Interview with Matt Wakefield from MIA HOPE (February 2010)

First of all, congratulations with “We are just satellites” - it is, in my humble opinion, amazing from the first note to the last. What are the band’s feelings as the CD is about to be released?

Matt: That's very kind of you to say so and we're very pleased with the music we've written, we hope people enjoy it as much as we did making it! Although, we're under no illusions that the album will be universally loved. We can't wait to get out and tour the album and get to see new places and meet people on the process.

We're already starting to look at the next load of songs though, and know we can improve on We are just satellites. But this is to be expected as if you are content with what you have, what's driving you to carry on? From a personal perspective I felt the vocals were a bit rushed but this was due to external events outside of everyone's control and I'm hoping to rectify that on the next album.

What were the steps forward from the EP “The Collapse of Etymology” to this first album?

Since the release of The Collapse of Etymology there has been a gradual change to the entire line up of Mia Hope (apart from myself, who is the only original member!). Each time a member has been replaced we have made sure that their replacement is a progression in both a creative and technical sense. This isn't to knock what the previous members achieved musically, but bringing new people in always brings fresh perspectives and new idea's.

Your music is both intense and melodic. Is one of you in charge of the tough parts and another member better at composing cooler parts? Do you split the roles during the creation process or is it a common effort?

I wrote every aspect of all the songs and then taught the others how to play them!

But seriously, there's no set process we go through. Anyone can bring an idea – whether it's just the bare bones or an entire song, and we'll work with it in the practise room together. Phil and Brad (our former guitarist) wrote most of the music for the album initially – but this process has changed now that we've replaced Brad, with everyone bringing much more contributions.

What about the recording sessions of “We are just satellites”?

It was a sweaty mix of foot-golf, tantric sex and badger baiting.

Like most things we tend to do it was a fairly relaxed process and the recording went very well. We finished ahead of schedule as we put in a lot of work with the songs prior to recording. This also meant we had time to work through various ideas on songs, and experiment a bit with different sounds and ideas.

As with most recordings there was an element of monotony and killing time but we used this time wisely to invent foot-golf (a clever combination of football and golf) and catch up on films that we wouldn't normally get the chance to watch.

Your music is rich and I guess your influences numerous. Can you tell us about them?

To be honest there are too many to mention. Each member has their own perspective on what constitutes good music; ranging from punk, hardcore, metal, indie etc and I think this has helped us tremendously in the writing process. We're not limited to one genre or style, if it fits in the song we'll happily incorporate it. There is some common ground in terms of bands that we all listen to such as Between the Buried and Me, Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, The Chariot, Mewithoutyou and Botch but we probably spend more time taking the piss out of each other for bands we don't agree on than talking about the ones we all like. We've also recently taken a shine to Pink so you can probably expect some covers at some point.

Where do you take the inspiration for the lyrics?

Anywhere really – things that annoy me, things that inspire me, people I love, memories.

We are just satellites” is a real, whole musical piece, with a smart track-listing, not just a simple addition of songs? What makes the difference?

I'm not sure to be honest – we didn't write the songs with the view that certain songs would fit well together its just the way it happened. We've always tried to ensure we write songs that flow well together and this album was generally very organic in the way it was written – it all just seemed to come together and make sense in the end. But we did put quite a lot of thought into getting the 'right' order for the tracks, to make it feel as organic as possible.

Why did Brad leave the band?

It was very much a mutual decision. Brad wasn't enjoying the musical direction we were taking and decided it would be best for him to walk away prior to the album coming so someone else could take over. He's currently working on a new band called Deadjilldando and I believe he is demoing songs at the moment.

Can you introduce Chris?

Chris was a friend of Ryan's (bass) and is currently studying at the Academy of Contemporary Music. Like previous members who have joined, he has helped the band to progress and is a very accomplished guitarist. He's also a really chilled out guy and has fitted into the band as if he was always there. We're very excited about what he can do and can't wait to start working on new material with him. His nickname is Super Prick.

Mia Hope’s singing’n’screaming is raw and intense. How do you keep your voice in good shape during recording and on tour?

Honey & lemon and embarrassing myself by warming up in a car outside the venue. If we're touring or have a few gigs on the trot I'll avoid alcohol as it ruins my throat but I always make sure I make up for it on the last night and then avoid talking the next day. I'm waiting on the day I blow my throat out and have to adapt my style or leave but this hasn't happened yet and hopefully won't for a long time. Going forward I'd like to mix the screaming up more and incorporate more “singing” but this would have to complement our music so I'll work on it with the others.

What do you expect from your collaboration with Rising Records and what do they expect from you?

The same as we've always wanted to do, give people the opportunity to hear our music and get the chance to tour and meet people. We'll be very happy if we get the chance to do either and anything else is a bonus.

Any plans for tour and for summer festivals?

None yet but once we have a better idea of how the album is doing I'm sure we'll pencil some in. Our main ambition with this year is to get on the road in the UK and Europe.

A final word or comment to close this interview?

I don’t feel I've incorporated enough clichés in this interview so I will work on it for the next time we speak. Other than that thanks for being interested in what we have to say and hopefully we'll get the chance to come over to Denmark at some point.


Mia Hope -  We are just Satellites

Album available through Rising Records

Interview by Philippe Leconte