The album see John and Chris joined by an impressive list of guest musicians such as drummers Billy Rymer, Baard Kolstad (Leprous) Lee Fisher (Fawn Limbs/Psyopus) and Si Blakelock (Tangaroa/Dream Troll) alongside guitarist Simon Peter King, bassist Arran McSporran (De Profundis/Virvum) and finally keyboardist Mike Moran (Ozzy Osbourne/George Harrison).
The initial idea for the band was formed by John Bailey, by day he’s a touring guitarist for the likes of Aled Jones and Russell Watson, a far cry from the extreme metal of Utopia, but with ’Stalker’ he wanted to bring together all the music he loves, creating something aggressive and intense but also well thought out and intelligent. He comments,
‘I wanted it to be super heavy and crazy but also really emotional. The music combines elements of jazz and various styles of metal. The songwriting is very important lyrically and structurally. The lyrics draw influence from philosophy, literature, art and film (particularly the films of Andrei Tarkovsky).
The concept of the name Utopia is a reflection of mental health/neurodiversity and social structures in the world we live in. The double edged sword of trying to lead a happy life in a world of conflicting ideology and bad faith between humans. I suppose the pitfalls of attempting a sophisticated life despite us being poorly evolved primates who are highly individual in their own rights. Its ultimately rooted in varying degrees of sensitivity, mental health and neurodiversity based on individuals trying to interface with one another in a constructive way.’
Utopia was started in March 2020. As John was coming off the back of a busy tour/session schedule and felt this was the time to finally start the band which he’d been thinking about doing for years. For a vocalist he had no one else in mind but Corrupt Moral Altar’s Chris Reese.
After 7 to 8 months of writing it was then just a matter of getting each person to record their parts which posed their own geographical problems with different musicians living around the world. However once all done the album was mixed and mastered by Rob Hobson at Silent City Records.
Across the 11 tracks ’Stalker’ spawns a vast array of subject matters, such as the opener ’The Bus Station Roof’ which John describes as a reference to ‘ the place in Preston where people go to throw themselves off when they’ve had enough. The image of what might be going through people’s mind when they make that decision is really the basis of the song. Truly disassociated from the world and no longer capable of interfacing with the world.’
‘Impotent Prophet’ is a genre bending social comment on religion and how it fails. While’ Smiledyawnednodded’ is a word taken from the book ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce. John adds, ‘It’s a great word used to describe the boredom of talking to someone who only talks about themselves and their own successes in life.’
’Stalker’ is released on 27th August via APF Records and will appeal to fans of Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah, Converge, Mastodon, Botch and Strapping Young Lad.