Indieterria meets Lower Loveday

Hello, hello!

Oh! February is an extremely busy month for everyone at Vanadian Avenue. After talking to Dharma Bums about their new EP “Nothing to Lose Blues” and grilling Andrew Marston from BBC Hereford and Worcester about their new radio show, here we are throwing questions left and right at another very talented young band!

Named after a street in Birmingham, Lower Loveday are a four piece outfit that connects pop melodies with a edgy rockier sound. They are perfect for Top 20 chart and a mosh pit pogo at your local venue. We have caught up with the guys from LLD a day before their big gig at O2 Institute and had a quick chat about winning talents shows while at school, travelling to Australia and their music.

Lower Loveday logo

The band that was meant to be  – Lower Loveday interview 

Tom Garbett (drums)
Stuart Creed (bass),
Chris Francis (lead guitar/vocals)
Mark Washington (vocals)

Official bio: The band has its roots way back to Year 8 in school, when Mark (Vocals) & Tom (Drums) entered the end of year talent show in a band. From then we always assumed that it would always happen one day, although this was delayed by education. Then having both met up during travelling in Australia, we decided to go for it when we got back and follow our dreams and get a band going! With this then Tom got writing some songs whilst the two of us practised. We knew there was potential, not only in the song but in us as a combination. We then begun our quest to fill out the remaining positions in the band. And after a long and tiring journey we finally found our perfect fit in the form of Chris (Lead Guitar), who manages to provide the perfect guitar part to support our melodies and hooks. Along with Stuart (Bass) who has added his unique blend of punchy but melodic bass playing to fill out the rhythm section… Now nothing can stop us in reinventing the music wheel and creating something the world has not yet heard and therefore needs!

There then Lower Loveday was truly born.

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Lower Loveday promo picture

Lower Loveday is an incredibly poetic name. Where does it come from? Is the band named after a single by Britpop heroes Menswe@r or have you been inspired by a picturesque canal side street leading to the Jewellers Quarter in Birmingham?

Lower Loveday: Thank you very much! Our name actually comes from the street in Birmingham you mentioned. Tom, our drummer, lived on Lower Loveday Street during his second year at the university and always thought it would make a good name for a band. We didn’t have any other names, so we went with it and it actually means something to us.

Your biography is full of surprises. Is it true that the first incarnation of the band was formed for Year 8 talent show?

Lower Loveday: (laughing) Yes, that is absolutely correct! Tom and Mark went to school together and were very friendly throughout. It was the Year 8 talent show when for the first time music brought them properly together. It was also a bonus that they won it but after that they didn’t really pursue the music that much yet then.

After playing for a while at school, you seem to go separate ways only to meet again years later on the other side of the world…in Australia! We are sure, Hollywood will soon come knocking on your door asking for movie rights!

Lower Loveday: We wish! Yes, we’d joked a couple of times before both going our separate ways that we’d be in a band together in the future but university put us on different paths. It wasn’t until we both went travelling (separately!) and then we met in Sydney. After a drunken sing-along, we realised the band we’d been joking about previously, was actually a possibility. At this moment, Lower Loveday consist of: Tom Garbett – he’s our drummer and also the principal songwriter, on bass guitar we have Stuart Creed, on lead guitar is Chris Francis and on vocals is Mark Washington.

Your music has been compared to Kasabian, Kings of Leon, The Arctic Monkeys, The Blossoms and (a little bit) to Oasis. Those are huge names and it must be flattering to be likened to the most important rock groups of the last two decades. How do you feel about it?

Lower Loveday:  We’ve said it before that those bands are our main influences. We weren’t aware we’d actually be compared to all of them but if that’s actually the case then that is incredibly flattering. To achieve even half of what those names have would be amazing.

We absolutely love two of your tracks: “You Could Have Been My Queen” and “Chains”. Can you please tell us more about these songs?

Lower Loveday: It’s funny that you like both songs as, ironically, they came along at pretty much the same time in terms of song-writing. We knew then that they were a bit of a game changer for us. They had a different, very unique “pop” quality to them that the other songs we wrote at that point had not. We haven’t written anything like them before. And so as soon as we showed them to people and started playing them, everyone just really loved them and we knew we had something there.

Lower Loveday received some good response from the music business. BBC Hereford and Worcester called your single “You Could Have Been My Queen” fresh and exciting and New Musical Express included your music profile on their website as one of the upcoming bands from Birmingham. Three of your singles, “Loved You”, “You Could Have Been My Queen” and “Anything You Wanted Me To” also received a lot of airplay from Brum Radio, Cannock Chase Radio, Uckfield FM and The Bugcast.

The band on stage

 

Lower Loveday:  We thought we knew almost everything that has been written or said about us but we missed a few here. Being anywhere on NME is amazing! We initially started just being happy to receive any sort of air time on anything but when BBC Introducing H&W played pretty much every song we uploaded it really makes you think! Maybe these tunes we think are great, aren’t actually that bad!

On the 24th of February, you will be performing at SoundWaves Music Competition UK Final at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. Of course we are keeping our fingers crossed. Where did you learn about this competition and what will happen during the finale?

Lower Loveday: It may be hard to believe but finding the competition was as simple as just googgling ‘music competitions’ on the Internet. Or vocalist Tom found few good links and we applied for several. As far as we know, at SoundWaves 15 acts are due to perform in the finals and we will get a small slot to impress as many people and judges a possible. We think the winner will be announced on the night. It’s a great opportunity for us to perform on a big stage and it gives us a chance to play in front of an A&R’s and representatives from many labels. Hopefully we will go out and get our name out there even more.

Worcester News – 23 February 2018 (page 21)

You recently started working on new material to be released later in the year.  Are you finally recording your full debut album?

Lower LoveDay: Yes, we are currently working on several new songs. We went back into the studio just before Christmas to lay down the initial parts for two more songs which we’ll be completing very soon. The goal is to just keep recording tunes until we have enough for an album and then release when the right time comes (laughing)

Your website is warning that a musical storm is brewing. When can we see you live on stage? Any upcoming gigs we should be aware of?

Lower LoveDay: We came up with that phrase initially to lure people into listening and to create a sort of intrigue about us but it’s something we’ve seem to have kept going with from the start as it hasn’t done too badly! After this weekend’s final, we have a gig the following Sunday 4th March at The Fleece in Bristol which is going to be a full day of live music and a festival slot in August at  Venture Festival in Nottingham! We will be adding new information as they come!

We bet they look good on the dance floor as well!

Lower Loveday can be found on social media:

Website: https://www.lowerloveday.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lowerloveday/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lower_loveday
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/lowerloveday
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lowerloveday
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClGDR9XIPOo96KRox090yTg

Articles about the group:
New Musical Express Emerging: https://artists.nme.com/artist/lower-loveday/
Worcester News: http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/regional/worcestershire/worcester/16037251.Evesham_indie_rock_band_reaches_final_of_national_music_competition/

More information about SoundWave Competition:
https://www.facebook.com/soundwavecompetition/
https://www.soundwavemusiccompetition.co.uk/

The competition starts at 19:00 PM at O2 Institute so please come and support our local talents if you can!
We are keeping our fingers crossed for you guys!

Good luckxxx
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

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Indieterria meets Andrew Marston

Dear readers!

We always have fun speaking to bands, singers, songwriters and artists. Discovering new music is what we love to do and we will never miss the opportunity to ask few questions and direct your attention towards a good tune or an album that is worth listening to. From time to time, however we have a special guest at our blog and today’s entry will be dedicated to a man we all know but whom nobody interviewed yet (we know it is a shocker!)

It is with the biggest of pleasures, we are able to announce that Indieterria has interviewed the man who not only came up with the name for Worcestershire music scene but who has been tirelessly working behind the stages of biggest local radio programmes, festivals and concerts – Andrew Marston of BBC Hereford and Worcester and BBC Introducing! We sat down with Andrew to discuss the impact the BBC Introducing has on the UK musical map, the best songs he has ever received through the Introducing Uploader and his brand new exciting show.

Think globally, do locally  – Andrew Marston Interview

The right person for the job!

Official press release: A BBC programme, dedicated to supporting up-and-coming musicians, is to launch a second show this weekend.

 BBC Music Introducing in Hereford & Worcester, which broadcasts every Saturday from 8pm, is to double its airtime in its new timeslot on Sundays from 6pm. Since its launch in 2005, the team has been overwhelmed with the amount of musical talent coming out of Herefordshire & Worcestershire with more than 15,000 demos sent in, during the last decade, from the local area.

 Presenter Andrew Marston says: “We have such an incredible music scene right here on our doorstep – and I looked down the pile of music that I’d earmarked for broadcast and realised, if I never received a song again, I still had enough to carry me through the next decade without repeating a single track!

 “The picture, nationally, is also very similar – with 170,000 artists now registered and 500,000 songs submitted. It would take 3 years to listen to every song currently on the Uploader and the number of musicians registered now exceeds the number of people who went to Glastonbury last year.”

 Originally broadcast as the Friday Session, the programme has gone on to discover acts such as Ellie Goulding, Becky Hill and Peace. John Peel’s former manager, Clive Selwood, said: “John would have loved the programme – it would have pleased him enormously.”

 As well as the superb quality of music the programme showcases, there’s a weekly gig guide, local music news, interviews with movers and shakers, a Musicians’ Masterclass, a local history of great gigs and musical legends, coverage of our local festivals plus live sessions on the show every week.

The team has also been responsible, in recent years, for sending Leominster’s AKA George to Glastonbury, Hay-on-Wye’s Cherryshoes to T in the Park, Sœur to Reading + Leeds and flew Bromyard’s Remi Harris to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Other successes include Sam Isaac at Glastonbury and the BBC Electric Proms, Pencil Toes, Luke Leighfield, The Anomalies and Pegasus Bridge at BBC Maida Vale (and Radio 1’s Big Weekend), while securing the brother/sister duo Muchuu a support slot with Florence & The Machine and the Temper Trap alongside a spot on the BBC Radio 1 playlist. Other Radio 1 opportunities include Riscas and Lauren Wright, while FREnchfire, Georgina Upton, Kamos & Tripbuk and Scarlette Says ending up on the BBC 1Xtra playlist. Andrew also landed The Roving Crows a place on tour with Jamie Cullum, AKA George two spots on the Radio 1 playlist, as well as a place on stage at Glastonbury and Radio 2’s Live In Hyde Park.

 Andrew continues, “Every month, we record our sessions at a variety of festivals – including Hay, Wychwood, Nozstock, Lakefest, Worcester Music Festival, SXSW, T In The Park, Montreal Jazz Festival, The Great Escape, Radio 1’s Big Weekend, The Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds.

“When artists upload their music for airplay, they often don’t realise they’re being considered for these incredible opportunities.

 “With such a diverse range of music, the new show makes it really easy to plan – and sharpens the focus for our audience: ‘Is this more of a Saturday night track?’ or ‘is this more of a Sunday night track?’”

You can listen to the new show on Sunday from 6pm on 94.7FM in Hereford, 104FM in Worcester, 104.4FM in Redditch, 104.6FM in the Wyre Forest, 738AM across Worcestershire, 1584AM in Tenbury Wells, on DAB Digital Radio, Freeview channel 720 and online at bbc.co.uk/introhw. The programme will also be available via the BBC iPlayer Radio App for free download for 30 days.

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Andrew Marston at the mixing console

You are very well known in the West Midlands, but in case somebody spent the last decade on the other side of the world, please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria. Who is Andrew Marston and how did you get involved with BBC Hereford & Worcester?

Andrew Marston: Hi, I’m Andrew, a 36-year-old radio presenter from Hereford who’s now spent more than half a lifetime behind the record decks and well over a decade at the helm of BBC Music Introducing. In fact, I’ve always been surrounded by music having had keyboard and piano lessons since the age of 6 and have wanted to work in radio since discovering my first cassette recorder as a toddler. Somehow I’ve managed to combine both passions in a way that I’ve not played piano in public for 2 decades and haven’t played a cassette since I was at Hereford Sixth Form College!!

In fact, I was gigging regularly at Whitecross High School (mine – I didn’t just break in!), also touring the country with my brothers’ band – but I was being asked more and more to DJ between sets; something that ended in me landing my first residency at the Jailhouse Nightclub aged 14! Slowly, but surely, my gigging time was filled with playing CDs rather than keys – and I eventually tried to claw back some of what I’d “lost” by organising weekly band nights at the Imperial in Hereford. At the same time, I was presenting a non-music show (!!) on Hereford Hospital Radio, focussing very much on bringing news to life. I finished college on the Friday, had the worries of ‘what to do next’ for two days and went into the BBC’s Hereford office for work experience to be greeted with the words “how would you feel if we’re to train you up as a Broadcast Assistant?” I still haven’t had my training…

Outside of Dj’ing and music production, you are heavily involved in the BBC Music Introducing programme, looking for new talents. Tell us more about it.

Andrew Marston: I spent from 1999-2005 working behind-the-scenes at the BBC, including several stints on BBC Online. Back then, we were writing album reviews and gig features – very much like Vanadian Avenue and Slap Mag, but we kept saying to the boss “let’s stop talking about music – and let’s play it”. 12 months later, the boss came to us and said “I’ve got a great idea! Let’s stop talking about music – and let’s play it!” and the Friday Session was born. It made a lot of people very nervous thinking there wouldn’t be enough music to sustain a 2-hour programme every week and “is local radio the right place to be breaking new acts”. In fact, the bosses of Radio 1 came down to see how this was impacting on their audiences and some of the people in charge of local radio. I think they weren’t keen on the idea, before they arrived, but within 6 months the BBC Introducing brand was launched nationally!

In 2017 BBC Music Introducing celebrated 10 years since its conception. If you look at the official stats, nearly 130,000 bands submitted more than half a million songs. That’s nearly 3 years’ worth of music if one would like to listen to them all. How is BBC Introducing in Hereford & Worcester looking compared to other local shows? Do you know how many bands submitted their songs and how many played a live session for you?

Andrew Marston: Since we launched the uploader seven years ago, more than 10,000 songs have been uploaded from Herefordshire & Worcestershire alone. We’ve also just finished ripping all of the CDs sent into us 2005-2010 and that’s another 4,000. But – in those early days, tracks that didn’t get a spin after a couple of years were deleted from the uploader to save on server space – so I’m guessing that figure is much, much higher. In fact – I’m going to keep my eye on that! In terms of live sessions, we’ve now had more than 1,000 acts perform live on the show leading to countless opportunities. Last week, the whole Introducing family (that’s what we call it) got together at Broadcasting House in London before heading down to Maida Vale for our annual get-together. Everywhere in Britain is powering forwards, but it’s interesting to see how the poor folk in London are swamped by acts claiming to be from London when they’re not. Geographically, you have more chance of “making it” if you’re from a rural area than somewhere that’s overrun with musicians (who’ll also play for free. I lived in London for a couple of years and, despite playing 137 gigs in one year, struggled to find any paid opportunities in the capital as everyone would do it for nothing).

Andrew Marston preparing to go live

You were one of the first DJs to play Ellie Goulding, The Voice UK alumna Becky Hill, Peace and the alternative outfit This Wicked Tongue. Do you remember the artist or a band that made the biggest impression on you as part of the BBC Introducing?

Andrew Marston: Muchuu made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Sadly they’re no more, but their music was haunting, full of space and left you wanting more. Somehow it drew you in and I still go back and listen to those tracks when I want to reflect. They were one of the first acts to use the Uploader and I instantly passed it onto Huw Stephens at Radio 1, who claimed there was “something in the water” with so many artists going national from our neck of the woods. They’d go on to support Florence + The Machine and the Temper Trap at the BBC Introducing staff Christmas party (those were the days!) and turned down a slot at Glastonbury because they were going on holiday – I know, right??!

Worcester music scene is going through a real cultural renaissance at this moment. Many local acts receive fantastic reviews from the critics and you are credited with coining the name for it – “WorcesterWave”.  Do you think Worcester is going to be the next musical hotspot after Manchester, Cardiff and London?

Andrew Marston: I think we actually have a greater music scene than all of those cities. Having lived in London, everybody that claims to be from there comes from somewhere else. Sadly, these big cities are so swamped with bands (from across the region) they’re embracing the “pay to play” culture, meaning you’ve either got to sell tickets for your show or actually pay the promoter for stage time. It’s a very sad state of affairs, especially when musicians have learned their craft since a young age having music lessons at £20 per hour.  I also lived in Manchester for a while and everybody tours there, but Manchester bands rarely get the chance to play their own city because of the competitive nature. Every city has its own music scene – but often it’s cut-throat. The thing with Manchester is if you’re 15-years-old and you get bored, you go out. But if you’re 15 and living in Clifton-upon-Teme, you form a band. And when there’s nowhere to play, you organised your own gigs. This whole cottage industry, where everybody supports everybody else, is what’s getting this city noticed.

You have an eye to spot future stars. Many artists championed by you frequently receive national coverage. The list is very impressive: The Americas performed on Georgie Tonight, a prime-time show across the whole of BBC Local Radio, Soeur recorded live session at the legendary Maida Vale studios, Nuns of the Tundra reached second place in nationwide “Battle of the Bands” competition sponsored by Firestone, Tazmin Barnes’ EP “Powerful” debuted at number 11 at iTunes Pop charts, nth cave and Thousand Mountain were played by Steve Lamacq while Population:7 and Chavy Chase Stole My Wife were noticed by Tom Robinson. What qualities are the most important for future success? Song writing, catchy melodies or stage presence?

BBC Introducing

Andrew Marston: The song is always key. It doesn’t matter how good your biog is, who you’ve toured with, where you’ve played and how good you are at playing guitar, the 3-minute song is the thing that will get you everywhere. In fact, it’s your best advert. In commercial radio, a 30 second commercial could cost you £150. A 3-minute song is effectively £900 worth of airtime. If you were recording speech – you’d tell people to download your music, advertise your shows, sell some merch and ask them to friend you on Facebook. So make sure your demo isn’t a demo – it’s the polished product.

As a presenter, if you get too involved with a band, it definitely impacts your decision making. I’ve seen many bands who’ve blown me away, jumping all over the stage, but I’ve listened back on iPlayer and they’ve failed to jump out of the speakers. I will score every track based on the first listen – as that’s exactly how the audience will hear it. There’s no such thing as a “grower” unfortunately – that’s a phrase coined for bands that have had so much money invested in them, they’ve got no choice but to champion that track. First impressions count.

Rumour has it that there is a brand new Sunday radio show being prepared? Can you please tell us more?

Andrew Marston: Exactly that! We have so much music coming in that we want to play, 2 hours a week just isn’t enough. In fact, it’s a really simple thing to do – the gig guide still exists, we still want to cover the same number of festivals, enjoy live sessions – but the canvas is now twice as big. The thing we’re accused of, most of all, is using a too-bigger paint brush. At one end of the spectrum, there’s tonnes of classical musicians and folk artists in the Malvern Hills; at the other end of the spectrum, Kidderminster produces the heaviest of death/screamo metal and Bromsgrove unearths a lot of dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass. The balancing act is to aim to the programme at everyone – otherwise you risk broadcasting the X-Factor to only the people who queued up to be on the X-Factor! Being blunt, musicians provide the raw material for the show – it’s my job to then expose it to as wider audience as possible, so I have to be careful not to make the show sound like a fanzine. That job just got a little simpler; I can now ask “is this more Saturday night or more Sunday night”. So Saturdays will be a lot louder, a lot more raucous with a real edge. Whereas Sundays will be a lot more accessible, focussing a lot more on those acoustic/soulful/folk/jazz/blues/country styles with “candlelit” stripped-back studio sessions. I’m hoping there’ll be a fair bit of crossover, meaning audiences will feed between both programmes – but the idea is you’ll definitely have your favourite, all, of course, available for 30 days to download and listen via the BBC iPlayer Radio app!

What advice would you give to the kids who are just starting out and would like to send their music to BBC Music Introducing for consideration?

BBC Hereford and Worcester: Guitars and great tunes!

Andrew Marston: Here’s my top three…

  1. Always disappoint your audience!! Keep your music short. Your favourite song will never be long enough; loop play is the greatest compliment. If they hear it on the radio and want to hear more, they’ll have to go out and buy it! If you play a gig, don’t give them an encore. If they want more, they’ll have to come to another show! Take pictures of every gig – especially the audience having fun – and host them online afterwards. People will be disappointed they missed out and will come to your next show. If you’re on the door, don’t let every Tom, Dick and Harry in! An exclusive audience will grow punters; letting in those who don’t particularly care will distract your die-hards. Remember that time you couldn’t get into your favourite nightclub because your mate was wearing trainers? You didn’t particularly want to go in – but the moment the bouncer said no, you were desperate to be in there!
  2. Properly release your music. Set a release date. My best music I’ll save for a “rainy day”. I’m hoping it’ll never rain. But that means I might not play it for 5 years! Setting a release date ensures everyone is across your track on that particular date. Nobody likes to back the last horse in the race, so if everyone else is championing your music on that date – others will follow. Make big events even bigger. I remember booking Remi Harris for the Montreal Jazz Festival a couple of years ago and just as I was ending the phone-call, he said “oh – did you hear I have a new album?” If I didn’t know, nor would any of his potential audience. I told him to stop being a fool and to release it at the festival! Forevermore you can say “I launched my debut album at the biggest gig of my life”. The festival will be happy you saved such a special moment for their event – and, with any luck, will also do your promo for you! Whenever Remi rings up a venue, he can now say “and here’s a copy of my album I officially released at the Montreal Jazz Festival”.
  3. Write music you believe in. You’ll be amazed how many people I interview who write rock music who go out every Friday and Saturday night and listen to dance/RnB then wonder why nobody comes to their gigs. Take a look around and see what people are genuinely listening to. If you’re really into electronica, you’ll probably write better electronica than trying to form a band with people who don’t really share your passion. The most common reason bands split is because of “musical differences”. If you wouldn’t be happy to drive around town with your windows wound down and your track blaring out, you’re possibly not being true to yourself – and if you’re not 100% behind what you’re writing, what chance does anyone else have?

But most importantly – have fun! If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’ve probably forgotten the reason you got into music in the first place. If you become the best at what you do, the money will somehow find its way to you. But just remember it’s not always this cartoon version of “write a song, get signed, achieve #1 then headline Wembley”. There’s money to made in writing theme tunes, being a session musician, writing for video games, weddings, playing the piano in hotel receptions, writing for other people and one of the most lucrative “revenue streams” is writing lift music! But that’s just page one of an ocean of opportunity. Remember, I learned piano and I now host a show on the BBC. So music can open all sorts of opportunities – just make sure you grab them with both hands and never let go!

BBC Introducing:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d72q
https://twitter.com/bbcintroducing
https://en-gb.facebook.com/bbcintrohw/

Andrew Marston is very active on social media and you can find him on many different platforms:
http://www.djandrewmarston.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Marston
https://twitter.com/DJAndrewMarston
https://www.facebook.com/djandrewmarston
https://www.mixcloud.com/djandrewmarston/
https://www.youtube.com/user/DJAndrewMarston
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/dj-andrew-marston/id983733498

Vanadian Avenue would like to thank you to Andrew and the crew of BBC Inroducing in Hereford and Worcester for their time, hard work and answering the questions.

Keep on doing the good job!

Please come back soon as Indieterria is meeting a really cool band next week and we will be back shortly with another interview for your enjoyment!

Bye for now,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Dharma Bums

Howdy!

Welcome back to another edition of Indieterria, where we discover new and exciting music. After speaking to the wonderful Nic Evennett two weeks ago and receiving many nice comments regarding the interview (including a praise from the legendary musician and radio DJ, Tim Robinson himself!), today we will introduce you to a 4 piece outfit from Worcestershire that plays rock and blues better than the cowboys from the American West.

Dharma Bums are incredibly nice folks and it was a privilege to talk to them. If blues, country and a jazz fusion is your thing, you cannot miss them! Please read on.

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Welcome to the Wild, Wild West Midlands

 

Dharma Bums at the Abbey Road Studios in London

Inspiration works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you are not even interested in making music and you end up forming a genre defining band with your school mates or friends living on the same street. Or you could be a professional musician, for years struggling to find same minded people to play with.  Luckily for us, all members of Dharma Bums were in the right place, at the right time and clicked together immediately. Their instant communication, understanding of one another and simple joy of working together can be heard in their every song. It was a pure pleasure to listen to their EP entitled “Nothing to lose blues”. Vanadian Avenue took The Bums leading outlaw, Kevin Wrench to the nearest saloon to discuss their previous musical experiences, love for blues and their new material over a bottle of finest whisky and a game of cards.

Kevin Wrench – Vocals/Guitar
Dave Shuter – Lead Guitar/Harmonica
Jon Green – Bass
Thomas Paine – Percussion

Your biography mentions that Dharma Bums were formed in 2015 yet all the members have been active on Worcestershire music scene for years and were involved in several different projects before. Tell us how did the band start and introduce all the members to our readers.

Kevin Wrench: Dave Shuter (lead guitar/harmonica) and myself initially started playing together early in 2015. Dave’s wife lived just up the road from where I grew up and after chatting to her on Facebook one evening, Dave and me got together and instantly hit it off. We shared an appreciation for blues and in particular, Robert Johnson. Dave had never met anyone, who was as keen on Robert Johnson as he was before the two of us met. Dave & his wife performed in a function band together for a number of years but they hadn’t gigged for quite some time when we first met. Dave’s patience has really helped me improve my own playing. He’s one of the most easy going  and nicest guys I know.

I’ve been interested in making music for years but could never quite find the right outlet to pursue it. I’ve never been a particularly confident performer and as a child, I was painfully shy. It has taken a number of years  and a bit of effort forcing myself out of my comfort zone in order to get to the point where I feel happy performing or sharing my music with anyone.  Some time ago I had guitar lessons  and played on and off for years but never really considered writing songs myself. I had some singing lessons around 2009 and did ABRSM Grade 5. The popularity of Michael Buble at the time coupled with my grandfather’s influence. He was a big admirer of Frank Sinatra and led me to collaborate with a couple of local pianists. Together, we performed mainly swing/jazz covers at local restaurants.

In 2013, I was approached by a producer friend about writing some songs for a solo project. Unfortunately, that project never quite came to fruition although I may re-record the four songs I wrote at some point in the not too distant future. Essentially, that meeting was the spark that ignited my passion for song writing. I also appeared in a couple of musical shows at the Rose Theatre in Kidderminster; that was where I met our percussionist Thomas “Tom” Paine. Two years later, while volunteering at The Civic Hall in Stourport, I organised a monthly music night called ‘Live Local’ which featured a variety of local artists. As well as being a rewarding experience, it also ended up being a massive inspiration as I was bowled over by the amount of talent in the local area and that ultimately inspired me to seek out some musicians to start a band myself.

Walking down the Abbey Road

Our drummer Tom has been a member of two local amateur dramatics groups for a number of years. In fact Tom`s whole family are members of both Kidderminster Operatic & Dramatic Society (KODS) and Carpet Trades Musical Theatre Company (CTMTC). Tom plays a variety of instruments and joined us around November 2015. He had never played the cajón before he joined us and slowly but surely, we’ve discovered more & more things that Tom can play which has greatly added to our overall sound. Only last year he was bought a banjo as a present and learnt several songs on it already. Tom grew up in a family where performing is second nature. He is a very gifted  and versatile musician.

Out of all of us, our bass player Jon Green has had the most experience in terms of being in bands, he’s played in several different bands since the age of 14, ranging from Rock to Crust Core Punk. A couple of the bands Jon has been involved in previously have been signed to record contracts. Jon is also a multi instrumentalist who plays the bodhrán and recently started learning the violin to bring something a bit different to our sound. Jon has performed all over the UK including London and even toured in the US. Jon’s daughter Ellisha Green is an extremely talented singer/songwriter and Ellie has also performed with the youth section of KODS, which is how Tom and I met Jon as he was often involved helping out backstage.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by this point we combine a variety of very different backgrounds but we all share a passion for making music.

Right at the end of 2017, Dan Mathew joined us on percussion. Dan is also the drummer for The Bug Club who are another great local band and already he is proving to be a tremendous asset to our line-up. He has given the new songs we’re currently working on a much more dynamic sound.

“The Dharma Bums” is the title of the 1958 beat generation classic novel written by Jack Kerouac. It is also the name of an American garage band that influenced many pre-grunge groups in Seattle including Nirvana, Hole and Green River. What inspired you to take on that name as well? How are you going to distinguish yourselves from your American counterparts?

Kevin Wrench: That would be down to me. “The Dharma Bums” is one of my favourite novels and I’ve loved Kerouac’s work for years. He was a pivotal figure in the Beat Generation of the 1950’s counter culture which was very much a forerunner to the psychedelic 1960’s. It influenced some of my favourite artists including The Doors and The Beatles. My partner and I travelled quite a bit in our early 20’s and on our travels we visited Morocco and stayed in Jack Kerouac’s room in Tangier. Jack and Alan Ginsberg stayed there for a couple of years writing. In fact, I popped the question to my partner Sarah in Jack’s room when we arrived there!

After I chose the name, I realized that quite a few bands had used it. I did do a bit of research before picking it, but must admit, I didn’t realise that the other Dharma Bums had reached such a wide audience. I’m sure though if they truly are “Dharma Bums” they won’t have any issues with us using the name too and our sound is very, very different to theirs.

 You have just released a video to your song “Ballad of El Chivato“. It was directed by twice award nominated film maker Nick J. Townsend of Weak13 and shot in Bewdley. Can you tell us more about working with Nick and the story behind the song’s lyrics.

Kevin Wrench:  Working with Nick has been an absolute pleasure. He’s a lovely genuine guy who’s passionate, full of creativity, enthusiasm and he’s been on the local music scene for as long as I can remember. Not only did he produce a fantastic music video for us, but he’s also been incredibly supportive and has been very generous with his wisdom and experience which has been invaluable. I wrote “Ballad of El Chivato” while on holiday in Tenby with my partner and our daughter. It was raining one day so we were limited as to what we could do. We stayed in the caravan and I wrote a song. I’d been reading a book called “To Hell On A Fast Horse” by Mark Lee Gardner which is about the American West Outlaw Billy The Kid. I’ve read many books about the Old West, particularly about Billy The Kid and I’ve always loved songs that tell a story so that’s exactly what I tried to do with this song.

Dharma Bums use a mixture of blues, jazz, country and rock and rock to create their unique sound. Slap Magazine described your music as “cool” while Ryan’s Gig Guide called it “unique and vintage”. What is the audience reaction? Do they like it?

Kevin Wrench:  Audiences tend to respond really well to our music. We’ve picked up some lovely supporters (feel reluctant to say fans) who really seem to appreciate the blend of influences we draw on. As we’re still building our repertoire of original material, we tend to play a mixture of covers and originals at our gigs at the moment, covering artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Hank Williams, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Prince or The Soggy Bottom Boys. We’re writing more and more original songs though, so over time we will increase the number of originals we play and most likely not play as many covers. As I’m sure many other bands will testify, you’re never going to please everyone. There’s been one or two gigs where people drunkenly shout “play Summer of 69” or “play some Bon Jovi” not that there’s anything wrong with these songs/artists but they’re just not to our taste; but for the most part we get a great reaction wherever we play.

“Ballad of El Chivato” is promoting your latest EP entitled “Nothing to Lose Blues” released in July 2017. The 5 track EP was recorded in Stourport and mastered in London at the famous Abbey Road Studios. It must have been quite an experience to work with Sean Magee a Grammy winning mastering engineer of The Beatles, Rush, Deep Purple and Public Image Ltd.

Nothing to Lose Blues cover

Kevin Wrench: Since we started gigging, every penny the band has earned has gone into an old biscuit tin and has been accumulated to pay for recording, mastering, producing a video and paying for our CDs to be printed. We feel it’s better to create memories like visiting the legendary Abbey Road Studios, rather than taking a quarter share of gig money and then having to contribute towards these costs anyway after we’ve spent the money. Obviously, visiting Abbey Road wasn’t cheap, but it was paid for entirely out of the kitty and is an experience that none of us will ever forget. All four of us stayed together in London as well as our time in the studio, we had a great time.

“Nothing To Lose Blues” features a wide array of local musicians including George Alan on trumpet, Chris Yates on piano and Matt Worley on banjo. The EP cover was also designed by an established contemporary artist, Craig Simmons. For a debut record, the guest list is simply impressive. Was it hard to bring so many creative minds to the same project?

Kevin Wrench: When I first thought about starting a band, I always imagined the line-up being flexible and being able to work as a collective melting pot of various creative minds able to operate across a variety of genres. This was a very romantic notion for an amateur band and I’ve since come to realise that it’s important to have a strong bond amongst the core members of a band. That’s not to say that we can’t invite other local musicians to make guest appearances  and I think our next record will be very similar in that respect. I met a lot of musicians while organizing ‘Live Local’ at The Civic in Stourport and I made a lot of friends in the local music/artistic community. I’ve become quite cheeky and not afraid to ask others to be involved. We never tell people what we want them to play, we invite them to play because we know that they will bring something of themselves to our recordings. We were blessed on this first recording to get George, Matt and Chris on board, they are all extremely talented guys and we hope they will be involved on our next project. We also hope to invite several other local musicians to be involved. Craig Simmons is an incredibly talented local artist  and luckily for us, he is friends with Tom. We think he did an awesome job on our artwork  and we very much hope to be able to work with him again on our next release.

Rumour has it that you are beginning to work on a new material. We heard that you have wrote a protest song called ” Sell Your soul”. Would you like to elaborate?

Kevin Wrench: (laughing) I don’t wish to give too much away just yet but yes this is true. Like many people, I’m a little concerned by the emergence of certain “leaders” in the last couple of years and wanted to write something that communicated this concern that I know I’m not alone in feeling. We’ve already discussed with Nick Townsend about a possible video for “Sell Your Soul” and we’re quite keen to get it out in the public domain as soon as we can. I know some people don’t like it when musicians incorporate their political opinions into their music but I think it’s difficult not to sometimes as it effects us all  and our opinions are just as valid as anyone else’s. We’ve also got a couple of bluesy numbers  and a pirate shanty inspired folk song which will appear on our next record.

Dharma Buns performing

Dharma Bums has just been confirmed to perform at WolvesFest in Wolverhampton on 16-17th of June 2018. Where else can we see you playing live? Any coming up shows to look out for?

Kevin Wrench:  Our calendar is filling up quite nicely at the moment with new dates being added regularly. We’ve not pursued too many gigs in this early part of the year as we wanted to focus on writing new material and also we wanted to give our new percussionist Dan chance to settle in. We’re playing at The Swan in Stourport on 1st March and at the Cock & Magpie on 14th April. We’re currently arranging dates with many of the venues we’ve played at over the last couple of years, so if people wish to keep up to date they could check out our Facebook page  at http://www.facebook.com/dharmabumsuk.

And finally, a question that has to appear on every interview: where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?

Kevin Wrench: Wow, that’s a big question! I see us being maybe 2/3 albums further along with a lot more of an established fan base and maybe even having travelled to America to possibly have used a studio over there for mastering and with a bit of luck picked up a few gigs while we were there. I’d also like to have done a couple of mini tours in the UK, maybe also in Ireland and I’d like to have gigged in London. I’d also like to think we would’ve had a bit more airplay which seems to be the most difficult thing to acquire, particularly if you fall outside of the mainstream musical spectrum. The ultimate aim would be able to give up the day job  and focus full time on music. I don’t think any of us are naive enough to believe we’ll achieve fame and fortune but there are plenty of musicians out there who are not household names but still manage to make a good living from their music.

Dharma Buns review from Ryan Gigs Guide

Dharma Bums can be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dharmabumsuk/
Bandcamp: https://dharmabumsuk.bandcamp.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkOHwhVl706lJQxVJB0fLcA
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5Ex1lCGaJ20okS35pfwa2O

Articles about the band:
http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15888601.Kidderminster_band_brings_a_touch_of_the_wild_west_to_district
http://www.stourbridgenews.co.uk/news/local/15888670.Stourbridge_film_maker_brings_wild_west_to_Bewdley
http://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/15369035.Kidderminster_band_to_release_debut_EP_next_month/

You can purchase their music here:
CDBABY:
https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/dharmabums12
Amazon Music: https://www.amazon.com/Nothing-to-Lose-Blues/dp/B0742979NT
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/nothing-to-lose-blues-ep/1261253519
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Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz