80s post-punk and new wave are The Ninth Wave's forte, and it makes them one of the hottest new bands coming out of Glasgow right now.
Some bands just strike immediately with everything they do and represent. The Ninth Wave - with their inviting mix of glam-noir sounds, looming darkness and a penchant for more than simply the usual band conventions - are already drenched in a philosophy and style that catches the eye from the first moment you plug in.
“It’s been something that has grown with the band," explains frontman Haydn Park-Patterson. "[It was] never a deliberate thing, where at the start we decided how we were going to look or how we were going to sound - our outlook has evolved with the music."
The band are gathered outside on a chilly winter night at London’s Sebright Arms before one of their biggest headline shows to date - and there’s a sense of gritty optimism for what’s ahead. “Over the last year, our sound has evolved a lot,” chimes in drummer Lewis Tollan. “That could change with what’s ahead, but I think we’ve got to that point image-wise where we have an idea of what we want to be.”
Fusing a callback to the new romantic swagger and post-punk melodies that the 80s embraced, there’s a glorious mix in play. The shimmering pop sheen of tracks like ‘Heartfelt’, ‘Liars’ and standout heavyweight ‘Reformation’ are laced with a darkness, like the sound of a band emerging from the bleakest moment with panoramic hooks and dreaming of the heights they could one day reach. Immediately drawing nods to the likes of Interpol and The Cure, it’s an insatiable cocktail that could only have come from the streets of Glasgow.
“It all came together quite naturally,” explains Lewis. "I’d been in hundreds of different bands in Glasgow and it just kinda slowly came together. I started to see Haydn more on Sauchiehall Street, and one day he asked me to play drums - I think that kinda thing happened for everyone,” he continues, turning to nodding heads and the cracking of smiles.
The beating heart of Glasgow city centre, it’s the sort of place you’ll catch staggering groups after a big night out, busting groups ready to kick-start a huge one and enough characters and mysterious figures emerging in the middle of the night to shape all sides of humanity. There’s a reason why it’s a city that has been voted both the most friendly place in Europe, as well as the most violent.
Meeting co-vocalist Millie Kidd and synth player Louise McLennan over the course of line-up changes and scenarios slotting into place, it was the perfect surrounding to discover who they were as a band. Putting on DIY shows in its many venues, winning acclaim and support from Scotland’s emerging music champions and turning heads at every opportunity - it’s given them a freedom to explore.
“Glasgow’s music scene is so small that the only reason we met was because of the scene and going to gigs,” lays out Millie. “If it wasn’t there then I don’t think we’d be the same or even here today. All the venues and everything, they’re small enough to get all your friends in, and it’d sell out, so they’d be really good!”
It’s given The Ninth Wave a focus on being something different. Debut EP ‘Reformation’, released towards the end of last year and produced by Dan Austin - whose previous credits include the likes of Placebo and the Pixies - packed a vision of murky abandon that across its four tracks are as ambitious an opening statement as they come. The sound of beautiful self-destruction, that attitude of doing things yourself and telling anyone who's against it to fuck off is a strident step forward in a world of restrictive leaders. Take for example, how they marked the EP’s release - “we put on a gig by ourselves in some old railway arches, we kinda built the stage out of old palettes and stuff,” explains Louise.
Already, it’s seen them collaborate with the likes of Scottish designer Charles Jeffrey on exhibitions (often touted as the ringleader of London’s next generation of club kids), and how they approach the live stage also rips with individuality. From using bins as percussion to an unmissable mannequin that’s set to feature in their next steps - a Ninth Wave show is unlike any other.
“Instead of just going to a gig, think from an audience perspective,” starts Millie, “if you go to a gig and the band play a good gig then you leave thinking ‘That was a good gig’. But if they play a good gig and they’re also doing something really interesting, something to look at which sets the scene a bit more and gives you more on what the band are all about then you’ll walk away thinking, ‘Fucking hell that was good’.”
‘Fucking hell that was good’ is a phrase The Ninth Wave are going to have to get used to. Embraced as a collective force painting their own stunning portraits of the future, it’s unpredictable what they do next. That’s what makes them exciting. That’s what makes them a band you need to keep your eye on, and that’s what’ll be captivating bigger and bigger crowds in the years ahead. Ambition? It’s there and ready to kick through. “I think, maybe, being able to create all of our ideas to make them sound how we imagine them, and hearing that back in real life - that’d be the best thing,” notes Louise.
“Playing Brixton Academy too,” chimes in Lewis. “That’d be pretty great."
The Ninth Wave aren’t ready to just take over; they’re ready to reimagine what success looks like. From Sauchiehall Street to the world.
Taken from the April issue of Dork - order a copy or subscribe below. The Ninth Wave's EP 'Never Crave Attention' is out 20th April.