Welcome back to our annual WoS Year In Review series! For those who are new to the concept, this is where Wall of Sound staff, loyal readers and musician guest contributors tell us about their fav releases of the year that was… only this year, well, as you would know, we’ve lived through a global pandemic which literally shut the entire music world down.
So with this edition, we’re not only going to be finding out what music got us through these truly testing times, but also, how we all coped with the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns, isolation and NO GIGS!
We hope this year’s series of contributions will shine a light on how we all pushed through individually and offer insights to how those in bands struggled and persevered when their entire industry shut down.
We’re kicking off our 2020 Year In Review with Matt Van Duppen from Thornhill who only just fit in a UK tour before COVID-19 hit, but managed to use their downtime to start writing the follow up to their infamously popular debut album The Dark Pool. Get #HornyForThorny again below…
TOP 5 RELEASES OF 2020?
1) No Pressure – Self-Titled EP
2) Loathe – I Let It In and It Took Everything
3) Alpha Wolf – A Quiet Place to Die
4) DVSR – West Technique
5) Boston Manor – GLUE
TOP 5 SONGS OF 2020?
1) The 1975 – ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’
2) Drug Church – ‘Bliss Out’
3) Teenage Wrist – ‘Silverspoon’
4) Creeper – ‘Cyanide’
5) Angel Du$t – ‘Turn Off The Guitar’
BEST MUSIC VIDEO OF 2020?
Harry Styles – ‘Falling’
LAST GIG YOU PLAYED BEFORE COVID?
Wage War Europe Tour – Specifically January 29 at Trix in Antwerpt, Belgium.
HOW DID COVID AFFECT YOU/YOUR BAND?
It’s been a bit of a struggle in some ways. We were due to play Download right before Covid hit, so that was obviously disappointing to not be able to play. Luckily we were able to squeeze in the Europe tour with Wage War in January before everything kicked off, but since then we’ve all just been tucked away writing for Thornhill and other projects.
A few of the guys work in hospitality so it was a bit of a scare there for a little while but everyone managed to hold on to work and we’re all back working full time now which is a positive. Apart from that, there wasn’t a huge amount we were able to do, so now we just keep writing and wait for news on when things might look to start opening back up again so we can get back on the road.
BIGGEST THING YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF IN 2020?
It might sound like a bit of a cliche but I’ve started learning that I’m much more capable of certain things than I originally thought just from giving them a go for myself. When life is running normally, you get so caught up in just going through the motions, that when everything stops like it did with covid, you suddenly don’t know what to do with your time anymore.
As an example, for someone who’s been playing in bands since I was 15-16, I’m terrible with anything to do with the technicalities of sound and gear etc, so I never bothered to learn how to actually demo my songwriting ideas because I just thought it was too hard and I didn’t have any time to sit down and properly learn. It was also easier to just record it into my voice memos and get someone else to demo it.
When the first lot of restrictions came in, I went out and bought studio monitors, an interface, DAW, and started teaching myself how to demo, and eventually came to realise that it was opening up so many more creative pathways that never would’ve been possible without it. From there, I started writing different genres of music that I thought were perhaps out of my depth as a songwriter, amongst other things. That’s probably the biggest positive that happened during this year for me, and I think it’s a really good thing because it’s a big mental hurdle to get over, and one that you can apply to anything you do for the rest of your life.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2021?
I’m a bit of a pessimist with the whole touring thing for next year, but if a miracle happens and it’s to go ahead, I’ll be very excited about getting to tour parts of the world that we’ve never been before. We were supposed to tour the US in 2020, so fingers crossed that’ll happen next year instead.
We’ve also got that August Burns Red/Bury Tomorrow Europe tour happening late next year as well. I think I’m still looking forward to touring Australia most though. We have the most fun at those shows and especially since we are still headlining relatively small venues, you can finish the show and just go out into the beer garden of the venue and chat to your mates and fans in a real laidback way. I’m sure that’ll be the case overseas once we start going over there more regularly and getting a feel for how touring works in each country, but at the moment it’s a little tenser given that we’re more unfamiliar with our surroundings. At least that’s how it felt in Europe for the first time.
We’ll just have to see how the next 6 months pans out before we can get a better idea of whether touring is going to be a likely scenario or not. Fingers crossed!
Words by Matt Van Duppen. Insta: @mvd.thrnhll