EMPIRE are five-piece rock band with some pretty big boots to fill. Taking their inspiration from such giants as Arcane Roots and Coheed & Cambria, these guys are sure to raise the expectations of prog, rock and metal fans alike. Luckily, they meet these expectations and then some. EMPIRE are busy this couple of months, taking their place at Camden Rocks festival on London on 3rdth June before their Chester Live appearance later on. Polishing and refining their sound as they go, their next album (which will be under way soon) is set to be absolutely tight. Their short album ‘Where the World Begins’ in 2013 was released to critical acclaim, and the production quality behind their music videos speaks volumes about the effort that these guys put into their work. You can expect powerful Billy Talent-esque vocals alongside their sharp riffs and cloud-pleasing sound.

We caught up with the incredibly friendly EMPIRE guitarist James L’Esteve to see what the fuss is about!

Hi James! What have you and the rest of the guys in EMPIRE been up to recently?

Lots actually! We’ve mainly been writing for the album and that’s kind of been an on-going process, but this year particularly we’ve kind of sharpened all of that and said, “Okay, let’s go and get it done now”. So we’re in the studio in a couple weeks’ time. Along the way we’ve done a couple of headline tours this year and on top of that we’ve got a few festivals this summer which we’re keeping our eye on!

Any of this new material appearing at Chester Live?

Yeah, I would have thought so! We’re playing a couple of shows of the run-up to the studio to road-test a few things because you don’t really get the full impression from the demos you create yourself. It’s your song; it’s your baby, so you think it’s good, obviously, because you made it! So we want to take it to a live thing to see what reaction it gets. So definitely there’ll be a few jams at Chester Live.

You’re going to be performing at Chester’s St. Werburgh centre – have you played there before?

No, we’ve been in Chester once and it was in a place called the Live Rooms. And we actually had a really good time. So when Chester Live popped up we were like “yeah, cool!” So I know nothing about the venue or what type of place it is, but what I do know is that last time we were in Chester we had a great time so we wanted to come back.

Where do your gigs tend to take place?

Everywhere. We have our favourite places, if you like, but nowhere is off limits. We’re doing a couple of gigs on the run-up to the festival to sharpen us in and they’re in two places we’ve not been before. So we like to get around to everyone and pick up on different things and different places and meet different people.

Any plans for a tour?

We kind of toured a bit this year but I’m hoping for something a bit bigger come October time. And that’s going to kind of be, again, everywhere. It’s just kind of to tee off the end of the year while we finish the album, really.

Are there any bands you’re looking forward to sharing the stage with?

I’m sure they’ll all be incredible. I know some other bands who are playing across the weekend but we always look forward to seeing who we’re playing with and we’ve got such a wide music taste between all of us that we kind of always find something cool we might like. I’ll definitely have a listen and check it out, I just haven’t got round to it yet!

What kind of energy are you guys going to try and bring?

Everything. You know, it’s a Friday night, it’s the weekend, so we always encourage everyone to have a great time, have a few drinks and have a few laughs. It’s always energetic at an EMPIRE show. And it always kind of ends or has something sporadic throughout it. It changes every single time. So yeah, it’ll be energetic I’m sure. There’ll be dips and troughs throughout the set but we like to just kind of go for it when we get there.

Are we talking dancing? Mosh pits?

Do you know what? It’s a funny thing, moshing. Even though some people would class us as a ‘heavier band’ or whatever, we’re not really a mosh-y band, I would say. We prefer people to dance. If people wanna jump up and down and do what they want, express yourself, you know, it’s cool! But we like to think that our music’s  got a hip-shaking vibe to it. So people should dance. It’s a nicer thing to do!

But you wouldn’t discourage it?

No, this is the thing. You don’t want to discourage people from something that they have fun doing, you know? But at the same time, just from my own experiences, I’d much rather be dancing than bumping into someone, but each to their own!

What would you say to get the audience hyped up for EMPIRE’s performance?

Come down to enjoy yourself, have a few drinks and have a few laughs, listen to some good music and watch a good performance!

Empire headline the St Werburgh Centre on Friday 23rd June 2017 as part of Chester Live 2017.

Tickets are available from www.chesterlive.co.uk.