Saturday, 4 March 2017

An Interview With EDGAR DUKE ~ 21.02.17

2016 was quite the successful year for Tom O'Reilly, James Raymond and Luke Strange aka the brilliant Edgar Duke; the band, known and loved for their infectious and anthemic blend of indie-pop, released two singles to high acclaim- the delightfully raucous 'Fear In A Bottle', and the scintillatingly smooth 'Copper Coin'. A string of live performances in and around leeds, playing for the likes of Double Denim Live and This Feeling, saw them gaining a strong word-of-mouth reputation for their energetic live performances. Starting 2017 as they mean to go on with a huge headline show at The Wardrobe back in January, things are only set to get bigger for this Leeds based trio. I was able to find out more about them prior to their most recent headline gig at Oporto in Leeds...

How did you all meet and first come together as a band?
Tom: I was playing on my own, back in my lonesome days. I played a gig... James wasn't headlining it, but he was on after me in his old band. I needed a drummer, James wanted to drum... we wanted to play some music together, so we played some music together! He then said he knew a bass player, so we got Luke in... and then the rest is just sweet, sweet musical history. I was gigging on my own for quite a few months before I met them. I played with a backing track... it sounded awful!

What made you settle on Edgar Duke as the band name?
Tom: It's a terrible name really! There's no real reason behind it, there's no cool story. I was walking through the wilderness and stumbled across this little talisman that said Edgar Duke on it. Duke came from the Thin White Duke which is a persona of David Bowie. King Krule goes by the name of Edgar the Beatmaker. I just thought the two words sounded cool together. Plus, it worked as a solo name and as a band name.
James: Just in case he decides to go back to being solo...
Tom: No! I chose it when I was a solo artist and I knew I wanted a band at some point. I didn't want to have to rebrand everything!
Luke: I remember when I first met Tom, he actually introduced himself as Edgar Duke!
Tom: I used to do that, yeah! Edgar Duke... musician extraordinaire!

What are your earliest memories of music?
Tom: I lived really close to Leeds Fest growing up, I was about 5 minutes away. I always used to get really cheap tickets. I've been about 6 times so have seen a lot of bands. That's the main place I saw most of my music.
Luke: I remember just always having an interest in music.
James: My parents have got a pretty good music taste and introduced me to stuff like The Clash, Bob Marley... just your standard stuff, but it definitely helped me build up a pretty good taste for music.
Tom: So he thinks...

Was there ever a pivotal moment or event in your lives that made you say "I want to make music and be in a band,"?
Tom: I'm a big fan of The Cribs and have seen them live many times... they're one of the best live bands ever, so seeing them made me think that I wanted to do it too. And here we are!
Luke: This is Tom trying to get us a support slot at the Leeds Arena gig...

What are you all listening to at the moment and would recommend?
Tom: For me, Hidden Charms. I've seen them three times now, and we supported them the first time we saw them which was amazing. I went to see them with my girlfriend in Liverpool recently and they were awesome there. Lovely guys as well. I think they deserve to get big. I don't like the whole Catfish & the Bottlemen thing.
James: It's all really overdone.
Luke: I disagree with you a little bit!
Tom: I know a lot of people do like them, but the whole pop side to guitar bands at the moment... everybody just thinks that everyone should be liking the same things. Do something different! They're different in some ways but I don't think they're going to move mountains. I'm not a big fan of Blossoms either. That's enough about what we don't like though, lets talk about what we do like!
James: It's been around for a while but the 'This Is Happening' album by LCD Soundsystem... I'd definitely recommend that to everyone.
Tom: I like Growlers and Queens of the Stone Age.

Is there a primary songwriter or is it more of a collaborative effort?
James: Originally it was more Tom but then that has progressed.
Tom: I'll bring the bones of the song to practise and then we'll work on it together and build it. At the start it was just me because obviously I was on my own.
James: You can tell that the sound has changed quite a lot.
Luke: Tom writes the lyrics.
Tom: Yeah, the lyrics and the bones of the song. I can be a dictator at times, but I'm a lovely dictator! Loved by the people!
James: That's what he thinks! We'll rebel against him one day and kick him out.
Tom: They can try.

What would be your dream venue to headline?
Tom: Madison Square Garden would be cool. The Brudenell is one that I'd love to headline. We played there recently and it's just got a great sound. I'd say it's the best venue in Leeds.
Luke: It won 'Small Venue of the Year' last year.
Tom: There we go! Growing up that's always been one I wanted to play. It's not a venue, but we are going to headline Glastonbury one day!

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing up and coming bands within the industry in this day and age?
James: I think how saturated the music scene is. There are so many bands doing the same thing. It's so hard. If you want to get yourselves out there, a lot of the time you've got to pay to get the promotion.
Tom: People are less likely to come to gigs now because of the way the music scene is. The amount of effort that bands put in just for one gig... and then not many people come. The main thing is how hard it is because guitar bands aren't in the forefront of the music industry at the moment.
James: With selling music as well. I think in the past people had to buy physical copies of songs but now you can just listen to them on Spotify for free. That causes problems.
Luke: Also gigs can be so expensive and they don't need to be, really.
Tom: A lot of promoters will make you play and bring your crowd and use it to benefit them. So you don't get paid, but the promoter does even though you've done a lot of good work. That fucks over a lot of bands a lot of the times, which is a shame. The hardest thing is building a fanbase in the current climate of the music industry.
James: To do that you need to leave your hometown at a certain point or you'll just get known as 'that Leeds band' or something like that.
Tom: Plus, one of the worst things is everyone just liking one band because everybody else likes them even if they're not innovative or different in any way. It's all subjective in the music industry.

What is something that you want to do or achieve before you die? A bucket list of sorts...
Luke: I know it's cliche, but it's gotta be to travel the world.
James: To own a skyscraper and have a zoo on top of it. We'd have parties everyday and it'd be free for everyone.
Tom: To have an orgy with Bob Dylan involved. That's the dream.

Given the choice, would you rather be a pokemon trainer or a wizard?
Luke: Wizard.
Tom: Wizard. Pokemon isn't real. Come to one of our gigs and you'll find out that magic is real!

Tell me something about Edgar Duke that no one else knows...
James: That we are the best band!
Tom: We have a fourth member who is invisible. Darren. He's here now, just over there. He does some questionable things, especially on stage. What else do people not know about us? We put a lot of time and effort into our music... and I just want people to appreciate that!
Luke: James and Tom steal the band money. That's why I look after it now.
James: You shouldn't have put that one out there!
Tom: But to all the promoters out there... we are to be trusted! All of the secrets will probably have to remain secrets.
James: Yeah, they're all a bit dangerous.
Tom: Yeah, the parents might see it.
Luke: You don't want to say anything because of your parents but you said you'd have an orgy with Bob Dylan?
Tom: Yeah, well they can know that!

Finally, what's next for you guys?
James: The next big thing is on the 24th of March at Brudenell Social Club. We're supporting The Bulletproof Bomb, so get yourselves down. We're going to be working with the Leeds Beckett Uni team who are going to be filming it and making a small documentary about us.
Tom: Not that there's much for them to see. Or is there?
James: The secrets will come out!
Tom: Luke is a crack addict, there's one secret!
James: And his hands are broken.
Tom: He has no hands.
Luke: I play bass with fake hands. That's the secret.
James: The invisible guy helps a bit.
Tom: Damn it, Darren!
Luke: He does the backing vocals as well. That's why you never see more than one mic.
Tom: He tried to take over main vocals once, the bastard. I hate that guy.

Listen to 'Copper Coin' below:

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