it, but she had a strap on dildo on and she was up behind him pretending to like...bum this angel. It was definitely one of those moments where I was like 'if only my family could see where I was now.' They would definitely have some questions.
Justine: Mainly about your life choices.
Sammy: That wasn't even the most mental thing, I don't know if they still do it but it's called the mustache bar. It was like a karaoke bar and it runs all night long. I remember being up all night since we had our flight home early the next day but it was like 5 in the morning or something like that. But it's not just regular karaoke, you're put into stocks whilst you sing karaoke and regardless of whenever you're good or bad, they just shave your hair off. So you're just there doing karaoke, getting your hair shaved off and every now and again, like every 20 minutes or so they would just play that nyan cat song for like 10 minutes straight whilst someone would be chained up getting their hair shaved off. Just fucking insane. If you can top that I would be scared to go to your festival to be honest.
Sounds like a great family weekend away. Cheers guys!
Employed To Serve will be touring next month playing Warmth Of A Dying Sun in full with support coming from Rough Hands. Check out the dates below and pick up tickets using this link.