Hullensian quartet Battalions will release their third album “Forever Marching Backwards” on 30th November. We recently dropped the title track as a single and video, and it has gone down a storm with fans and critics alike. The album will see the light of day on vinyl (a limited edition blue one as well as a standard black), digipak CD and digital download – and there’s a sexy t-shirt and CD bundle version as well.
It’s taken nine years of hard work for Battalions to get to the cusp of bigger things, which must surely now be just round the corner for them. APF Records signed the band last autumn, having foolishly passed on releasing their staggering “Moonburn” record a few months before. We all make mistakes, and that was a big one. But the band now have the full force of the label (and their PR partner Hold Tight!) behind them as the three month campaign to promote the album begins.
We caught up with vocalist Phil Wilkinson for a chinwag about past, present and future.
APF: You’ve been around for a while. There seems to be a rising wave of love for Battalions right now. Have you noticed it, and if so what do you think has caused it?
Phil: We have been around for a while! Closing in on 9 years of the band now, which is insane when I think about it. The love for the band has never been bigger, and I think that’s through hard work and sticking at it for as long as we have. Over the past few years we’ve stepped up our game in terms of writing, recording and playing live further afield. On top of this we are completely lovable idiots and people seem to warm to us, which certainly helps.
APF: How was the writing of Forever Marching Backwards? Was it easy pulling the 8 songs together, or like pulling teeth?
Phil: We started writing pretty much the moment we finished recording “Moonburn” last year. We had the majority of the album written, but in the months coming up to recording it we still had a few songs to finish and one to write to make the full record. Luckily, we have Pete ‘The Riff’ Cross in our employ, so we set him to task and he pulled those riffs out of his many hiding holes in those riff-filled layers he constantly wears.
APF: How was your week recording at Skyhammer? For those who haven’t been, what’s so great about it and why did you choose it?
Phil: This was actually our 3rd time there, choosing to return to Skyhammer was a no-brainer. Chris Fielding is an absolute gent to work with, and the studio is top notch. He knows us and we know him, with each of the previous albums being a step up in production values as he’s gotten to know the band better, and this time out he has well and truly knocked it out of the park. It’s always one of the band ‘holidays’ in the calendar for us, as well as tours, as you stay in the accommodation at the studio. It can get a little claustrophobic at times as you’re all on top of each other for days on end, but in the main it’s a completely fun experience for us, especially the end-of-recording blow out!
APF: What’s your personal favourite track on the album and why?
Phil: Honestly, it’s hard for me to choose, which is strange because personally I’ve had a song on the previous albums that I’ve preferred above all others. I guess if I was put on the spot, I would choose “Devil’s Footsteps”. The groove in that just gets me moving!
APF: Tell us about the making of the Forever Marching Backwards video.
(You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/G65bVLXtzns)
Phil: It was one of the hottest days of the year, a Sunday morning following another awesome Humber Street Sesh we were involved with playing. The day started with a trip out to a well-known derelict building in Hull – Lord Line – breaking in and filming all the walking shots. This was followed by us all meeting up at our practice room and turning one of the rooms into a mini studio for the second half of the video. I was ridiculously hungover and throwing up all day, one of the first shots I had to film was me screaming into the protagonist’s face, in full fear that it may include accidental vomit. Luckily this didn’t happen.
The video’s protagonist is no other than Kris Barford, our original drummer and key architect in forming the band. It was great to have him involved as we’re all still great friends and he is now gracing the cover of the album!
APF: When you look back over your ten years in Battalions, what shows stand out as being your favourites?
Phil: Well, not quite 10 years yet, closing in on 9 years this January haha. But still, this is by far the longest I have ever been part of a band and I can’t imagine life without Battalions these days. There have been hundreds of shows and it’s hard to pick. However, since I have to, here are some of my favourites:
Bloodstock Festival 2017
Headline Slot at Humber Street Sesh 2017
Supporting The Ocean, Sworn Enemy and Church of Misery (twice!)
The whole tour with Pist
The whole tour with 1968 / Ritual King
Any show we play at Rebellion in Manchester
APF: There are stresses and strains in being an underground band, but also in being a successful one. If Battalions ever became big do you think you could cope with the fame and attention?
Phil: There are times when I want to scream with dealing with a band and having no management. But when it all comes off it’s the best feeling in the world. I’d have no qualms with stepping up and gaining more fame, I don’t think any of us would change, that’s the working class northerner in us all!
APF: You’re an integral part of the APF Records family? Which other bands on the label do you have a particular affinity with, personally or musically?
Phil: Thanks! We certainly feel a part of the APF Family now, even before we signed we felt a part of the wider APF community. Obviously, we are best buds with Pist following our tour together earlier this year, so much so that Dave and John feature on the new album, although maybe not in the way we initially intended in John’s case. We just like hanging out with other APF bands when we get a chance, the Barbarian Hermit boys have been good to us recently, I think being signed and releasing albums around the same time has given us a shared goal and we both want each other to succeed.
APF: What’s your highlight of 2018 so far?
Phil: It’s got to be getting the album recorded, artwork completed, and everything ready to go before the deadlines. We just cannot wait for this record to be out and for people to hear the rest of the record. The feedback we’ve had so far from the release of the single has been mind-blowing, and if people are reacting like this to just one song, I can’t wait for the rest of the album to get a listen and hear what people think because we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved with this one.
APF: Who’s the biggest bellend in Battalions?
Phil: We’re all bellends in our own way. But, without a doubt, it’s (Bassist) Dennett. The man doesn’t have an “off” button and is, as I have said to him many a time, ‘unnecessarily loud, all of the time’. He’s a bellend in the most lovable way though, and we’re usually in hysterics laughing at him being an idiot, sometimes even laughing with him and not at him…….
Forever Marching Backwards is available to pre-order now from: