Not many bands can claim to have begun their path to a brighter future in the vast, archaic halls of the House of Commons. But after entering the governmental initiative competition Rock The House, Collibus wiped the floor with the competition and made history as the first metal band to play there.
“The magnitude of the night was overwhelming,” reflects vocalist Gemma Fox.
“It was a weird gig!” adds guitarist Stephen Platt.
It was also a gig that would see the band’s fortunes take a huge forward leap. Since then they have released a well-rounded debut album in The False Awakening, which has had the prog world salivating over its vast array of chaotic riffs and soaring vocals, and they were hand-picked for a host of major European festivals, including Download and Sonisphere.
A major part in the band’s success, Fox believes, is her relationship with flatmate Platt. “As vocalist and lyricist and Ste being the main songwriter, living together has certainly made the songwriting process easier. The False Awakening was recorded in our living room, with RJ [bass] living on our couch at the time. With every band, I think that a close relationship between its members is needed, and we’re very lucky to have that. If Ste and I didn’t work well together, there would be no Collibus as we know it.”
Among the crowd on that fateful night in Westminster was a certain Brian May, who later tweeted enthusiastically about this “giant” of a band. “Brian came up to me after we played and asked how I was able to get the low-tuned riffs but still have the high range for soloing,” reveals Platt. “He’d never seen a seven-string before. I think he wants one now!”
For Gemma, a huge Queen fan, it was a surreal experience, with May even introducing their set. “For me, the musicianship, passion and dynamics of Queen stand above anything else,” she enthuses. “Freddie Mercury, as a vocalist, a musician, a songwriter and a frontman is such a massive inspiration to me. And like us, they were all separate songwriters in the band, but all pulled together to create that unmistakable Queen sound.
“I love music that every time you listen to it you hear something you never noticed before. Queen II is one of those albums for me – I can put that album on and I’ll be entranced by it.”
The False Awakening is itself an entrancing and entertaining listen for both progressive aficionados and fans of straightforward metal. While the complexity is as baffling as it is impressive, this ambitious debut is full of melodic hooks and memorability, all played with a youthful vigour. PW
Gemma Fox (vocals), Stephen Platt (lead guitar), Daniel Mucs (rhythm guitar), RJ Kershaw (bass)
John Petrucci and Messuggah’s rhythm section jamming with a banshee on vocals
The False Awakening, out now (self-released)