By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Despite a worldwide pandemic, Neptune Rain made the most of it, as they worked on their debut EP ‘Chaos & Light’ and provided online content galore, with socially-distanced band play-throughs from their respective homes, vocal covers and their own internet chat show.
Recommended for fans of Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars and Of Mice And Men, the Gloucestershire, Cheltenham-based rap metal quartet have made an impact in a short time since their late 2019 formation with memorable tracks like “If That Was Love” and “All Pain No Gain.”
2021 will continue their momentum, as they plan to unveil three singles and a new EP.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with the members about what they’ve been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Kieran – We were bouncing around loads of words and name ideas, as new bands do and “Neptune” kept coming back, because we thought it sounded cool and it has a connection to Cheltenham, where the band was formed. “Neptune Rain” was probably the first idea that nobody disliked and we all thought could work and in doing some checks to see whether it would be viable, we came across this theory that it can apparently rain diamonds on Neptune. We thought that sounded really cool, but also quite a fitting metaphor for our sound and the message in our music, which is that even in the darkest of times, something bright and hopeful can still emerge.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Kieran – I probably never go a week without listening to some Linkin Park or Bring Me The Horizon, but you’re just as likely to find me listening to Justin Timberlake, Hans Zimmer or JME! I really enjoy looking out for newer artists that excite me and have loved the songs that Captives, Led By Lanterns and PENG SHUi have been putting out over the last couple of years. We’ve also got a collaborative playlist on our Spotify that is filled with awesome recommendations from fans and we’ve been loving the other new artists they’ve been introducing us to.
Rob – Most recently, it’s predominantly been classical music. Generally whatever jumps over the airwaves over at Classic FM, but also a lot of Vaughan Williams and Tchaikovsky. Those who know me well know that I love melodrama in my music, but also big sweeping soundscapes and dynamic. Both of these composers had this nailed.
Simon – Nothing But Thieves is probably the newest addition to my “favorite bands list.” They’re one of those bands I could imagine us doing a support slot for one day. It would be awesome if that happened. I mean, just playing a gig in general would be a good start. Other than that, I’ve always got my old favorites on the go – Muse, Enter Shikari, My Chemical Romance, Mastodon, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Twenty One Pilots, Linkin Park, etc. and then, I’ve been quite interested in this emo and pop-punk revival, but from a more “rap music” perspective that’s been going on. I’ve found a few playlists on Spotify like “Emo with 808s.” I’ve just been hitting “play” and vibing.
Music Bugle – How would you describe your newest music?
Kieran – We definitely think the next few singles will see a continuation in the hard-hitting sound we’ve developed so far – big drums and guitars, soaring synths and rapped and sung vocals. Thematically, we’ll be tackling depression, overcoming personal struggles, our frustrations at a world so often filled with hate and division and our belief in hope, unity and a brighter future. It’s definitely still coming from a place of darkness, but with that little glimmer of hope we always try to cling on to.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Simon – We were actually getting ready to launch the band as the first lockdown came into effect last year. We had all these plans to play gigs and then boom! A brick wall appeared. We were determined to not let it stop us, though.
Rob – We’ve had to rethink our approach to music, but it has forced us to explore new creative avenues to reach new people. Social media has been king and we’ve ended up doing everything from lockdown song playthroughs to Q-and-A sessions and we’ve even started a fun new quiz show called “Alphabetti Forgetti,” where we’ve had band members and other musicians go head-to-head in a fun little word game.
Kieran – It has definitely not been the year we were expecting to have, but actually, I think in some ways, the pandemic gave us the perfect opportunity to be creative in reaching our audience. We just can’t wait to finally meet everyone in person when live music resumes!
Music Bugle – What was it like making your debut EP ‘Chaos & Light’?
Rob – We were quite fortunate in many ways, since we’d already recorded a large chunk of it before lockdown hit the United Kingdom in March last year and we were able to finalize quite a lot of it when restrictions were lifted in September, but there were still a lot of things we had to do remotely. We recorded the EP ourselves, so we were fortunate in the respect that we could very much work to our own timeline and adapt to situations as they developed, but it was a lot of work! We were also incredibly fortunate to have found Christoph Wieczorek from Annisokay/Sawdust Recordings, who has done an amazing job mixing and mastering our tracks. His input has taken our music to a whole new level and I think you can hear that in the final product.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Kieran – All the songs we’ve released, or plan to, have tended to come together very quickly and I think the strongest ideas often do, because they are fun and exciting and inspiring to write. That said, “Nothing Left To Save” probably underwent the most changes from its initial conception. It was written at a particularly difficult time following a relationship breakup, with less thought initially given to its overall sound, so whilst the composition never really changed, it needed more production work than the others to make it sound more like a Neptune Rain song and part of the ‘Chaos & Light’ EP.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Rob – I think social media is very much a double-edged sword. You can reach out to people who may have otherwise never have come across your music and form a bond that really does benefit both the musician and the listener. It’s a sort of two-way catharsis, which can only otherwise be found by watching a band on stage or listening to their music. Social media makes it easier to connect, but it also forms a barrier between you and the person you’re talking to. It’s harder to read emotions and sometimes, ideas and empathy get lost in walls of text. I think that goes for everything right now. As humans, we need that human element that can get lost through the lens of social media.
Kieran – This last year, social media has felt like a lifesaver, to be honest. It has been such a horrible time in the world and Neptune Rain making progress has been the biggest factor in keeping me going and keeping me remotely sane! If it hadn’t been for the amazing reaction and support we’ve had from people on social media from day one, I’d have found it completely unbearable… and our new tracks would be even darker! (Laughs)
Music Bugle – If you had to pick your own theme song, what would it be?
Rob – “Shadow Of The Day” by Linkin Park. In some ways, it’s an odd choice because we’ve always been about finding positivity and hope in dark times and it’s quite a sad song, but our introduction to the world was a lockdown cover of this song and the line, “Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple, sometimes goodbye’s the only way” definitely strikes a chord. It’s that realization that sometimes, good things come out of dark times and sometimes, you have to say goodbye to start a new chapter in life. It’s bittersweet, but still positive and hopeful in its own way. Linkin Park are probably our biggest influence as a band too, so it feels right.
Simon – If I was picking from our songs, I’d say “The Weight Of Giving Up.” It strikes at the struggle at the core of us and gives a good idea of what we’re thematically about. It’s a good representation of our sound, too. If it’s a song from another band, it has to be a Linkin Park song. They’re our biggest influence. Maybe “In The End” would be a good choice.
Kieran – There’s a theme emerging here! (Laughs) As a song, I would say “One More Light” by Linkin Park. It just hits me on so many levels, it’s beautiful. As a piece of music, I would say “Time” by Hans Zimmer from the “Inception” soundtrack. It’s probably my favorite piece of music, it’s so beautiful and epic. I could walk around all day listening to it on repeat and would feel very dramatic doing so!
Music Bugle – What’s something you wish happened more in today’s music industry?
Rob – Love and acceptance. Being a fairly new band, we’ve actually found this in abundance since starting out. Everyone’s been really supportive and we’ve already made loads of friends in the music world. It really has been incredibly humbling and you do feel like part of one big musical family, who are all looking out for each other, even those new to the scene and just finding their feet, but I feel like there are still places where this isn’t the case and it all seems pretty harsh and hostile. To us, this makes it more important than ever to lift each other up.
Kieran – Live events! (Laughs) Hopefully, this year. On a serious note though, I think the things I would change about the music industry are the same things I would change about the world – more kindness, less greed, more environmentally conscious and a fairer distribution of power and resources. I think the biggest problems in most industries are probably a reflection of those issues in society as a whole. I also think it’s really important that AI and algorithms don’t completely take over taste-making!
Music Bugle – What was the moment you knew you wanted to play music?
Kieran – I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to be a musician, but definitely those key moments came at gigs, watching my favorite bands at The Astoria – RIP, The Forum and Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. By the time I’d started gigging as a teenager, there was never anything else I wanted to be.
Rob – For me, there wasn’t really one specific moment, but it’s always been something that felt natural for me since I was very young. Music can express things that words in isolation sometimes fail to say.
Simon – Yeh, there wasn’t an exact moment for me either. I had been shown a Green Day song on guitar, but it wasn’t until I saw the music video for “American Idiot” for the first time that my passion for music really ignited. That’s when I really started exploring what was possible.