Hailing from York this foursome consisting of Ross McLeod, Ash Harding, Ben Porter, and Jordan Maher have gotten together and formed Likely Lads and have just completed a tour taking their own unique brand of Indie Alternative Rock to eager fans up and down the country. They still have one show to go on 22nd December in Selby at the Riverside but did find the time to take a quick breather and have a chat.
You formed as a band in 2010 how did that come about? Have any of you been members of other bands before that? If so who and what bands?
“We decided to form after Leeds Festival 2010. We are all long time musicians and had worked on various projects and had been in other bands and stuff before, so it seemed like a good idea to get together and make some tunes and have a laugh. It wasn’t anything serious for the first few months, but then we realised people actually thought we were quite good and were coming to listen to the music, not just because they were our friends.”
What were your earliest musical influences? Do you think these come through in your music? Where did the name of the band come from?
“We have no idea really; there’s always been so much. Between the 4 of us we like every single style of music that’s out there. And we’ve all written music in pretty much every style too! And yeah I think this does show through, each one of our songs has elements in it that are completely different to the last one, but also relate to each other enough that you can tell it’s still us. I think that’s important for a band, to not be tied down to one specific sound but also not trying to get known for being strange and innovative just for the sake of it. The band name (Likely Lads, not The !) came from the term Likely Lads which is often said to refer to a mischievous young lads who are always trying to make up schemes to try and better each other, whilst trying to make something of their lives and do well for themselves. Kind of like northern Del Boys from Only Fools and Horses. “
(Sorry guys…. Can I blame a typo? No? Oh dear…..)
Your first album was recorded in York and your second was recorded in London is that right? How did the experiences differ? Do you have a preference? Each recording studio is different so what were the best and worst parts of recording at the different studios?
“Well we haven’t really recorded anything towards an album yet. We have 15 tracks which we have given away to people for free which is entitled ‘Melrose Yard Demos’ – most people think that’s our first album, but it’s more like a library of songs that we recorded in our local studio and wanted the fans to hear. Some of the songs on there will make the first album, but some of them will be left on there so people can have them whenever they like, in their original form. But yeah those 15 songs were recorded in a local studio in York, and we have also done some recording in London. The London recordings aren’t for releasing purposes, nothing we’ve done down there has ever been put out. The reason we’ve been going down there to record is more to gain experience of recording in higher end studios, and to demonstrate how we work as a band to labels and publishers and other people that are interested in the band. We’ve had lots of people come in to see us while we’ve been down there, which has been great for us, now we just need to convince one of them to invest in us! So we can’t really compare the studios, the local one is great for its purpose -recording demos that sound good and can be recorded in an environment where we feel really comfortable, but the ones in London are multi-million pound studios with lots of technical stuff that could make your record sound amazing, but we haven’t been using because we aren’t putting the tracks out!”
There is a lot of twaddle about putting music into such specific sub-genres that, for the average fan, it’s a bit of a minefield and even the journo’s are getting confused! So how would you best describe your music?
“To be honest we’ve kind of given up with the genre thing. When we started we were writing upbeat, easy listening indie pop kind of stuff, like ‘Big Dreams’ and ‘Observations’, then moved more towards an alternative rock sound with songs like ‘What You Waiting For’ and ‘Homewrecker’. But we still get called an indie band a lot, and we get people telling us we aren’t anything like indie, or we aren’t alternative, or whatever else somebody has written about us in a review and they’ve disagreed with! So now we’re just saying we’re a guitar band, and we play rock music. Then the fans can make their own mind up!”
Is there anything about the music industry you would change if you could
“Too much. The way people consume music now is out of control. Unlimited streaming of unlimited songs, you find yourself stuck in a mess of stuff you don’t even like listening to! People have that many songs now that they forget which songs they actually like, and which ones they just have on their iPod because they downloaded it to see if it was any good. Not that we’re against digital music or computers or anything, we’re all for that, but when you have an unlimited amount of songs readily accessible, it takes away the connection that used to be there between bands and their fans. If you had to wait for three months for a band’s new record to come out, then you went and queued up for 2 hours and bought it, you’d really appreciate that record (unless it turned out to be rubbish!). But if you simply click and download it, then you’re so much more likely to forget about it next time you want to listen to some music, so you’ll probably end up downloading something else. But mainly, nobody is prepared to invest in bands at the moment. Everybody wants dance pop and grime music, cos that’s what is selling. But bands are too risky. We wish somebody would have some balls, and actually go out and see some bands and pick a few that are actually hard working and writing really good songs, instead of sitting back flicking through youtube all day looking for the next Justin Bieber.”
You’ve worked really hard to spread your music, how did you go about this? Do you think it has helped to raise your profile?
“Yeah we’ve spent hundreds of hours telling everybody we can about our music. Facebook messages, tweets, youtube messages, emails all help, but it’s nowhere near as powerful as word of mouth. We try to make sure we always put on a great show when we perform live, and we give out free CDs to anybody who wants one, and it has our facebook address on it so they can like us and get some more songs. That’s helped us the most.”
I know that your part way into your latest tour so how does performing live compare to when you first started? How did you feel the first time you took to the stage?
“It’s much more natural now. We’ve always been able to play well, but when we first started out it was like we were 4 session musicians just trying to concentrate on getting the sound right, but nobody was taking the spotlight and actually performing well to entertain people. But now we’re much more comfortable just due to the amount of times we’ve played together, and we can quickly look at each other and know what the other person is going to do next. Which is a good thing, as it lets us move around a lot more and make things up on the spot as we know we’re all going to come back to the same point in so many bars time.”
Do you suffer any bouts of nerves before you get on stage? Do you have a routine to prepare before you go on?
“Not unless it’s a really big show. The tour we’ve just done with All The Young has been 200-350 per night and we’ve done so many of those now it feels like we can just be relaxed. I think the 4 of us were a bit nervous before Leeds Festival, as we were opening the whole thing and we weren’t sure how many people were going to come. But we got up there and there were a few thousand people who were all really up for it so it put us at ease straight away. Don’t really have a routine, it’s more just sorting out the gear and making sure everything is working right (we can’t afford a roadie yet so we’re doing it all ourselves). We like to be on our own just before we go on though, it’s too stressful to have lots of people asking you questions when you’re trying to get ready!”
Having toured with some really incredible bands must have been full of memorable moments, care to share any? Who would you most like to share the stage with?
“ Yeah we’ve played some great shows with all sorts of people. One of the best moments must have been when we played with Pete Doherty at the Barbican Centre in York, and he turned up absolutely off his head, and our drummer Jordan said to him ‘alright Pete’ to which he turned and replied ‘alright…… Pete.’ We had lots of laughs with Shed Seven who were great to us when we did 3 dates on their tour last December, but the most enjoyable moments we’ve had have been with All The Young on both this tour and the summer one we did, as we get on so well we can all be ourselves and have a laugh. Hanging out of van doors whilst racing down the motorway, going to a Motown/Soul club in Leeds, and going for a few too many drinks last night after the final show have always been great fun this week. And if we could share the stage with anyone, it would have to the Rolling Stones. Very few people will get to do that, and they’re one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Failing that we’d also open for an Oasis reunion gig any day of the week!”
So crystal ball time, what does the future hold for The Likely Lads?
“We’re currently writing and recording a lot of material to add to our bank of songs that we’ll be sending off to labels and publishers, and looking for more tours for the New Year. We’ve just released a new EP Swings & Roundabouts which is available to buy from our website at http://likelylads.co.uk and we’re working on getting another single ready for around February time. And we’ll probably spend a lot of time trying to tell people there’s no ‘the’ in our name, haha!”
Apparently it’s going to be a while before I live down the ‘the’faux pas…. Nevertheless thank you very much guys and good luck with the release but let’s face it when you sound as good as these guys do then who needs luck?