Originally founded by Manuel Nox in 2016 in London, Living Dead Stars are a hard rock five-piece influenced greatly by Avenged Sevenfold, System of a Down, Stone Sour and Linkin Park. Now based in Southern California, vocalist Manuel Now, guitarists Spencer Conley and Michael Zamora, bassist Jon Blackwell and drummer Ashley Guest are laying down some heavy tracks. We had a chance to chat with Manuel Nox (MN) about Living Dead Stars debut album, first-world problems and future plans.
OSR: How did Living Dead Stars come about?
MN: I’d always had a vision of the sort of band I wanted to create and be in, so when I was living in London in 2016 I gathered together a group of like-minded musicians and that was the birth of Living Dead Stars. That lineup ended up not working out, so after heading to the States in 2017 I put out an advert which Spencer then responded to and we just hit it off, personally and musically. That was the start of the band you see now.
OSR: You just released your debut album ‘Living Dead Stars’. What can you tell us about it?
MN: It’s the culmination of years of really hard work. Working with people in the industry who are at the top of their game we put our all into every one of these songs and, as a result, we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved. Obviously, we’re a little biased, but we feel that none of the songs would be considered a B-Side. We just hope other people do too.
OSR: What about the recording process, was it a smooth process or did you hit a few speedbumps?
MN: Well, nothing in music ever goes exactly to plan. After having flown out to record the vocals at Echobar Studios in North Hollywood, California, where the rest of the album was recorded there were a few new ideas for extra parts and also tweaks that needed to be made. I had to head into a studio over in London to record more vocals and then send those parts over to America. Thankfully, technology nowadays is at a point where that wasn’t as big of a problem as it could have been.
OSR: How did you feel on the album’s release date? Possibly anxious or excited?
MN: Definitely excited for sure. It had been a couple of years since some of those songs were first written and to have them put out worldwide is just such an excellent feeling. I think it’s probably fair to say we were anxious about it too, mostly because of the timing of the release what with this global pandemic being in full swing. However, Pavement Entertainment has smashed it out of the park with this release and the feedback so far has been amazing.
OSR: Which is your favourite track from Living Dead Stars and why?
MN: I think it’s ‘In Pieces’. Lyrically, it’s very personal for me and having Falling In Reverse’s Max Georgiev come on board to lay down such a killer solo on it just solidified it as my favourite.
OSR: What about your least favourite track?
MN: As clichéd as it sounds, all of these songs mean so much to me that I just love them all. It’s impossible for me to pick one out as the least favourite.
OSR: What do you hope people take from the album?
MN: Music means different things to different people, so all we really hope is that people find something in our songs that speaks to them.
OSR: Who influences your sound?
MN: I think Avenged Sevenfold are arguably the biggest influence on us musically, but bands like Rise Against and Three Days Grace are also bands that have had a big impact on me.
OSR: The band members have been playing music for several years in other collaborations. How do you think the prior experience influenced Living Dead Stars?
MN: I think those experiences and influences will become far more apparent as we move forward. This first album was written by just myself and Spencer so it’s been our influences that are evident in these songs, but as we go forward onto the next album everyone’s influences will come into the mix for sure.
OSR: What, do you think, is the best way to discover new music?
MN: There are many ways, but I think, especially nowadays, a great way to find new bands or artists is by taking what I call ‘Journeys on YouTube’. Start off with a song you like and keep checking out the related/recommended videos until you find something new. I’ve found a good bunch new bands that way. You never know what you might stumble across.
OSR: Describe the band in a single sentence.
MN: An unapologetic and relentless display of rock and metal.
OSR: What do you know is a first world problem, but it bugs you anyway?
MN: I’m the world’s biggest fan of tomato ketchup so those little sachets you get given bug the hell out of me. You get such a tiny portion in them and they’re sometimes a real pain to open. Just give me the whole bottle! *laughs*
OSR: How do you feel the Covid-19 pandemic has affected musicians?
MN: It’s put a complete standstill to the entire live side of the industry. Musicians have lost tours and all their road crew/techs/staff have been left at a total loss too, as well as that of venues. We were meant to be on tour around Europe with Anvil throughout April, so we know firsthand how tough this thing has hit everyone.
OSR: How do you remain motivated during this time?
MN: We know this pandemic won’t last forever so there’s still plenty of things for us to be sorting out while looking forward to the future. Tours and gigs are being rescheduled and with the album still being newly out we’re spending our time promoting that.
OSR: What does the future hold for Living Dead Stars?
MN: More albums, more gigs, festival appearances and absolutely more tours. The tour supporting Anvil has been rescheduled for later this year so we’ll be back in Europe hitting it harder than ever.