These Four Walls
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These Four Walls

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
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"Music Review - Down Falls An Empire"

Auckland band These Four Walls have achieved something extremely rare with their debut album Down Falls an Empire – they've produced a New Zealand rock album that truly holds its own against any number of major international releases. Album opener One Moment In Time wastes no time grabbing you by the hand and leading you instantly to the middle of the mosh pit for a full-on rock anthem onslaught from start to finish. Also rare for a local release is the high quality of vocals and rock harmonies on offer. In style, These Four Walls fall somewhere between Panic at the Disco, Linkin Park and Evanescence. Walk Away, Under the Shadows and Fly Home have all had varying degrees of radio airplay, however Lay it Out jumps out as being a huge single with its chorus that sticks in your mind for hours. This album deserves to be big – and not just in New Zealand.

4.5 out of 5 - review by James Thompson

Reproduced courtesy of The Waikato Times - Waikato Times


"Irons in The Fire"

Who: These Four Walls
What: Hard rock band doing it for themselves
Debut album: Down Falls An Empire, out now
Where & when: London Shed, Pakuranga, tonight; Sterling Tavern, Waihi, Sept 25
Those photos: The blazing house on the cover came about because singer Steve Gibb's father is a volunteer firefighter and this controlled exercise at an old house in Greenhithe made for a perfect band photo opportunity.

Gray Vickers has every right to be a little smug. His band, These Four Walls, have just released their debut album, Down Falls An Empire, and he's sitting across the cafe table with a smirk on his face. The band is doing very nicely, thank you very much, and they've done it all by themselves.

You see, the music industry is a different place from 10 years ago. Gone is the influence of the major record labels, and these days it's possible for bands to make a big splash under their own steam while still retaining control of their music, and hopefully, the profits.

In New Zealand, These Four Walls, a hard rock band from the North Shore, are just one of many young local bands establishing a fanbase, and building a career on their own unique terms.
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These guys have done it through hard work, business nous, and - showing some things never change - a dedication to the rock'n'roll cause.

"There is a smugness about it aye? 'Yep, we did it ourselves. Sweet'." smiles Vickers, who's the straight-talking yet funny bugger of the band which is also made up of his brother Brad on drums, singer Steve Gibb, and bass player Chris Treeby.

But Vickers is quick to point out the distinction between music's traditional DIY ethic - that of home recordings and flyer drops - and the philosophy These Four Walls follow.

"I wouldn't say the term DIY always fits because that kind of implies bedroom recordings. It's more just a fierce independence on our behalf," he says.

"We do everything ourselves," adds Gibb. "Like right down to the press kit, we literally sit in the practise space with a paper knife, some double-sided tape and put together every single press kit we have."

"We like to have control over what we do and why pay someone else to do it?" says Brad. "But a lot of it is just copying. Seeing how international bands are doing and copying it. It's not rocket science," he admits.

These Four Walls realise their independent approach is typical of many bands and musicians working today. However, what is more unique is that it's actually paying off. The band is making money, although for the time being at least they still work full-time at their day jobs.

"We have always had an unspoken policy where we didn't want to pour all our [personal] money into the band. So we treat it as a business, and we do put in a bit each week to pay rent on our practise space, but we generate returns through CD and merchandise sales, and gigging hard. The band does make money but we've yet to take a single cent out. We just keep channelling our money back in, growing it, and that's how we managed to get to this stage we're at now."

These Four Walls formed in 2005 when Gray and Gibb started jamming together and writing songs in a tiny basement in Glenfield. Since then, with Vickers' brother Brad on drums and bass player Chris Treeby, they released their debut self-titled EP in 2007; they sold more than 800 copies at gigs and through Real Groovy; self-funded two videos before NZ On Air chipped in with a $5000 video grant for a third and played hundreds of shows.

Following the success of third single Fly Home in late 2008 they scored a $50,000 album grant - also from NZ On Air. This week the album Down Falls An Empire debuted at No. 22 on the top 40 and pre-orders for the album set a new record at New Zealand music website Amplifier.

Stephen O'Hoy from Amplifier wouldn't say how many copies were pre-ordered, but it is believed to be more than 250. That might not sound like many, but it beat the previous record set earlier this year by Fat Freddys Drop's Dr Boondigga and the Big BW and gives Down Falls An Empire a good head start in overall sales.

The pre-orders were driven by the band. Leading up to the album release they set up Downfallsanempire.com, updated the website every two days with a new song to entice people back, and encouraged people to pre-order.

They also had a laptop at their gigs so fans could order the album directly.

"I thought that was a bit of a masterstroke myself," says O'Hoy. "It's about having a bit of nous and looking at alternative ways - other than doing a poster run and ads - as to how you can sell your music.

"But regardless of the tools they've used, they are a band who have been able to communicate directly with their fanbase, really work that, and make their fans feel good that they were going to be getting it first thing on the Monday morning."

Which is what it's all about these days. And in old-school fan club style the band has a mailing list, which they send out updates to - and being on Facebook, Myspace and Bebo also means they are in constant contact with fans.

"There are so many different avenues for the fans to be absolutely involved," says Gibb. "If they want to be that fan then they can, and we love those fans because they are the ones who still go out and buy the album, and the ones who come to the gigs and make us think what we're doing is for a reason."

Which is why Gibb reckons the band's live show is the best marketing tool they have at their disposal.

"The real thing for us is getting out there and playing live and doing the shows - getting out in people's faces. We've always been a band who play with the same intensity to two people as we do to 20,000," says Gibb.

"I broke my guitar in front of an empty room once," jokes Gray.

Musically, they refer to themselves as a rock band, yet there are elements of classic rock, with plenty of wailing guitars and vocal crescendoes, as well as extreme metal and progressive rock subtleties on songs like album centre-piece, We Are the End.

At six-minutes long it starts off with pummelling beats and grunty riffs, and Gibb's melodic and heavy vocals, but then morphs into an epic ballad and ends acoustically with a choir.

The choral singers are an inspired touch and the band managed to rope in some of the members of the Westlake Boys and Girls High Schools' combined choir with bribes of pizza during the recording session.

"From a metalhead's perspective, that's what I wanted to do with that song, take a really heavy song and finish it acoustically and we put it into a more mainstream song," says Gray.

The 12 tracks on the album - based loosely around themes of rebuilding and growth - are linked together like a live show.

"We've just tried to make it one big art piece, as opposed to a collection of songs," says Gibb.

But it's not some over-the-top concept album. Singles like Walk Away, Fly Home, and most recently Sweet December, are heavy and melodic mainstream-friendly rock songs of a style not heard since Blindspott were in the charts in the early 2000s.

"We're bringing back guitar-driven rock which is what we live for pretty much because guitar rock has been watered down by synthesisers and keyboards and things," says Gibb.

"I reckon it's been dumbed down more than anything," adds Gray in cocky defiance.

"We're bringing back riffs, man, because you don't get enough of them. People love rock'n'roll." - New Zealand Herald - Timeout Section


"More great Kiwi rock in the pipeline"

The wait is over for fans of Auckland’s THESE FOUR WALLS, as the band release their debut album Down Falls An Empire on Monday 14 September. The musical chemistry and song writing talents of guitarist Gray Vickers and vocalist Steve Gibb are undeniable, and have come together to create a bold, artistic statement from the band.

Down Falls An Empire is musically diverse in its rock sensibilities, yet thematically consistent, taking the listener on a journey and presenting itself as a single piece of art as opposed to just a collection of songs. Ambitious for a debut album, the songs range in style from powerful guitar-driven anthems to melodic and beautiful passages, but thoughout the band retain their individuality and identity.

THESE FOUR WALLS began pre-production for Down Falls An Empire in January with Chris Van De Geer (Stellar*, Solstate, Revolver) and commenced recording in May of this year with both Chris and producer/engineer Andrew Buckton (The D4, Steriogram, Midnight Youth).

The foundations of the band began in 2007 with their first single ‘Walk Away’. The track gradually built momentum on commercial radio, breaking into the NZ Top 40, and featured on The Rock’s Top 30 for 12 weeks. In 2008, ‘Walk Away’ was featured in The Rock’s ‘Rock 1000 Countdown’ as the only song by an unsigned artist. The band’s next single releases, ‘Under The Shadows’ and ‘Fly Home’ were equally successful, also both breaking into the Top 40 Chart. Current single ‘Sweet December’ is already making an impact on radio stations nationwide and set to follow suit of its predecessors.

THESE FOUR WALLS have been in high demand, and rightfully so. The band’s tight, heavy and energetic live performances have caught the attention of hundreds of music fans everywhere, leading the band being selected to showcase their new material at the Big Sound 09 music industry summit - one of the most respected and fastest growing music business events in the Asia Pacific region - in Brisbane later this month. THESE FOUR WALLS are also lined up to support international acts The Airbourne Toxic Event in Brisbane, plus Karnivool in Auckland in September. An extensive national tour is also scheduled later this year leading into a busy festival circuit over summer.

Rate This:

9.8 / 10.0

24 ratings | 347 views
- The Rock FM


"Down Falls An Empire - These Four Walls"


THE HISTORY


There isn't much history, so I'll copy paste whatever is on last.fm..

These Four Walls are a Hard Rock band based in Auckland, New Zealand. The Band currently consists of four members, but has previously perfomed as a five-piece. The current line-up features Lead Vocalist Steve Gibb also taking on the Rhythm Guitar duties, with Gray Vickers on Lead Guitar, Chris Treeby playing Bass and Brad Vickers playing Drums.

The band has released four singles to radio and television in New Zealand, each recieving significant airplay on the major radio stations and TV channels in the country. The singles, in chronological order are; Walk Away, Under The Shadows, Fly Home and Sweet December.

The band have finally released there debut album, Down Falls An Empire, title taken from the first lyrics in the first track. Here is the review to this underrated album!

THE REVIEW


One Moment In Time starts off with gentle sounds and a slow heartbeat, before kicking in the instruments. These instruments begin to get louder, which gets your own heart racing. Gibb's vocals begin on the track. The choruses are insanely catchy, and the verses lack no luster. I actually really like Steve Gibb's vocals in general. They have there own sound, unlike a lot of stuff that has the vocalist sounding like another band. A pretty good introduction to this band. I always love bridges in songs, and the one in this one is no exception. A bit of silence from the vocalist and soft instruments get you braced for something big, and you get that, but not as loud as a raging guitar solo. Normally at this point I get sick of the song, but I want way more from this track. A good opener!

Track #2 is the latest single, the kickarse Sweet December, which starts right as One Moment In Time fades away. A bloody good song overall. Simple songs and somewhat complicated drumming works perfectly. Gibbs vocals don't cease to amaze me in this track. A solid song in my opinion! However, the beat and tempo doesn't fall far from the One Moment In Time tree. Could this become another Dear Agony? Either way, it's pretty damn catchy. Lyrics are also pretty good! I'm willing to put These Four Walls in the spot of best New Zealand lyric writers. Lyrics I expect from a typical american band.

Lay It Out starts nice and soft, the kind of soft music that I like. Catchy, calming, clever, and cool. Lyrics are pretty damn relatable in my case. Gray Vicker's guitar works perfectly against the amazing drums from relative Brad. One of my favourites! And best of all, it's different from what we've already heard! I'm already humming the bridge of "Lay it out, lay it out for me", so it has lasting power!

I don't know why, but I abosulte love albums that fade into the next track. It seems so smooth. Lay It Out fades smoothely into Nevergreen, a fast paced hard rock track that showcases the abilities of all the instrumentalists, including the vocalist. It's addictive, but doesn't have the energy shown in previous tracks. It may be because I'm writing this just before midnight, but.. eh, excuses. I love the drumming in this track, as well as the verses. The choruses aren't as great, but they're still very solid. Lyrics are again amazing. Forgettable, but only just!

Onto the first single, Walk Away. The guitars are catchy, and the bass is great too! Drumming is simple, but typical for this genre. The song is a bit too quiet for my liking. The lyrics, once again, show that this band is much better than most of the other NZ bands in this aspect, a country whose lyrics are normally far too cryptic to make sense, or completely fucked up so they don't make any sense at all. The guitar solo matches the song perfectly. All in all, catchy, but again forgettable.

Moving straight into Matter Of Opinion, a song so far unfamiliar from the rest of the album, without becomign completely different and unlikable. The lyrics are preftly relatable, my favourite set of lyrics. The vocals are once again amazing, and the perfect blend of guitars, bass and drums fix together to make a jigsaw puzzle known as a "good song". Good song because it is obviously good, but not great, as this is one of the tracks I tend to forget. Funny, this also has a guitar solo. I normally remember guitar solo tracks.

We Are the End is one of the catchier, jumpier songs. These Four Wall's party track. It's face paced, addictive rock at it's best. Who cares about lyrics when you have something as hooky as this! One of my favourites off the album in fact. I'm loving the various guitar rifts implemented in this track! The change from fast to slower is so unnoticable that it won't distract you, meaning that the merge is verging on perfection. The choruses are mind sticking as well! The choir at the end of the song adds a great effect against the fading vocals of Gibbs!

Despite popular belief, Love Song is not what the title implies. It's a softer song, that keeps it's catchiness. Gibbs' vocals are superb on this track. Also, it's been awhile since I did a review on a song with a swear word, besides Minutes to Midnight (which I've become used to), that the word "fuck" in this song seems strange and unfamiliar. Once again, the lyrics shine even with the dirty word! It's a pretty awesome track. I suggest getting it! Soon as the electric guitar solo randomly appears, the song becomes even better! More energy, which is always a plus!

Fly Home is my favourite single from this album. The sharp drums, addictive guitars, perfect vocals, awesome bass and great lyrics. Everything in this track just works perfectly. The verses are softer than the chorus, and it still works amazingly, and the bridge is better than the rest of the song! You should have already heard the song before, so I'll go to the next one.

The guitar rifts, and drumming, of the next track, Lilith, is one of my favourite combinations in any song! I'm loving the way the vocals just fit in the instruments! I wish I wrote the lyrics of the chorus myself, they're amazingly good. This is one of my favourites from this album. If you don't hear this song at all in your life, you are really missing out on something great. Whoever sings backing vocals has a pretty awesome scream too.

The first track I heard from these guys was Under the Shadows. The guitars, bass and drumming just work greatly. The vocals, with help from the backing vocalist, work amazing. Lyrics are once again great, and the song is yet again catchy! This song will get stuck to your head quicker than an unwanted commercial pop song.

The longest track by far is really two tracks in one, so I'll treat them as two different tracks. To the Loved & The Lost is a sad, slow song about, well, The Loved and the Lost. The lyrics deal with the sad topic of suicide in the first verse, and the second verse an unfortunate death in a drunken car crash of someone who was merely a passenger. Very touching vocals, made even sadder by the vocals from Gibbs, which completely fit the song. After the second chorus, it gets a little bit harder, without seeming out of place. You completely forget that this song is 5 minutes while listening to this. It's actually very amazing. My favourite from this album.

To the Loved & the Lost has a second track that appears after you think the album has finished, which I will call Bonus Track (as the booklet doesn't even have the lyrics to it). It starts off with very soft keyboard and guitars, followed by vocals from Gibbs. This albums minor (very minor) eye drooper song. Unlike every other sleeping song I wrote about in my prior reviews, this one is actually semi-good. I personally blame Steve Gibb's energetic vocals, and the fact it begins to get harder slowly. The album ends the way it began, a steady heartbeat.

THE CONCLUSION


For Fans Of: Saosin, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Hoobastank

Audio convert (when I upload the tracks to youtube): To the Loved & The Lost, Lilith, We Are the End

Rating: 9.1/10 - C4 TV Review


Discography

"Run" (EP) 2006 - Sold independently (400 pressed – SOLD OUT)
"These Four Walls" (EP) 2008 (1000 pressed – SOLD OUT)
“Down Falls an Empire” (LP) 2009 (Amplifier NZ record for online presales, Debuted 22 On NZ Charts)

Photos

Bio

Over four years ago, guitarist Gray Vickers posted an ad online looking for a singer to work with. He received a response from singer Steve Gibb and weeks later, when the two started jamming together in a tiny basement in Glenfield, the band These Four Walls was formed.
Gray and Steve’s musical chemistry and songwriting talents were undeniable, and would be the driving force behind the band’s success. The other key factor in the rise of These Four Walls was their tight, heavy and energetic live performances, which immediately caught the attention of hundreds of music fans and continued to grow and evolve with the music.

By 2007, These Four Walls were ready to introduce themselves to a larger audience. Their first single Walk Away was released early in the year, and gradually built momentum on The Rock FM and Kiwi FM as well as local stations Bayrock and The Zone. When the music video was released in May, the momentum picked up and Walk Away received significant airplay on both Radio and Television. It broke into the NZ Top 40, was featured on the Rock FM top 30 for 12 weeks and in 2008 was featured at #965 in the Rock FMs ‘Rock 1000 Countdown’ as the only song by an unsigned artist.

The band’s next release, Under The Shadows, was equally successful when released in late 2007, peaking at #18 on the NZ Top 40 chart, continuing to gain the band airplay on Radio and Television, and marked the band’s first appearance on The Edge FM.

These Four Walls’ third release, Fly Home, was again successful in raising the profile of the group and, as the third consecutive single to break into the NZ Top 40 chart, was the song that helped to win the band a Phase 4 album grant from NZ on Air.
In late 2008 These Four Walls signed a Promotion & Distribution deal with Isaac Promotions / Universal Music NZ to release their debut album Down Falls An Empire throughout New Zealand. ¬¬They began pre-production in January 2009 with Chris Van De Geer (Stellar*, Solstate, Revolver) and in May began recording with Chris and veteran producer/engineer Andrew Buckton (The D4, Steriogram, Midnight Youth.)

Down Falls An Empire is a bold, artistic statement from the band. It’s musically diverse, yet thematically consistent, taking the listener on a journey and presenting itself as a single piece of art as opposed to just a collection of songs. Ambitious for a debut album, the songs range in style from powerful guitar-driven anthems to melodic and beautiful passages but thoughout the band retain their individuality and identity.

With the release of Down Falls an Empire, These Four Walls have stepped up through the ranks of bands in New Zealand to prove not only are they able to hold their own with international giants such as Nickelback, Sick Puppies and Karnivool, but that they can handle their own headlining festivals around the country such as Paddock ’09 and many more to come in 2010.