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Neptune Rain: social media, new music and gigging in 2021

Neptune Rain began during the pandemic and found themselves taking an unusual approach to the music scene. Starting on social media to build a following, they have found themselves only recently able to go out and gig and meet fans in real life. With an extended edition of their EP Chaos and Light available soon, we sat down with the band to get an insight to their journey.

So first of all, you guys have only been gigging in the past month or so? Before that, you were live streaming throughout lockdown?

No – the last week or 10 days!

We kind of formed just before Covid kicked off and we were just trying to do anything and everything we could to build an audience and just keep going really as a band. But for a lot of that time we had an incomplete line up. We had a mate filling in on drums. Our line up has only really been complete in the last 5 weeks.

Did you have gigs arranged before lockdown?

We didn’t have anything booked before Covid. We recorded our two singles which were a lifesaver because it meant we had music to release whilst the world was shut. It’s just been a really really weird time.

Do you think it has helped at all? You’ve managed to jump straight into a more home-based set up whereas a lot of other bands have really struggled to get into the groove of ‘we can’t gig anymore what do we do?’ Do you think it helped you guys, as lockdown started, to gain momentum that way?

I think if Covid didn’t kick off, we wouldn’t have done anywhere near as much stuff on social media. I think it kind of gave us the opportunity to engage with a lot of people who probably didn’t have a lot else on at the time because everything had stopped which was nice although it was a horrible situation to be in for everyone. I just think we wouldn’t have done as much. Having the ability to record and make videos ourselves was really useful. If we didn’t have that skill set we would have been a bit stuck. I think the three singles we’ve released this year, well the two we’ve released and the one coming out soon, we recorded individually from our own homes.

I’d say, just to kind of add onto that, I think it really helped the social media thing because when you start a band you just go all in and you have to learn how everything works really quickly – live side and online side. I think the fact that there was an entire segment that we couldn’t do allowed us to focus on getting the online presence. We could spend more time on figuring out what worked and not having to think ‘oh we can’t do that because we need to be recording, we need to be gigging, we need to be doing this.’ We could actually focus more energy on that and now gigs have come back, it means we can sort of keep the formula that’s been tweaked and worked on for the last year or so and just keep adding to it.

One of the things you can’t wait to do is just meet a lot of the people on social media who have been supporting us. The first gig we had in Leicester, about 10 days ago, there was a guy there that we didn’t know and he said ‘oh, I’ve been following you guys on social media. You’re awesome!’ They came to see us which was amazing.

You guys had a couple of singles released recently too, were they written during lockdown or?

‘We Breathe The Same’ was written just before COVID kicked off and was kinda unlucky not to make the initial four-track EP but we thought it would be a good one to have in the back. But ‘Bitter Pill’ which we released back in July and ‘Rise’ which is coming out next month (at the time of interview) were both lockdown songs.

I assume it was quite a different writing experience then, not being able to meet up? Did you do more video stuff like this?

I’d say it’s frustrating. Quite often I’ll spit out an idea and it’ll be anywhere from sort of 50-90% done. But trying to do that remaining percentage from a distance was so difficult! Trying to drop ideas into WhatsApp groups and collate feedback and try to gauge things… yeah, it was really, really difficult.

You have to go back and forth and it’s literally a case of a conversation that takes five minutes in the same room can take five days while you wait for people to reply to messages and stuff. It just extends the process when it’s done by message or email.

You wanna be really considerate everyone’s ideas and feelings too but trying to do that remotely was really kinda frustrating. In a room you can just wiggle a few things around on Logic and sorted!

We have had a couple of writing sessions since the world has opened up again and it’s been really nice! I’m definitely looking forward to many more of those!

I can’t wait to see what’s next. Some of the tracks that we’re working on at the moment I’m really excited for.

So are all three of these new tracks making it onto the re-release, then?

So essentially the extended re-release of the EP is the initial four tracks alongside ‘We Breathe The Same’ which came out earlier this year alongside ‘Bitter Pill’ and then the online version is rounded off by ‘Rise’ which hasn’t been released yet and kinda signs off the Chaos and Light era. The physical copies have a few demo tracks and stuff on them too.

The extended edition is kind of a… I don’t want to say swan song, but this is it, here in its final format, this is the message we intended to put across, and I think it does a good job at doing that, personally.

Does the EP have an overarching message then? Or is it more individual to the song?

I think most of the songs are about difficulties, whether that’s relationship difficulties or mental health or something. There are a few that are quite dark tracks that come from a place of living with depression. But ‘Rise’ is a lot more hopeful. There has always been sprinklings of hope throughout but I think the Chaos and Light kinda represents that internal darkness and the light and the hope. It was a hopeful ending to it and it only felt right to release it as one body of work because we never had that chance to tour or gig at the time. It was a chance to go ‘here’s a bunch of songs written either just before or during COVID’ when there was a bunch of chaos, but a little bit of light and hope in there. We think it’s a nice way to finish it, and it shows a nice journey.

So there are both CDs and cassettes and because the cassettes aren’t balanced on the second side there is a track of Olly just being Olly!

Yep, me talking absolute rubbish for about three minutes!

I don’t think I’ve told anyone this but I didn’t script any of it! I just stood in my room, in front of my microphone, pressed record, and just talked. There was no structure to what I was going to say. There’s a little thing at the end too, a little surprise which I’m not going to talk about so if you wanna hear it, you’re going to have to get one!

That’s like three minutes of chaos right there!

Yes! I am the chaos in Chaos & Light!

And how would you describe your sound, for anyone who is unfamiliar with your work?

Big drums and guitars and synths, sung and rapped vocals, big choruses.

Just big and catchy, I think. I think that’s what we aim for really, getting something that’ll stick in your head but kind of appeals to people who like the alternative side of things but if people like the poppier side of things they won’t get too scared of it! We’re all about having some catchy parts and really nice choruses but there’s the fun element of each of the songs too!

And there we have it! I hope you enjoyed reading our interview as much as I enjoyed doing it! If you are interested in the album they mention, read our review of it here!