-Interview- Wicked Empire (7/2/23)

Wicked Empire talks about their start with music, the Australia music scene and much more.


From: Australia
Sounds like: Rock

1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound? Who thought of the name "Wicked Empire" and is there any meaning behind it?

I started learning the drums at a young age but wasn’t allowed to have a full kit. Looking back I understand that because our house was small with no real space for it so I decided the guitar was the next best thing. I got my first guitar at around 15. It was a cheap guitar that was awful to play but I didn’t really know any better until I played a friend’s Ibanez Artist which felt so much better to play. I was shown a few riffs but mainly learned by ear from listening to music. There was no YouTube back then. I eventually upgraded to a nicer guitar and Marshall JCM800 combo. The combo didn’t cut it playing in a few of the earlier bands I found myself in which seems crazy now. They were so loud.. so I bought a Laney 100watt head and have been a Laney player ever since. That amp is still going today and has been to England and back.. Built like a tank.

I have been writing originals almost from the moment I picked up the guitar and learnt some chords so my style was developed from what I heard in my head and the styles of music I was listening to at the time. I grew up listening to rock and metal but also always like a good ballad. AC/DC, The Angels, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Lynyrd Skynyrd to name a few.

We were originally called ‘Pistols at dawn’ and were setting up the Facebook page and noticed it was taken many times over. Our bass player Peter and I were in a band that moved to London in the mid 90’s called Wicked Saints so I came up with Wicked Empire as a bit of a laugh in that there certainly is no Empire and that was voted in by the guys who were in the band at the time and has stuck.

2. What do you want people to take away from your music?

We try to write uplifting songs with some meaning. They all come from the soul so ultimately we hope people enjoy and can relate to a song for whatever meaning they connect to it for them. Whether it’s just a catchy make you want to dance tune or something that takes you on a journey.

3. How would you describe your sound to the average listener?

Our sound is pure in that what you are hearing are real amps, minimal effects or pedals. Our debut album was essentially recorded live. Not too many overdubs and often first take attempts. I set out to keep it real. Not sure that was the right decision looking back but it’s done now. The sound has grown organically and is getting more mature as we grow. The songs are mostly melodic with that natural sound driving them.

4. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

Foo Fighters, Uriah Heep & Black Star Riders.

5. How has Covid affected what you do?

Covid killed the music scene here in Adelaide. We used to play regularly before Covid to good sized crowds and I remember playing a Saturday night gig on the eve of lockdown when people were told to stay home to 10 people which was sad. Then we didn’t play again for about a year and a half and the scene has not fully recovered. Several pubs that supported original music closed or sold out. It’s an entirely different scene now and it’s not better.

6. What’s your take on the current state of Rock?

Hard question to answer but I think rock is essential dead in the way I knew it growing up. Back then, music was real, inspiring and we had guitar and singer heroes. Music is now manipulated to be an over polished pitch and time perfect package and cover artists are discovered and groomed from shows like the voice etc instead of bands. Sadly, bands are becoming a thing of the past. It’s seems to me all we have in the world of rock are the bands I grew up listening to. Foo Fighters, GnR etc. The younger kids gravitate to computer music, DJ’s instead of going to see a band but also the venues aren’t there supporting it anymore so it’s a catch 22.

7. What's the current music scene like there in Australia?

Adelaide has always been a tough room. Cover bands become the flavour in the late 80’s and 90’s and have kept a tight grip ever since and the bulk of the hotels only support live cover music. It’s a step up from just having a juke box.. Also many of the venues that supported original music closed during Covid and haven’t been replaced but there are a few other hotels picking up the slack, but it’s definitely not the same atm. Adelaide also brought in poker machines in the 90’s which took over from band rooms. Not sure about all states but I’ve seen it’s lively in Perth where they don’t have pokies and Melbourne has always had a vibrant live music scene.

8. What’s your take on the royalties that streaming services pay out to artists?

I think it’s disgraceful that an artist makes .06 of 1 cent per stream. If you had told me you make 20cents I would have thought that is rubbish so the .06 of a cent is insane.

9. What's next for Wicked Empire?

We have 16 new track’s waiting to be finished off. 4 were left over from the first album and we have 12 bed tracks down. Just need some time to finish them off. Whether we put out another full album next or just release singles is something that we need to work through.

10. Any shoutouts?

Shoutout to our friends and family who have supported us over the journey. Personally I have been playing for more years than I want to admit and always played original music and the friends have always supported me and us to this day.