A Conversation With… Employed To Serve

Now, the moment I heard this next band on Milk Teeth’s 2017 UK Tour I was immediately hooked. That’s the only way to describe the pulsating energy I was able to witness as I watched them shred and scream with joy. Now on the first date of their short run of UK shows, I had the chance to talk to Sammy and Robbie from Employed To Serve on Touring, their future plans and some pivoting, Friends style.

 

Jack: Hey guys, nice to see you again.

Sammy: It’s nice to see you to, where’d you see us last time.

Jack: Last year with Milk Teeth in Leeds.

Sammy: Was that one at the key club? That was a cool one.

Jack: It was mental. So, the first date of the tour, how does it feel to be back? Because I was chatting to a friend about you, he said are they touring?

Sammy: What us?

Robbie: It’s kind of funny because in the past we’ve done, what feels to us is quite extensive touring and now over the last year we’ve tried to keep the UK to a minimum so if you’ve gotten into us within the last year or so, it might look a bit selective.

Sammy: There was a stage, maybe even a year where there was a tour a month.

Robbie: It’d look like there’d be one planned in January and then a summer one and then an autumn one. When we were planning for the year, it was a case of what we could do, we would do and now it’s like we don’t tour as much is because we don’t want to overdo the UK if you know what we mean. When we first started we wanted to get to as many people as we could but now we want to keep it a little more selective in the UK and make sure people don’t get sick of seeing you.

Sammy: It’s a balancing act in that respect so people don’t get sick of seeing you or sick of the fact you don’t come to their city. That’s a constant. We know a lovely guy in France who messages us every time we announce a tour and we do play France but just not near him.

Jack: That’s like Milk Teeth up north, well the North East I’d say because they do come to Manchester and I’m the one saying, give them time, they’ll have a plan.

Robbie: We’ve had that with this tour as well because this in Newcastle is the furthest north we’re going, there’s no Scottish date and we can’t say too much but we do have plans for some northern dates down the line but it’s usually if we’ll say there’s a plan, there’ll be one.

 

Jack:  That does bring me to my next question as well because Wolverhampton is where you’re playing tomorrow (July 24th). You don’t hear about bands playing there too often.

Sammy: No, it’s my first time playing there, it’s always usually Birmingham. We always enjoy playing new and interesting places, for instance, we played four shows back in May to warm up for the festivals, we played Huddersfield at The Parish which was so incredible and the set up with that venue is fantastic. Then we played Leicester, Norwich and Cardiff which isn’t so much of a strange one.

Robbie: Even way way back before we had our first album out we got invited out to Kings Lynn near Canterbury and there was like 100 people there in a pub. We have had the opposite before.

Sammy: But you have to be in it to win it. But Wolverhampton should be interesting.

 

Jack: And compared to the Milk Teeth tour what’s been the biggest differences in the set?

Sammy: Well for this tour we’re playing the whole of the last record in full so we’re playing three tracks never played before live but it’s quite exciting for us because we’ve already started on new material and it’s a nice way to close the book and if all goes well, we’ll be adding those to our sets by the end of the year.

Robbie: So, when this opportunity came up to play them, it’s a nice way to cap off the record. I mean some tunes we might not play for a little while to make way for new material in the set. I just hate having songs you’re never going to play live.

Sammy: It always feels weird to do that. That being said, there’s a track in the set tonight which is like that. Our signer Justine doesn’t have any vocals on it and it’s just me singing so it’s a bit of a switcheroo where she’s playing bass and we’ll have three guitar players. It’s not something we’ll be doing every show.

Robbie: I stay on the drums though.

Sammy: What we’ve learnt in the past is that certain players shouldn’t switch instruments. There was this one time where we played a show at a chicken coup.

Robbie: The event wasn’t happening for most of the day and so someone provided everyone with these jugs of traditionally made cider, the lethal stuff and you occasionally had to let the glass out but we were like it’s this kind of weather then we turned up to the field where the chickens weren’t there in the coup but it smelt like some animals had been there and our singer was the only person who hadn’t any liquid courage so far and she was very aware of the situation but I played in sunglasses and we couldn’t hear anything but we switched and adamant that we could do it and we learnt very quickly.

Sammy: In fact, it was at 2000 Trees that you conspired with, I mean I can’t remember what festival it was, but you were like woah we should swap instruments.

Robbie: We were all going to swap but the plan involved me and our other guitarist swapping and then we weren’t going to practise but we decided to just try it in practice.

Sammy: And anyone at Trees can tell you there was no switching of instruments.

Robbie: Every once in a while, we will go to switch but he’ll give us a look, don’t you dare.

 

Jack: The other day you guys tweeted to drop everything and listen to LLNN. Who else would you recommend listening to?

At the moment my favourite albums have been Melted On The Inch by Boss Keloid and Mire by Conjurer. I’d recommend them.

Jack: Beartooth’s just had a good one on The Rock Show.

Sammy: I think Rough Hands had a track on there last night as well I think.

Jack: I was driving to the train station, listening to it and my mum bless her was saying this sounds like Slipknot.

Robbie: And then she turns it up and starts headbanging.

 

Jack: No I did.  And I’ve got a few quickfire questions for you know, four questions pick two each.

Sammy: My favourite 12 numbers.

Robbie: 5.

Jack: What TV show are you addicted to?

Robbie: I’m really into movies and can’t escape ones from directors I’m a huge fan of. When it comes to tv shows, my wife always wants to get into some hot new drama but Tv is a safe place for me and I just like to rewatch The Office or Alan Partridge as if it’s just a safe place. Oh, wait scrap that, The Handmaids Tale.

Jack: For me, it’s The Big Bang Theory at the moment.

Sammy: Easy to binge.

Jack: Exactly, it’s either that or Brooklyn Nine Nine.

Robbie: Friends for me, just whack it on.

 

Jack: Have you ever had a pivot moment?

Robbie: oh yes. When I first moved into my flat at University, we couldn’t get the sofa in and it was wrapped around the door and her parents had just moved to Canada and we were just stressed out because we couldn’t get it in and she just shouted down the corridor like if my dad was here he could get it in and we screamed your dads not here.

Sammy: There’s been sometimes where I’ve helped people move stuff out of the house and you’re just left to wonder how they got things in. it’s like they’ve put something on a bare bit of land and built a house around it. How do you get a bed into that place? Like a top floor flat with a four-person lift limit.

Robbie: You need a vacuumed packed one, assemble it outside and then just think oh no, not again.

 

Jack: And TV show you’re binging Robbie?

Robbie: I’m rubbish with them. I’ll watch one then wait for ages before watching another. The last one was Twin Peaks, the third one. It’s like for anyone who’s seen the original, it’s intense and gory in a good way, not for the sake of trying to be shocking but I think that’s the last thing I watched. I started watching Dexter, Sons Of Anarchy and by the fourth season, I lost interest in it.

Sammy: This is why I love the UK Office and Extras, it’s six episodes and I heard about their process. It took them three months to do three months of dialogue and that’s why it’s so funny.

Jack: That’s the thing there’s 20ish episode series, when you get to the episodes that drive the season forward it’s just pointless.

Sammy: All those that are 22-episode seasons, you only just need 13. But maybe that’s just us, maybe we’re not prepared for the worldbuilding or we’re just impatient.

Robbie: Gimme the good stuff, gimme the facts.

Jack: That’s what I like about films like A Quiet Place or John Wick, they take their time in setting up the surroundings.

Robbie: A quiet place was one of my favourites of the last 5-10 years, but I felt like that about annihilation. Genuinely, annihilation has some seriously unsettling things like I can’t unsee that. Another one I tried to get you to watch was Green Room. Because anything he does is so consistent. It was so of our world.

Sammy: We got mangled like that once at a show.

Jack: What?

Sammy: No not really. We’d never accept the gig.

Robbie: And in the film, they’re financially stricken but I’d just ask my parents and they’d probably say go play the Nazi Punk show. You want the cash. In this world, you have to graft.

 

Jack: So next question?

Robbie: You pick a number.

Sammy: 2.

Jack: The last time you cried?

Sammy: I’m thinking either tears of physical pain or emotional pain. I hate to bring it back to films again but in GOTG 2 when Yondu dies and they do a Viking sort of funeral and then the revengers accept him back and there are the fireworks.

Robbie: For me, it probably will be a film… erm Schindlers List.

Sammy: Didn’t you watch that after the world cup though?

Robbie: Oh yeah, after England beat Columbia on penalties, I cried.

Jack: I think just about every male English person did.

Robbie: My friend’s girlfriends Australian watched it was with us and she was like Louis Theroux amongst the nutters. When Eric Dyer scored, I screamed out on the balcony, but it was amazing. Weirdly I was full of a sense of pride, They’re not a semi-finals team but they lifted a nation and they’re an average age of 24. That’s nuts.

Sammy: I’m not too much of a football fan, whenever it’s the world cup I get swept in the buzz of it.

Robbie: It’s the best one of our generation.

 

Jack: And the next number’s to you Robbie.

Robbie: 9..

Jack: What record do you own but never confess to owning?

Robbie: I don’t know, what don’t I confess to owning? You know what? I’m not that proud, I’m like I’ll fly the Nickelback flag.

Sammy: He’s pretty proud of that one so no shame and erm… I’m thinking. Can you think of anything?

Robbie: Ooh maybe any of the like early gory death metal from back in a day.

Sammy: Like this is horrific but I love this Necoric Disgorgement, Amputated Genitals.

Jack: Those are two words I have never before heard in a sentence before.

Robbie: First time for everything. Nothing you’d bring up at a dinner table with yourself.

Sammy: I like the first CKY album which is an unpopular opinion but it’s not really a guilty pleasure.

Robbie: Not for what you listen to.

Sammy: Yeah I was going to say maybe Carly Rae Jepsen but saying that.

Robbie: No don’t do this. That’s something weird but we can’t stand those people who listen to pop music when they’re in heavy bands.

Sammy: But some are better than others in my opinion, I’d rather listen to Carly Rae Jepsen over Ed Sheeran though. I’ll give credit to her songwriters and producers.

Robbie: They did a good job there.

Jack: That’s the beauty of the earworm, then drown them out with something else.

Sammy: Amputated genitals, right there, give em a listen and a like.

 

Jack: Don’t tempt me. And last number Sammy?

Sammy: 7

Jack: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve come into on the tour bus?

Sammy: Unchewed pieces of pasta that have been thrown up.

Robbie: We’ve had a lot of sick from our old bass player. He was the sick guy. He’d be like oh I’m going to be sick, pull over and I’m like no so he’d be sick all over the floor.

Sammy: To be fair, he was also sick at bass.

Robbie: We were cool with the second one, not the actual sick.

Robbie: He left it in our van once to go to work and we use it on a day to day basis because it’s mine and our singers but luckily he came round the next day and I made him clean it up, and he was with his new girlfriend as well.

Jack: I bet that was fun for him.

Sammy: Well, karma came back to get him in the end.

Sammy: Occasionally there are half-eaten bits of food. But nothing too surprising after a five-date tour with a full band being in there.

Jack: Blood sweat and sick.

Robbie: That seems to be the ETS way.

Sammy: Well he’s not in the band anymore but odds are it’d be Justine. She was the last person to be sick in that van. It was when I picked her up from the airport, so it was just travel sickness, nothing particularly rock and roll unless she was smashing the beers on the plane.

Jack: 50-50 chance. You never know.

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