Interview with SAM Awards nominee Lead Worm

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Glam Adelaide’s Jonathan Matthews chatted to Michael Van De Merwe, lead singer and guitarist of Adelaide alternative rock band, Lead Worm about their recent nomination for the most popular rock artist category of the SAM Awards.

Lead Worm have been nominated for the ‘Most Popular Rock Artist’ category in the SAM awards, how do you feel about that?

It’s an honour to be nominated. I’ve personally followed the awards over the last couple of years and always aspired to be nominated, so it’s pretty awesome to finally be nominated. I’m not one hundred percent sure how the process works, or how to get the attention from here, but I’m glad it finally happened!

There’s lots of bands nominated in the people’s choice category, who do you think has a good chance of winning some of the awards?

There are a lot of bands that have been nominated in our category, we actually know some of them personally and we’ve been fortunate enough to play alongside some of them, there’s a lot there that deserve to win. It’s an interesting process, to get to where we are, to get people to vote, it encourages all the bands to market themselves in a way that gets more votes. The bands that markets themselves the best will get further. There’s one particular band I know, West Thebarton that just come back from Splendour in The Grass, and I think just playing at that festival in itself is a huge achievement. Then you have bands like Across The Atlas, and Submerge, bands we’ve played with like Moonhunter, it’s an honour just to be in the same group as them to begin with.

How have you guys been marketing yourself?

Social media is the first way, we have a substantial following on various platforms, we targeted them initially. Some people tell us they voted, it’s really good to see and hear the support coming through. If you’re a really good at marketing, you can get people to vote for you and not even knowing who you are. I hope it doesn’t boil down to that, if you like us, go vote for us. We try to be a bit more humble.

How would winning this award benefit Lead Worm, and how do you think you would you feel if you won?

It’s both a curse and an honour. I’ll blow it out of proportion and use the Oscars as an example. If you look at the history of best actors and actresses, some people who win that award, in the years after they win it, their careers slump and they can’t maintain that high level. But some actors carry on winning more and more awards and have very successful careers for years to come, so that’s what I mean when I say it can be both a curse and a blessing. It depends on the mind frame of the person, and the choices they make after, and to not let it go to your head. We’ve never been in a situation to win any honour or award for anything.

How would you describe Lead Worm’s music to someone who’s never heard of it before?

I like to think of it as a classic grunge genre that comes from grunge roots, but it’s laid on top of modern alternative rock. We always try to put a modern spin on everything we do.

Are there any bands who have influenced your songwriting?

Definitely Nirvana. I grew up listening to that music and it has a strong influence in our song writing, also the way Billy Corgan approached storytelling. All of our albums are based around storytelling concepts, so you need to listen to a whole album to get that message. Babylon Zoo had a huge hit called Spaceman back in the 90s, which was always one of those albums I could listen to from beginning to end.

Are you guys working on any new music at the moment?

Plenty. We do have some added benefits and privileges, we record everything through Black Sheep Studios in Adelaide, and because we work in our own studio, we don’t have any time constraints. The thing is, we want to keep it quality over quantity. A lot of songs will be similar sounding, with the same chord progressions, but we find the best melodies and the best ways of bringing the message across, then we narrow it down. We’re working on a double album at the moment, we have too many songs to just do one album. We’re gonna have a dark and a light side to the album, a positive and negative side. Jona, the bassist of Lead Worm, does some rapping. We want to get some rapping involved, similar to bands like Linkin Park. We also have an acoustic album in the works, with some acoustic versions of existing songs, as well as some exclusively acoustic tracks. There’s lots of stuff in the works, and definitely no shortage of material coming out in the future.

Why should people check out Lead Worm if they haven’t already?

With the internet and social media platforms, there’s an explosion of bands everywhere. Social media and internet has given all these bands a platform to show the world their stuff. There’s lots of noise of happening, It’s really hard for any band to grab anyone’s attention. I’ve kind of wanted to take it to another level, to add more of an entertainment aspect that’s only going to be available to people who come and watch us play live. We’re basing everything we do on our live show. We now have sound reactive DMX lights and smoke machines to bring a really exciting and original element to our live performance. We want people to be excited to come and see us live, because we deliver in a way that other bands don’t.

What is your favourite thing about writing music and being in a band?

When I was growing up, before I even played an instrument, I always had a lot of opinions, but you can’t just run out into the street and yell out in public without people thinking you’re a freak. What better way to get those opinions out there than to broadcast them on the radio. That’s our platform to tell our story, or to voice our opinion without anyone thinking were crazy.

Check out Lead Worm on Facebook,. You can hear some of their music on Spotify, or better yet, go out and catch one of their upcoming live shows.

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