Although maybe not an instantly recognizable name, Glasgow based Metal band Beckon have the distinction of being the very first band onstage at the inaugural Les Fest held back in June at Valley International Park in Lesmahagow.
Fast forward three months, and it's all about change for the band as they congregate at Lofi Studios underneath the hustle and bustle of rush hour in Glasgow city centre. The first change to the band that people notice is they are now Beckon instead of "Bekon", and the second big change is the recruitment of a new vocalist, Paul Kelly.
"For us", explains rhythm guitarist Mark Chorley, "it's a new beginning â€“ new name, new logo and a new outlook to go forward with. It's nothing more basic that that!" It is, of course, difficult when a band changes its name even slightly but as Mark confirmed, the unusual spelling often caused some confusion about how to pronounce the name, so this "makes it easier for everyone". Thankfully the Beckon fanbase pulled together in supporting the band though the transition by helping to spread the word.
The issue of their new vocalist is rather more complicated, however. The previous vocalist, Gary Thomson, had been with the band for quite some time, but was beginning to show a lack of ambition on where the band were headed. As Mark explained further, "after the band played at Les Fest, Gary didn't seem to have the enthusiasm that he once had", and if you couple this with him not having quite the vocal style that the band were gravitating towards, it was a classic case of "musical differences", which saw him ultimately leave the band. On this subject, though, Mark is keen to stress the lack of animosity between the two parties in what turned out to be a split by mutual agreement.
The new singer is Paul Kelly, and Beckon is his first "proper" band, as he puts it. Lead guitarist Marc Coyle explained more about Paul's recruitment saying "it was the band embracing new technologies which helped the whole process along. Gone are the days of putting an advert in a shop window, now it's all social networking like Facebook and Twitter as well as music websites like MetalTalk who posted news items about the vacant position".
Mark was keen to thank the Beckon faithful too, who helped "by spreading the news via old fashioned word of mouth". A few auditions with prospective candidates were held, as Marc confirmed, "but when Paul started singing, you just know it's going to work when the sound coming out of the speakers is the sound that you have in the back of your mind. What Paul also brought was a lot of enthusiasm, which got the rest of the band really fired up".
Paul comments at this point that he felt part of the band almost right away, and was able to contribute lyrics to new songs that the band had been working on before his recruitment which, as he explained, built up his confidence as the writing sessions progressed and he could see how the internal dynamics of the band worked. Mark also noted that the fanbase had been overwhelmingly positive about the recruitment of Paul as the vocalist, which again, helped the band gel together better.
When asked about the immediate future of the band, everything seems to be falling into place for them. As Mark confirmed, they will be pushing ahead with their plan to "record a 2-track demo before the year is out", and the writing sessions with Paul have been going so well that a full album might not be that far away. As far as live dates go, the band have already booked Paul's debut hometown show at Pivo Pivo in Glasgow on Thursday 8th November (with support from Dirty Rose, The Fall of Eden and Megazord), followed by a jaunt down to Newcastle University for a gig there on Saturday 1st December, as well as the possibility of a couple of shows in Northern Ireland early in 2013.
When pressed on what can be expected at a Beckon live show, bass player Lee Hutchinson, describes it as "110% energy from the band against a background of brutal head banging heavy metal!", although Marc adds that they may also try and slip in a few melodic numbers too. When asked what they are doing to promote the band and develop their fanbase â€“ drummer Michael Brogan confirms that Facebook, Twitter YouTube and Myspace are all "important tools used by the band to their full potential", which have meant that they have been picked up by internet radio as far away as the USA and Australia, which is fantastic exposure â€“ "we're hoping to get a couple of gigs out of it too!", added Mark cheekily.
My final question to the band is one that requires a degree of thought before answering â€“ just how do they describe themselves in only one word? Quick as a flash, Mark replies "Metal-tastic!". "That's his word of the moment", confirms Marc! I certainly have no complaints about that, judging by the quality of tracks I heard them run through tonight. This is certainly one band that who have a "Metal-tastic" future ahead of them.
You can catch the band playing live here:
Thursday 8th November â€“ Pivo Pivo, Waterloo Street, Glasgow
Saturday 1st December â€“ Newcastle University
Paul Kelly â€“ Vocals
Mark Chorley â€“ Rhythm Guitar
Marc Coyle â€“ Lead Guitar
Lee Hutchinson â€“ Bass Guitar
Michael Brogan - Drums