I caught up with Richard (vocals, acoustic guitar) on the phone just before their London gig with The Boxer Rebellion and we spoke about the band’s excitement for the tour, upcoming EP, music influences, planning a full length and much more.
EVA: You kick off your massive 34 - date UK tour with supporting The Boxer Rebellion tonight at The Forum. You must be well excited!
RICHARD: Yeah, definitely. It’s our biggest tour we’ve done in the UK so it’s all very exciting. We just love being on the road and what a way to start it as well, The Forum is one of our favourite venues in London.
The Boxer Rebellion are an amazing band and they’ve been really good to us, taking us out on the road to play a few shows in Europe with them. We did Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and London.
EVA: So how did the audience receive you over there?
RICHARD: It was good, we really enjoyed it. I’ve done a few acoustic shows over there before supporting Ben Howard but this is sort of a different crowd; The Boxer Rebellion are a bit more rocky and stuff. I love European crowds, the French crowds are great, all their attention is on the music and they’re very focused and respectful. We had a great time over there and we got to party a little bit in Paris as well so it was a good fun.
EVA: Which places in the UK are you looking forward to playing the most?
RICHARD: Well it’s hard to beat tonight; London normally comes at the end of a tour but at the same time, there are loads of places we always love going back to, like Bristol, Southampton, Manchester... yeah, the kind of places where people have been really supportive of us. Obviously myself and Rob, one of the other guys in the band are both from Cornwall so that’s always quite a big one for us, just to go home and get pretty loose and pretty crazy down there. That’s always a good fun.
EVA: Your new EP ‘To Be Alive’ comes out on 4th November, which I'll be also reviewing for Mudkiss. How would you describe the record and is there any track on it that stands out in any way?
RICHARD: Our recorded work has always been kind of an evolutionary process as we’re still trying to find exactly what we want it to sound like on the record; it’s a lot harder thing to do than say. But we’re really proud of it and we’ve produced it ourselves. We’ve learned a lot from the producers we’ve worked with it the past, some really great guys, but this time we thought we’ll give it a go ourselves. It’s very us in that way, it’s got some big moments, sort of Brother & Bones kind of signature, like big guitars, big drums and stuff.
There is one track on it called ‘Lost As One’ which is a very intimate piece based around piano, so we thought we’d do something a little bit different and it’s a completely live sort of studio recording. We wanted to show that kind of an intimate side as well as the big stuff.
The EP is quite lyric driven, probably more so than our previous work, so yeah, we’re really proud of it and we’re getting closer to what we want the album to sound like, so that was really important for us through the process. Hopefully people will enjoy it.
EVA: How did your latest video for ‘To Be Alive’ come together?
RICHARD: We travel a lot with a really good friend of us, who is the videographer so he comes out on the road to hang out and he takes a lot of footage when we kind of just go on about our business. It wasn’t meant to be a big ‘fireworks’ crazy music video, just a bit of a montage of us on the road that shows a bit of a personality of the band and what goes on, just some nice bits and pieces he put together; it never intended to be anything special. Luke, the videographer, likes to push himself creatively, he’s got some great ideas and there is more stuff coming up.
EVA: I know that many bands like to write while on the road. All these different places tend to inspire songwriting. Is it the same case with you?
RICHARD: Yeah, I definitely like to write while on the road as there is a lot of time spent on your own, trying to spend the time wisely, and I always feel more human when I’m writing. Different places bring out a different creativity in you, but to be honest I’m kind of writing all the time anyway so it’s not that different apart from the fact that it’s just nice being on the road with the boys and to be constantly in that sort of creative environment.
EVA: So you write the songs and then you take it to the guys?
RICHARD: Yeah that’s the process, normally. I always write on an acoustic guitar or have an idea, like a riff or something that we can work around. We get together and then iron out the creases and see what works, what doesn’t work and the boys put their own stamp on it and their own creative juices on it. It’s quite an organic process I think; just listen through it a few times... yeah, everyone likes to get super creative with their parts and stuff, so it’s a good fun.
EVA: Looking back, who was the main influence to give you the idea to start playing music?
RICHARD: I’ve grown up a lot around music with my family so I didn’t really think much of it, just started playing music and I've always been around it and always loved it; it’s always been a big part of my life. My early memories are of my family just sitting around playing songs; my mum would play us The Beatles, blues stuff and country stuff. So they were my biggest inspiration to start playing music; I learned from my family how to play. I think it’s the same for most of us; we grew up in a musical family.
In terms of artists, I grew up listening to Dylan and Crosby Stills and Nash, also load of Motown stuff that mum listened to, she’s into reggae and all sorts of stuff... just great singers and great songs really; I was really lucky with that.
EVA: Do you listen to any music while on the road? Any new bands you would recommend?
RICHARD: Yeah, everyone brings CD’s along. James, the guitar player is very good at keeping up with all the new stuff; I’m stuck about 50 years in the past (laughs). But he keeps us up to date with what’s going on at the moment.
We listen to a lot of James Blake and a band that we’ve played with the other day, called Catfish and the Bottlemen who are amazing and I think they are going to go really far. They’re such a good laugh as well. To be honest I think it’s a really good time for the UK scene at the moment, I remember we went through a period when we struggled to find a really great bands and artists apart from the few obvious ones, but now there seems to be a lot more and it’s really good. There are loads more proper artists out there now doing some really interesting stuff.
EVA: In terms of a live performance, what do you think are the special characteristics of your shows that should attract people to come and see you play?
RICHARD: We’ve got two drummers, so that always helps to make things a bit different and it just means that we’ve got a big pile of sound that we can use, and just add more drums than anyone else in the world (laughs). There’s a lot of energy and we like to try and experiment, see how big and small we can take things to make it exciting for people watching. We’re definitely a more of a live band at the moment and the records really come to life in a live sort of arena, so yeah, that’s where we’re at.
EVA: Do you prefer playing festivals or smaller venues?
RICHARD: We love the kind of an intimacy of the small venues, and how close you are to people and you get a really good vibe, but at the same time it suits us a lot more to play the bigger stages, bigger sound systems so we can get a better sound and give the music sort of an opportunity to breathe as much as it could do.
EVA: Do you have any plans after your EP release and UK tour? Maybe relax for a while or just keep going?
RICHARD: We’re not really good at relaxing, I don’t think (laughs). We’re going to be recording an album this winter, that’s the plan, and then do more touring next year, go to Europe and do our first headline tour over there.
For the release of our EP, we’ve got a day off so we’re gonna come back to London to do sort of a vinyl night and we’re going to invite a lot of people down there to come and hang out. We’re not going to play any songs ourselves but we’ve got a nice load of vinyl records, which we’re going to play and just get really drunk and hang out with people that have supported us along the way. We pretty look forward to that.
EVA: So do you think that a full length might be happening any time soon?
RICHARD: Yeah, as I said earlier, we’re starting the recording process this winter so it’ll be probably January that we’ll get into the studio. It’s on the cards, definitely. I feel like a broken record saying it but yeah, we’re definitely releasing a full length album next year. I’ll eat my own shoes if there’s nothing, and my shoes are rank (laughs). We keep putting it off, but just for the reason that we really want to get it right when we do record the album.