From small acorns… Well, you know the rest. But the old adage couldn’t be more applicable in the story of NECK DEEP, a band who have evolved over the course of just one year from ‘a bit of fun’ to one of the most exciting young names in today’s UK scene.
Even for those that have traced the quintet’s rise, it might be hard to fathom that it was only September of 2012 in Wrexham, North Wales, when hometown friends Ben Barlow and Lloyd Roberts recorded and uploaded a handful of tracks and a quickly shot video to YouTube.
At that time, Roberts was a guitarist with melodic hardcore band Spires, whilst Barlow was a local skater kid and bedroom musician; the project that the twosome dubbed as ‘Neck Deep’ was intended as a piece of casual fun, a musical homage to the likes of New Found Glory, Blink 182 and Sum 41 – the classic pop punk they had both grown up with.
Neither could have expected what came next.
Online praise for the songs snowballed while play-counts rocketed, and it was clear to Barlow and Roberts that Neck Deep needed to be more than an online enigma. So, after picking musicians from the lineup of Roberts’ band Spires and from within the local music scene, Neck Deep – the band – was born, with guitarist Matt West, bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans and drummer Dani Washington fleshing out this real world incarnation.
By the time the band played their London debut at Camden’s Barfly in December 2012 (their second ever show), the quintet already found themselves facing crowd singalongs that surpassed any reaction they could have ever anticipated. Meanwhile, online attention for their self-recorded debut mini album Rain In July had spread internationally, with anthemic lead track A Part Of Me inspiring particular acclaim from an ever increasing, worldwide pool of fans.
Neck Deep kicked off 2013 as they meant to go on, releasing a three track E.P, A History Of Bad Decisions, for free download, and hitting the road in its support. Respected media outlets were now catching on too, with the likes of BBC Radio 1 to Rock Sound magazine, and from Kerrang! Radio to Alternative Press (who dubbed them as ones to watch and made them ‘band of the week’), excited to throw their hats in the ring in support for the band. And, after a last minute band holiday to the US to visit Florida’s amusement parks saw the band playing an impromptu house show and a near sold out headline show (with only 48 hours notice) to crazed audiences of fans singing every last word, it was clear that Neck Deep had rapidly become much more than a flash in the pan, one hit wonder.
Not ones to waste momentum, the band returned from these few months of live activity creatively supercharged, and set about writing and recording the material that would become their debut full-length album. Initially, the ever pro-active quintet had plans to self-release their full length, but when Hopeless Records came knocking, the band knew there was no other choice to make; this was a label that embodied many of the values the fivesome held close as individuals and creatives, and boasted a roster the young musicians not only admired and respected, but which they had grown up enjoying as fans.
After a long, hot summer slaving away in the home studio of frontman Barlow’s older brother, Seb Barlow – the very same studio where the band tracked Rain In July and A History Of Bad Decisions – the Neck Deep debut album, Wishful Thinking, was born.
A record that simultaneously belies their youth and yet radiates it from every audio pore, Wishful Thinking offers the listener a relentless array of anthemic hooks, intelligent songwriting and Barlow’s trademark sharp witted, introspective and determinedly honest lyricism.
In little over 12 months, Neck Deep have won a lot of people over. Suffice to say – with Wishful Thinking set for a January 14, 2014 release - this is only the very beginning. Just think where they could be in another 12 months.
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