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Getting To Know: Better Heaven

Emerging from the creative heart of Swindon, UK, the indie rock ensemble Better Heaven is making waves with the announcement of their latest single, ‘Texas’, set to drop on 16th February 2024. Comprised of the dynamic quartet—vocalist Dakota Simpson, guitarist and vocalist Dec Casey, bassist Eddie Witcomb, and drummer Jon Snape—Better Heaven has been meticulously refining their sound since their formation in late 2023. The band has invested the closing months of the year perfecting an atmospheric live show and crafting new songs for their eagerly anticipated debut EP.

Recorded at Cardiff’s Rat Trap Studios in September 2023 under the expert production of Tom Rees and mastered by the renowned Matt Colton at Metropolis Studios, ‘Texas’ emerges from Dec Casey’s personal journey with antidepressants. Channeling their experiences into music, the band explores themes of isolation and the craving for connection, encapsulated in the poignant lyric, "I don’t wanna be here, but good God, don't wanna be alone." With a sound deeply rooted in the ethos of late '90s Grunge and Indie Rock, ‘Texas’ promises a blend of raw emotion, lush synths, and the unique harmony of three vocalists. As Better Heaven prepares to step into the limelight, their debut signals not only their growth as musicians but as a tight-knit musical family, poised for a breakthrough. We caught up with them:

1. "Texas" emerged from guitarist Dec Casey's personal experience with antidepressants and his search for a positive outlet through music. Can you elaborate on how this theme influenced the writing process and how you as a band came together to develop the song from a demo to the final track?

Dakota: We started off writing from a voice note that Dec recorded at home, literally just acoustic guitar and some random lyrics over a melody. That was around May last year I believe. The track had quite a different identity at first too. It was quite tame in terms of its general vibe. Our drummer, Jon runs a rehearsal studio (@edenstudios) in our hometown of Swindon so we usually work and write out of there most of the time. Super creative space, go check it out. 

Dec: The chorus came together quite quickly. We had the melody from the voice note already, so it was just a case of jamming it out and eventually it kinda fell out of us. I feel like other songwriters will understand that 'eureka' moment when a part just clicks like that, it was very organic. Thematically, I've always used music as an outlet in life for expression. We tend to write all of our music based on real life situations and the reality of life in general, so this song in particular fell into that category pretty naturally.

2. Recorded at Rat Trap Studios with producer Tom Rees and mastered by Matt Colton, "Texas" boasts a production team with an impressive resume. How did working with such experienced professionals shape the sound of "Texas," and what was the most valuable lesson you learned during the recording process?

Dec: We've all worked in bands and out of studio environments with various producers and teams before, but this very much felt like the first track where we were all super happy with the end product and the process along the way. Working with Tom was just absolutely brilliant. We put a lot of trust in him and he just knew exactly what he was doing and what direction to take the song down production wise. The whole vibe of the session was super chill, super productive and super friendly which I think is massively important when you're creating art in general, especially when opening up from such a vulnerable place. The most valuable lesson I learned during the recording process was probably being able to acknowledge when a part doesn't work and arranging the priorities for a song. Tom played a big hand in helping us with the arrangement of the track by being honest about what works and what doesn't. It just made the song sound like a proper 'song' if you catch my meaning. The whole experience was just super rewarding and we can't be any prouder of how the song turned out. 

Dakota: We'd sent Tom the demo prior to arriving in Cardiff for the session and he really helped us arrange the structure of the song. It helped us massively in terms of our songwriting and how we now approach the process. We were also super lucky to get the opportunity to work with Matt Colton who has mastered some of the biggest records in the past decade. When we first began to discuss the engineering side of the song, we knew we wanted to work with some established producers/engineers etc. We loved some of Matt's previous works from artists like Nieve Ella and Arctic Monkeys, so we reached out to work on 'Texas' with him. In terms of a lesson learnt, I think it was really nice to be told no with certain ideas. Just to put ideas forward that you're maybe unsure of and then to be told no. To not always be gassed up about something of yours when not every idea is going to be good.

Ed: The most valuable lesson I learned during the recording process was trusting the process itself and allowing someone else to have some control. Tom's ideas were really great and typically, I'd be the first person in there to say 'I want everything in there' but it wouldn't have flowed. It would've been too much. I think the track came out better for it.

Jon: The most valuable lesson I learned during the recording process was thinking a lot more about the arrangement of parts and how they flow, how you write on the hoof in regards to last minute changes and making your part the most effective backbone to other parts and not over playing.

3. The track sonically takes inspiration from late '90s Grunge and Indie Rock, with an emphasis on open chords to create a dynamic sound. How did you decide on this musical direction, and which bands or artists from that era influenced "Texas" the most?

Dec: Coming from a predominantly 'rock music' background, it came very naturally for me that the song has that vibe. Big rock choruses were a massive influence, especially with 90s Grunge when you think of iconic tracks from well known artists like Nirvana for example, the choruses are what stands out and make those songs so iconic. 

Dakota: From my point of view, we didn't consciously decide on a particular direction for the track, i think it's more so just our general backgrounds colliding together. That's the natural way we write, it's not that we sit there and say 'This is gonna sound like a 90s Rock song'. It's all of our tastes combining together. In terms of other artists that may have influenced the song, we'd probably say Wunderhorse, Wolf Alice, Tangled Hair and Nieve Ella. Love the music they've put out. 

4. With "Texas" featuring synths and multiple textures from your three vocalists, how did you approach integrating these elements to complement the track's grunge and indie rock vibes? Was this a collaborative effort, or did someone lead the creative direction for these additions?

Dec: Again, it was very natural. We've got three vocalists in the band so naturally the harmonies tend to form because we all just love to sing. We like to implement harmonies in most of our tracks, it's a big strong point for us both live and during the recording process. We love to layer vocals etc so it's very much a collaborative effort.

Dakota: We're all pretty good at finding the harmonies. No one tends to tell each other what to do and it just fits all of a sudden. I think this comes down to the fact that we're all so close. We spend so much time with each other that there's never any conflict or anything because we're such good friends. It makes the whole experience of being in a band so much more special, especially when we get to share such incredible moments with each other. Wouldn't change it for the world.

5. The central lyric of "Texas," "I don’t wanna be here, but good god don’t wanna be alone," serves as a powerful message about isolation and seeking connection. How does this theme resonate with the rest of your forthcoming debut EP, and what can fans expect in terms of thematic continuity and musical evolution from Better Heaven in 2024?

Dakota: I think the more you write about stuff that's real the more believable you are if people don't buy into what you're saying, then they won't engage. And we want people to connect to our songs and see a little piece of themselves in there. 

Dec: We've got more music coming later this year and it just keeps getting better and better. In terms of an EP, we want it to be a solid piece of work, well rounded and consistent. There won't be one track on there that stands out more than others. We're having an absolute blast writing it at the moment and we can't wait to keep the train rolling. More music, more gigs, more life!


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