We recently conversed with Caustic Waves, aka Neil Thomas about a variety of topics including his latest release, 'Invisible Enemy'.
OSM: Hi Neil, your latest single ‘Invisible Enemy’ came out in April much to our delight. How did it feel to have your work released to the world?
Amazing! It's been a long process from start to finish… I wrote 'Invisible Enemy' just as the pandemic was kicking off back in March 2020, and started working on the album soon after. 2 years later, it's a relief to finally have the album finished and start releasing the music. The response so far has been very positive, and I'm excited to keep building my fanbase and release the rest of the album!
OSM: We absolutely love the single. What was the general songwriting process and are there any interesting stories around the recording?
Invisible Enemy was actually the last song I wrote for the album. By that point I had demos of 5 other songs and was starting to think about recording them properly… then lockdown happened. The music for Invisible Enemy came together pretty quickly, and the global pandemic seemed like a good theme for the lyrics. Now that things are more or less back to normal in 2022, it's easy to forget the fear and uncertainty of the initial pandemic, when no one really knew how things would pan out. For me, it was important that the tone of the lyrics was optimistic though - "we'll find a way to make it through."
I used lockdown as a good excuse to improve my music production skills, and recorded the entire album at home. I work full-time and have a family, so I was slowly chipping away at the album in the evenings, once the kids were asleep. When it came to the vocals, I obviously couldn't do them at night, so I booked a week off work to focus on recording. I wanted to get lead vocals for the 6 songs done within the week… I'm also a perfectionist, so I did a LOT of takes. I ended up shredding my voice after about a day. When I started editing the takes, I realised almost everything I had recorded sounded terrible. I then ended up re-recording almost everything!
OSM: What challenges have you faced since launching your music career?
There is a LOT of great music coming out all the time, and with services like Spotify people can listen to anything at the click of a button. It's tough cutting through a massively crowded market and getting your music heard.
OSM: What are your plans for the year ahead?
I've just released the third single 'Idiocracy', and the remaining three songs will be released over the next few months. The album will be released along with the last single, as a collection of the 6 songs. I'm also really looking forward to writing some more new songs very soon!
OSM: If you could change anything about the industry what would it be?
It can be hard to know who to trust in terms of music promotion. I've had some insane DMs from people looking for lots of money to "promote" my music to their thousands of fans. In reality, it’s a scam. I've become very good at spotting fake Instagram followers!
OSM: If you could share the stage with another band or performer who would it be?
I could think of hundreds of bands that I'd love to share the stage with, but the one that comes to mind is Glassjaw. I'm heading to London next weekend to see them over 2 nights, performing their first two albums in full. They're an incredible band and I'm getting very excited to see them live again!
OSM: What do you enjoy most about being a solo performer?
I’ve played in bands in the past which was great fun, and I do miss that unique feeling of playing music in the same room together. Doing things myself has been a different challenge, but with it comes complete creative freedom. I didn’t have a particular agenda when I started writing these songs, I just played what I felt like - which turned out to be the sort of music I fell in love with as a teenager in the late 90s / early 00s. Bands like Helmet, Far and Deftones are part of my musical DNA, and when I start jamming out riffs and ideas, that’s the sound that comes naturally, without thinking about it. I liked having complete control over the songs - both the songwriting as well as the production. I mixed the album myself as well, so I’ve been involved with every little detail from start to finish. It’s been a lot of work, but incredibly satisfying to build up the songs from rough ideas into the finished album.
OSM: What songs are on your playlist right now, which songs are you into at the moment?
Right now, I’m listening to the new Cave In album, which is incredible! I’m also really enjoying the new albums from Giant Walker and Megalomatic, who are both great up and coming bands. Since launching Caustic Waves, I’ve been busy networking and building my following, and have come across some excellent new bands in the process. I put together a Spotify playlist to help spread the word about the incredible new talent out there - check it out!