Nottingham tech-metal heavyweights The Five Hundred head out on the road at the end of this month with fellow UK bruisers Shvpes so, ahead of the dates, we chatted with guitarist Mark Byrne who told us about some of their more interesting experiences on the road.
Favourite Town or City to play in? Mark Byrne: Moscow is probably our all time favourite. I don’t know what it is about fans in Eastern Europe, but they just seem up for it every single time there’s a show on. It’s like....
“Hey, there’s a metal gig on tonight. You wanna go?”
“Fuck knows. It’s a metal show. Let’s go and get wild.”
When we played there with Carnifex they just blew the roof of the place. There was a circle pit starting before we even played the first note. Kids jumping off the balcony into the crowd below. Absolute mayhem.
Favourite Venue to play? Byrne:Rock City will always feel like home for us, so it’s gotta be there. The sound is huge. The crowd is always phenomenal. We always pack out the place. The staff treat us like family. They always have amazing beer in the fridge, and they (finally) replaced that floor that everybody always got stuck to cos it’s covered in 30+ years of booze, sweat and filth. You can’t beat the place. It is hands down the best rock club in the UK and I’ll fight anybody who disagrees with me.
See what all the fuss is about with the video for “Smoke & Mirrors”.
Least favourite gig to date? Byrne: We once drove 4 hours to play in a strip bar in Wycombe and there was like 2 old dudes and a dog there. Even the strippers weren’t much fun. We played half an hour, packed our shit, and drove home. Grim.
Craziest thing that has happened to you while you’ve been touring? Byrne: All the craziest stories come out of Russia for some reason. One time were rushing to drive from Tallinn, Estonia, to St Petersburg, Russia, and were cutting it fine. We got held up at the border and they didn’t like the look of us. This tall, blonde, super hot Russian border guard walked up to us slowly with a face that just said “Don’t you dare fuck with me, you scruffy British boys” and a dog that looked like he hadn’t been fed in days and wanted a piece of us. She got us out of the vehicle and pulled all our gear out the back, asking us to empty all our bags, crates, and even take the back off the speaker cabs, searching everything with a flashlight for what seemed like hours.
They lined us up against a wall and searched us all. Then we had to go in to some interrogation room one by one to show our passports and they asked us the same questions over and over again. It felt like something out of Midnight Express. Once they saw we had nothing they could pin on us they said that we couldn’t cross the border until that afternoon, which meant we would miss the show we were due to play in St Petersburg. In the end, our driver (who thankfully spoke Russian) said we’d have to cough something up so they would let us through. We had no cash on us, in any currency, so we just offered them a load of merch. They just asked for CDs and Tees in a small size, so I guess there’s a few kids in Russia running around now in The Five Hundred tees, not knowing what the fuck it means.
Favourite song to play live? Byrne: “Smoke & Mirrors” because it’s the one that most people recognise, and everybody always gets worked up for it.
Check out this track from The Five Hundred, it’ll give you “The Rush”.
What do you bring in your backpack when you head out on tour? Byrne: Loads of painkillers, sleeping pills, and earplugs cos John won’t shut the fuck up and let anyone sleep.
What do you remember about you first gig as The Five Hundred? Byrne: It was in London at The Intrepid Fox (RIP). We knew we had to bring our A-game because there were a few label peeps and other industry types in the crowd who had come to check us out. I think it was supporting MetaStasis and Voices. Absolute blinder of a night!
What are you most excited about for your upcoming tour? Byrne: Playing with SHVPES every night will be awesome. They are such a great band, and I’m sure every venue will be tight as fuck.
What festival experiences do you have as a band and/or a punter? Byrne: Our favourite festivals are probably Euroblast (something about German fans, they just kick ass), Tech Fest and MacMillan Fest. Next ones on our list are Download (obviously) and HellFest.
What are your touring plans for the rest of 2019? Byrne: The tour with SHVPES starts on the 30th of January.
30 Jan - Red Room, Nottingham
31 Jan - Boston Music Room, London
01 Feb - Joiners, Southampton
02 Feb - Star & Garter, Manchester
04 Feb - King Tut's, Glasgow
05 Feb - Key Club, Leeds
06 Feb - The Sugarmill, Stoke
07 Feb - Vintage Bar, Doncaster
We’re doing another European/UK tour in April too that we can’t wait to announce. Then before we know it, it’s festival season again. We are meant to be writing another album during all of this too, so fuck knows how we are gonna fit it all in.