Having only formed in 2007, Ivyrise have already garnered plenty of attention for their breed of stadium pop/rock. 2008 was by anyones standards a phenomenal success. Not only did debut single “Tips” launch them into the public sphere, it also sparked interest from the “white boy with a feather in his hair” and former Run-DMC remixer Jason Nevins. Nevins ended up remixing their second single “Disguise”, helping it reach number two in the independent charts. If praise from the likes of Kevin Spacey was not enough, Ivryrise topped it all off by winning themselves a support slot on the Bon Jovi “Lost Highway” tour. Having entered a competition in the London Paper, they proved to be run away winners. However, post the highs came the lows. Lead singer Ben Falinski kindly took a moment to tell zap! bang! all about what it was that drove him to write about his sense of loss on fortchoming single “1000 Feet”.
Why not kick it off by telling us a bit about your upcoming single “1000Feet”…
Wrote it about a week after we played at Twickenham Stadium with Bon Jovi, we did a support slot for them and it was just such a great experience. I was living on my own in London and I just sort of wrote the song about forgetting all your troubles and looking to the future. It’s a song that embodies all that for me and the rest of the band.
Were they personal issues you were confronting?
All the guys in the band have come from modest backgrounds and weve all grown up with dreams of being in a rock band. I think the song in particular was about for me, you know I talk in the song about flying and being in the clouds and all that sort of stuff. I think that was the idea all of us had when we were putting the song together, that we all just wanted to kind of fly.
Are Ivryrise a group of childhood friends chasing a dream?
I actually met our drummer Liam (Malson) at the very beginning, we started the band together and we’ve been writing songs for a very long time. I met Liam when he was 17 and that’s four years ago now. We’ve sort of been together the whole way through. Our bass player Mark (Nagle) and guitar player Dan (Tanner) joined us along the way. In a way it was just myself and Liam at the beginning and we became a band as we progressed and developed as an act. Now here we are on a Wednesday afternoon in a service station on the M1.
It’s a strange question to answer because it wasn’t a deliberate thing. It was a long long time ago and back in the days when I was at university. I had this crumby old house up in the Midlands where I lived and the damn thing was covered in plants, not necessarily ivy but just covered with stuff. I moved in there and the first idea was to start up this band called The Ivy. Then I realised straight away that there was a band from New York with the same name, so I had to change that idea. So I just came up with the idea that the ivy rises and that was it, it just stuck. Ever since then everything I have done, I see the ivy word everywhere. I lived on a street in London called Ivy lane and all this kind of stuff, so I am almost a bit superstitious about the word ivy. It seems to be following me around. Well I was born on Friday the 13th September, so I am a fairly superstitious chap. Anyway, this is just another excuse to have another one.
You mentioned the Bon Jovi slot, how did that come about?
We released a single last year which came out I think in July and it did well. We got played on a few of the radio stations. We entered this competition in the London Paper. They did a review about us way back in the day. I got an email from one of the chaps that works there saying I should enter the competition, which offered a slot of the Lost Highway tour with Bon Jovi. People got to ring in and decide which act they wanted to get the slot and we got it! Suddenly from only ever having really played fairly small venues, within the space of a week we were thrust onto a stage in front of 80,000 people. It was great and you know it’s a band that I respect an awful lot and have followed for many years. It was great as we met them and I had a brief chat with Jon Bon Jovi. Since then I’ve looked up to him as an inspirational leader and front man. We got to stand at the side of the stage and watch them play. They played for two-and-a-half hours and played all their hits, it was a really really good experience.
Is it currently the pinnacle of a blossoming career?
In terms of live stuff, it is by far. In fact, I’ve chatted with the guys and no matter what happens, we could be an extremely successful band yet not play again in front of that many people. We just took as many pictures as we could. I think it is pretty safe to say that it is the pinnacle of our career so far, but I am sure there will be more good things to come.
I had Jon Bon Jovi’s setlist in front of me when I was on stage playing our set. I couldn’t help but look down at the list of all these big tunes from over the last 20 years.
I hear you also supported the 90s wonderkids Kula Shaker…
We did, right at the very beginning. When we first got our record deal, we just literally got put on this tour around the UK with Kula Shaker. We played all the Academys around the UK and did a few sort of interesting shows a show on a boat in Bristol, which was also quite fun. Yeah, it was good learning experience. It’s quite interesting to see a fairly psychedelic and interesting rock band meander their way around the UK. But you know, it doesn’t really compare to the slot with Bon Jovi.
Honestly though, who does it for you more — Bon Jovi or Kula Shaker?
To be honest it was a bit of a dream when we got the slot with Bon Jovi. I am a big fan and have been for a long time. I love stadium rock ‘n’ roll. I love big production shows. I am a big fan of U2, Coldplay, Bon Jovi, The Stones and The Who. You know these bands who have reached the very very top. So to be able to stand up on the same stage. You know, I had Jon Bon Jovi’s setlist in front of me when I was on stage playing our set. I couldn’t help but look down at the list of all these big tunes from over the last 20 years.
With the set list there, were you not even slightly tempted to knock out a Bon Jovi classic?
Funny you say that, as the week before we had found out about the competition, we were actually doing a cover version of “Dead Or Alive” in rehearsal just for a laugh. We had no idea this was going to come around the corner, so we did have a cover version at the ready to perform. We were probably wisely advised by our management that covering a Bon Jovi song in front of a Bon Jovi audience would have been a pretty suicidal move. So we steered well clear in the end.
How did the Jason Nevins remix of “Disguise” come about?
Jason actually found out about us through MySpace. We literally just got a message through one day from a DJ in the UK that Im quite friendly with. He said Jason listened to your stuff on MySpace, can you send him the mp3 so he can have a play around with it. So we wrote to his label and sent it over to him. He said he’d love to work on it and he pulled together this great club mix. I think it Top 10’d in the dance chart last year, so that was pretty cool as well. We’ve been in touch with him a little bit and we’d like to do something with him in the future. Obviously his speciality is dance rock and we write fairly accessible pop rock song, I like to think, so maybe we’ll get together one day and do our thing.
After Nevins, you settled on Alan Moulder (The Killers, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins) and Ben Mason (The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight) to produce the album. Why these two?
We went into the Konk studio in North London, which you might know is the title of The Kook’s second album. It’s owned by Ray Davies of The Kinks. Ben was the studio house engineer up there for a few years. So we did a few rough tracks with him and got on really well, so we ended up recording most of the tracks for the album with Ben. Then moved down to Alan Moulders studio, where he mixed the recordings for us. Ben and Alan met up to finish it off and that’s where we are at now. You know for us it’s a great thing as Alan is well-respected and popular producer and Ben is an upcoming whiz kid. We thought the combination of the two would give us something special, hopefully everybody will agree.
Are any of the album tracks particularly special for you?
There are probably two songs, which I doubt will go as singles. Often the tracks I like the best don’t form the best three-and-a-half minute radio friendly tracks. There’s a song called “Paris”, which on our MySpace page at the moment. It’s one that I wrote quite a long time ago. I used to live in Paris and I was hugely inspired by my time over there. That song has an awful lot of meaning for me and people seem to like it when we play it live. There’s another song as well, which is called “Outside”. It’s a song that was written more recently, only a couple of months ago. We’ve played it live a few times and it’s had a really really good reaction. They are probably the two songs I favour out of the whole album, but then again having chatted to the other guys in the band, we all have our different favourites. We like different parts of it in different ways. I guess that’s the normal way when you’ve spent months and months grafting away on something together.
Will you sneakily let me in on the album’s title?
There isn’t an album title as yet, its subject of lots of arguments at the moment. I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement when everyone agrees I am right. But I won’t be telling my idea at this stage. To be quite honest, there are a few options up in the air, so we will have to wait and see. We will probably announce it when the next single comes out.
And finally, where do you think you will be one year from now?
Probably in another service station talking to you. At the moment forefront of our mind is getting the album out. It is due start of next year. We want to be on the road and getting it out there. So next year, let’s have another conversation and hope everyone will be talking about that.
“1000 Feet” is released on August 31st. For more information, visit the Official Ivryrise Website