Sunday, 1 May 2011

“Between the Lines” – The Lines Interview

The flame first ignited by industrial, working-class artists such as The Jam and The Undertones all those years ago still burns strongly in the heart of Wolverhampton, hometown of The Lines, whose infectious brand of indie pop leaves a lingering flavour of those dearly beloved, iconic bands of the 70s mixed with their determined attitude, hinting that there is much bigger things to come for these four likely lads.

First of all, congratulations on a cracking debut album, a testament to the hard work and care you’ve obviously put into making it; was it a difficult album to create?

Difficult isn't the right word, it's been a fun album to create.  We’ve taken our time over the songs when writing them, and they've evolved over time to what they are now.  We’re all really open to new ideas, so even now we still try to improve on the songs if we get any new ideas for them.  The album is was the culmination of that, and we're really happy with how it turned out, and it's really nice that people like yourself appreciate it as much as we do.

How did you first manage to break in to the competitive music scene? Did you get any significant help distinguishing the band?

The thing we pride ourselves on most is our live performance and as a result we've gained a lot of respect from people within the industry for that and gained a loyal following along the way, this honest approach to it has stood us well. In all honesty we're just four lads playing really good music and can cut it live, and that’s how we've got to where we are.  The one piece of advice we'd offer to anyone is to make sure you can cut it live as if you can't, you get found out rather quickly.

Could you tell us a bit about yourselves? Where are you all from and how did you meet?

In all honesty, there's not much to tell about ourselves.  Al and Dean grew up around the corner from each other, but we've all known each other for a while through gigging in different bands together. We’re just four lads who enjoy hanging out together, listening, making music and having a laugh.

Your music sounds like a proper mish-mash of several artists like The Courteeners, The Bravery, I think I can even hear the ghost of the Stone Roses buried in there somewhere, is there any particular bands that you’d credit as having a major influence on your sound?

We don't have one, two, or even ten particular influences.  The fact that no one can pin us down to one particular band we sound like is testament to this.  We’re all really into a wide variety of music, whether it be the stone roses, the Beatles, doves, or even more leftfield stuff for an 'indie' band like house music, hip-hop, punk, northern soul, whatever.  We just like music that grabs our attention, and that shows because we've taken a wide variety of sounds and created our own sound and by that we don't mean we've just taken brit-pop and given it our own new name...

What is the thought process you go through when you're writing songs?

The song-writing thing comes in a variety of ways. Sometimes Al will come with a demo of a song he’s written and we'll take it from there. Sometimes Danny will have a demo that he brings into the studio and we'll run with that. Another way we come up with songs is that we just start jamming stuff out and see where it goes.  If we like something then we run with it, and if it's not working we leave it.  If you force it, it doesn't work.  But just because it's not working then doesn't mean it won't in the future.  We’ve come back to idea's we had months ago and found it's suddenly started to work, it's just one of those things.  We all chip in with ideas for each other as well; it's really good for the band that we all are confident enough to come up with ideas for the parts that we're not even playing.  And all the while that we're jamming Al will be trying different lyrics out, and over time the song starts to take more and more shape.  It’s really fun when it all eventually comes together. It a really productive time at the moment, we've got ideas pouring out our minds and we're looking forward to getting them down and playing them live.

What do you do to help get the creative juices flowing?

Because we're all always listening to different music we don't really need to do anything to get the creative juices flowing as such.  As soon as we start jamming something we get different ideas from different songs.  We do often sit down and listen to a few different songs to see where the song might go, but yeah, just listening to loads of different music is all we need to do.

You’ve had a fair bit of exposure recently, supporting big name acts such as The Editors and Ocean Colour Scene, have these experiences brought about any influential changes in your personal lives?

The only change we've had since we've supported people like Ocean Colour Scene, Ian Brown and everyone else is that it's proven to us that we can hold our own when playing these bigger gigs supporting people like that.  To get people coming up to you after the gig saying they've never seen a support band that have impressed them so much means a lot.  As the support band it's really easy to get ignored by the crowd who've paid to go and watch bands like that, so we always make sure we play as well as we can to grab the attention of anyone who's never seen us before.

You’ve even had rock royalty singing your praises in the form of Robert Plant who said "There aren't really many good bands coming out of Wolverhampton, just one great band called the Lines". Do you agree with this statement?

The music scene in Wolverhampton, and the West Midlands in general is really strong in all honesty with quite a few decent bands, but when a legend like Robert Plant says that you're "great" you can't really disagree can you? haha

You were at SXSW this year, did you enjoy yourselves and did you manage to catch any of the Scottish talent that was showcased there?

SXSW was amazing, we did 9 or 10 gigs over the course of 5 days, so we kept ourselves really busy, but the only problem with that is that the only band that we got to see who we weren't gigging with was the Wu-Tang Clan! If we'd of had the chance we'd of definitely gone to watch Steve Mason as the Beta Band were mint!

Have you played any gigs that you thought were really special?

I think we all have gigs that will be special to us for different reasons, but the two main ones that stick out were supporting Ian Brown in Amsterdam at the start of last year as obviously he's a massive icon and also as it was at a venue called The Paradiso which is a truly magical place and we cannot recommend highly enough to anyone that they should try to go to a gig there at some point in there life.  But the main one that stands out at the moment would be the last time we played our hometown of Wolverhampton as we played at the Wulfrun Halls, which holds just over 1,100 people, and we sold it out.  To have people you know turned away from a gig is always a bit shit, but when it's such a big gig in such a big venue it is secretly really good for you ego!

You’re playing one of Scotland’s finest music venues King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow on May 4th, are you looking forward to taking on the Scottish crowd? We promise to make it an unforgettable night!

The last time we played in Scotland was actually in Glasgow supporting Ocean Colour Scene at the Barrowlands, which is obviously a big deal as it's a legendary venue.  We’d been told to expect a boisterous crowd, but we buzz off the energy of the crowd, so we always love it whenever we venture north of the border as the crowds up here are always up for it.  To start the tour in a venue like King Tut’s, which has such history, and with a Glaswegian crowd, we couldn't ask for more.  We literally cannot wait.

What advice would you give to any up and coming musicians?

The main advice we'd give to bands goes back to what we've said before, listen to as much music as you can so you can take inspiration from as many people as possible.  And you should genuinely enjoy the music you're playing, don't try to write songs because you think it's what you think other people want to hear. Oh, and don't think it's going to happen in a day. 

You can buy tickets to The Lines headlining show here: 

On another related note, fans of the The Lines would do well to check out Rosyth based band The Draymin, another tapestry of power pop sound, who would unquestionably be first in the long list of ‘related artists’.