Author – Joe Goggins
They only formed just over a year ago, but already Soldato have carved out a rock and roll identity all of their own. Hailing from Leyland, Lancashire, the four-piece specialise in pairing huge, bluesy riffs with old-fashioned hard rock bite to create a blend that seems able to cater for both sides of the heavy divide;
Whilst their core aim at their live shows is to whip up a party atmosphere, they’ve also gone down a storm with the more extreme end of the community, having reached the finals at a competition for unsigned bands promoted by the none-more-metal Bloodstock Festival. With their debut EP, Your Animal, released last month and a fearsome live reputation already secured, Soldato – comprising frontman John Taylor, guitarist Craig Benyon, bassist Korv Sutch and drummer Phil Bailey – talk to us about their whirlwind debut year – Which included being one of the earliest adopters of Beatstream’s live music streaming app
How did the band come together?
Craig Benyon: A year or so ago, I wasn’t playing as much as I’d have liked, so I just thought I’d have a look online one day to see if I could possibly put a group together. I came across John, who was looking for members to start an original rock band, and I contacted him. He already knew Phil from playing together in a covers band, and then Phil knew Col from a while back. It came together really quickly, and since then we’ve been gigging consistently and building a following. Streaming our gigs with the Beatstream app was a real help!
John Taylor: It’s about a year since the first gig we ever played actually, it was right around this time.
Did you have similar influences that you bonded over?
CB: Actually, not really. We’ve all come from different sorts of musical backgrounds, and we kind of didn’t know who was into what until we got into a room together to play. It wasn’t really anything to do with influences or specific bands that we loved – we just started playing. John had a few songs already, so we used them to get a sense of each other as musicians, and gelled through them really, rather than anything else. We found our sound, and then ran with it from there.
Where did the hard rock and blues sound come from?
JT: It’s a very groove-orientated thing, really. It feels like hard rock, but people can dance to it. I think it came from the first song we played together, which was called ‘Soldato’ – it’s based around a huge riff, and we liked the feel of that. It seemed like if we could get a riff going, everything else would fall into place around it. Obviously, that’s where the name of the band came from, too – it’s Italian for soldier, and it seemed fitting as we really came together over that first track.
Even though you’ve played so many shows already, it doesn’t seem as if you’ve recorded a ton of material, with your debut EP only just having been released. What else do you play live that we haven’t heard on record yet?
Korv Sutch: It took a while to decide on those three songs, that sort of stood out on their own, to record first. A lot of the live stuff has a different feel, and doesn’t necessarily sit alongside the tracks that made it onto the EP. They were written to play live, and have a lot of different elements, whereas the EP is a little bit more intense I think. On stage, it’s different, because the aim is more to make sure that everybody in the audience is having a good time.
Do you consider yourselves a live band primarily, then?
CB: Definitely. We like recording, but as a live band, we become an entirely different entity. We try to destroy the roof on every place we play.
What have been the highlights on the live front so far?
KS: We had our EP launch last week at The Ferret in Preston, and that was a very special night. Everything just seemed to go right, including the bands that we picked as support acts. You don’t always get that, and sometimes you feel like you’re just fighting through things, but the last few gigs have all been great. It just seems like everybody’s having a good time, and that we’ve been picking up a lot of new fans.
JT: We played at a Metal for the Masses night that was organised by Bloodstock Festival recently, and that was a big surprise to us. We ended up there on a wildcard, and we got through to the finals. We didn’t expect it, so that was a real buzz.
Phil Bailey: I think the show at Manchester Academy, about six months in, was big as well. That’s one of the best shows I’ve played in any band I’ve been in, and it really helped us find our feet.
It’s interesting that you went down so well with the crowd at the Metal for the Masses gig, because Bloodstock tends to have a much heavier audience than maybe you’d fit with – it’s out-and-out metal for the most part.
CB: Yeah, it’s definitely a lot heavier than we are. I’m not quite sure what it’s down to, but I think everybody there is just looking to have a good night.
JT: I think it comes down to the fact that we’ve got songs, you know? You get a lot of shouty, screaming bands in that competition, so when we come in and it’s a bit more melodic, it’s like a breath of fresh air. That’s how I look at it, even if we do still make a racket!
Are you planning on recording more material?
CB: This was our first physical EP, but we do have a lot of material we could use. I think the main focus now is making a music video for one of the tracks, so that there’s a visual accompaniment to the EP. That’s the next thing on the cards, and then after that, we’ll go into the studio and maybe start thinking about an album. We’ve been speaking to out studio engineer today, so there should be something out in to not-too-distant future.
Now that you’ve been playing together for a year, have you got any ambitions beyond just making music and having a good time?
KS: I just thoroughly enjoy playing, and beyond that, I don’t really care what comes out of it.
JT: If something bigger did happen for us, that’d be fantastic. I mean, I’m playing in a band with four great friends and making music I really like, but the dream would be to give up the day job and do it full-time.
PB: Four great friends? There’s only four of us in the band!
John: Yeah, I meant three. Maybe don’t give me the mic in the next interview.
KS: That’s funny, John, because I was just about to say that I’m in a band with two great friends!
Your Animal is available now via soldatoband.bandcamp.com