Face to face with The First


Melodic rock collective The First create blistering and energised music with heart and soul.  The band’s debut record ‘Swimming With Sharks’ became a big success and propelled The First to the limelight. The collective took a year and a half to tour the debut and support it properly, spreading the word about their music as much as possible.  In 2013 The First strike with their sophomore ‘Take Courage’ – a perfect example of a follow-up: recognisably theirs, but more mature. The First’s lead singer Benny Salter talks about the album, dueting with Elissa Franceschi and some unusual inspirations for the songs.

– ‘Take Courage’ is your sophomore record. As infamous for their make or break nature as sophomore records are, what was your approach to making this album?

– I suppose it was simple really, we wanted to be bigger and better than the last and as you say, this was an important record to get right. We didn’t change our writing style or aim to be something we’re not. I just suppose since the last record we have all matured in both our song writing and as people. The only thing really aimed to do this time around was to make the record more diverse.

– Now when ‘Take Courage’ is ready and out, how do you feel about the record?

– We’ve been sitting on the record for a while, and now that it’s finally out we couldn’t be more excited to see what people think of it. I for one am very proud of what we have achieved.

– For the song ‘William’ you teamed up with Elissa Franceschi. How did this collaboration come about and how did you enjoy working with Elissa?

– Working with Elissa was initially daunting. We had obviously heard her on the You Me At Six record and were overly chuffed that she wanted to work with us. One day I was talking to our manager about getting a female guest vocalist on a track, and jokingly I said ‘let’s get Elissa Franceschi to do it!’ Never thinking that would actually happen, but he said ‘yep, I know her, I’ll ask’ and the rest is history!

– If you could collaborate with absolutely any musician in the world, who would it be?

– Without sounding too cheesy, I’ve ticked all the boxes with While She Sleeps, Deaf Havana and Elissa Franceschi. I wonder who will be on the next album…

– What feelings would you like ‘Take Courage’ to stir in your listeners?

– It’s a very personal album to me and there is a lot of my heart and soul in it. If even one person can relate to that then that makes it all worth while. There is a lot of depth to the record and once you’re in, you’re stuck.

– The First tour a lot. What do you love and hate most of all about heavy touring?

– Touring is what being in a band is all about, experiencing different cities is an amazing thing. The one thing that sometimes gets to me is the traveling, the down time is a killer.

– What’s the funniest story that’s ever happened to you on tour and which you can share with us?

– This is always a difficult question to answer as in a lot of cases you have to be there to really understand. Let’s just say it’s a constant laugh.

– What’s been your most unusual source of inspiration for writing a song?

– By far the inspiration for ‘William’ came from the most unlikely place. To cut a long story short I was drinking in an old pub with a bunch of guys and happened to see a very old man in the corner with his dog. After a while I asked him to come and talk to us. After 2 minutes the loud group of guys I was with were listening to every word William said, talking to us about his days in the war. It sparked a thought in my head that he has lived a life that none of us could even begin to understand. Amazing man.

– What’s your most favourite album of 2013 so far?

– Without a doubt the new Deaf Havana album is incredible. So well written and produced. There’s not a great deal of music that really grabs my attention any more.

– How would you estimate the year 2013 for The First in general?

– We’ve done some great stuff this year including Download Festival, headlining the BBC Introducing stage in Cambridge, and the Ourzone tour. But we have our headline tour coming up as well as the Vans Warped tour in November. 2014 better watch out.

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