In our next Band Spotlight, we chat to Jimmy Wizard, vocalist for West Yorkshire hardcore standouts, Higher Power about lockdown life, staying motivated and more.
What have you been up to during lockdown?
I’m just trying to think positively, it’s rare that you get this much time at home usually, I’ve just been trying to create things and continuing to write music, you’ve just gotta stay motivated.
There’s been quite a good vibe surrounding the band recently and sadly this has put a bit of a halt on that, what are you most looking forward to about lockdown finishing? What are your plans?
It all just depends on what tours can be rescheduled for when and what can be redone, we were really looking forward to the Slipknot cruise but sadly that won’t be happening. We were really looking forward to a headline tour as well, we’d just started finding a headline tour for the end of the year in the UK so that’s probably gonna be the first thing we do.
A headline tour is definitely the plan, hopefully we can play some cool venues and that will be a nice release for us all.
With regards to missed opportunities, it might take longer than you think but hopefully they should resurface again
Yeah, I mean this all our lives now none of us are really in jobs anymore so as soon as we can we are getting back out there and we can build it back up. It’s been five years of touring and being broke and doing jobs in between and it finally felt like the point where we thought we can finally tour and go home and pay our rent and not worry about food and stuff like that.
We can finally use all of our time to do what we need to do for the band and its finally got to that level and everything has been cut off but we have to keep going. There’s nothing else we can really do at this point.
I’ve moved back to Hull recently to work on a programme with young musicians from disadvantaged families and a few of the guys there said they were fans of the band, obviously with touring the US and getting a lot of attention from fans, what advice would you give these musicians who are looking to do what you guys have done?
Where I’m from in Aylesbury it just feels like the middle of nowhere and doing stuff like this just seemed so out of reach to me. It used to take me an hour to travel into London, I was sleeping in train stations because all I wanted to do was music there was nothing for me back where I was.
I would rather sleep on the streets and I was lucky to meet more mates as I went to more shows so they put me up but that was better to me than what I had back home. The advice I would give people because I’ve had to deal with it is that if you really want it you will get it as you will be so determined to whatever it takes to get there.
I was a 16-year-old kid, I had no money, I went to college the closest I could to a tube station so I could get a free railcard. If this is what you want to happen, it’ll just happen naturally, I put myself out there, I was always going to as many shows as I could in London.
I spent my money on going to shows rather than eating and I’d steal food and I’m not telling people to do that but if you get out there and put yourself in those positions, and if you’re hungry enough you’ll get there.
Make connections with people, make friends and you’re gonna have to make sacrifices, where there’s a will, there’s a way, always. I was lucky enough that I could move to Leeds, get a house and get a job and now I can play in my band, I feel like I couldn’t do that in London so I was very lucky.
What is your attitude to success? You’ve been grafting for a long time, you’re touring all over the place and getting a lot of plaudits, how has it changed from when you were younger and trying to make it in bands to how you are now?
When you’re younger and in a band, you’re a bit naïve and you instantly think you’re gonna tour the world and you give up any form of normal life. You’re going on tour, you’re making no money, you’re just trying to survive and you’re not seeing your friends or anything.
My definition of success is to just be happy with what I’m doing. I’ve never really wanted to do anything else so my definition of success is getting by and being able to make music.
For me, a real turning point is when we were recording in this village in Bristol and spent a month recording in one of the best studios in the world and we won’t get that opportunity again. I’m just happy playing music and getting by, man.
I have that freedom now, I’ve worked at Next and I’ve worked on building sites and also as a tattoist but now when I’m not on tour I don’t have to get up and go somewhere to do something that I really don’t want to do just to pay my rent.
Now I can decide to write songs, I can even decide to sit with an acoustic guitar and try and figure ‘No Woman No Cry’ out and we are never gonna use or cover that but I like having the time to play music. It’s good to figure out and learn and keep progressing in different areas, so for me, success is the freedom you have.
I was in a position before where I could have bought trainers all the time and or a ‘gold tooth’ but I don’t want any of that, that isn’t what brings me the joy, it doesn’t connect me to anyone or anything. Since creating Higher Power and going back to the bottom and having nothing, you realise you are so much happier just having spare time and it’s so much better, I just wanna always focus on getting better at what I’m doing.
Without any distractions, my life has become so much more productive and so much better. To me success is freedom and time, it’s not about money or social acceptance.
What was your mission statement when writing ’27 Miles’ and what did you wanna achieve?
I just wanted to try new things like I do with every record, like the acoustic song ‘In The Meantime’, none of us had ever made an acoustic song before but I wanted to try that.
We could never write another record and be in this position, so we wanted to try an acoustic song because it’s something new, we’re learning something every time. From the music side of things, I just wanted to make completely new progressive ideas to what I’d done before.
We’d wrote a lot of songs that sound like they could have gone on ‘Soul Structure’ and they’re good songs but they weren’t new and it didn’t feel like enough of a progression. It was for the progression of the band, especially for Ethan playing bass, his mission was to be in the room and write bass riffs and everyone felt more connected, so that’s another side of it. We were all there and just wanted to play music, we’re all contributing in our own way and listening to each other.
My main aim personally was to be able to go in a practice room and just be able to sing without worrying who’s playing what or having to play anything myself. We just wanna play music and better ourselves in every single way from ‘Soul Structure’, that was a practice run and it taught us everything not to do this time.
There was no second opinion as we weren’t all recording together, it was all just pieced together whereas with this one you can tell we recorded together, it doesn’t sound like three different songs.
How do you feel you’ve personally changed and developed over the last few years? How do you feel the music that you’ve made has changed you as a person?
On a skillset level, my main aim is always to become a more consistent singer and that’s all I really care about at the moment. I’m not a natural and I never was, I never thought I’d be a singer in a band, after our shows I want people to go away and think I was really good and worth their time.
To do that I need to look after my body though and keep in shape, being in this band and trying to be a better person has forced me to look at my lifestyle decisions, it’s good to get out and keep away from distractions. Eating loads of junk food and takeaways affects your voice, it gives you acid reflux so I wanna get in a good routine. They need to teach young aspiring musicians the importance of living a good lifestyle, I wish I had this knowledge when I was in school. I’m here now and all I can try and do is be progressive and open people’s eyes to all of that.