The Rifles frontman Joel Stoker has spoken to NME about the success of his debut solo album ‘The Undertow’ – despite the lack of radio support and the record’s deeply personal themes – and the excitement of opening it. for Liam Gallagher at his recent discreet concert at KOKO.
The album, recorded almost alone in Stoker’s shed, with the single instrument of drummer Brendan O’Neill, Rifles keyboardist Dean Mumford and ex-Men’swear member Stuart Black, is at number 10 on the album chart in middle of the week.
The singer, who will perform a series of solo concerts in September, October and November, also revealed that The Rifles are back in the studio working on new material, after twenty years of self-taught success, with their includes four Top 40 albums.
NME: Hi Joel. How does it feel to top your first album in the Top 10 after all these years?
“Really surprised. It didn’t even cross my mind about chart positions or anything. It’s weird. I wasn’t even thinking about it. Nice surprise. We obviously have a strong fan base through The Rifles. Other than that , it has to be people looking for new music, it’s not spread everywhere. I think it helps, especially The Rifles fans and people who like that kind of music, that it seems like “They’re buying vinyl again. I hope people found out about it, watched it and liked it.”
With so much support from the press or radio behind the album, do you feel you have justice?
“It’s a bit frustrating. But from the point of view of Rifles, it has made our fan base much stronger in a funny way, because everyone heard about it through word of mouth and we feel like their group, rather than like something something was thrown. on their neck, which gave us more longevity than a trendy band. It’s a bit frustrating, but I’m very happy with my album. And I think if people listen to it and decide for themselves, that enough for me.”
What’s going on with The Rifles?
“Tomorrow I’m back in the studio, we’re making a new album. We wrote a lot of songs a year and a half ago, but everything was a bit fragmented. When I heard them, I didn’t like them, So we went back to to the drawing board, drawing, we wrote some more and now we’ve got all the drums and bass done, I’ve got all the beats down and now I’m just coloring them in.”
Is it frustrating not getting the attention you deserve so far?
“It seems the fans are more frustrated than me. There are so many people out there and such a wide range of music, it’s hard to get enlightened. Sometimes it’s frustrating because all you want is for people to hear You can not make someone like the music, but at least they would have the opportunity to listen to it.
How did you come to make a solo album?
“During the lockdown I had done a song by myself in the shed where I record everything at home. It seemed like it was possible to do it all and release it. There were a handful of five or six songs that I was writing it at home. , all on the same topic, very personal to me. It didn’t seem to fit into the composition of the band, they were just ideas and I thought there was an album. theme and be one piece. It was too personal for me. to collaborate with anyone.”
Was it exciting to record mostly by yourself?
“I loved it. What was really nice was that I didn’t have to argue about something. It’s often necessary and that’s what often makes a band work, but it seemed like a walk in the park to go there in the morning, play something, a guitar riff or whatever and just go in there, not have an argument. That’s what I love most about making music.”
What is “My Own War”?
“It’s anxiety and I’ve had it since I was young. It brings you down. It seems like everyone is struggling with mental health at the moment and I didn’t want to jump on that bandwagon, but at at the same time, I feel it’s important to talk about it.”
“As soon as you talk about it, it becomes easier immediately. It’s not a negative album at all. There are a lot of things that are quite dark and they are negative themes. But it’s more about going beyond everything. That’s really what I’m trying to say : Yes, it’s terrible, but tomorrow is a new day. You just have to move on, and it’s not as bad as it seems. In order of the album, I did try to do it like this end you’re laughing a little about It’s just to take it with humor and whatever comes, will come, and deal with it.