Monday, 20 March 2017

An Interview With COURTYARDS ~ 11.03.17

Courtyards are a Huddersfield based four-piece made up of Matthew RileyLuke AllcockLouis Taylor and Callum Usher. The band have three successful single releases under their belt in the form of 'Disarray', 'Go Down' and most recently 'Firelight'; this saw them produce their first ever music video, which has clocked up hundreds of views online since its release. 2017 has already seen them take their electrifying live show to the likes of Leeds, Bradford, York and Sheffield- and things look set to get even bigger.

I was able to speak to the band prior to their Bradford show- the penultimate date of their tour in association with Double Denim Live.

How and when did you first come together as a band?
Luke: It was me, Matt, Callum and then a few other members in 2015. We have had a few changes and stuff. We got Louis in around October.
Callum: We had quite a few line up changes before we were actually Courtyards. To start with, we were messing around as a sort of covers band.
Luke: A bit more acoustic, as well.
Callum: It was towards July of 2015 that we started playing electric instruments and stuff. We went and did a wedding back where me and Luke live, and we stayed at Lukes' house for about a week.
Luke: I had been on a box drum, and that was the first time we moved to a full drum kit.
Callum: We actually wrote 'Disarray' in that week. After that, we had a couple more line up changes...
Matt: It's not us... it's them!
Callum: We got a bassist who then left, and then Louis graced us with his presence. It's like with the Defence Against The Dark Arts teachers in Harry Potter... swapping every year!

What are your earliest memories of music? 
Callum: Listening to 'Dreaming Of You' by The Coral when I was like 3 or 4 in my living room. I could dance to that!
Luke: I took a lot from what my older brothers would listen to. My brothers' first album was 'By The Way' by Red Hot Chili Peppers. That was and probably still is one of my favourite albums... that and 'Appetite for Destruction' by Guns N' Roses. Those two are probably my earliest memories of actively choosing to listen to music.
Matt: My music taste started off as metal and stuff, really. My favourite band used to be Linkin Park. The first thing that made me want to pick up a guitar was probably Oasis. I know that's probably stereotypical! 'Wonderwall' was the first thing I learnt!
Luke: We played that once... but never again!
Louis: Green Day and Chili Peppers was what started me off playing the guitar.

Tell me something about Courtyards that no one else knows...
Callum: Oh god! I don't think there's anything suitable for the public! We're just all idiots, really!
Louis: I don't think that's a secret, to be fair...
Callum: I think sometimes we give people the impression that we take ourselves so seriously that we don't really have a laugh but even though we're persuing it quite aggressively, I'd say we still have a really good laugh with it. We really do work hard but we still enjoy ourselves. We like having a bit of a laugh while we're doing it instead of having a resting bitch face all of the time... I am guilty of that, I'm not gonna lie!
Matt: One secret, if you want to call it that, is that we all hate 'Disarray'.
Luke: That is a lie! I like it. But the songs we've written since then are better, but it doesn't mean I hate it. Matt loves to hate that song.
Callum: Matt is the first to hate every song! Always.
Matt: I'll write a song, we'll play it and then I'm like 'Nah, this song is shit.'

If tomorrow was to be your last day on Earth... what would you do?
Callum: (turning to Matt) I'd probably kill you, to be honest. I'm sorry, I'm joking... ish. I'd probably take him out, just for the satisfaction! Nah, I'd get myself the biggest steak dinner possible.
Luke: I'd try and go see a band. Or we could throw a massive gig!
Matt: It depends how long I had to plan this last day on Earth. But yeah, a massive gig and we'd have Tame Impala on supporting us!

Music aside, does anyone in the band have any interesting hobbies or strange talents?
Luke: I can clap quite fast. (He demonstrated this, and he really can clap quite fast!)
Callum: I can suck down a bottle of VK so fast! I inhale it... it's an inhuman talent and I am thinking about persuing it as a career.
Matt: I'm training to be a physiotherapist which is quite weird. I'll be qualified this year.

If you could live inside any movie, which would you pick and why?
Callum: The Marvel Universe... straight away!
Luke: Zombieland. I just think it would be sick! I could kill loads of people... which brings us back to the theme of killing Matt! Only if he was a zombie, obviously...
Matt: Why does everyone want to kill me?! Probably The Walking Dead, but I would be Rick. Or Harry Potter if I could go to that school.
Callum: You could be a magical physiotherapist!
Louis: Lord of the Rings.
Luke: Good choice. You strike me as a bit of a Gimli.
Matt: You do look like a bit of a hobbit.
Callum: I can definitely see him in that. Really good choice!

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing up and coming bands in the music industry in this day and age?
Matt: There are so many bands out there right now that people just don't know who to listen to.
Luke: We've had so many gigs and thought that bands that have been on with us should have more of a following, but they just don't despite being so talented. I could name so many.
Callum: I think it's establishing yourself as a live band as well. Being in a band, polishing your sound and working on your showmanship is doable... it's getting people to come to your gigs when you're starting out that is a constant struggle.
Luke: Even with mates. It's fine getting them to come to one gig, but to sort of regularly come is hard.
Matt: We want to branch out and play different cities but a lot of promoters expect you to bring a certain amount of people with you... which is understandable because they want to make money, but how do you actually establish a fanbase in that city?
Luke: It's like trying to find a job when you don't have any experience and they want experience. It's the same thing. You're trying to branch out but can't because they expect you to have a following in that city. I suppose you've got to strike lucky in a sense and meet nice people... meet some nice promoters and get chatty with other bands.

Name the most terrifying moment of your life to date. Have you recovered from it?
Callum: We were driving to Sheffield, and me and Luke were in the back of the car and then suddenly this white light just floods through the window...
Luke: We were driving on what we thought was a one way slip road that went on to the motorway.
Callum: Matt was driving in the oncoming lane of a white van!
Matt: To be fair it was really quiet and the van was quite a bit away!
Luke: There was about half an hour left of the journey and he was just silent the entire time!
Callum: We were holding hands in the back the whole way, it was terrifying.
Matt: I am a good driver.
Callum: He's a inconsistent driver. He's really good but he's really shit. We wouldn't be a band without him though. We're either going to be really successful, or end up dead.
Luke: I was going to tell that story, but I don't know if its appropriate...
Callum: Tell that one... that was really funny! Just change the names. Chantel and Melissa... Chantel is the ex and Melissa is the new one.
Luke: Basically I have an ex called "Chantel" and I sort of went back with this girl called "Melissa"... this is after I'd broken up with Chantel. The morning after, everyone was in one of our friends' rooms and I just sort of popped my head in and Melissa was there and I was just like 'I'm just going to walk Chantel back to the train station,' and said the ex's name! She just walked straight outside and I was like 'Oh no!' Their names were quite similar! Literally everyone started laughing and I was there like 'This is my low point.' I've not really recovered from it!

You've spent quite a lot of time on the road of late and have some amazing shows lined up still to come. Is there anywhere that you always look forward to playing or have had good experiences in the past?
Matt: Most recently I'd say Holmfirth Picturedrome. It was one of the best gigs we've played.
Luke: It was a charity gig for Local Hero Promotions, they're called. It was really good and I got to use my drum kit as well. I recently bought a custom drum skin with our logo on it so it was kind of cool!
Callum: We did a uni refreshers event and played with a band called Heir, who were amazing. It was in a warehouse and it was actually one of the first gigs we'd played after having recorded our newest single.
Matt: West St Live in Sheffield! We struck really lucky with that because it was absolutely dead until about 10. We were playing on a Thursday as well.
Luke: About 5 minutes before we went on about 150 people flood through the door dressed as haribos and robots!
Callum: The best thing about that gig was playing guitar and this girl walked up to the barrier, waved at me then kept feeding me haribo jellies!

Would you rather be able to travel back in time or look into the future?
Callum: Travel back in time... Peaky Blinders, straight away!
Louis: If you go back in time though you risk ruining your present, where as if you look into the future you're not going to create a chain of events.
Luke: See your favourite artists at their starting gigs. I'd see Stevie Wonder when he was like 15, rocking the stage!
Callum: I'd love to go back and see Queen live at Wembley. That would be amazing.
Matt: If you could just pick and choose bands from when they're starting out... I'd go and see Arctic Monkeys at like their second gig or something.
Luke: If I could see into the future, I wouldn't want to see into my future.
Callum: It'd just be depressing.
Louis: If I could go into the future and find out all of yours', then come back and be like 'I know what you're doing next week!'

Is there anything that you've done so far within your musical careers that you are either especially proud of or feel has been crucial in getting you where you are today? That could be a certain song you've produced, a particular show you've played... or perhaps something else entirely.
Luke: I could answer that straight away and say our last single, 'Firelight'. We recorded the track, organised doing a video for it as well and since then it's had about 21,000 views which I'm absolutely blown away by.
Callum: I think we were truly touched that people actually gave that much of a shit about it. We had people messaging the page saying it was great and that they really liked it so that made us want to release more.
Matt: I'd say our latest single that we've recorded but haven't released yet. We proper nailed the recording of it. A couple of us had uni assessments so we couldn't do a normal day in the studio and had about 12 hours.
Luke: We usually record a song over 2 days.
Matt: We managed to smash a full recording in one 12 hour day.
Callum: We're not sure what order we're releasing stuff in yet. It is one of my favourites but we're thinking more now of variety of our sound. When we finally record our entire EP which we're hopefully going to do before Summer, we'll have 3 unreleased songs that all show a different angle to our sound. We're going to be quite tactical about releasing it and show off the different dimensions of the band.
Matt: We want to release another single before we release the EP, so that'll be around Summer time.

Finally... what are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future of Courtyards?
Luke: Leeds Fest! I'd love to play a big festival.
Matt: We just want to get festivals over Summer, really. We want to establish ourselves more.
Callum: Future wise, I'm looking forward to us all finishing uni and getting financially stable jobs. I think that will allow us to really persue the band.
Matt: And stop feeling guilty when we're not doing essays!
Callum: I'm studying to be a teacher so I'm not really sure that's the most simple career alongside being a rockstar! I'm gonna be like Mr Schneebly from School Of Rock!

Watch the official music video for 'Firelight' below:


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