British folk-punk for a summer’s afternoon, a sound forged in festivals and bonfires, with fiddle-driven rabble rousers and songs that stir the soul. The Leylines was started by a group of West Country musicians driving home from a session at the legendary Sawmills studios. Levelling The Land by The Levellers was on the car stereo. Something about the sound of the record, the rolling Cornish landscapes and the smell of summer connected in vocalist Steve’s head.
Steve, a product of council estates and stints in the Army, put his observations on the state of the nation into music and started writing. Adding the different musical backgrounds of band mates Matt (guitar), Pete (bass), Dave (drums) and Hannah (violin), The Leylines have created a style that combines the acerbic social commentary of Paul Weller with a folk-rock vibe that will send you right back to those long, hazy, festival days.
We were fortunate enough to see the band supporting Ferocious Dog in Exeter, after the show we hooked up and had a good chat about mosh pits, Sunday morning albums and a band called The Levellers (who they like, a lot!), here's how we got on.....
We know you’re a Weston-super-Mare based band who play a mean set, what else can you tell us about the band that even Google doesn’t know?
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed our set! There’s not much about us that isn’t already online really… We’re very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of band!
How did the Ferocious Dog gig come about and were you tempted to join the mosh pit?
The FD gig came about basically through the phenomenon of social media and generally building a good friendship over the last few months. We’re a relatively new band on the scene, so it was great to chat with them about their experiences. They’re great guys and we were over the moon when they asked us to support them at Exeter!
What 3 words would you use to describe the band?
Passionate, energetic, relatable
What does music mean to you?
It’s everything really. It plays such a massive part in our lives that we couldn’t really function without it. For us, it’s a great way of expressing our opinions (some of our songs have a slightly political twist on them), but when we’re gigging, we’re mostly up there to enjoy ourselves - so that’s what we do!
What are your Saturday night and Sunday morning albums?
Difficult to say, there’s so many that spring to mind, but if we were cornered:
Saturday night - The Levellers, Levelling The Land
Whilst on Sunday mornings, what is the best hangover cure?
Hair of the dog’s probably the most popular choice! It’s definitely up there with a bacon sandwich and a good power nap. Can’t fault a hangover pint!
Do you all come from musical backgrounds?
Yes - We’ve all been playing our respective instruments for donkeys years! 4 out of 5 of us (Sorry Dave!) come from Weston-super-Mare. It has a great music scene so we knew each other from being in other bands locally. We managed to snag Dave (drummer) at the beginning of 2015 and it’s like he’s been with us from the start.
Do you all share the same musical tastes?
There’s definitely a lot of common ground in terms of our individual tastes (The Levellers is unmistakeably an influence!), but we’ve found a way to work in our own sounds. Steve (singer) is very influenced by the songs of Paul Weller, while Hannah (violin) has a tendancy towards Muse and Radiohead. There’s little lines that pop up in different songs that give a nod to our favourite musicians, which has helped us develop our sound.
What was the very first song you learned to play as a band?
The very first song we ever learned was ‘Let It Go’ from our EP of the same name (no, not the Disney song!). Steve and Matt first jammed it out at a session at Sawmill Studios down in Cornwall and we sort of just took it from there!
Who would you say are your main musical influences?
The Levellers (of course)
3 Daft Monkeys (who we supported at our first ever gig together)
What, in your opinion, is THE best album in the world EVER?
You can probably see a pattern appearing here - Levelling The Land - It has everything you’ll ever need for any mood you’re in. It’s what we listen to before a gig, in the bus on the way to festivals, having a bounce around the house - anytime, anywhere!
What is your idea of hell?
Probably not being able to make music. It’s the best feeling being up on stage, recording and writing tunes and generally having a laugh with your mates. It’d be the worst thing not to be able to have all that.
What are your aspirations as a band?
We’re quite a simple bunch, so we don’t want for much, but basically: More recording, more gigs, more festivals! We’re already in talks with a few people for 2016, so watch this space!
If you could be any character from a movie, who would you be and why?
Can a whole band be a single character?? We’d probably be that grubby bunch of musicians you see in the background of a tavern scene in something like Pirates of the Caribbean or Game of Thrones!
There are tons of social media channels out there at your disposal, which would you say are the best ones to get your music out to people?
There’s loads of really good platforms out there that support unsigned and independent musicians. We’ve found that having our music available to stream on SoundCloud has helped get the EP out there, but for the most part we’re fairly old-school in that you can only buy our music through our website and at our gigs. People still like to have the option of having a physical CD, so we’re happy to oblige.
What are your views about the use of smartphone and tablet use at concerts, do you think they should be banned?
Not at all. For a new band on the scene, we need all the coverage we can get, so we really encourage people to get their phones and tablets out - take photos, videos and share with their mates. It really helps spread the word!
Have you had any embarrassing moments when on stage?
There was an incident at a gig in Cardiff a few weeks ago involving Hannah’s curly hair and the headstock of Pete’s bass. Red hair all over the place!
How do you approach song-writing?, is there a ‘magic formula’?
Steve does the majority of the song-writing. It mostly starts with an idea that will have been floating around his head for a while. We jam it out in rehearsals and it usually finds its feet. If we really like it, it goes into the live set.
Any festival appearances planned for 2015?
LOADS! You can catch us at any of the lovely festies this year: See the list at the bottom.
We'd normally call it a day here but seeing as they were a real fun bunch of people, we thought we'd make them endure some of our classic quickfire questions....
Real ale or Cider?
Bagel or Crumpet?
The Levellers or The Pogues?
The Levellers (Shocker!)
Great British Bake Off or Masterchef?
Night out or Night in?
Why not both?
BBQ or Picnic?
Strictly or X-Factor?
Festival or normal gig?
Camping or Campervan?
Beach or Pool?
Where’s the beach?
Sunbathing or Snowboarding?
Whichever has the nearest bar!
Paperback or Kindle?
God or Google?
ALL HAIL OUR INTERNET OVERLORDS!
The band is playing LOADS of shows this summer, please take a look at the image below and for more information, check their website
We'd like to thank the band for taking the time to chat to us and to endure our questions. If you get a chance to go and see them live either at a gig or a summer festival, please make every effort to do so, you'll have an absolute ball, guaranteed! To find out more about the band, why not have a dig around their social media, I have listed a load for you below, just click and go!
Interview by Steve Muscutt