Interview – Caustic Waves

Caustic Waves is a project created by one man band Neil Thomas, producing fabulous hard rock songs with a groovy edge to them. I loved their music and wanted to find out a little more – read on to learn more about the band!

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a couple of tracks which we reviewed, titled Regenerate & Invisible Enemy. What can you tell us about the songs?

Regenerate was the first single I released at the start of March, and it’s pretty representative of the alternative metal/post-hardcore sound of Caustic Waves. It’s quite an energetic song, with heavy distorted guitars throughout, and the melodic lead vocals are backed by lots of layers of harmonies. Lyrically, the song deals with themes of regret, self-improvement and growth.

Invisible Enemy was the last song written for the album, just as the pandemic was kicking off back in March 2020. The music came together pretty quickly, and the uncertainty of lockdown felt like a good theme for the lyrics. During those first few weeks, no one really knew what was going on. There was a sense of fear, and supermarket shelves were often empty due to panic buying. There’s a lyric about ‘Covidiots’, which came from reading a news article about a supermarket worker who was verbally abused while she was trying to carry on doing her job. They were pretty crazy times and now that things are more or less back to normal, it’s easy to forget just how unsettling those first few weeks were. I tried to put a positive spin on it though, with the lyric “we’ll find a way to make it through”.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

I started writing for this album back in 2019, and recorded rough demos of 6 songs. I was thinking about recording them properly, and then Covid happened. I used lockdown as an excuse to improve my music production skills, and I recorded the entire album in my home studio. I was still working full-time (from home) and I have a family, so I started working away on the album in the evenings, once the kids were asleep.

I couldn’t record the vocals at night, so I took a week off work and foolishly attempted to record the lead vocals for all 6 songs at once. I completely destroyed my voice after a couple of days but kept going anyway. When I went to edit the takes, I realised that my voice sounded terrible, so I ended up re-recording almost everything!

It was a long process, and it took me about 18 months from the start of recording through to the end of mixing. I mixed the album myself, and it was really the first time I had tried to mix anything properly, rather than just basic level setting and EQ. It was definitely quite a steep learning curve, and I spent a long time taking online courses and learning as much as possible before I started mixing in earnest. I’m pretty pleased with how the final mixes turned out, and I had the album professionally mastered by Andrea Gobbi to give it that final polish.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

Not really, actually. It provided me with the lyrical inspiration for Invisible Enemy, as well as the time to improve my skills and work away on the production of the album.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

I’ve actually just released the third single, Idiocracy, at the end of May. The song is named after the 2006 Mike Judge film, and the lyrics question the judgement of the millions of people blinded by fear and lies into supporting unsavoury world leaders, foolish political ideas and debunked conspiracy theories. It’s meant to have an overall positive message – the hope that education will bring a brighter future for the next generation.

Have you started writing for an EP or an album?

The singles I’ve released so far are all taken from the upcoming 6 track album, which will be released later this year. I’ll actually be releasing the remaining 3 songs as singles over the next few months, with the final single coinciding with the release of the album, which is really a collection of the 6 singles.

I’m looking forward to writing some new songs too, and I’ve already started gathering together some new riffs and ideas.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

My main influences are the bands I discovered as a teenager in the late 90s/early 00s – such a formative time in my musical life. I fell in love with bands like Deftones, Far, Helmet, Kerbdog, Incubus, Silverchair and Biffy Clyro. I didn’t really have much of an agenda when I started writing these songs, but those bands are just so ingrained in my musical DNA that when I start playing that’s the sort of style I gravitate towards.

I listen to loads of stuff, mostly within the rock/metal world. I’m a big fan of progressive metal bands like Monuments – their new album is incredible, and will definitely be one of my top albums of 2022. Right now, I’m listening to the new-ish Circa Survive EP that came out a few months ago. I’m a big fan, but I’ve been so busy lately that I’m only just getting around to checking it out!

Since launching Caustic Waves in February I’ve been busy networking and building my following, and through that I’ve come across so many great new, up-and-coming bands. I put together a Spotify playlist Recommended by Caustic Waves, to highlight some of the great new tracks I’ve heard recently – check it out!

Where are you based? What is the music scene like in your part of the world? Are you influenced by your surroundings?

I’m based in Glasgow, which has always had a great local music scene. I first saw Biffy Clyro in a pub in 1998, when I was just 16 – I had to stand in the corner with a bouncer keeping an eye on me! I’ve been a Biffy fan ever since, and it’s amazing to see just how far they’ve come. I played in an alternative metal band called Keitel in the mid-2000s, and there was a great local metal scene at the time. Admittedly, I’ve been a bit out of touch with local bands in the last few years, but I’m starting to reconnect with the current scene. I went to Nice ‘n’ Sleazy last week to see Megalomatic launch their debut album. They were absolutely brilliant, and their album is already one of my top albums of 2022.

I don’t think I’m necessarily influenced by my surroundings, not consciously anyway.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

Since I’m a one-man band, Caustic Waves is just a studio project for now. I’ve played many gigs with my previous bands and I do miss that unique feeling of playing live music for an audience, so it’s something I’ll probably reconsider at some point in the future.

You’re a software engineer by day and a music producer at night. How do you find the time to fit it all in?’

It’s tough to squeeze it all in, especially since I have a wife and two young children. When I started recording the album, I knew it was going to be quite a slow process – although, admittedly I didn’t think it would take me quite as long as it did in the end! Fortunately, I’m quite happy to keep slowly chipping away at things until they’re done. I’m really proud of the final product and I think it was definitely worth the wait!

Any last words for the fans?

Thanks so much to everyone who has checked out the music that I’ve released so far! As I said, working on the album was a very long process, so it’s an amazing feeling to finally have it done and to start getting the music out there. I’ve had an amazing reception to the songs so far and I’m really proud of the following I’ve gained in such a short space of time.

Look out for the next single coming soon!