Rising from the ashes of a previous line-up, Defences now fan the flames stronger than ever, and with no specific genre in mind, approach their song writing organically, sticking to their own take of the job in hand within the alternative scene, and creating something for everyone in their back catalogue of sound. With a very strong and broad message of overcoming adversity, the band touch on the many challenges we all face in life, and obstacles they themselves have faced, with a powerful mission statement of We Shall Overcome.

Now, focused on honesty more than ever, members now take stock of the past two years, and reflect on lessons learnt and how they apply to the human experience, and ultimately show themselves as being a very introspective band in a very realistic and positivity way.

Based in London and Hertfordshire here in the UK, the band have made their presence know all over the country, hitting the stage at many O2 academies along the way, including the main room at the O2 Islington, the 229 club London, the Garage, the main stage at the Wilkestock Festival, and have since shared stages with Our Last Night, Our Hollow Our Home, For the Fallen Dreams and The Raven Age.

Although plans to further their reach have been curtailed somewhat due to the current global crisis, Defences hope to hit Europe one day soon, once the world has returned from its knees, and when they do it will be with a line-up consisting of-

Cherry Duesbury – vocals, William Young – vocals, Calum Wilmot – guitar, Ian ‘Harri’ Harrington – bass and Kyle Parke on drums.

Cherry, first hit the mic in 1995 inspired by Architects, PVRIS and Bring Me The Horizon and hits every note with ease, cutting through the airwaves with power and grace, yet has a very melodic tone to her voice, sending you deeper into the realms of thought with storytelling and visual performance both well delivered and enunciated. Live on stage, her presence has you captivated, stirring the crowd into the frenzy that is the very essence of every gig.

William, has been singing since 2004, influenced by Muse, Northlane, Heart of a Coward, Gojira and Stray from the Path. In 2007/2008 he turned his dulcet tones to screams, and now stands as the perfect support for Cherry, spitting his fury in a menacing manifestation of all that’s not holy from the footlights, as if straight from Satan’s Hollow itself.

Calum, first stepped into music on classic guitar aged 10, and soon found out it wasn’t the perfect fit. It wasn’t until he converted to electric that everything started to click, and now sets pulses racing as he puts his axe to work, electrifying the very air you breathe with mind blowing power chords and intricate finger work. Calum is truly a force to be reckoned with as he steps forward in the front line, setting the stage ablaze inspired by Architects, Annisokay, Story of the Year, Sylar and Wagewar.

Harri, found his way around the bass in 2004, cutting his teeth with Bring Me The Horizon, Memphis May Fire, A Day To Remember, Linkin Park, Beartooth and Sum 41, and now cuts the perfect groove in the rhythm section with compadre Kyle on the riser, giving him the right amount of fuel to engrain his presence in the rhythm section, sending the dynamics through the roof and creating a tight action packed flow, feeding the drums the energy needed to lift every single track.

Kyle, has been pounding the skins since 2003 mentored by Linkin Park, Memphis May Fire, and Rammstein, and now sits proudly in the engine room of the band with partner in crime Harri, and certainly sets the pace as he powers through in thunderous style, driving this band harder and faster. His tight paced performance and well executed fills leave the crowd breathless, and once in the saddle, stokes the fire again and again, giving the crowd no time to catch a breath as he drives his machine to destruction like a runaway train.

As a band, their professional prowess falls courtesy of Architects, Wagewar, Annisokay, Memphis May Fire, Of Mice & Men and Bring Me The Horizon, and are a product of 5 individuals who aren’t so much inspired, but born to express, tailoring their multifaceted compendium of styles to a whole other level, taking them further than ever before into the stratosphere.

In a recent interview, I asked them what drives them as a band, they told me;

“I think that a strong driving force behind the band has to be us constantly inspiring and challenging ourselves to try new things and to make the next song better than the last. If I had to pick one thing keeping us moving forward, it would have to be our lovely fans, who we often refer to as our heart. From their energy, enthusiasm and positivity to even just seeing the number of people who listen to our music every day, we are constantly inspired to work harder and dig deeper for the next goal.”

With that said, I asked them what the meaning was behind the band name, they replied;

“Defences was originally the name of a song we released when we were performing under a different name. The song was about breaking down barriers, letting people inside and putting trust in others. We felt that, ultimately, this was more representative of what we stood for than what we were calling ourselves at the time, so we changed it, and took that message forward.”

So I followed this up by asking about their song writing process, and how they would overcome any creative blocks, they explained;

“We generally start with Kyle and Calum creating an instrumental. Normally it’ll take 1 or 2 days to have a fleshed out song, we’ll then send that to Cherry who’ll write some initial lyrics. Once there’s a basis in place, we’ll workshop it as a group until we’re happy with it and then we go from there. As for creative blocks, we just focus on creating a section or even just something as simple as a cool synth sound rather than worrying about an entire song. We’ve found that focusing on something as simple as that can be inspiring enough to spur you off in a different direction.”

So I followed this up by asking if they had the same persona on and off stage, and what they enjoy most about being in the band, they added;

“Absolutely not! In person we’re all very friendly and quiet. Onstage, I think we come across far more aggressive than we normally are! I suppose that’s similar for most bands, but it’s not what we’re like at all. I think everything’s naturally heightened when you’re performing, so you end up playing a character to an extent, but it’s all in good fun. I think the sense of purpose and the opportunity to express myself that this band provides. As musicians we have a platform to speak very candidly about topics that can be difficult for people to talk about, and I think we’re very fortunate in that regard. The feeling of connection that we get, as well as with our fans and audiences when we play live is massive, and a huge motivating factor for us day to day, so that’s definitely a highlight as well.”

Finally, I asked them what they have learnt about themselves as a band on their journey so far in the industry, and if there was anything they wish they had known before starting a career in music, they told me;

“The first and biggest thing we’ve learnt about ourselves is how resilient we are as a group of individuals and as a band. I think all bands face their fair share of struggles, and we’re no different, so rolling with the punches and showing ourselves we can keep going after has been a profound confidence boost. I think aside from that, one of our greatest lessons from being in this band is to focus on ourselves and what we can achieve as artists, rather than placing much weight others say about us. This way, we can be our own source of strength and positivity. I wish I had known that success in music is not just about music. We spent years convinced that our songs would do the talking if they were good enough, and while that remains true to an extent, the importance of proper strategy, networking and promotion have been made extremely clear to us since then. Also, one of the most important things we’ve learnt is that you’re never as good or as bad as anyone says, it’s very easy to believe your own hype, but actually the most important thing is to take it all with a pinch of salt and focus on bettering yourself to move forward.”

And that brings me nicely to the album in question, In The Balance.

What lies beneath the cellophane is a mix of very heavy low tuned guitars, atmospheric ambient textures laced in a rich tapestry of sound through synths and strings, clean and brutal vocals, and powerful syncopated drums.

The album takes you on a rollercoaster ride through many facets of the psyche, from air punching sonic pulses of elation, to the calmer moods that lay you to rest on a sea of tranquillity of pure emotion, before the hammer falls once more, striking your solar plexus and pinning you to the floor.

The true meaning of the album is best heard from the makers themselves, as they told me;

“The album explores an honest journey through some of the personal and universal experiences we go through in life at any given period of time, all told from a place of truth. From dealing with changes within ourselves, to confronting our demons both in the form of others, our own thoughts, and our shortcomings. This album acknowledges loss in different forms, documenting the struggle of living with mental health issues and the gratitude for those who enrich our lives despite all this. It’s a reflection on the need for both internal and sociological change and a time capsule of a life, hanging in the balance.”

I went on to ask about what the album means to them, they added;

“It serves as a direct reflection of its own creative process, this album charts the passage of the last 3 years and is the raw account of a collective feeling over that time. It begins with a moment of action, passes through outrage and aggression, and reaches suffocating depths before exhibiting cautious hope. Finally, the album signs off with a promise of If you want to erase the pain, rebuild and start again. This phrase captures the essence of this album in its entirety; though we may experience suffering, it is how we react that truly matters.”

In all, this album won’t gather dust in any collection, and will keep feet tapping and heads bouncing from sofa to stage.

Star Rating – 10/10

Star Suggestion-

If ever there were five tracks to tempt the listener into buying this album they would be-
“Something More”,“Say It”, “In The Black”, “False Gods”, and “Ocean Floor”.

To close, I asked Cherry if there was anything else they wanted our readers to know, she wrapped things up by telling me;

“This album has been a long time coming. It’s our sophomore album but in a way In The Balance feels like the start of something completely new. We wrote this because we needed to. It’s unapologetically honest, deep, cutting, heavy – in both non-literal senses of the word. I opened up in so many ways writing these lyrics, it scared me to think people would hear some of them. There is a lot of introspection, confrontation, admissions and realisations – but most importantly, there is hope. If you’re a fan of alternative music in general, there’s likely to be something there for you in our new album! Otherwise, keep streaming and enjoying all your favourite bands, I know it’s kept us afloat during lockdown, and the situation is very much the same for many others. Your support has never meant more to us and never been more keenly felt, so thank you for helping bands like us do what we do and keeping the scene alive. You can follow us on any of the links listed below.”

So why not clear a space in your collection and give Defences a try for 2021.

                                                                                                               © Stargazer Music Magazine 2020

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