Interview: Lizzie Parry of Sertraline

SertralineYorkshire/Manchester based progressive tech metallers Sertraline are gearing up for the release of their new EP – ‘Clouded Minds & Silver Lines’, which will be released on the 15th of May 2020. Frontwoman Lizzie Parry talks us through the background of the EP and what fans can expect from it, as well as talking about how much the band has evolved in the last year or so.

How are you handling lockdown?

It’s not too bad, to be honest. I’m isolating with my boyfriend and we’ve not killed each other yet, so that’s good! In terms of the band, we’re all isolating at different houses and making the most of the time by writing at home, on our own, as well as working on promoting all the stuff that we’ve got going on.

That would be the forthcoming new EP ‘Clouded Minds and Silver Lines’ then? It was funded using Kickstarter. It must be pretty humbling that the target was reached with plenty of time to spare?

Honestly, we were really blown away. All we wanted was to cover the cost of the physical CDs and the merchandise, because we had already put up a lot of money for the recording of the EP, and all the things that go with it like music videos. We wanted to cover the parts that our fans will receive, the things that they can get their hands on. We thought that, especially at this time, that we wouldn’t hit our target, but the fact that we’ve had so much support and so many people are interested in the new stuff, we can’t thank everybody enough to be honest.

‘Inside Out’ was the first single released from the EP. What’s going through your mind in the run up to the first release of new music? Are you hyped for people to hear it, or are you nervous… or both?

Yeah, a bit of both really, especially with the first single, as it’s the first taste of the new record, and the new direction and everything. There’s always a little bit of nerves there, as you want it to live up to people’s expectations. We were confident that it’s the best song that we’ve done to date, so we just hoped that people got it and they could see where we were going with it. It has been our most successful release to date, and we’re really chuffed.

What was it about ‘Inside Out’ that made you pick it as the first single, as well as the opening track on the EP?

I don’t know, if I’m honest! It felt like it was the one that you could sing along to the most, but it still had a lot of technical ability. It had the savage screams in it as well. So I think that we chose it as it showcases a bit of everything that’s coming up on the EP. It’s quite a nice little way to start everything off. I think that we’re maybe going to have it as the opening to our live set as well.

You’ve just announced on social media that ‘Isolation’ will be the next single. How many people have pointed out the uncanny timing of this particular one?

Oh God, I couldn’t believe it! When we realised… well, you’ve just got to laugh!

No choice but to laugh at the minute! Back to the EP, what way do you feel that the band has progressed in the last year or so?

Well we’ve definitely developed more and more on the technical side, like the riffs. I feel that personally, as a vocalist, my harsh vocals have got a lot stronger, and this is also the first EP that we’ve written with the current line-up as a whole. When we wrote the last EP, we didn’t have a drummer, so since then we’ve got Si in, and he’s also had some input on this EP, so we’ve gone down a more technical route and we’ve enjoyed it.

You mentioned your harsh vocals. How do you look after your voice when you are performing harsh vocals?

I think, to be honest, the main thing is that you learn how to do it with the proper techniques. If you had told me five years ago that I’d be able to do it, then I wouldn’t have believed you. At that time, I didn’t think that it was possible, but I got a DVD called ‘The Zen Of Screaming’ by an American vocal coach Melissa Cross. She’s trained loads of big names, and she literally just goes into it in so much detail, even putting a camera down someone’s throat to show you the anatomy! I think, as long as you understand it, and you know your voice has a muscle, and you know it really well, then you can tell when it’s right and when it’s not. In terms of care, it’s literally just the basics like sleep, don’t drink too much when you’re out on tour, and give it enough rest in between gigs. Touch wood, but so far it’s all seemed to work for me.

I’ve seen something similar with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, where they put a camera down his throat when he was singing. Horrible to watch, but really fascinating!

Oh cool! Yeah the voice is a really interesting instrument.

It is, yes. Now, even though there are some harsh vocals on the EP, there are some massive hooks on it. ‘Screaming For Sleep’, for instance, has some major hooks.

We just thought that it was important to appeal to almost a metalcore style audience, and we all enjoy having a singalong, so it appeals to a wide range of people.

When you’re in the studio, hearing the EP playback for the first time, what was the moment that made your hair stand on end?

There’s a song, the third track, and it’s called ‘2205’. The lyrical theme of it is about the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, because I was actually there that night. I wanted to write a song about it, and I didn’t want it to be forced or anything. I wanted it to be the right time and it to come naturally. So hearing that all come together was very emotional.

I wasn’t aware that was the significance of the song title. That was a horrific event that still shocks to this day. Watching the news breaking, it seemed like a nightmare.

It’s by far been the worst experience of my life. My boyfriend was with me, and we were lucky. The EP is meant to be a positive as a whole, and the song ‘2205’… well, you can’t put a positive spin on it. You’ve got to come out the other side, and that’s what the song is about. It’s a way of dealing with it really, and music helps people deal with a lot of life experiences like this.

SertralineWho designed the cover art for the EP? It’s stunning.

Oh cool, I’m glad that you like it. It’s the first time that we outsourced the artwork, as we’ve always tried to save money and do it in-house. It’s a guy called Aaron Finch Designs. He worked with us on all the artwork for the EP, and it turned out really well. We’re really happy with it.

The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent. In what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?

Well, that’s the problem now, especially since no-one can gig. The focus is all online, and it’s so crowded, I think, but, like you said, everyone is so talented, and you discover new bands online. If you are appealing to more visual people then having interesting music videos is important. You spend so much time scrolling through Facebook and YouTube, getting videos recommended to you, so if you see a screenshot that looks interesting, then you are more likely to click on it. Also, having something important to say, because if you feel like the band is talking then you get more of a personal relationship with the band, and you are more likely to invest in the band. I feel that some bands are managed by whoever, and they let management run their social media. It can come across as quite generic sometimes. I think it’s really nice when a band runs their own social media pages, as you get a bit of their personality through it.

Going back to 2018, the band won their regional heat for Metal 2 The Masses and played at Bloodstock. That must have been an incredible boost to the band?

It was yes. To be honest, that was the start of the momentum that we’ve had over the last few years. We had entered M2TM before in 2015, I think it was, and we were only seven months or so into being a band. We were quite inexperienced at the time. We went into the 2018 competition with a proper determined mindset, where anything less than winning wasn’t going to be good enough. You meet so many people on the way, and everyone is really nice. You make good connections with other bands, and it was just an amazing experience, and then to win it was like the cherry on top of the cake.

With the advent of online gigs from people’s living rooms, etc, there has been a glut of cover versions. That means the inevitable flurry of “that one should never be covered” comments. Who shouldn’t you cover, or what tracks should never be covered?

Oh God, I don’t know! I feel like there are a lot of things that you shouldn’t cover like karaoke classics, like ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ by Whitney. Those should be kept for karaoke. Even if you try and reinvent it in a different style. you’re still not going to come close to the original, so I’ll say ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ by Whitney Houston! I’m definitely guilty of this one on karaoke, but keep it tthere!

What’s an issue today that you feel particularly strong about?

Mental health would be a big one, because the upcoming EP is all about staying positive and getting through the tough times. I think that it’s great that people are more open about talking about mental health, and there’s a lot more awareness about it. A close family member of mine suffers from anxiety, and it’s awful to watch someone close to you going through that kind of thing. We hope that our music will help people get through difficult times. People have actually said that helped. There’s a lad that comes to a lot of our shows, he has a few Sertraline themed tattoos, and he has said that our music has helped him and that’s really nice to hear. If people accept the mindset of being kinder, then slowly but surely, things will improve. It’s like when Caroline Flack committed suicide, and there was the whole #bekind going around. Within a couple of days of that, you could go on any post on any online platform and there’s negative comments. I just feel that we are never going to live in a world where everyone is nice to each other, but as long as we all do our bit, and hopefully after this, then everyone will have a newfound appreciation for life. You can only hope, and do your bit. If you do your bit, it’s a start.


‘Clouded Minds & Silver Lines’ is set to be released on May 15th, more information here.

Band image on header – Emma Stone

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