Words by Jon Garcia
When talking to vocalist Charlie Rolfe and guitarist Adam Kerr of As Everything Unfolds, it’s clear the band are still absorbing the journey they’ve been on in the last two years with equal parts giddiness and disbelief.
As they prepare to release their sophomore album Ultraviolet (April 21st via Long Branch Records) the British rockers are reveling in the growth and maturity they’ve shown since breaking onto the scene, while also questioning how the hell it even happened in the first place.
“It’s all been a bit of a blur,” Rolfe said. “I mean in the back of your mind you’re always: ‘It’d be really cool if my band did well,’ but I don’t think we ever anticipated that we’d be playing shows with our favorite bands, playing massive festivals. You know, they’re kind of like a pipe dream, but for them to actually be happening is quite surreal.”
“Mate, I feel like I blinked,” Kerr said. “I still think we’re in my parent’s front room. It happened so quickly.”
‘It still doesn’t feel real’
When lockdown hit the United Kingdom in 2020, As Everything Unfolds had just finished recording what would be their 2021 debut, Within Each Lies the Other. At their last show before the pandemic they played to 20 people.
The next time they hit the stage was Day 2 of the 10,000 capacity Download Pilot, playing alongside the likes of Conjurer, Bleed from Within, Creeper and Enter Shikari. The album, coupled with a string of well-received singles and a savvy online presence, catapulted them into rising star territory, capped off by a nomination for “Best Breakthrough Live Artist” at the 2023 Heavy Music Awards. Their genre-defying blend of hard rock, alternative, metal and hardcore has resonated with audiences across the globe.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” Kerr said. Even more bluntly, “It doesn’t feel like we’ve worked for it.”
“Yeah, it was weird,” Rolfe agreed. “It kind of all happened at the right time for us. We all basically agreed … if that album had not done that well, I think we were all gonna be just like, ‘Eh, it was fun but let’s properly call it a day.’ So it just all seemed to happen at the right time. The label came along and then our management came along and kind of just started building up.”
They did work for it, though. They released an EP in 2018. They paid to record Within Each Lies the Other themselves. They wrote massively successful songs in “Hiding from Myself” and “On the Inside,” the latter an earworm so gargantuan it just passed 4 million listens on Spotify alone. They hit the road and toured everywhere and anywhere they could.
They even secured legal permission from the UK government to film their music videos during lockdown, on the grounds they were contractually obligated to have them done by a certain time.
“I’m sure it would have been fine
Not only did it allow them to get their music out when a lot of bands weren’t able to, Rolfe said it also gave them space to grow as a band, something that was integral to the process of Ultraviolet.
Because even though they’ve come such a long way in a short time, they’re just getting started.
Honing the writing process for album two
Rolfe knows it’s cliché to say a band’s new album is “more mature” than the previous one. But in the case of As Everything Unfolds, the growth they’ve been through between albums is integral to how the songs became what they are. The band is keenly self-aware of what they did right on the debut and where they went wrong.
“We were a bit of a loose cannon on the first album,” Rolfe admits. “It was a bit all over the place. We were writing songs, but it didn’t really feel like they gelled together. The tracklist was… I remember Adam, you spent like weeks trying to make the tracklist work.”
Kerr shook his head with visible frustration.
“I still don’t think it was good in the end, anyway.”
“No, it wasn’t, and we’re fully aware of that and this time around we wrote an album to be an album. We wrote a beginning song. We wrote an ending song. We wrote the little interlude in the middle. It feels more purposeful, I think, this time around. It felt like we kind of knew what we were doing that little bit more.”
It started early in the writing process with deciding on the theme, which Rolfe unveiled to the band through a Power Point presentation. Combining her passions of music and photography, Ultraviolet is a nod to the invisible spectrum of light you have to expose for in order to come away with color photographs. It gave them a visual idea to work with through the process and even colored – pun intended – how some of the songs came out.
Kerr said the loose cannon nature of Within Each Lies the Other was more for the sake of being weird and eschewing traditional song structures. On Ultraviolet, they spent more time crafting, working on choruses, and making sure the ideas were serving the songs. They figured out most of what they wanted to do in pre-production so they knew exactly what to tackle when hitting the studio.
“What’s supposed to happen, that’s supposed to happen, rather than it’s weird!” Kerr said.
They used “On the Inside” as a sort of baseline. Something they could springboard ideas and formulate new songs.
“Obviously we didn’t just write that song over and over again,” Rolfe said. “But it gave us something to be like, people like that for a reason, let’s figure out what that reason is and kind of stick to that.”
‘We shouldn’t be as heavy as we are’
Sticking to your strengths is not a bad strategy to have, even though Kerr jokes the song could put them in one-hit wonder territory. But he genuinely feels the quality of the 11 tracks on Ultraviolet is far and above what they’ve done in the past.
As avid listeners of all genres of music, they’ve grown accustomed to writing what sounds good, rather than what fits them in a certain box. Whether that’s the groovy guitar riffs or tasteful breakdowns Kerr writes, how synth player and producer Jon Cassidy textures the songs, or Rolfe’s dynamic delivery that can switch from powerful screams to a blend reminiscent of Amy Lee and Becca Macintyre.
“We’re a weird band, because we shouldn’t be as heavy as we are considering the music we actually listen to in our day-to-day lives,” Rolfe said.
Of course, that doesn’t stop people from trying to put the band in a box, something Rolfe wishes people would spend less time and energy on.
“I just want people to enjoy Ultraviolet> and not put a label on it. I think I’m just so done with the genre thing and the sub genre-ing and all that. We don’t call ourselves anything. We are just As Everything Unfolds. We don’t care. Just enjoy it. It’s just rock. Enjoy the rock album! Who gives a fuck whether it’s alt-metal or post-hardcore or whatever the fuck it is. Enjoy it!” she said with a laugh.
As for what happens next, in addition to European festivals in the summer and 2000 Trees in the UK, the band are eyeing their two headline shows in Manchester and London in September. After never getting to do a proper tour for their debut album, they are directing all their energy into making those shows the best they’ve ever done, hopefully with cannons.
“This is now our opportunity to have some fun and genuinely give a headline show to our fanbase who basically never get headline shows off us,” Rolfe said. “Adam’s doing his research about the confetti cannons, don’t you worry!”
Ultraviolet from As Everything Unfolds is now available via Long branch Records. Get the album - HERE