“Whether I feel like writing something that sounds like Taylor Swift or Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah – that’s what comes out…we’ll find a way to make it work” – that’s how Press To MECO vocalist/guitarist Luke Caley. O-kaaay. Then again, given their extensive UK touring and the fact they bagged an opening slot on the Zippo Encore stage at last year’s Download Festival, it’s clear that PTM’s bizarre amalgam is resonating with plenty of the UK’s rock fans. We decided to get Caley on the phone to find out just what the hell they’re playing at.
Where does the name come from?
It’s a nerdy NASA term that astronauts use to tell mission control when the shuttle has reached the right momentum they need to break orbit without the main engines. They say “press to meco main engine cut off”; it’s the safe point of the launch so all the stuff that’s could blow up usually happens before them.
How did you meet the rest of the band?
Adam [Roffey, bass] lived in Crawley, where I live as well, we’d always been in separate bands and we grew up in the same scene, and Lewis [Williams, drums] I met going to college with in Croydon. Press to MECO was a different band before the line-up it is now and although it’s the same concept, it was a very different band.
Do you think where you’re from has affected your music?
Not really no, I wouldn’t say Crawley’s a hotspot of UK rock to be honest. Horsham – the next town along – had a really good music scene, when I was twelve or thirteen playing my first shows I really looked up to guys that were my age now and they were my local heroes in a way so that had an influence on how I do things now.
What have some of the highlights been so far?
We’re only at the start of what could hopefully progress. For me getting played on the Radio 1 Rock Show was a huge thing – when I was younger you’d hear bands you loved on it and you think you’d have made it when that happens. Just to hear our name get said on the car stereo was a really cool feeling – then you realise you haven’t made it at all and you’re still at home. One of the first shows we played with this lineup was a festival in Germany, it was really cool going abroad which is hopefully something we’ll do a lot more of this year. It’s kind of like a continuous highlight every time we play a show – there’ll be a couple of people we’ve seen before so every time that happens it’s awesome.
Who would be on your dream tour?
That’s a good question because our dream bands would make a very weird tour as opposed to if we were to pick bands who’d make a good tour. We’d have The Dillinger Escape Plan, Manchester Orchestra and Pharoahe Monch – that would be a dream tour in terms of who we’re massive fans of.
Do you think people find it difficult to pigeonhole you?
In a way it’s a good thing and in a way it works against us, I think we’re a very Marmite band where some people get it straight away and they love it or some people can’t really get it because a lot of people like a band because it sounds like band they already listen to – perhaps we lose out on that side of it but it’s all about finding those people who love what you’re doing right now as opposed to just because it’s trendy.
The thing that surprises me is when the more tech/djent crowd likes it because that would be the sort of crowd that I think would dismiss it straight away because of the vocals – they’re almost like One Direction in parts – they’re super poppy and super happy, but some of the people in that scene have been the people who have championed us the most. We’re always going to do what we want to do and if people like it we’re stoked. Equally though we get the people that don’t like it because of the vocals and because there’s no screaming or sub drops.
What is the Press to MECO writing process like?
As opposed to bands we’ve been in before, it’s more of a team effort. I think part of why it sounds the way it does is that we’ve all got the strengths we play to – me and Adam will get together, an idea for a riff will form then I’ll spend a few days putting the main bulk of the song together and getting some melodies down. Then we’ll all together and the song will go through about ten different structures before we find one we’re happy with. That latter part is when the song comes into its own because that’s when we tweak bits and add bits in. Lewis is the lyrics guy – he’s good with words and he likes to get deep. When I get involved with the lyrics we write songs like ‘Affinity’ which is about a guy eating some people.
And ‘Honestly’ is about Breaking Bad?
Yeah, that was the only other one I’ve had any input in – with lyrics I’ll often write a chorus hook and it’s just some words that mean nothing. The chorus to that is just “I think I’ll take this all the way”, it means nothing but when I was laying down the melody those words just felt so good with that rhythm, I sent it over and Lewis can make it mean something afterward. Me and Lewis had just finished breaking bad when honestly was written, it’s not specifically about Breaking Bad’s story, it’s more a reference to Walter White’s relationship with his family and the moral dilemma he was in.
Your most recent release is the song ‘Family Ties’. How does it differ to your previous material?
It’s definitely less metal-ly and has less of the djenty elements of the Affinity EP. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, I very much vibe off what’s going on right now so wWhether I feel like writing something that sounds like Taylor Swift or Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah – that’s what comes out…we’ll find a way to make it work with this band so it always sounds like the same band. [On] the album it’s a lot more diverse – it’s [both] the lightest we’ve been as a band and there’s a song as heavy as ‘Affinity’ is on it as well, so it covers the whole spectrum.
Is the new album your main thing for 2015?
That’s pretty much what’s taken up most of our time the last few months, it’s been a long process getting it together and then funds meant we had to change our plan then we went back to Neil Kennedy (who has worked with the likes of More Than Life, Landscapes, Polar) who did our last EP – we finished recording it just before Christmas so we’re about to finalise the mixes and negotiate who we want to release it with and when. As soon as we’ve got a plan for the album’s release it’s going to be relentless touring.
Tell us a joke.
Why did the scarecrow get a promotion?
Because he was outstanding in his field.
Press To MECO are playing a few select shows in the next few weeks (check out their website for more details), but they’ll be playing a hell of a lot more once their new album drops. For now, head on over and join their mailing list to be kept in the loop, if only because they’ll give you a free download of ‘Affinity’ for doing so. What nice young men.