June 12, 2018 Interview – Chris Brooks of Like a Storm
You have to believe in yourself, otherwise, who else will believe in you? Very much a self-start band, Like a Storm has believed in what they are doing since their beginnings – dating back over a decade ago to their home of Auckland, New Zealand. The vision of three brothers – Chris, Matt, and Kent Brooks – they have stuck with one another through thick and thin, overcame obstacles, and explored their Rock-n-Roll desires.
Striking a hit with their single “Love the Way You Hate Me,” they also have toured the world, playing with everyone from Shinedown to Alter Bridge, offering their own brand of Hard Rock that is ever evolving and emotional while cutting straight to the bone. Recently we caught up with Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Chris Brooks to talk the life and times of Like a Storm, the key to moving forward, the hard work put into their forthcoming album Catacombs, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – Over the past 10 years, Like a Storm has been perhaps one of the most dedicated and hardworking bands in Hard Rock music. From working independently to now being a part of RED music, what has the ride been like for you and the band?
Chris Brooks – It’s been a crazy one. We have been amazed at the response we have gotten and how the music has connected with people. We kind of got lucky with the last album, Awaken the Fire (2015), to have started that as an EP just for ourselves and fans, kind of not worrying about the record industry or counting on radio. To have that happen with “Love the Way You Hate,” have so many stations play it, and have it do so well for us, it was a really inspirational moment in our journey and in terms of carrying on making music that we believed in.
CrypticRock.com – It has been a great last few years. Like a Storm has always been very much about the fans. You make people feel like they are family, spend time before and after shows, really show yourselves to be a caring bunch of guys. How important is it to you to connect with the fans on a deeper level?
Chris Brooks – It’s pretty much the most important thing. The two most important things for us as a band is playing music that we believe in and playing it to other people that connect with the music that we are playing. It is for them to connect with the kind of emotions or experiences we have been going through. We are incredibly grateful to have had such a close relationship with our fans and to have so many people who believe in us.
They supported us since we have been independent and we get to share this journey with them. You tour all over the world, but even better, are getting to go all these different cities and have people there you recognize, people that come out to the shows every time you are there. You get the idea of a journey with them.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and you have been dedicated to the fans as they have you. Originally from New Zealand, a few years back, you made the difficult decision to transplant to North America to continue pursuing your career. Is it difficult to be away from home?
Chris Brooks – Yea, I think in a lot of ways for sure, we have a really close family back home. It’s always difficult when you are away from those moments – birthdays or the passing of your grandparents. We are really lucky to have our 95 year old grandfather who is still alive. From that point, we try and get back to New Zealand a month a year. Those moments that you get to spend with him and the rest of my family are valuable.
It is tough in terms of being a part for so long, but we still have a really close relationship. When we go home, the only thing we are there to do is spend time with these people. I think that really helps. My parents will come to a lot of the shows they can on tour. A lot of my friends from New Zealand will come up and go to shows if they are around, I think that all helps. Obviously the 3 of us being brothers, and Zach (Wood), who we consider to be one of our brothers, makes it much easier. In a sense you are a touring family.
CrypticRock.com – That is true. You are always amongst family, so that has to make it easier.
Chris Brooks – That extends to our crew as well, we are really close to the crew we bring out. Of course, as you said earlier, the fans, they have become part of our family too. You travel to all these different places, but you are kind of bringing this group with you.
CrypticRock.com – Right. As you said, the new album, Catacombs, was a lot of hard work. Due out June 22nd, this album is a little different than your previous material in the sense it is a bit heavier. What was the writing and recording process like this time around?
Chris Brooks – Our last record was heavier as well. It has been a progression for us. The more we have toured, we are carrying that touring energy into the records we are making. We have a wide eclecting range of music that we all enjoy. When it comes to playing those heavy songs live, and you get that connection with the audience, really nothing beats that feeling. As we push the musicality of the songs, and as we brought that energy of the live show into it, it just naturally ended up getting heavier and heavier.
CrypticRock.com – It works well, it is a very good record. It retains Like a Storm’s sound, especially instrumentation wise. Also, not many bands use a didgeridoo.
Chris Brooks – Yea, and I think “Love the Way You Hate Me” was really the first time we brought that into the heavy music we were doing. We have been fascinated with the sound of those two things. The didgeridoo is such a crazy instrument, I think it is around 50,000 years old. Obviously it was never invented to be played in a Heavy Rock band, but it fits so well in there. It really gives that emotion, a sort of hypnotic feel, and just such a unique sound. We definitely wanted to make sure we had a lot of that on this record. That as well as programing and other instruments that we use to create moods and vibes for the songs.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and this record is a progression. That in mind, the lyrics seem very intense this go around. Your lyrics have always been very personal, but these seem a little more intense. What inspired the lyrics?
Chris Brooks – Before we made that first EP on the road, but after “Love the Way You Hate Me” started getting played on the radio, we kind of had to play catch up and record the second half of the album on tour. It is a lot of fun, but you are doing it a few hours a night between shows. With this record, we were able to remove ourselves from all those sort of distractions just to be faced with ourselves. From that point, we were really able to look inward and dig deeper to what was going on and what has changed in the last couple of years, that has changed what I have inside of me. We were really able to delve into that and a lot of the lyrics came from that point.
CrypticRock.com – Interesting to hear, and the emotion is certainly felt. It will be exciting to see people’s reactions once it comes out on June 22nd.
Chris Brooks – I’m excited! As you said, it’s a heavier record, but we spent a lot of time on the lyrics and melodies. That is our favorite thing with Heavy Rock bands – to combine those very primal instruments with those melodies. That is definitely what we want, to continue and push even further on this album. We are really happy with how it turned out.
CrypticRock.com – As you should be. The band has toured with many bands through the years from Alter Bridge to Shinedown. You are going to be out on the road with Shinedown and Godsmack this summer. How excited are you for this tour?
Chris Brooks – Incredibly excited. As we finished this record, and found out we were offered this tour, it was just an amazing feeling. We love both Godsmack and Shinedown, and just to start the touring cycle off with such incredible bands, playing such huge arenas, you couldn’t ask for anything better than that.
CrypticRock.com – For sure, it is a great tour and you are playing some really nice venues.
Chris Brooks – We are playing a lot of cool venues and we are doing it in the summer which is always a great time to tour the US. We love touring the US in the summer – coming from New Zealand we are not so used to tour throughout the blizzard season. (Laughs) Nothing beats the amphitheater tours in the summer.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is really a great time to tour. As mentioned, Like a Storm has travelled a long road. You have made sacrifices and remained dedicated to your vision. What is the key for you to keep moving forward and staying positive?
Chris Brooks – I think you have to believe in what you are doing and you have to share that journey with people you believe in, people you can count on. I think we are lucky, the 3 of us being brothers and Zach who we have known for years coming in. I think the strength in that, the shared vision, that gets you through a lot.
Obviously there has been incredible fans that have supported us through this entire journey – knowing that you have the supporting connection with them. With everything else, you go through ups and downs, you go through frustrations, but at the end of the day, that is what it’s all about. It’s about playing music you believe in with people you believe in and getting to share that journey with people you care about.
CrypticRock.com – Right, you take the good with the bad. It’s the yin and the yang, that is what life is all about.
Chris Brooks – I think when we moved away from New Zealand, moved to the other side of the world to start from scratch, no one knew who we were. Not having family and friends to fill up a room, even if you didn’t have any genuine fans, from that point, we always knew it was going to be an uphill battle, or at least filled with ups and downs. Obviously you hope you will achieve your dreams, but you know there are going to be struggles along the way, that’s just part of it.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely, and those struggles make the high points that much more redeeming.
Chris Brooks – They do! They also give you something to write about. (Laughs) If every day was just great, great. When you struggle, you write about those struggles. I think it’s those moments where you have to question things, those moments where you have to find ways to continue. That is the moment your sense of purpose becomes so clear, your drive becomes so clear, and that’s the moment you really feel that conviction.
CrypticRock.com – It keeps you going! Being brothers, you have grown up together. You have grown as musicians, but you are growing as people. You now have families of your own too, how does that effect the band?
Chris Brooks – It’s interesting now because we are basically in different places while making this record. Zach’s in Los Angeles, Matt and I spent a lot of time in Las Vegas, and Kent was in Toronto for a lot of it – he has a 2 1/2 year old daughter. I think it is an amazing journey not only as a band, but as people as well. I think it brings in a lot of influences and experience into the development. One of the great things about the development of technology, in terms of making albums is, you don’t need to be in the same room every minute of the day to make it work.
We are very driven, this album was very consuming. Each of us lived and breathed the making of it. At the same time, it is important to have those other things in life. They definitely shape how you feel about the music you are making. I think it’s a huge benefit.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it gives you more to think about, more to write about. It is all part of growing.
Chris Brooks – It was great timing, as I said, Kent’s daughter is 2 1/2 years old now. We were able to have things where he was able to spend a lot of her first 2 years with her because we weren’t touring as much and we were really motivated making this album. It was great for all us really.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool, and congratulations to you Uncle Chris! Last question, if you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi films, what are some of your favorites?
Chris Brooks – You know what’s interesting, I have been watching Westworld, you have to check it out. I have also been watching Fortitude, that I really enjoy. I think I have been watching a lot of obscure things to get the mind going.