It's time to start getting excited, Dear Reader. We're just a few months out from the unofficial start of our summer festival season. That May Day Bank Holiday weekend means one thing - Live At Leeds. Packed with (literally) hundreds of the best new bands on the planet, it sees one of the country's most vibrant creative cities turned into a mecca of buzz, hype and awesome live music.
To celebrate, we're holding a special Live At Leeds takeover. Over the course of the day (28th January 2020, in case you're coming to this late - Ed), we'll be bringing you all kinds of stuff from and about the acts playing this year's event. If you're going, it'll help you plan out those all-important spreadsheets. If you've not yet picked up your tickets - well, what are you waiting for? You can grab 'em here, right now.
Blackburn four-piece The Illicits have already ticked off more milestones than many bands who've been around a decade. Fancy collaboration? Check - Sex Pistols' Steve Jones appears on their track 'Left Behind'. Underground buzz? Check - their early singles were hard to find limited vinyl-only runs that sold out on pre-order. A high-profile TV spot? Check - they turned up on Soccer AM. Coveted support slots? Check - they've been out with both Liam Gallagher and Primal Scream. There's a lot going on, and a lot more to come. Singer George Richards tells us more.
Hello George! How's it going? Enjoying 2020 so far?
We are enjoying 2020 so far, last year was such a great year for us. Getting signed to Creation23, selling out gigs around the country and supporting the likes of Liam Gallagher, Primal Scream, Miles Kane, The Zutons and DMA's. It's early days at the minute, and there's a lot more to come, but it's looking promising. We've got some big shows to be announced and some tunes to be released.
It's weird to think we're at the start of a whole new decade, what do you think you'll be doing in ten years?
Hopefully, we'll be doing what we're doing now, minus working the full-time jobs! We hope to be releasing music and playing shows for as long as we possibly can.
Tell us about your band then, who are you all and how did you form?
We're four lads from Blackburn. Myself on vocals and guitar, Brad (lead guitar), Joe (bass) and Matt (drums). The band started with myself and Brad, we knew each other through mutual friends and shared an interest in certain bands. We got together playing acoustic guitars and started to try and write some songs; eventually, we blagged Joe to join on bass, and we'd known Matt for years in the local music scene as he'd been playing guitar in another band. We asked if he knew anyone that would want to play drums with us, and he said he'd do it himself!
And you've already been on Soccer AM! Was it everything you'd hoped it would be?
It was amazing, we were the first band to ever play on there having not released any music, and so it was all fresh for us. It was definitely a day, and a buzz that we'll never forget and everyone that works over there did a really good job of helping us out and looking after us.
What's with the avoiding streaming thing? Do you not like the internet?
It was just something we decided we wanted to try. We wanted to do something different from everyone else, with our music not on streaming platforms to begin with it meant that people had to come to the live shows to listen to us which is something we loved. Of course, now we are on all the streaming platforms so people can get a taste of us.
What do you most enjoy writing songs about?
Anything really, it depends what you've got going on at the time and what you're seeing and experiencing. The best writers always seem to be able to articulate whatever it is that's on their mind. Whether it be where they're living, what's getting them down or making them happy, I think people can recognise and register when music is genuine, and the emotions are real. That's something that as a band we always try to get across.
You guys have had some massive support slots, any particular highlights? Touring with Liam Gallagher must've been special.
We've loved all our support slots. We've been fortunate enough to have played with some incredible bands and artists. The supports with Liam were obviously the biggest crowds we've ever played to, and it was our first time experiencing an arena. When you first start a band, it's always the dream to get to the huge venues and play to the big crowds, and we're thankful that we've been able to do that. We're always grateful for the opportunity to support people who we look up to and hold in high esteem. We love playing every gig we get the chance to play, and I think people can tell how much we love it when they see us perform.
What do you have planned for the next few months? Do you have much in the diary?
We plan to do more of what we did last year. We want to release as much music and play as many gigs as possible. We're excited to get back to Leeds, we sold out the lending room last year, and it was a great gig. Hopefully more of the same this year at Live At Leeds. We've got a couple festivals in the north east, Stockton Calling and Hit The North. We love being able to get out there and do our thing, it's why you start a band at the end of the day. We've got a few things lined up, and we'll get them announced in due course.
Live At Leeds will take place on 2nd May, visit liveatleeds.com for more info.