Wednesday, 11 May 2016

An Interview With THE BARMINES ~ 07.05.16

The Barmines are the next big thing, and I say that with complete confidence. I've seen them live a fair few times over the last twelve months or so and it's immediately clear to see how dedicated they are to their art and how driven they all are by their dreams of musical success which I definitely admire a great deal. This is a band who do not do things by halves, and in this day and age with so many up and coming bands striving to get themselves noticed, that's just the way it should be. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to speak to the band (comprised of frontman and guitarist Rob Burton, drummer Liam Lockey, guitarist Leam Hayes & bassist James May) just before their packed out Leeds show, which is their first hometown gig of 2016, at Belgrave Music Hall.

Photo by Jonathan Buck

How did you first come together as a band and what's the story behind The Barmines? 
Rob: We used to make music, but under a different name. We used to do lots of covers in pubs and clubs near us. It was mainly me and Liam (Lockey, drummer in the band). Leam (Hayes, guitarist) was in on it originally but he was going through a phase in his life where was just a bit of a little shit, so we just got rid of him, and then we just started doing our own stuff. Leam came back and then James started... pretty much two years ago. But me and Liam have been doing it for like six years.

The Leeds music scene is incredible at the moment... What other Leeds based bands have you seen and been impressed by recently?
James: I saw King No-One at Live At Leeds but they're from York aren't they, but they're kind of Leeds. We like Carnabells, Marsicans and we like The Mexanines.
Leam: I like Pulled Apart By Horses but they've been going for years.

Do you all have day jobs outside of the band?
Leam: I work in a bar.
James: I've been sacked!
(At this point the rest of the band react with shock, as James had seemingly kept this one to himself until now... looks like we have ourselves a Barmines exclusive! Everyone wants to know the details...)
James: I couldn't be bothered going into work so I didn't turn up, and that's why I got sacked.
Liam: Rob's a bus driver, and I'm a van driver.
Rob: I keep my head down. You get this face... you get the bus drivers' face. If I start getting asked for photos, that's when I need to leave.
James: He does get recognised!
Rob: Yeah, I have had a few people say "You're in The Barmines aren't you?"
James: I got on his bus once, and he drove off and left this woman behind and she was banging on the side of the bus! (For the record, Rob fervently denies this!)

We kind of touched on this a bit in the first question, but have any of you played in other bands before The Barmines?
Leam: I used to be in a band called Traffic Wire with Joe Mcgrath.
James: I was in a band for a while when I was younger.
Rob: Me and Liam have been in the same band together for ages.
Liam: I was 15, and you were nearly 22 so it's been quite a few years!
Rob: Proper bromance. It's getting emotional now!

I've heard a lot of people remark on how your live shows, and your music in general, has become a lot bigger of late- what steps have you taken to try and better yourselves as a band and achieve this? Has it been a case of locking yourselves away in rehearsals and the studio?
Liam: We've been practising quite a bit.
Rob: Practising, but always doing the right thing... not just playing loads of gigs, in Leeds at least. We share everything that's going on, every big thing anyway.
Leam: I think with songs as well we go by, in our opinions, our best song and when we write a new song we try and make it better than our best song.
James: We've got a few recorded now and we'll be holding on to them and seeing which is best.
Rob: Our live set is still quite small... there IS loads of songs, but we just won't put them in because we don't feel they're big enough yet.

Photo by Jonathan Buck

I know you're set to play a number of festivals this Summer... what would be your dream festival line up? 
Liam: James' would be Richard Ashcroft. We're playing with Catfish & the Bottlemen and Primal Scream so I'm looking forward to them.
Rob: It'd probably be people we've grown up listening to, so for me it'd be someone like Oasis. I'd be over the moon. Any festival with Oasis on the line up, I'd be happy with that. Liam's would be The Stone Roses because he's a massive fan.
Leam: I listen to so many different kinds of music, so I reckon it'd be a terrible festival with me because I listen to heavy AND quiet stuff, and rap!

What do you think is the best way for up and coming bands such as yourselves to get your music noticed, and your name out there?
James: Write good songs, first of all!
Leam: You see bands who release songs and just put them straight online, with nothing visual to it.
Rob: The first thing is having a half decent song, and then just knowing how to promote it. There's loads of bands that will make a song, put it out... no hype around it, no release, and then they'll do another song and do exactly the same. You need hype around one song. Last year when we did These Days & Nights we got so much hype around it, and then we just wait a bit rather than just releasing loads of songs. We made it a special event, like a party. We're hopefully doing one in September which we can't really say anything about at the moment. That's going to be like a party as well because we're releasing something and making it a bit of an event, not just a gig.

You have amazing support from Mick & Chantel (of Double Denim Live). Do you think it brings stability to new/up and coming bands to have that support and guidance from a manager?
Rob: It takes a lot of pressure off us. When we start getting more emails, they just take that hassle away for us. For us, it should be a matter of writing the songs and playing in the band. These days with bands, you've got to be like a sales rep to sell tickets, you've got to know so much. We've just got a booking agent, and they manage what he does too. It's stressful enough anyway, writing songs and practising, so having them definitely helps.

Which of your songs is your favourite to perform live and why? 
James: The new one for me, it's called Control. Probably because it's new, but I also think its one of the strongest songs we've got so far so I'm looking forward to recording it and eventually releasing it.
Leam: Mine is probably Reliance because I do the most in that song, and it's quite energetic and I like energetic music.
Liam: I was going to agree with Leam, but I love Sky's The Limit because I just love the outro and I love backing Rob up properly, singing. It's always been one of my favourites.
Rob: Mine's one of our newest ones, it's called 24/7. Thats a bit of a love song as well. I like the ending as well- it's just one of those songs where you lose yourself in it. Even James, the last gig we did, was singing it because he loved it that much!

And finally... what's next for The Barmines?
Rob: We're doing some recording. We've got a release planned for the back end of this year, so we'll be going full force on that. Then we've got festivals, and a gig in Manchester on the 28th of May. Then we're going back in to record the next move- so it's all about thinking about the next step, which won't be until next March time. So, just planning.

Photo by Jonathan Buck

Full review of the Belgrave Music Hall gig coming soon...

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