by Slone Fox
VANCOUVER – In between the rustling sounds of Ben Barlow getting out of his Uber and the static of a long distance call, Barlow reflects on the overall success of his band as well as the quality of his songwriting over the last six years.
“No one has said that the lyrics suck yet, so you know, that’s good.”
Barlow is, of course, referring to the Welsh pop-punk band Neck Deep, of which he is the frontman. While most international bands struggle to break into the North American scene, Neck Deep’s rapid rise in popularity is something that has happened both naturally and unintentionally, with little to no conscious effort on the band’s behalf. Fast forward to 2018, and the quintet is now blazing their way across the U.S. and Canada, and feeling right at home while doing it.
“I think we connect to Canada a little bit more than the U.S., just because I feel like Canadians are quite similar to British people in the sense that people are a little bit over-polite and maybe not so out there,” Barlow laughs. “It was a bit of a learning curve playing [in North America], but at the end of the day you’re getting up and doing the same thing regardless. Getting up on stage and playing music, whether it’s in front of people from Belgium or people from California, it doesn’t matter. It has the same feeling for you onstage.”
The summer of 2017 saw the release of Neck Deep’s third album, The Peace and the Panic. The record supplied a whole slew of new songs for fans to obsess over, most notably the energetic and hard-hitting, yet soul crushingly sad, track “In Bloom.” The song is not only Barlow’s personal favourite off of the new album, but also one that he claims has even replaced “A Part of Me” as a fan favourite to see live.
While Neck Deep has kept their distinct sound going strong through all of their albums, the energy in The Peace and the Panic no doubt trumps that of any other album thus far. Barlow attributes this shift to his super top secret creative process: doing whatever he wants.
“We’ve defined our sound by not really defining it at all and just doing a bunch of different things,” he says. “Just showing people what we can do and what we’re interested in and then putting all of our influences into it. It all really came together.”
The upcoming tour with bands Seaway, Creeper, and Speak Low If You Speak Love will see Neck Deep returning to Canada for the first time in almost two years with renewed energy and a whole set of new songs in tow. Even more exciting for local fans, their Vancouver tour date marks the first time the band will grace the city with a performance in their six years together. We can only imagine that it’ll be worth the wait.
Neck Deep plays MacEwan Hall (Calgary) on February 20, Union Hall (Edmonton) on February 21 and the Vogue Theatre (Vancouver) on February 23.neck deep, Vogue Theatre