Did we intend for it to be incendiary? I would say so, and I think it was just about hitting it as hard as we could, as intensely as possible.
UK metallers Burner released their scorching debut album burner It All Returns To Nothing on Church Road Records back in June to nothing but praise from all quarters. It is praise that is well deserved as it is a ferocious listen and demonstrates not only how fearsome Burner are as band but also how they are blazing a new trail for UK metal. Gavin Brown caught up with Burner vocalist Harry Nott to hear all about It All Returns To Nothing and the response the record has had so far, how it was created and how it feels to be one of the hottest new metal bands of 2023.
E&D: Your phenomenal debut album It All Returns To Nothing is out now. What has the reaction to the album been like?
Harry: Yeah, really positive. Honestly way bigger than we imagined. We are very proud of the record and we’ve been blown away by the reaction. Some people have said already that it’s one of their albums of the year, and the idea that we might get on some of those lists at the end of the year with our debut album is kind of nuts to me!
E&D: When you were making this incendiary album, did you always intended to make it in as intense as it turned out?
Harry: For us, it was like, Okay, we’ve made the EP, that’s the Burner sound. but we want to try to expand on that. It’s almost like do it again, but better and try a few things out. We don’t try to consciously think of the genres when we’re writing, but some of the influences on the EP, get their breathing room on the album. Did we intend for it to be incendiary? I would say so, and I think it was just about hitting it as hard as we could, as intensely as possible.
E&D: How do you feel Burner have evolved as a band since the EP and did you feel any pressure following it with this album?
Harry: It was an interesting one because with the EP, that was pretty well received and we got in a lot of people’s faces with that, which was great. So for us, it was like, Okay, well, now there’s a lot of eyes looking at us, it’s really the chance to do something. As a band, I’d like to think that we really pushed ourselves with the album and made it faster and more intense, there’s a bit more complexity to it. I think in some respects, some tracks on the record, like ‘An Affirming Flame’ or ‘Pillar Of Shame’, trying to build something that’s a bit more left field. In terms of how we’ve grown, back when we did the EP, it was during COVID. So for us, we made the EP in parts. We did the first half in early 21, then the latter half later in the year. With the album, we’re gonna go to Lewis Johns place at The Ranch in Southampton, and we’re going to record this thing for two weeks, and that’s it. I think for us, we just gained a lot of unity through that process, a lot of camaraderie. I feel like the best thing about it is we understand what Burner is more because of it we understand what the band is, what the feeling of it is, what the style of it is.
E&D: Have you had any thoughts about new music, and what direction it may take?
Harry: That’s a really good question. We have had the experience of the album coming out which has been terrifying in a way, we joke that we should have written a bad debut, because it would have been easier to follow up. Right? I think is interesting to us, because there’s a lot of of different styles on the album. This idea of ‘An Affirming Flame’ for example, We’re trying to evolve and experiment and delve into those ideas a little bit more than ones that we presented on the album, but at the same time, trying to make sure that it is still Burner. It’s the feeling that we have when we make this music, maybe that means not dropping the intensity, but exploring other kinds of sounds at the same level. It’s difficult to say it’s very early days. I think for us, because we spend so much time in COVID figuring out what the EP sounded like. Then by the time we had finished recording the EP, half the album was written. So it all kind of came from the same place. I think now we want a bit of breathing room where we can say, okay, let’s enjoy the fruits of our labour and then let’s come back to it and we’ll figure it out from there.
E&D: Who the biggest influences on Burner as a band?
Harry: I’d like to say like we all kind of bring something separate in terms of influences. Nathan, our lead songwriter he’s very much into bands like Trap Them and Nails. I’m very much into like death metal like Bloodbath and Dying Fetus, so to be fair, we have a lot of crossover, we’re all into these bands. We also like black metal like Wolves In The Throne Room.
E&D: Can you tell us how you came to ding to Church Road Records and are you loving life on the label?
Harry: When we were recording the EP, they just finished, I believe the third lockdown and we were doing the drums at The Ranch with Lewis Johns. He’s a great guy and I loved his work on the Grieved album from a few years ago. Amazing record, and we get there, and he’s listened to the demos. He said, guys, this is pretty good. At this point, we’re not Burner as such, we were a band but we weren’t playing shows The following day, we go into another round of drums, and he says, Oh, listen, guys, I’ve just been on the phone with Bailer, this hardcore band from Ireland and they want to do a tour. That’s brilliant! Then he said, when you guys are done I’m gonna send this over to Justine and Sammy from Church Road and see what they say? We were like, okay, cool. We had no expectations, because he was mixing the thing later on. We were hoping, but it was a mild hope. By the time we finished the EP, we sent it off, he mixes it, and he again tells us. Yeah, i’m gonna go shoot this over, and then we didn’t hear anything. A couple of weeks went by and I remember specifically, we were going to see Mastiff and Calligram at the Black Heart. We’re not deflated, we’re just like, okay, this Church Road thing isn’t going anywhere, they probably passed on us or just didn’t want to say, let’s go look somewhere else. Then an email comes through from Church Road that says, Hey, guys, we’d really like to work with you. So cool. So again, big thank to Lewis, who really made it happen, honestly, a wonderful human being to work with. We’re just very fortunate that he liked our music, and then Justine and Sammy liked our music. In terms of life on the label. It’s great. They’re just a wonderful little family of really passionate people doing this music. They’ve got the connections and they’ve got the capacity to really get your music out there, which is what you want a label to do. They’ll fight for you, and they’ve been a wealth of help to us, especially after we had to replace our drummer Hugo, now we have Jack Bryan and that was a connection that came through Sammy. We went on tour with Employed To Serve and that was a really valuable experience for us as a band. I would say, they’re just really passionate people. It’s small, but there’s so much heart to it and there’s no downsides to it. It’s just a wonderful place to be a part of, and also it kind of does feel like a family. We all we all go to each other shows. I listen to basically everything that Church Road puts out now so putting together an need of year list is going to be hard!
E&D: How did your album release show at The Black Heart go and what were the highlights of the show?
Harry: Yeah, so we brought Mastiff, Acid Throne and Negative Frame, and we’re just so grateful that we could get that lineup because they’re just really wonderful people in each of those bands. It was a wonderful bonding experience. It went off without a hitch to be honest, well the only hitch there was, was halfway our set, everyone was moshing so hard. They knocked one of the monitors and my mic cut out. I jumped this stage mid song and joined in the pit, so I got to pit to my own band, which is really cool. I was pretty pleased with that! Yeah. Wonderful, wonderful time. Those three bands are just hard as nails, every single one of them a bit of a range in styles too , which we were very happy with.
E&D: Did you play all of It All Returns To Nothing at the show?
Harry: We didn’t play all of the album. We played a set that was 40 odd minutes long and we played what we felt were some of the best tracks on the record, but what we did play had people moving from start to finish, so I have absolutely zero complaints. When we hit it in after the intro, people just sprung into action and the atmosphere of that is so jovial, especially when we had all of our friends
E&D: What have been some of the other most memorable shows that Burner have played?
Harry: I am from West Yorkshire, from a town called Pontefract which is close enough to Leeds and I used to go to shows in Leeds all the time growing up, it was the place where I would go to if I wanted to go see bands. We got to play Boom in Leeds last year, and it was an amazing show for me for a few reasons. It’s an amazing show for the band, because we got to play with Mastiff again, and our friends Candescent AD who are also on Church Road Records. We ended up playing in the side room, while a Rage Against the Machine tribute band played the main room, but it’s a free show, so loads of kids turn up, and the rooms packed. The vibe is just immaculate. I just don’t know how to explain this to you, man. It was just wonderful. Everyone’s having a good time start to finish. Everyone’s going off! I also got to see loads of personal friends of mine, who came to my shows when I was in a hardcore band when I was a teenager! I think Leeds is a place that I really want to get back to not just for personal reasons, but because the reception that we had there was just so good. Everyone loved us. It was just a really nice vibe. I think aside from that we played St Albans with Employed To Serve last year and we had Brady from Conjurer, we had Serena from Svalbard and they’re watching our set, and I knew they were there and it was one of these rare times where I was like, Oh crap, I’m really nervous now. We have to fucking nail this man like this and it was a really good set.
E&D: Do you think the extreme metal scene in the UK and Ireland as well is in great health at the moment?
Harry: People say it is in good health and to be honest, I can believe it with all the bands on Church Road Records. There are loads of really fantastic metal bands leading the way. You see bands like Svalbard and Heriot blowing up and you’ve got brutal bands like Wallowing and Helpless who I feel a genuinely innovating in their approach and what they’re doing. I’m really stoked for the future of heavy music. I think we’re in a really good spell.