Sloes are a London based 5 piece who are going to be playing at the Sidmouth Fringe Festival on July 31st, we thought it be a great idea to catch up with the band ahead of their performance and find out a bit more about them. Read on to see exactly what we chatted about....
Just so people know a bit about the band, please describe your music to us and any interesting facts or nuggets of information that not many people know….
We’re a five-piece indie band from London. Our sound is a mix of electric and acoustic influences which has been dubbed ‘orchestral pop’ once before, which we quite liked. Our first EP Chasing Tails, was a moody broody number that saw violin and cello combining with electric guitars laced in plenty of delay and reverb. Our current single, called Young, is due for release in the next few weeks and has a more poppy overtone. All our music is centered around lyrics and themes that mean something to us. I love words and their ability to express and convey feeling and sentiments. We always try and make sure our songs explore elements of our everyday life experiences, so I think there’s a real genuine quality to what we do.
You're called 'Sloes', how did the name come about?
Choosing a name is a thankless task in a band where you try and be as democratic as possible. Getting five people to like one name is, well, tricky to say the least. Sloes captured a sense of who we are. We all have fond memories of our parents picking sloes to make gin when we were kids. It conveys a certain subculture of British identity I think. It’s one word but it conveys a type, a place and a time, which I think is probably as much as you can ask for in a name.
You're based in London, the scene there is so diverse, do you find yourself having to really pull out the stops in order to get noticed there?
Playing in London is a steep learning curve. You’d think it was the place to be in terms of opportunities and experiences and it is in some respects, but getting noticed in one of the largest fish bowls on the planet isn’t easy. I think Paul, our guitarist, once said that if we came from his home town Derby, we’d already be a lot better known than we are here in London. You can build up a reputation from playing the circuit. In London there is so much to see and so many bands playing at the same time, on the same night, all over the city, it’s saturated to an extent that it isn’t in a smaller town.
I see that you were recently featured on BBC Radio London Introducing with Gary Crowley, how was the experience and how has submitting your music to BBC Introducing made a difference to the band?
Gary has been a great advocate of ours over the past year or so. He played Chasing Tails when our EP came out and I think he’s played us a couple of times since then too. Once he had us on his radar, he’s been pretty supportive. He asked us to go in and appear on his radio show recently, which was fantastic and we are also playing on BBC Introducing’s stage down at the Scoop at Tower Bridge on the 3rd of August. BBC Introducing is a wonderful vehicle for all grassroots bands. Gaining exposure is the key to building a following and radio is pretty fundamental to that. I think it’s important to make sure the music you are submitting is of a high quality though, perhaps the temptation is to upload whatever you have as soon as you have it, but the standard is very high so your music really needs to stand out.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Bit of a leftfield question… I’d want to fly. It’s the obvious choice really. Imagine having your headphones on and flying into the sunset. Got to be pretty special. Plus superman was able to reverse time by flying around the world so essentially you can time travel too!
What would you say is your biggest 'claim to fame'?
I bumped into Ron from Harry Potter outside Barfly years ago. I was talking to this guy who had blagged a cigarette off me. We were stood chatting when he proclaimed “I know that guy! I went to school with him” and started to point at Ron. He was genuinely convinced, he even went to over to him to tell him he went to school with him at which point I said “what, you went to Hogwarts?” Poor old Ron looked so embarrassed that he just walked off and didn’t even bother trying to get in.
If you could form your own 'Supergroup' using ANY musicians, dead/alive or fictional, who would be in your lineup and why?
I’m pretty sure Jo would want Thom Yorke to be in there, just to mix things up I’d stick Bootsy Collins on bass, Paul would probably love a bit of Johnny Marr on guitar and then the guys are always going on about Half Moon Run’s drummer (sorry don’t know his name) – he plays Bass Station and drums at the same time so he’s definitely got it going on. That sounds like a band for the ages to me.
How do you approach the whole songwriting process, melody or lyrics first?
As a band I think you have to work out what works for you. It’s idiosyncratic so it can take some time to iron out. I think now we have had the same lineup for a few years we have it pretty nailed down. Paul and Jo usually come to rehearsal with a riff, which we then work on as a band until there’s a chord change or two. Then that needs to go somewhere so we work on what is usually the chorus. Once we have that loop we play it over and over so Katie and Luke can work on drums and violin and I sing over the top to get an idea of intonation and rhythm for the vocals. We record it when it’s taking some shape and then listen to it during the week when we are not together. I then write down the nonsense I was singing just to get used to the structure and then chose a topic and start to re-write the lyrics so they make sense and fit the mood of the music. Essentially we write mainly together (apart from the lyrics) so this approach works for us.
Do you all have similar tastes in music?
We have crossovers. We all like some of the same music. There’s a definite collective sound and ideal but individually I imagine everyday we listen to quite different stuff. I like the variety I think it’s conveyed in the music we make together. If you trust each other and you creative abilities, your music reflects the mix each person brings to the conversation. Having diverse influences helps you to make a sound that’s not just a reflection of one person’s domineering agenda.
What was the very first song that you all played as a band?
Oosh blimey! I think it was a song called Teenage Malaise. It was pretty epic as I recall (perhaps too epic come to think of it). Our sound was more rocky back then. Unfortunately a rather witty ex drummer coined it ‘teenage mayonnaise’ and after that it never really recovered. I think I even introduced it using the wrong name once at a gig; we’d got so used to calling it that in rehearsal.
Your 'Chasing Tails' EP was released last year and received a great response across the board, I hear that your new track 'Young' is due to land soon, can we expect a London launch show?
We were genuinely blown away by all the positivity surrounding the release of our EP Chasing Tails. I guess you spend so long writing and playing the damn songs you lose all perspective on whether they’re actually any good or not. I remember me and Jo asking each other whether we liked any of the songs off the EP before it was released. The response came as a welcome surprise. Our new single Young is due for release any week now. We’ve been working with producer Jim Lowe on our new recordings so we’re really looking forward to seeing what people think. The performance at the Scoop for BBC Introducing on the 3rd of August will act as a kind of launch so please come along and see what you think.
Michael Eavis wants you to provide 3 headline acts for next year's Glast Fest, who would you put up on the Pyramid stage and why?
Radiohead would be a definite shoe in. I saw them the year they headlined with R.E.M. and they were amazing. I think all of us grew up listening to one or another of their albums (sign of a good band). Katie suggested Fleetwood Mac, which, from what I’ve heard would be epic. Surely one of the days needs to unite the old timers with the younger generation and no-one does that quite like Fleetwood Mac. Finally Jo suggested Mogwai which kind of wraps things up nicely. That’s a pretty amazing lineup right there.
Which act or band made YOU want to get a band together in the first place?
I used to listen to a lot of singer/songwriters when I was a child. I grew up with Loudon Wainwright and Bob Dylan in my head. I learnt to play the guitar (badly) just to be able to write lyrics really and express myself. Being in a band hasn’t changed that but those early experiences of lyrics and the power of thoughtful words inspired me. Two bands that really drove home the notion of having both; strong lyrics with powerful music, were Radiohead and the Smashing Pumpkins. I think their earlier albums, more than any others, inspired me to want to form a band.
In your opinion, what would you say is the BEST album ever released?
I asked the others about this and we all agreed on two – The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, and Let England Shake by PJ Harvey. Katie suggested Oops!... I did it again by Britney Spears. I think that was tongue in cheek, she is from a slightly different generation. Apparently she used to listen to it on repeat and sing in front of the mirror. When they were on a family holiday once Jo and his older brother snapped the cd in half. Little Katie was traumatised apparently.
We haven’t, we’ve been keeping a low profile over the past six months to concentrate on writing so we haven’t been playing out until recently. I think by the looks they are all based outside of London too, we’ll be excited to meet them. I’ve listened to all their music online and it sounds like a great mix. I think it’s going to be a good night with a variety of styles.
Which other festivals are you playing this year?
We’re booked in to play at the Scoop in London for BBC Introducing, Stroud Fringe later in the summer and are going to doing a small tour of the UK at that time.
Staying on the subject of festivals, what are YOUR top three tips to surviving one?
Take a big enough tent. If it’s in England always take wellies. Don’t try and see too much; stick more than you twist as it’s the transitions that take up your night and it’s all about the music.
Give me a band or an artist who we should be checking out?
If you haven’t heard them already All We Are, are a fantastic Indie/pop band that have really impressed me in the last year. Start with 'Feel Safe', it will be hard to disagree.
Jerome was doing really well and we really wanted to try and break him, nothing more stressful than a barrage of quick fire questions coming at him like a round from an Uzi 9mm.....
Whiskey or Wine? wine
Burger or Kebab? - kebab
Kubrick or Hitchcock? Kubrick
Electric or Acoustic? Electric
Camping or Camper Van? Camping
Summer or Winter? summer
James Bond or Jason Bourne? Neither
Pub or Trendy wine bar? pub
Xbox or Playstation? Nintendo
De Niro or Pacino? De Niro
Leave or Remain? REMAIN
God or Google? Google
We'd like to thank Jerome for chatting to us and we wish Sloes every success in the future. They're playing live at the Sidmouth Fringe Festival on July 31st, if you're near Sidmouth, why not check out the website and get yourself along for what promises to be an amazing night of music!
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