The old cliché of the greatest hits album; it’s the death knell for most musicians’ careers. Everyone knows that once the sales dry up then it’s time to repackage and restock whatever you sold in the first place and milk it like a cow producing iPads instead of dairy products. Madonna’s had four of such compilations in twenty years, with barely six records in the same time.
For Essex rockers InMe it’s a slightly different story. Aside from adding another flying critter to the repetoire (Butterfly, Moth, Phoenix) this very personal highlight reel aims to mark a new era for a band that has been through many highs and lows.
From being misrepresented and critically shunned in their beginnings to walk-outs and a “dwindling public perception” according to frontman Dave McPherson. It’s been a rough road getting to this point but after four studio efforts, most recently the acclaimed “Herald Moth”, InMe have a renewed sense of purpose.
What purpose is that, you ask? To establish themselves “as a completely new band” in their leader’s own words. It’s something he has been trying to do for several years now – beginning with their third album “Daydream Anonymous”. Although detracting from their earlier sound they might be, Dave isn’t meek about the juvenile anguish on “Firefly” or “Underdose”, proudly displaying them here alongside their more matured recordings because after all, their teenage kicks were necessary to get to where they are now. It doesn’t take a glance at the sleeve notes to work out which ones are from the first album, you’ll know by the raspy crooning akin to Gavin Rossdale and the spacier take on knock off Brit-grunge. It takes even less to see how InMe have long since outgrown the flannel shirts.
Just listen to the whirling vortex of “Myths & Photographs” to realise this yourself. It’s easy to forget how young InMe were when they first emerged – keep in mind Dave is releasing a best-of album at 27; they’ve grown up. But strangely enough in spite of the non-chronological tracking, which if in sequence would accentuate a timeline of musical growth even more, the disk flows remarkably.
The three new tracks aren’t your average greatest hits stocking filler either, cropping up at each third of the way through like rhythmic appetisers. They might be strategically positioned to grip the long-time fan rather than just bunged at the end, but it makes them more a part of this collection and not feel like discarded leftovers only included to give hardcore fans a reason to get their plastic out. Even with its flirtations with dub and electronica, “Bury Me Deep Beneath Your Skin” should appeal to the oldest Muse fans and alongside “Chamber” and it’s puffed up strings the metal breakdowns of “Saccharine Arcadia” sound like the work of another band, which of course was the master plan from start.
For those worn down by the steadily cheerless ranting and raving, you needn’t look further than “Single of the Weak”. Many cried “sellout!” upon its release completely oblivious to the tongues of InMe planted firmly in their cheeks as they tease slaves of radio-friendly regulations, namely their younger selves. The floor-filler drums and electronics showed that the gloomy Essex boys actually had a sense of humour and could still craft an annoyingly catchy song around a glam solo that would make you recoil like you’ve beer-bonged buttermilk. You and your irony InMe, you’re too clever for us.
But with their reinvention there are also problems that will ensnare you over the course of the album. The fretboard sorcery is often more mandetory than necessary, and amidst the breakneck leads the song becomes lost in a blaze of high-end bluster. It’s the technical side of the band that seems to spew over-production over the metallic tracks, with far too many eeps and bleeps smothering a song that would be better stripped back.
Phoenix will hardly set the world alight when the dust has settled, but it will act fittingly as a bookend on InMe’s first decade and allow for them to spread their wings beyond the preconceptions. If you’ve made it this far without conquering the world, what’s another ten years? Dave’s convinced he won’t be jumping about to “Underdose” when he’s fifty but will InMe have four greatest hits albums by then? Probably as likely as “Celebration” being Madge’s final cash-in.
I was also fortunate to have the chance to interview InMe frontman Dave McPherson. Have a read below to find out what he thinks of reaching this point in the band’s life.
L4e: Firstly, why have you decided to release a best of album at this point in time?
D: The idea of ‘Phoenix’ came about due to a number of reasons. For the past few years we’ve really tried to re-establish ourselves as a completely new band. After nearly 5 years of undoubtedly separating our new sound from a lot of our past efforts it felt like the right time to bring it all round full circle & celebrate the old & new to herald a new chapter of InMe.
On the business side of the coin as a band you have to keep the ball rolling to maintain momentum & we didn’t want to simply put out a 5th album straight away so this can be used as a vehicle to keep the band busy with something tangible to promote. We’ve been very closely involved with every decision regarding ‘Phoenix’ to make it a campaign that we believe in passionately.
L4e: Is there any meaning behind the collection’s title, “Phoenix”?
D: I think the public perception of us for one reason or another dwindled for a number of years. We really had to stick to our guns during a rather tough period in order for InMe to survive & although it sounds contrived it really does feel like we’re finally reaping the rewards for not giving up even during the hardest times. The idea of rising like a phoenix from the ashes renewed & ready to live through another cycle really appealed to us poetically as it metaphorically reflects some of the hardships we’ve experienced. On another note, it’s become apparent that we have a subconscious obsession with winged creatures. We’ve used butterflies, moths & crows in our concepts for previous efforts so the Phoenix seemed like a nice addition to that ensemble of creatures!
L4e: Every one of your albums seems to be equally represented on here. Was that a conscious decision and was there any reason for the order of the tracks?
D: We wanted to choose 3 songs from each album as well as including 3 new songs to freshen things up & somehow compile a selection that worked as a stand alone album that flowed nicely & represented the last decade. It was quite easy for us to choose between the 4 of us & I think we captured the most variation in every way. We didn’t just want to put the highest charting singles as we wanted something that was personal to us as a band. There will probably be a few debates that we’ve chosen poorly but this is our baby, it’s like a tattoo, for us it’s there for life & I think listeners can tell when a band truly believes in something as opposed to putting something out for the wrong reasons.
L4e: What were you going for with the three new songs? A continuation of “Herald Moth” or something new?
D: These were tracks that were intended for the 5th album but I suddenly decided I wanted to go in a completely different direction for that which made these tunes perfect to sum up how much we’ve grown sonically since InMe’s creation. They’re very personal songs to me lyrically & 2 of them are probably the most brutal songs we’ve ever laid down. I’d say they have a very different groove to Herald Moth which helps Phoenix stand alone & give the listener even more to chew on.
L4e: Some say the greatest hits, or in your case the best of album is an early sign of a band entering the late stage in it’s life. Can we see InMe being around for a long time to come?
D: It feels crazy to me that we’re releasing a ‘Best Of’ album when I’m still only 27 but we started very early! I personally feel like this is the best line-up & the most comfortable we’ve ever felt as a band & this album is merely the beginning of many more offerings. We’ve all been to hell & back for this band but we believe in it so much & always want to progress & keep doing what we love. I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than music in my life, it has always been my dream. I may not be jumping around onstage to ‘Underdose’ when I’m 50 but as blunt & morbid as it sounds, it’s safe to say only death would stop me continuing this journey.
L4e: You’re marking the album’s release with four back-to-back dates at London’s Relentless Garage. Was there any significance in choosing this venue? How are you anticipating the gigs and especially playing each album in full?
D: We have played there many times at different points in our career & they refurbished everything a year or so ago & it’s the best it’s ever been. It’s one huge room where everyone will be together in the same place to connect & get lost in the moment. We’re really excited about playing every single song although we have to knuckle down & remember a lot of lyrics etc! The interesting part for us will be re-inventing songs to make them more challenging for us to play but also more fun in a live setting. We don’t want to simply play the album back to back without lots of surprises in there. I am confident that we’ll sell them all out judging on early sales so get involved people!
L4e: Ben was the most short-lived member the band has had. What was it that caused his exit so soon? Do you think the band now has a stable line-up that will last a long time?
D: Ben is a great guy with a lot of talent but he simply didn’t fit in. He had completely different agendas to us & couldn’t commit to the level we require & this became clear to us very early on. Gazz has always been passionate about InMe & is willing to sacrifice everything for the cause. A band needs to be a strong unit & this is the strongest we’ve ever been.
L4e: Finally, what’s next for InMe following the best of dates?
D: We’ll be attempting to make the best album we’ve ever made & continuing sharing our music around the world! I’ve also got my debut solo album coming out in February which will hopefully keep me even busier!
You can buy tickets from InMe’s upcoming tour here.