If their name doesn’t make it clear enough, Fort Hope want to be a force for good. They want their music to be a powerful source of positivity. And yes, they want to inspire a sense of hope in everyone who listens to them. That’s been their mission since forming in 2013. In that short amount of time, the Hertfordshire-based trio – Jon Gaskin (vocals, guitar and piano), Jamie Nicholls (drums) and Simon Rowlands (bass) – have toured with Mallory Knox, Moose Blood, My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero and Jimmy Eat World, were nominated for ‘Best British Newcomer’ at last year’s Relentless Kerrang! Awards and played the Pit Stage at Reading and Leeds Festival. Previous single ‘Plans’ was also Radio 1’s ‘Track Of The Day.’ With new EP Manne Of Lawe, the Hertfordshire-based trio have made their most confident and hopeful set of songs to date. They’re very much in keeping with the string of EPs that they’ve previously released, but at the same time they also mark a very conscious evolution and of sound and ideas.
“I know it’s a cliché to use the word ‘mature’,” says Rowlands, “but over the past year or so I definitely think we’ve matured in the way we write. It’s more from the heart than our previous EPs, and that makes this a real defining EP for us.”
“The three of us are best mates who are inseparable when we’re together,” explains Gaskin. “This is what we all want. We have this common goal that we can’t really shake because we’ve had to bail each other out of so much shit. We’ve got this bond that you can’t break!”
That bond has been there for years – the three of them have been playing together for over a decade, but with Fort Hope, their drive is now more focused than ever before. That’s clear from listening to their heart-wrenching, highly emotive music, which strives to break boundaries and straddle genres. As such, Fort Hope are incredibly versatile songwriters – they take each track one at a time, and so their songs can be anthemic, they can be heavy and they can be fragile and graceful.
“We look at everything we’ve got,” explains Gaskin, “we just get stuck into each track to try to make it as beautiful as we can without concerning ourselves with what other people think. We love the contrast because it shows the different levels of the band.”
“When you work on one song at a time,” says Nicholls, “you want to better the last song you did, whereas if you’re working on a group of songs they all become very similar.”
“We realized how important it was to do that for the respect you need to give each song,” finishes Rowlands. “Each song takes us back to the exact moment and time and the exact feeling we had when we were standing around working out and writing it. And that’s really special to us.”
While each song is specific to a moment and has its own distinct sound, Fort Hope’s songs are bound by that all-important desire to inspire people with a positive attitude. That’s something which makes their songs so much more than just, well, songs.
“For us,” says Gaskin, “it’s just about us being able to do music with each other. And not be creepy, but we want to do that forever, until we’re dead. Our music gets us out of feeling down, and we hope that it can have that effect on other people. That’s why we want that positivity to come through in our music – the main reason for us writing songs is the hope that it can actually help people.”
“And you can see it at our live shows, too,” says Rowlands, “when the whole room is singing songs back to you. You can see the effect it has on people.”
“It breaks your heart when that happens,” says Nicholls. “It breaks your heart and blows your mind.”