An Interview with Viola Beach
Following the release of debut single “Swings and Waterslides” earlier this year, the success of Warrington-born indie kids Viola Beach is growing by the day. After a summer playing both Reading and Leeds fests, and fresh off a tour with Eliza and the Bear, it appears they’re set to be the next big thing. Ellipsis caught up with Kris, Jack, Tom and River at Liverpool Music Week, before their gig supporting Best Coast.
Ellipsis: Hi, welcome to Liverpool Music Week! We read that you’ve played in Liverpool before, at the Cavern, how was that?
Kris: We did do that, and it was very good, it was lovely. Mr. Dave Monks let us play there, gave us some instruments to play, and yeah, it was fun. It’s a very prestigious place, isn’t it, so it’s quite a good place to do a first gig.
E: So it was your first ever gig?
K: Yeah, together.
E: That’s crazy! It was BBC Introducing where you came from, wasn’t it? How does that work?
K: You upload your tunes to the uploader on the internet, and if they’re good enough they play them, and then if you’re lucky they play them on other [stations]. So if you’re good enough they play them on your local one. We got Merseyside because our postcode in Warrington is the closest to that. I don’t think radio exists in Warrington really, so they don’t really have BBC Introducing in Warrington. And then we got lucky, they played us on Radio 1 and all that, and it just went further and further. Radio 6, Radio 2, we played Reading and Leeds and all that.
E: What stage did you play at Reading and Leeds?
K: The BBC Introducing one.
E: What was that like?
K: Well, it was our second gig, so that was a bit odd, but it was fun, it was good fun. At Leeds we got to stay afterwards, so it was good fun.
E: Who did you see? Did you see any bands there?
K: We saw Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Jack: I dunno, I was asleep for most of it.
Tom: We saw Metallica as well, they were good.
E: So who are your influences?
K: This is the thing, people draw comparisons but I don’t consider myself to take influence from anyone else because I don’t believe in that. I believe that the line is too thin between being inspired by someone and imitating them, so musically I take a lot of inspiration from like, the weather and escapism, and concepts as opposed to bands. Well, obviously there’s bands I like listening to, but there’s a difference. I don’t listen to music to inspire me to write music, I listen to music that I really enjoy. Obviously the new bands like Catfish and the Bottlemen are amazing, and Blossoms, who we’re going on tour with. But like, inspiring us to be successful are bands who work really hard, like our manager’s other band Hidden Charms, who are literally just always on the road, and Eliza and the Bear, who we did a tour with. They’re lovely, and they work really hard as well, so I think that kind of thing inspires us. Musically we try and take as little as we can from other people. Obviously we get like, Arctic Monkeys and all that but that’s because I’ve got a Northern accent and we drink beer on stage. That’s about it.
E: What’s coming next for you guys? An EP, album…
T: We’ve been in the studio for a bit, and we’ve got… we’re allowed to say it, aren’t we?
K: We can say how many songs we’ve got, I don’t know whether we can say the date.
T: So next year sometime. We’ve got two songs there and we’ve just done twelve nights in London recording again and we’ve got another four [songs], and they’re all gonna be released next year.
K: So there’ll be possibly six songs released next year in some sort of format, some way or another.
J: On MySpace.
K: On MySpace. Or just on my iPod Classic, that’s it. And if you want to listen to it you’ll have to travel to Warrington and I’ll just give you one earphone.
E: How did you guys form, how do you know each other?
J: Me and Kris met in primary school, so we’ve known each other for ages…
K: Friendship goals!
J: We didn’t go to the same high school but we met up again, and then River went to Priestley College and Kris met him…
K: On a music course. On which we got told that we’d never be successful in a band and we were being taught how to be session musicians, so I quit.
R: He’d come into every lesson really hungover and hating it.
K: Yeah, because I used to always get U’s in the theory and then like, Distinction in the creative one, so I think they didn’t really like me because I didn’t really do anything except write really good songs. Not to sound full of myself, but you know what I mean. Then I met Tom in a bar that we worked in. He was a drummer, I asked him to find himself a bass and learn it…
T: And one out of two isn’t bad! I found the bass!
K: So yeah, he’s not quite learnt the bass yet but he’s done very, very well. He’s picked it up ridiculously quick.
R: He’s also really handsome.
K: But to be fair it was me, Tom and Jack for a bit and then we tried a couple of other people and a couple of other formulas, member and instrument-wise, and then I was like ‘I need a guitarist!’ who’s like, really good, and he’s obviously got to be a good-looking guy, let’s be honest, let’s face it, that’s what sells bands these days, but no one else was available so we just got River instead.
R: I was like ‘I’ve got nothing else to do so I might as well!’
K: So for three, four months we were trying to do it, trying to find someone. We were considering auditioning, and I was like ‘I’ve got to know someone!’ and then I realised we knew this good-looking man, so I got him to come down, and then he just decided to tolerate us being really annoying and joined a band with us! So that’s pretty much it. It’s not the most extravagant story in the world, but it’s quite relatable.
T: We could’ve said we all met at art college.
K: We all met when we were reading in the park!
R: We were all busking on our own!
K: I was smoking my posh cigarettes and drinking my large skinny latte! No but yeah, that’s it.