Fans pile into the former Digbeth Institute this eve to take in some of the best in mainstream British rock music. The old jazz club is made up of three rooms, the largest of which can house up to 3,000 punters and is the scene for tonight’s fun and games. The audience is made of up everyone from screaming teenage girls to trendy hipsters but regardless of who you are this evening, everybody is here for a single reason – Seeing their rock heroes return to the country’s second biggest city.
Lonely The Brave take to the stage. For those who have witnessed the band in action prior to this eve, the band create an interesting ambiance to their shows with frontman David Jakes standing way back on the stage and letting his band mates soak up the glory. He stays static, belting out planet-sized vocal lines on Black Mire and occasionally getting a little rawer on the driving likes of Radar. It’s easy to see why the band have garnered a reputation as a blinding live act – clearly a combination of Jakes’ Maynard-James Keenan-esque stationary roars, the intensity of the remaining band members and the staggering sounds they are able to produce live. (8)
Such is the anticipation for headliners Mallory Knox this eve that the rawkus crowd don’t mind the Cambridge quintet kicking off with brand new track Giving Up. It’s an impressive start to say the least with frontman Mikey Chapman handling the falsetto chorus notes with ease. As good a reaction as the supporting bands get, it’s clear who people are here to see this eve with the heaving mass leaving their feet for almost every song. Once again, the venue sound compliments the expansive sound of the band with the chunky bassline of Dying to Survive pulsing beneath echo-laden lead guitar and Kids in Glasses-soundalike California reaching anthem status.
Chapman cheekily announces Lucky Me is about “the best thing you can do in bed besides watch Netflix or eat Nachos” before launching into yet another scorching new track. The crowd laps up the newer material but it’s Asymmetry track Shout at the Moon and a riotous rendition of first album opener Beggars that really see the capacity crowd come unglued.
Still a young band in the grand scheme of things, Mallory Knox keep the energy of their tracks alive with tremendous stage presence, especially Chapman, whose connection and charismatic exchanges with the brummie audience make for a truly excellent rock show feel. He keeps these vibes going with yet another new track titled Falling In Love which although bittersweet in nature, manages to bring the audience together when the song’s chorus hits.
It doesn’t seem too long ago that Mallory Knox were a ‘word on the street’ band, freshly signed to an upcoming label and kicking out singles like nobodies business – so to see them packing out academies and bringing crowds together with rip-roaring sing-alongs demonstrates just how much life British music still has in its lungs. As the band finish up with an encore of the super catchy Better Off Without You and a set staple Lighthouse, it is apparent that these Cambridge boys aren’t going away anytime soon. (8)
Do you like Lonely The Brave? Then you will want to feast yourself on their new song they are streaming titled ‘Collider‘. Full of what makes this band great, their upcoming EP will surely be a great way into their 2017.
Photo credit: Jade Falconer for Musicology at 2000 Trees Festival
Lonely The Brave were one of the headliners for Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival (you can read our review of their gig here), and we caught up with guitarists Mark Trotter and Ross Smithwick in a romantically unlit bar above the venue to discuss how these pariahs of rock ‘n roll manage their career. They went into detail for us about where their music comes from, their influences and whether they ever saw themselves where they are now. Without further ado, we’ve laid out this suitably honest interview as it was spoken.
You recently released your second album Things Will Matter. Are you happy with the response to it?
Ross: Yes. I mean mainly, yeah. Across the board reviews have been amazing and the fans have really taken to it. We were… Not worried, but it’s always a bit nerve-wracking when your new release comes out and you’ve strayed away from the first record. It’s been overwhelming.
There was some stylistic change on the album. Was that something you planned or a natural evolution?
Mark: We don’t ever plan to sound in any specific way. The way we write, what comes out and what goes onto record. We’re very different people than the people that recorded that first record. For a start we were a four piece band at that point. Ross came along, and that’s obviously going to change things in terms of the sound, the band, and much for the better. Everything’s changed since then. Life in general is different, and you write music about the things that happen to you, that you’re experiencing. There’s probably a good four years between those two records, so it’s going to sound different. We had a lot happen to us as a band and as people in between, so it’s going to take an effect.
Did you have any specific goals going into recording Things Will Matter?
Mark: We had a bit of a point to prove, didn’t we? Ross: Yeah. Going into it we knew it was going to sound different, but you don’t really know until it’s finished, how different or… You know, a song can change right up to the last minute. We just wanted to make it, one hundred percent as killer as possible. Put one hundred percent into it and be true to ourselves, write what we wanted to do. That was the only goal really, to be honest with ourselves. I think we did that, pretty much.
Would you say your musical influences have changed since you first started recording?
Mark: I guess we all listen to very different music, different bands and different artists. But, with anything that evolves, new artists come along and inspire you, or something you haven’t heard before, so yes of course. Any music you listen to is an influence in some way. There’s always new artists out there you discover, or maybe new artists to you.
As yourselves as a band grow in proficiency and the sizes of audiences you play to, do you think you’ll find it difficult to stay in touch with the factors that originally motivated you?
Mark: I can understand where that question comes from, but the reality of being in a band – certainly at our level – dictates that your feet are stuck firmly on the ground. Even if we were flying around in jets and multimillionaires… I mean, no. We’re very planted in reality. We’ve all worked jobs for a long time, we’re not seventeen and living at home, we’ve had a lot of life before the band started doing things. We know what life is, I guess, and what it’s all about. We have a lot more responsibilities outside of the band than, perhaps, some younger artists do. There’s no chance of that changing. Ross: It’s a slow build for us. It’s not like we’ve gone from zero to one hundred, I’d say we’re about at fifty-two at the minute. Mark: Fifty-three and a half. Ross: I don’t think we’ll ever be… Actually, fuck it, I’m going to be well arrogant on my gold throne when we’ve sold eight hundred million thousand trillion records. Mark: I mean, me too. I’ll have a plane with my face on it, and a massive middle finger. The registration will be ‘FU TROT’. That’s my plane.
You’ve spoken before about your personal situations when you were first recording. Is the band now something you could’ve conceived of back then? Did you have a solid goal?
Mark: Never. I mean, we never had any aspirations apart from playing music and recording it. That was as far as aspirations went. If people liked it, cool, if they didn’t that’s cool as well. You can only write songs and write music for yourselves, primarily. If other people like it, awesome. That’s where it kind of stems from. Could I see us as the band we are now? Yes and no, for better or for worse. I guess people always change in some respects. Fundamentally we’re still the same people. I mean I don’t know, but to predict where you’re going to be at a certain time point would be a very difficult thing for anyone to do. I don’t know if that’s something I’d be comfortable trying to think of. It’s a ride isn’t it… It’s just a ride man! Let’s go all Bill Hicks on it, it’s just a fuckin’ bumpy ride man.
Is that still the sort of attitude you have now, or have you developed a more focused goal? Or, do you take it as it comes?
Ross: You’ve got to have a bit of both really. Obviously we’re ambitious people, we want to push it as far as we can go but at the same time we can’t really concentrate on that. You’ve got to take it as it comes. Anything can change in the blink of an eye in this business as we’ve seen. So, obviously we still have stuff we want to do and places we want to get to, you just can’t predict anything. Mark: Very true.
You released the Dust & Bones EP, what was it that made you decide to form that four-track EP rather than a re-release of Things Will Matter similar to The Day’s War?
Mark: Those songs – the majority of them anyway – were recorded in the same session as the Things Will Matter album, and we didn’t put them on the record. Not because they weren’t good enough, more around the fact it didn’t flow how we wanted it to flow with those songs in the album. So, we took them out. We’re not really one for stockpiling songs as we said earlier. Songs are, to us, a bit of a snapshot in time of us, and what we’re doing at the time, so it feels kind of weird to hold those songs for when we make another album down the line. So, it just seemed like the right thing to do to put them out on their own EP and be their own entity that ties in with the album but isn’t part of it. Ross: All the songs are strong enough to be on the album, but like Mark says, they didn’t really fit so we just wanted to share it all, really.
Did you have a particular motivation for choosing Comfortably Numb to cover?
Mark: It was Dave’s choice actually. I think Dave’s recently discovered Pink Floyd in depth, obviously he was very well aware of who they were but I think he’s become a fan over the last few years. I think also from Dave’s perspective… It’s a bold choice man, I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan and to try and take that particular song on was probably a bit stupid if I’m honest. I think we kind of do it justice. I think we’re respectable enough to it in form not to try and pretend we’re Pink Floyd, we just do it the way that we do it. It was kind of good fun, we’ve played it live quite a bit now. Ross: It’s gone down quite well. It’s a weird one to play. You just want to shred, don’t you! Mark: I fucking hate it. Like I say, being a Gilmore fan trying to play Dave Gilmore solo’s without seeming like a complete cock is pretty hard work. I’ll swap with you, any time. Ross: We could do it tonight. It would be a catastrophe.
Do you have any highlight gigs from your career?
Mark: A few… Ross: There’s a few, but there’s one biggie – Reading main stage was literally a dream come true, so. I don’t think we’ll top that. But then, we have these Biffy Clyro gigs coming up and they’re going to be insane every night. There’s been some special nights along the way, even some of the not so big gigs. Like, the Cambridge Corn Exchange gig one, the album release show we did was. Even for me, I mean I’m not from Cambridge as I joined later but for these guys it must have been… Mark: That one was mental. I went to my first proper gig at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. My sister took me for my 15th birthday. I’d been to other gigs but it was my first proper gig. To go and headline that ourselves was pretty special.
You’re on the road quite a lot. Do you tend to write on the road or do you have more focused writing sessions?
Ross: There’s been a few sort of jams we’ve done in sound checks, but we definitely focus on the touring, we don’t focus on writing. For us that’s just how it works, we want to pour one hundred percent into each aspect. That might change in the future. We haven’t really had the facilities. Mark: It’s a bit difficult in a van! Ross: The sound checks have been about half an hour long so we can’t really.
In terms of touring, what artists are there out there that you’d love to tour with?
Mark: I’d love to go on tour with The National, absolutely love The National. I’d quite like to go on tour with Frightened Rabbit too actually, I think they’d be a lot of fun. Otherwise, I don’t know. Actually, I’d love to go out on tour with Andy, Andy Shauf though we wouldn’t fit at all, he’s just fucking awesome so I just drop his name in everywhere. I hate music and I hate everyone else so just those three. Ross: If we could get Smashing Pumpkins original line-up to reform that would be pretty rad. The Chili Peppers. Mark: Oh yeah that would work really well! Why don’t we go out with Fleetwood Mac circa ’77 ish? Ross: All those bands that we just chose would probably be horrendous to tour with.
As a band you write songs that are very thoughtful and emotionally invested. Do you think it can be imposing to continue to write songs about those issues without feeling you’re treading familiar ground?
Mark: No, because I don’t think we are. They’re not about the same things. I mean if you’re going to pigeon-hole it you can say its emotions, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Certainly when it comes to writing the music, not the lyrics, from my perspective I’m not sure if it’s the same from Ross’s perspective, you’re writing about the things that have pissed you off that day or have affected you in any way, or things that make you happy. Lyrically, it’s certainly not “my girlfriend’s left me” twelve times on a record. There’s a lot more going on than that. Ross: I think if music hasn’t got that emotional depth… I mean, I like music without any words at all but it’s still got an emotional pull to it. I think any kind of music that’s worth anything has got to mean something. Dave’s going to write from the heart, and that won’t change at all. There would be no point producing meaningless rock, there’s plenty of that about.
What is your opinion with pay to play gigs and tour packages?
Ross: From what we hear they’re ridiculous amounts of money which is just obscene. Mark: Just don’t do it, it’s retarded. Ross: I understand why people want to be on these shows but they shouldn’t have to do it.
Mark: Sorry, I’ve just got the set-list through, I’m just seeing what I’ll have to do in a minute… It’s Comfortably Numb twelve times! Ross: A fifteen minute solo.
It turns out Lonely The Brave did perform Comfortably Numb that evening, and Mark did Dave Gilmore proud regardless of his concerns. It wasn’t, however, a set fully comprised of Comfortably Numbrenditions, but the flowing mastery we’ve come to expect from these Cambridge rockers. We’ll have all the latest news from Lonely The Brave, so don’t miss it!
One of the venues for Cardiff prodigious Sŵn (meaning ‘Sound’ in Welsh) Festival was Tramshed, where Cambridge rockers Lonely The Brave headlined the Saturday night. Unfortunately we arrived at the gig a little after doors as Black Foxxes were kicking off their set, and what a start to the evening that was!
Black Foxxes recently released their debut album I’m Not Well, and material from that album comprised their set. Bringing together many different influences ranging from grunge through indie and alternative rock, seeing Black Foxxes perform is impressive. Vocalist and guitarist Mark Holley boasts a great range and an imperious command over his performance, combined with the proficiency of the rest of the trio, makes for a proficient display. The band finished their set with a rendition of their title track I’m Not Well, and the eclectic energy of the track led to a chilling finale. There was a sense of distance between the audience and the band however, who were rather quiet between songs, without great amounts of charisma to tide them over. [7/10]
Up next were Casey, a band from South Wales professing a fusion of ethereal alternative rock and post-hardcore elements. Their set was infused with a tangible sense of atmospheric tension set out through Tom Weaver’s raw vocals. This quintet also put out an album recently, but they’re well practiced on their new tracks, flying through their set with barely a misplaced note. Whilst Weaver might look somewhat nervous on stage between songs, he interacted with the crowd well, and there was nothing tentative about his performance within songs themselves. Being the heaviest band on the bill for a festival show. Casey made their time on stage their own, with their heartfelt spoken-word sections ringing out clearly. These five gentlemen made an understated yet strong bid for highlight set of the evening. [8/10]
Sub-headlining for Lonely The Brave were Fatherson, a Scottish rock band. They manage to instill their cleaner performance with energy, and something that stood out about the band were how much fun they were having on stage. The grins across the faces of the band were infectious, lightening the room with an abundantly positive atmosphere. Fatherson dedicated most of their set-list to their recent album Open Book, but didn’t miss out on some fan-favourites from their debut I Am An Island. The Scots rocked their way through their set in a reverie of dulcet melody and expressive musicianship. It’s fair to say that their music lacks the raw intensity of the bands that preceded them, but this did little to infringe on their set. As long as these men were on-stage, they were having a great time and the audience were too. [7/10]
It’s only fair that the headline act stole the show on Saturday. From their first song to their last, Lonely The Brave‘s set was an unparalleled show of euphoric excellency. The band paid respects to both of their albums fairly equally, and whilst material from The Day’s War garnered a slightly bigger response than songs from their sophomore record Things Will Matter, the band are unlikely to be disappointed with the audience interaction for either. Some of the bigger tracks from the second record, like Black Mire were equally impressive to anything the band have performed before, and it’s with a practiced hand that Lonely The Brave move through their set.
Guitarist Mark Trotter handles the audience interaction for the band, and he is humble on behalf of the whole quintet. The band have had a respectably linear career thus far, and cannot be accused of shooting to any kind of fame. Lonely The Brave are a very hard-working band, and for those invested in them, it’s truly rewarding to see how it’s paying off. Highlight songs from the gig included the emotionally-enriched The Blue, The Green and an anthemic show of Dust & Bones. They played their ambitious cover of Comfortably Numb, and it’s a respectful homage to Pink Floyd with just enough originality.
Hearing the opening riffs of Backroads flow out will always be a special moment at a Lonely The Brave show, and it’s a song that clearly means a lot to fans and band alike. It’s not their set-closer any more however – Black Saucers was a good choice, thematically darker than some of their material, it was an intense farewell to the gig. In all, Lonely The Brave are undeniably a stellar live band, and watching them perform is a true pleasure. [9/10]
Lonely the Brave have moved their Birmingham October 21st show to Friday November 18th. An official statement said:
“Due to the logistical difficulties arising from being asked to do the Biffy Clyro tour of Europe we are having to move our Birmingham show from 21st of October to Friday 18th of November. Unfortunately Tall Ships are unable to join us on this show. We’ll announce supports soon. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Thanks for your support!”
All October tickets are valid for the new November date, or fans can approach the original ticket seller for a refund. You can view the full UK tour dates below.
03/10/16 The Haunt, Brighton
04/10/16 Chinnerys, Southend
06/10/16 Electric Ballroom, London
07/10/16 Marble Factory, Bristol
08/10/16 Neighbourhood Festival, Manchester
10/10/16 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
11/10/16 King Tut’s, Glasgow
14/10/16 O2 Academy, Leicester
15/10/16 The Key Club, Leeds
18/10/16 O2 Academy, Oxford
19/10/16 Welly, Hull
22/10/16 SWN Festival – The Tramshed, Cardiff
18/11/16 O2 Academy, Birmingham
If you haven’t grabbed a ticket but still want to experience Lonely the Brave in all their glory, you can watch their video of Comfortably Numb live at The Glasshouse.