With their strong sense of style and image, infectious tracks that pack a punch as they twirl you onto the dance floor, My Passion are certainly a force to be reckoned with. Formed in Hitchin, Hertfordshire in 2006, the band have toured relentlessly, supporting such acts as InnerPartySystem, Jeffree Starr and Kill Hannah whilst steadily making a name for themselves and gaining a legion of devoted fans along the way. With their debut album, ‘Corporate Flesh Party’ released in the summer, their support has only grown and with a Kerrang! nomination to their name along with a spot on next year’s Kerrang! Tour, it’s safe to say My Passion is only going to get bigger.

Unsurprisingly on yet another UK tour, My Passion’s Laurence Rene took the time to answer Room Thirteen’s questions, revealing details of their next album, what it was really like playing the Download Festival and just why he ended up at an illegal rave when he was a kid…

R13: For those who’ve been living under a rock the past few months, can you tell us a little about My Passion, who you are, how you came to be a band etc?
Laurence Rene: Why hello! My Passion is made up of me (Laurence René) vocals and guitar, Jonathan Gaskin on drums, vocals and sequencers, Simon Rowlands on bass and John Be on guitar. We had been friends together from early on as teens when we discovered things like guitars and synthesizers and how to use these lungs within us. We've always had this strange shared ambition to achieve great things, stand out from a crowd, and entertain those that watch us and to do this for our own welfare and sanity at the same time. My Passion is that belief, passion and excitement at being able to live out your dreams put into a musical riot.

R13: You’ve had a very successful, if somewhat hectic year having toured relentlessly, released your debut album, played the Download Festival, been nominated for a Kerrang! Award as well recently being added to next year’s Kerrang! Tour. With so much happening this year what has been the real highlight?
LR: I think every month has it's own highlight. It is just an amazing feeling ticking off the things you always wished you'd be able to do someday and all in such a short space of time! It's taken a lot of work up till now but this year really has been the highlight so far and has thrown My Passion into the wider consciousness. The recognition of the Kerrang! Awards, the thrill of playing Download and the opportunities of next years Kerrang! Tour has been all the kind of things we'd imagined and dreamed of for My Passion. We've always been a driven bunch of guys who want to work hard and achieve these kinds of things with this band, each time we do something great I’m always planning the next thing we could do, how we can improve, what we can build on and how we move forward; its exciting and non stop.

R13: For many bands playing Download is often seen as quite a daunting prospect, especially with the tales of bottling that go hand in hand with the festival. Were you at all worried about playing?
LR: I think if you worry about that then you aren't passionate enough about what you are doing. If you love something enough nothing will stop you from doing those things that you've always dreamed about especially when it is just a minority who choose to act like that. I think we're always a target for that kind of reaction because of the look that we have and the performance that we have in reaction to what we are playing, unbelievably some people still struggle to get their heads round anything that isn't quite the standard sound or look but I think that will always be the way for a band like My Passion that is offering a bit of an alternative. If people lose their inhibitions and preconceived ideas at a show they often find themselves enjoying themselves a lot more. Ultimately it's an exciting position to be in playing in front of fans as well as people who you have to work to win over.

R13: Obviously it was a few months ago now, but how was the performance for you? Going by the numbers in the tent that day and the reception you received there were certainly a lot of My Passion support at Donington.
LR: We loved every minute of it and we captured a snapshot of the day in our minds and that will stick with us forever. It really felt like My Passion was ready for this kind of festival on this kind of stage and we felt so at ease. The turnout was more than we could have asked for especially with the strong line up on that day and competing against worldwide acts when we are a new UK band. Download is primarily a metal festival so for a crossover band like ourselves to go down really well felt really important and I think says a lot about the mindset of music fans at that festival. We can't wait for next time!

R13: Do you prefer to play to a crowd that know you and are fully supporting everything you do or is there something in the challenge of trying to win over new fans that appeal more?
LR: We're currently on out own headline tour in the UK and loving every minute of it. There is something really special about playing your own shows across the country and seeing different faces coming out to see you. After so much touring it is brilliant to see it grow and to show that all of that ground work has really helped the band become what it is today. Many of those fans have followed and supported My Passion from early on in their local towns and now we're finding even more new faces appearing to see what My Passion is about in the live arena. Saying that, we love a challenge and playing in front of new people who are potential fans is an exciting prospect and something we can't wait for on the Kerrang! Tour!

R13: What’s been the most memorable thing to happen to you on stage, be it something amazing or completely embarrassing?
LR: Playing over 500 shows in the last 3- 4 years has meant there's been quite a few of those “moments” haha. On tour with InnerPartySystem in Brighton the roof kind of caved in as I hung from a lighting rig. Once in Derby we had a complete blackout with out lightshow and had to play without seeing the audience or the audience seeing us for a few songs, a little like blind date... We had a famous moment in sunny Weston-Super-Mare where our sequencers got a bug and went at triple speed for our last song it meant My Passion, for one song only, became a rap rock speed core act and it really was as wonderful as it sounds!

R13: You have a very strong, clear image that makes your band easily recognisable. Is this (image) something that you feel goes hand in hand with music?
LR: I've always wanted to be entertained by the bands that I have seen live and those I have listened to from Elvis and Fred Astaire to modern bands like Slipknot and Muse. That's always the scale we've had in mind for My Passion, we want to take it to a place that few bands go and we don't want any restrictions on what we sound like or look like. I want people to be thrilled and inspired when they see our band just like I was when I saw my favourite bands as a youngster. We've always wanted to make the most of what we have got and to be the best we can be, that includes the strong visual look, performance, music and stretches to the merchandise and down to the way we live our lives and run My Passion. It's what we love and enjoy but it's also what we were meant to do and what we want to be our future. The look both helps and hinders us but I think once My Passion is an established band more and more people will be open to it and we've left things very open to develop and evolve in the future. Right now this is where we are and how we look and it captures this time in our life and exactly how we feel; quite dark but with a bold and vibrant side that is shining out willing people to come and give themselves over to us.

R13: What do you think about those who suggest that your image means more to you than the music?
LR: I guess it gets to us because they use that as an excuse to dismiss My Passion without any real thought. I'd much rather someone said, “My Passion, no I don't get it, not my cuppa tea”. If people actually knew anything about the band they would know the amount of work that is spent on the songs that the whole band is built upon. Without those songs then the band would be nothing. And if the music really wasn't all that important then we wouldn't sit in rehearsal rooms and in my house all hours of the day and night improving the set and perfecting new songs. With My Passion it really is a way of life and a dedication to that and everything surrounding it. The hour before playing where we get ready and prepare to put in the performance of our lives shouldn't really be thought of as over shadowing all of those hundreds of hours spent on the music but instead we like to think of it as the icing on the cake and final piece that slots in to complete My Passion.

R13: How do you deal with such negative comments?
LR: They disappear like faint echoes underneath the excitement and vibrancy of all the positive feedback from people that see us live and let a part of My Passion into their lives. We've always been a band with a positive outlook, if we didn't have that mindset we probably would have fallen very early on. There are far too many great things happening to linger on any of the negativity and I certainly wouldn't expect every person to like My Passion it just isn't like that but those that do embrace it become part of it which is really powerful I think. Of course at the end of the day we know the truth and as long as we are 100% happy with the music we are playing and developing further that is what is most important and none of the critics. We are our own critics and we trust our own judgement on everything within that My Passion world.

R13: You seem to have toured non stop this year and indeed are still out on the road now with yet more touring scheduled. Do you prefer to be on the road than in a studio for example and are there any words of wisdom regarding life on the road you’d wish to share?
LR: Haha! Yeah we don't like to sit still for too long. For us it has become rather strange to be at home for more than 2 weeks and we start to feel lost and start to crave the road again. It's been the only way for My Passion I think, to get out there and work hard and to almost throw this at people and to see what reaction we get from that. We definitely feel at home playing live but I think we all really love capturing that music in the studio, recording is one of the most rewarding parts of being in a band. Until that time you have so many ideas and that is the moment when you can capture them and also record a time in your life. It’s like documenting what you are about and creating what your imagination allows you to create and I think other than on tour the studio is our second home. We're so excited about getting back in there for album number two but for now we have to be a little patient which is something we find hard sometimes.
As for wisdom for the road trips… it’s all trial and error you just have to get out there and learn how to survive. You learn what not to do and as long as you've got a strong group of friends around you, I think you can survive anything.

R13: What about tour tales? Are there any funny anecdotes you could let us in on or things you’d like to clear your conscience now and admit to!?
LR: Well we always have the camera to hand so for the best insight into the My Passion behind the scenes I’d recommend our tour diary's http://www.mypassionfashion.co.uk/mypassion.html on our website. That's where you find the light hearted, tongue in cheek My Passion that might not always be obvious elsewhere. We have tons of tales of tomfoolery as well as tragedy the biggest of those has to be our first tour on a tour bus last autumn when we got stranded in the Swiss Alps as our bus burned down along with everything we owned right in front of our own eyes.. And if you can survive that and continue touring 2 days later you'll feel pretty much invincible!

R13: What’s been your best and worst gig and why?
LR: Over the last few years we played many shows to almost no one but I think if you can perform to your best in those situations then you can perform anywhere. One show we played in York to two fans but those two fans have now been to every tour since and have followed and supported the band constantly so although we may have thought of it as a loss at the time the gains are far greater and returning to those places again and again you see things grow and I think that has been one of our strengths.
There are so many highlights but for me what we achieved on the last night of our album tour this summer was the most grandiose so far. We hired out a church in Camden Town, London and hooked up with Redbull, built a stage and put on one of the most epic shows I’ve seen. Maybe more than enough natural reverb but to put on a sold out show of that scale instead of doing the norm and playing one of London’s many standard venues felt really rewarding. It felt “wow”. Those people had come out to see My Passion and they travelled from across the country and from Europe and we pulled it off.

R13: If you could tour with any three band’s, either as the headliner or support, who would they be and why?
LR: Are there any rules on eras? I'd probably love Muse, The Prodigy and AFI to support now because I think we'd share a lot with the fans of those bands and they are some of our favourites musically. If it was more of a time warped scenario I’d head back and support Ziggy Stardust and Iggy Pop, maybe play on the boat with The Sex Pistols and then over at the Stock Exchange with Rage Against The Machine!

R13: I understand work on your new album is well underway. How is it going and can you give us any details of what to expect?
LR: Well it's taking what we capture on the first album and building on that. The synths will be bigger and more developed, the guitars maybe even more riffing and lyrically themes running off in a new direction. We are now finding that we can do even more and that all the ideas that we've wanted to be able to capture are things which are quite possible for the next album. We're currently previewing two new songs live at the moment and they are going down a treat which is a great feeling because we love them! There's still a big synth and dance element but also a big rock sound, some harder edges as well as some moments that I just can't quite describe. The most important thing is it is all recognisable as My Passion and I wouldn't really say it sounded like anyone or anything else in particular.

R13: What tracks are you most excited about?
LR: Well one of the current tracks being played live is called ‘Asleep In The Asylum’ and it just has a natural flow that gets my heart racing. It begins quite delicately, takes you through an epic and powerful chorus before dropping into a very dark place and waking up somewhere completely different! There is definitely a theme of two moods, two personalities in there that we've toyed with in the past but for me, this one captures it all perfectly.

R13: There are plenty of rumours speculating about the new album, one being that it is going to be produced by Wil Francis. Any truth in this?
LR: Wil invited us down to his recent acoustic performance in London and we had a fine night of music and fruit flavoured cider! Wil is very keen to get involved with the band but at the moment My Passion is already hooked up with our good friend and legendary producer John Mitchell with whom we did the first album. We aren't ruling out anything in the future but right now the wheels are already in motion to return and build on what we created at Outhouse Studios. With any luck a Wil/ Aiden/ My Passion hook up will happen in some form in the future, we'd definitely love a tour as that is what we do most!

R13: You have a very devoted fan base. What’s the best thing about your fans and have there ever been any instances that really stand out, good or bad?
LR: There are some crazy moments but as long as My Passion is affecting these people in a positive way then we're happy even if we do find some things weird and bizarre. We'd rather devotion than apathy any day.

R13: Your street team are called the ‘Fab Blood Club’, where exactly did the name come from?
LR: That was just a line someone picked up on from the track ‘The Fabulous Blood Disco’. There is no kind of pact in the street team that involves donating blood to let My Passion live forever or any signed legal document of membership in the red juice. Do not fear!

R13: The My Passion forum, The Dolls House, is currently running a poll regarding which member of the band fans think would be the best in bed (I won’t tell you who is winning although worryingly there’s more than four guys listed!) How do you feel about such polls, do they completely embarrass you? Do you get annoyed that people might be listening to your music purely based on looks?
LR: I guess this is something people will always do. Yes I find that weird and completely fictional and unrealistic but I think as long as it remains a little innocent and purely fantasy it isn't too unhealthy. As long as people remember the difference between what is found on the interwebs and real life itself. I think people would just look at pictures of us for pleasure if it was based just on looks, obviously the music wouldn't be needed but that isn't the case. Some people might see us and think wow I’ll check them out and then find that the music does actually capture them but it can also work the other way!

R13: Besides the endless touring My Passion do, the internet seems to play a large role in helping to bring your fans together. How important is the internet to the band or do you feel that things like myspace have merely create a deluge of wannabe bands that don’t want to put in the hard work by touring?
LR: They definitely create that! It is sometimes an illusion but what use is the illusion without some truth and realism. We've only ever used the internet as a secondary form of advertising and promoting and generally presenting the band so it has been great for fans who wish to check us out who have yet to see My Passion and those people who come across us from other countries. But that alone doesn't win people's hearts, it is when they see us that everything clicks and the faces on the screen become real figures who are passionate and performing and alive. It's a great tool to keep in touch with those fans that are following you and to give info on the tours and of course the online store plays a big role in the survival of us as musicians in the modern age where the music serves as promotion for the band as a brand and for those that like it to see it live. So the internet has become a key part of people’s lives but at the same time the live field has become the biggest part of a musician’s world and you have to use the two to work together successfully.

R13: Growing up, what bands influenced you?
LR: My Father was a huge influence on me and the band! He's called Ken and he got us together in our teens having been a musician all his life. From there we have grown together and although it isn't the norm, he is still a major part of the band as a songwriter and best friend. But we were never meant to be normal!
My dad brought Bowie, The Cure, punk, goth and rock into my world as a youngster and I went on to explore all sorts of rock and metal. My mum was playing a whole different world of music when I was younger and that was more dance based and I remember being taken to illegal raves in woods and factories one week and to rock shows the next week. Most of the dance stuff I found mind numbing and uninventive but there were parts of it that hooked me and sounds that I thought were brilliant. Since then I’ve always tried to keep a positive outlook on everything I hear so even if it doesn't particularly appeal to me, I try to pick out parts that do within it. I definitely think that my upbringing has given me the gift of open-mindedness.

R13: Which bands are you listening to at the moment?
LR: Right now I’m actually not listening to much at all! It's been mostly focussed on what we're writing and I think listening to too much other music might influence me in one direction or another… I have given the new Muse album a listen which I think is spectacular in places, Prodigy's album is probably my favourite of the year though. Biffy Clyro and Lostprophets have also been on the boom box.

R13: What was the last gig, besides your own, that you went to and how was it?
LR: It was ages ago! We rarely get time to go and see bands so we try and catch them at shows and festivals that we are playing. We played in Sweden and saw Hadouken live for the first time and they won me over with the depth of their synths, the sound was all encompassing and really impressive. We went and caught InnerPartySystem down at Koko's in the summer and it was great to see them in one of my favourite venues after touring with them earlier in the year.

R13: Following on, the last album you got?
LR: It was probably the Prodigy album or Gallows ‘Grey Britain’, I was feeling pretty punky over the summer. Now its winter I’ll probably go back to listening to the Beach Boys!

R13: What track on your ipod would you say is your guilty pleasure and can you admit it to us now?
LR: There are so many of those! Although we've been open with the guilty pleasures and some of the outrageously poptastic music on some of our playlists... I've gone back to a long time obsession recently to Gwen Stefani… It's a toss up between her and Lionel Richie…

R13: How would you describe each member of the band?
LR: We're a mixture of personalities, some of them split. I'm quiet and polite, very laid back but onstage unleashed and frenetic. John Be is probably the most obsessive compulsive of us all, he's good with the manual mechanical tasks, Simon is our cheeky charmer and Jonathan is the shadowy musician maestro.

R13: As a young band that have really broken through this year, who would you recommend our readers keep an eye out for over the next few months?
LR: That's a tough one. We come across a lot of bands but it's hard to catch every single one night after night. You have to have a little time to rest your head so we don't always get to pick up on some of the new bands. My favourite act that we have played with recently is probably Milton Keynes' Firetone they have a Muse epicness about them with a Thrice type feel in parts and I think they are definitely ones to watch.

R13: What are your hopes and plans for My Passion in 2010?
LR: Well the Kerrang! Tour is the perfect start! From there I hope there are even more tours and we'd love to hit the festival circuit in a big way in the summer. Of course there is the big event that is recording album number 2 and I’m sure there will be even more exciting and unpredictable events thrown in-between and that's what I love about being in this band. Nothing is certain but there are endless possibilities and it feels like a really exciting time for us now and I hope we get to show ourselves to many more people come 2010.

R13: Thanks for your time and good luck for the rest of the year and of course for the new album and Kerrang! Tour.
LR: Thanks for having us!