Henrik Steenholdt – Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Did Coles – Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals
Grant Hockley – Bass Guitar
Elliot Bale – Drums
Home-grown Northamptonshire band. In fact homegrown is one of our tracks from our debut album Self Aware and no it’s not about weed, but does give a good introduction to our sound ranging from acoustic to hard rock and is only 7 minutes long.
The journey so far?
Did: Our origins begin with myself and Henrik meeting shortly after I’d graduated from music college. We formed an acoustic rock covers trio that developed into a massively popular Northants rock electric covers band. Any hardcore Empyre fans who are lyrically observant and know us well may spot a tiny reference to our covers band in the lyrics to our song Too Close.
When I first met Henrik, fresh out of music college, his voice sounded so powerful and unique and I strongly felt that this was a voice for original material. The popularity of our covers band meant that initially, songwriting took a backseat in our formative years of playing music together. Fast forward to around 2016 and we’d invested in writing, recording and producing Empyre’s earliest material with two electric EPs. We’d only recently secured a full four-piece line-up at the point we joined Rock People Management and we turned our thoughts and resources to being fully invested in gigging, touring and producing the music for our debut album release which would become Self Aware. After a bit of a line-up change, Grant and Elliot joined the band in 2017 and 2019 respectively, as they say in Star Wars ‘the circle was now complete’, the musical circle that is!
Self Aware was unleashed in July 2019. Since then so much has happened including collaborations with Whispering Bob Harris, Yamaha Pianos and Guitar World Magazine alongside festival appearances at HRH, Planet Rock, Wildfire, Breaking Bands and more. We’ve even been privileged enough to do acoustic sets before Eagles, Shinedown and Alter Bridge at Arena Birmingham. Fast forward to the present and with the pandemic aside throughout 2020 into 2021 we’ve been steadily releasing our acoustic singles which are reinterpreted versions of Self Aware tracks.
Henrik: You may have noticed that acoustic is a running theme with us and this has culminated with our acoustic album ‘The Other Side’ being released on April 30th. It comprises 9 singles, some guitar-based, some piano-based, and one even features an orchestra. And somehow the tracks have worked out so well that several arguably sound bigger than their electric counterparts on Self Aware.
Did: Audioslave, Dave Matthews Band, Dire Straits, Avril Lavigne, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Joe Satriani
Henrik: Pearl Jam, Guns N’ Roses, Dire Straits, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, ABBA, Stone Temple Pilots, Alter Bridge
Elliot: Alter Bridge, Twenty One Pilots, Shinedown, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Black Country Communion.
Grant: Dizzy Mizz Lizzy (thanks Henrik), King’s X, Tool, Spock’s Beard, Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Alter Bridge
Henrik: My favourite quotes have been “the love child between Soundgarden and Pink Floyd”, “the closest musical reference point is Pearl Jam at their most glowering and emotionally intense” and “atheist rock”. In my view we’re not pure hard rock, we’re not quite prog, we like a big riff as much as we like something delicate and stirring, whilst still being intense.
Did: New rock, modern rock for the current era. Atmospheric and intense. Dynamic music that swings between epic and minimalist. Catchy, melodic music that opens the listener’s ears to a multitude of musical hooks and emotions.
Biggest gig/proudest moment to date?
Did: Last year we played Planet Rock’s Winter’s End and our set was the hangover opener set for Sunday. The majority of the audience wasn’t aware of Empyre but the reception we received from our set was quite overwhelming. We had a merch queue of 45 mins post-gig and sold out of everything. They were really appreciative and passionate rock fans and it was a great experience to play an Empyre set to brand new people and experience that kind of response. It was crazy!
Henrik: There have been a few that it’s hard to choose between. Seeing us in Classic Rock Magazine for the first time, seeing the King Billy venue in Northampton packed to the rafters for our gig on our first ever tour with people saying they hadn’t seen it so full for years, Planet Rock Winter’s End, the ‘Self Aware’ album party at The Water Rats, London and playing the abandoned zoo on HRH Ibiza Roadtrip, there was just something about that amphitheatre with the “moat” and it being our first gigs outside the UK that made it very special.
Grant: Our first HRH AOR was pretty special as we got to do three sets in a day! The Self Aware album launch is also up there. Playing to a crowd made up of friends, family and hardcore Empyre fans was incredible but humbling as we owe everything to these people.
Elliot: Last year at Planet Rock’s Winters End we opened up on the Sunday and well all I can say is wow! We didn’t expect the response we got and it was unbelievably overwhelming. We introduced ourselves to a lot of new rock fans in our favourite fashion, on a big stage, live and loud!
What does the future hold for Empyre?
Henrik: Our primary goal (aside from writing the best music we can) has always been to play the biggest rock festivals in Europe. That’s goal number one for me and it really feels achievable at the moment. We’re ambitious and I think that’s being recognised, Kerrang!, Classic Rock Magazine and Guitar World have all suggested our music would not be out of place in an arena and we just hope that the rock fans out there discover us and agree. What we know at present is we have the acoustic album ‘The Other Side’ coming out on April 30th, that’s studio-recorded acoustic versions and re-interpretations of tracks from our debut ‘Self Aware’. On May 30th we perform a very special acoustic album party at The Waterloo Blackpool and come July we have festivals such as Call of the Wild and Steelhouse, then later in the year Planet Rockstock, Winterstorm and of course HRH ABC in November and we’ve recently announced a tour with Mason Hill and Hollowstar for September 2021. That’s quite a bit along with finishing off the recording of the second electric album, which is pretty much written and the chances are those people that see us on the Mason Hill tour and festivals later this year will start to get to hear those songs.
Grant: Empyre World Tour has a nice ring to it….
Elliot: Hitting all the biggest stages around the world and having fans singing back to us and of course I need to see some air drumming!
Interview by Vickey Ridley