Things are on the up for this Cambridge five-piece, with their latest album having reached the #1 slot on the rock chart earlier this year and their massive sell-out headline tour across the UK and Europe proving to be a massive success. Pulling them away after their sound check before their show at York Fibbers, I chatted to Mark and Ross from Lonely The Brave about what their recent successes meant to them. In our quest for a quiet spot we accidentally end up in the strip club that resides above the Fibbers venue, much to our amusement, and we took a seat by to chat Reading fest, the future and their best bits.
First question I’ve got – You’ve described your sound as ‘doom pop’, so what does that actually mean to you?
Mark: That came from a friend of ours called Sheel who plays drums for a band called Bad Rabbits, and were on tour with them and Don Broco a while ago. He was just watching us and he came over and said “You know what, I like your sound. It’s kind of like doom pop” and we were just like that’s brilliant, we’re having that! So that’s where it comes from really. I guess really they’re rock songs but they deal with perhaps some of the darker things people go through in their lives, so that’s where it comes from really.
So would you say you are sort of a rock/doom pop band? Is that your niche?
Ross: It’s best not to label it ourselves. If people call us doom pop that’s cool.
So in 2013 you started out on the BBC introducing stage, then it went to NME and now you are playing the main stage of Reading. How on earth does that feel? Some pretty big shoes to fill. And sharing a stage with Mumford and Sons and Metallica across the weekend!
Mark: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing and to be invited back three years in a row is unbelievable.
Ross: Yeah some other little bands playing! Let see how we get on really! It’s such an honour, man, and we’ve said it before that if we weren’t playing we’d be there anyway as punters. It’s a festival we go to more than any other as a band and always have, so yeah just honoured really.
What’s the vibe been like on the tour so far? You’ve been playing more small venues than big.
Ross: It’s been great, the venues are sort of medium sized and everyone has been packed out. The crowds have been insane, this is the first tour we have done in a while were all the crowd have been there to see us.
Mark: It’s been a great reaction every night.
In your many years of the band what has been your best live show?
Mark: There have been some really memorable shows for various reasons but a couple off the top of my head would be opening up for [Bruce] Springsteen, that was pretty incredible, the boss is an icon so we were right honoured for that. We also played with Neil Young in Belgium, that was incredible. In the last year, for me, best moment would probably be Glastonbury. I don’t think you can be a British musician and not want to play Glastonbury. It was an honour to play that one on the John Peel stage, and it was packed as well.
Ross: We also did a homecoming show at the end of the year back in Cambridge and that was an amazing way to finish the year, it was about 900 people all there with us like a big celebration. That sticks out in my mind as one of the best shows we’ve ever done I think. The whole vibe there was incredible.
This is something that I worked out today because I am really cool; ‘The Day’s War’ is 6 months and 2 weeks old today. With the six months of hindsight how do you feel about that album compared to when it first came out?
Mark: That record was in a place and time where it took quite a while to come out. We wrote that record as a four piece as well and things are drastically different now from then. It’s incredible now that we play shows that, like Ross said, nearly every single one of the shows on this tour has sold out and people singing back with everything they’ve got is an incredible feeling. Personally, I’m looking forward to finishing off the next one because we are very different people to who we were when we wrote the first one.
Obviously I know you might not have dates but is that a long way off on the horizon or is it coming up soon?
Ross: No it would be coming up sooner rather than later I would have thought.
With that question in mind, what’s on the horizon for Lonely the Brave?
Ross: Just to keep going really, just keep doing what we’re doing and not try and change anything too drastically. Play gigs and get out there and see people. We’re a quarter of our way through this one
Mark: Tours and tours and tours and tours. We’ve got seven and a half weeks on the road and then into Europe and then festivals and then writing and getting the record out. And going insane, and generally forgetting who all our friends and family are.
I’ve heard that from a lot of bands about touring a lot, would you say you’re living the dream?
Mark: I don’t know. We are so lucky to be able to do this. This is our living and there are hundreds and thousands, if not millions, of bands around the world trying to do that so we’re very lucky to be doing what we’re doing. We’ve just got to keep pushing and see where we can get too really.
What’s your best moment been as a band?
Mark: Corr that’s a difficult one. I guess, touring you learn a lot about yourself. It’s enjoyable but it’s certainly an experience, it’s good to know your limits and other people’s limits. You really do learn so much about yourself. That wasn’t really an answer, I’m just going with the moment. Go on Ross actually answer the question.
Ross: When the album came out, that was a good moment, we were playing in Switzerland and it was quite a small venue but it was run by this dude who was an absolute legend. We all waited up until midnight, in the UK, for the album to come out and had a good old bloody jolly!
Mark: They made the fatal mistake of letting us behind the bar with our friend Charlie, our guitar tech who was on tour with us at the time, who was making these obscene cocktails and putting on the Deftones as loud as we possibly could and went mental.
Live Review: Lonely The Brave @ Fibbers
The Fibbers venue looks pristine and edgy as always, and the space is already filling up as the first support band graces the stage. The Leeds-based young band Valours were not an expected edition, playing this show as a one off, and their lack of experience shows on stage. The lead singer seems a little shy to the microphone, and they haven’t quite got the knack of working the crowd. This doesn’t change the fact that they are rock and roll as hell with incredible gruff vocals from their bearded lead singer. Perhaps given a little time and a few more shows, these guys could really kill it on stage.
Next is the expected support act in the form of the gorgeous Hannah Lou Clarke who graces the stage with just a drum machine, a guitar and her sweet voice. Her sound is sultry and intimate, but with a rocky edge at times, and her performance is mesmerising. Two standout tracks were ‘Kids In Heat’ and ‘Silent Type’; both of which are rocky, edgy, sexy and downright brilliant.
Finally the Lonely The Brave boys jump onto stage, opening with ‘Victory Line’, and bringing the energy right from the start. David Jakes’ vocals are clean-cut, transcendent and simply flawless – and yet he stands modestly at the side of the stage, focusing on singing his heart out. Think of a more mature sounding Gus from Young Guns, and you’ve got David’s voice. It’s down to Mark and Ross on guitar, and Andrew on bass, to work the crowd and in this department they do not fail to deliver. Between them they radiate sheer joy and passion at what they are doing, and it’s simply infectious.
Their second song of the night is ‘Trick of The Light’ and the crowd sing it back flawlessly. Then, just as the energy peaks they break it down and switch to slower songs ‘Call Of Horses’ and ‘Dinosaurs’. The mood switches from jubilant to awestruck and there isn’t a person in the venue not tapping their foot or singing along. The vibe in the venue is fantastic, their fans clearly adore them and the newcomers are clearly impressed. Every song of the night is followed by persistent applause that last nearly until the next track begins, and a few keen fans at the front can’t help but constantly scream their love.
As the night goes on there is a little treat for everyone, a new song! Supposedly called ‘Control’, this fresh track is fast and uplifting from the off and complex throughout. There are masterful drums in the bridge and moving lyrics, and it saddened me that I would have to wait for its release because ‘dayum’ was that a good song. The boys clearly like this one just as much as I did, head banging and jumping around at every opportunity like playful children. You can’t help but smile.
They save one of their best tracks for near the end, ‘The Blue, The Green’, is lyrically wonderful and bitter-sweet to listen to. Mark has the crowd clapping along and jumps forward to sing the words along with them. Somebody even jumps on their mates shoulders to sing the final verse, that’s just how thrilled this tiny crowd is. The mood remains high right until the end, and what a perfect ending it is with ‘Backroads’ as the finisher – this anthemic and triumphant track ends the night on a brilliant peak. The ever keen Mark even jumps in the crowd with his guitar to sing face to face with his loving fans.
There is love and thanks all round, and all the bands are at the merch stand to sign set lists and take pictures. The whole evening was intimate, euphoric and downright fun. The success of the night is a credit to the size and feel of Fibbers, but of course is mainly down to the fantastic supports and the incredible Lonely The Brave. If they are this good in a little space, imagine how they will fill the Reading and Leeds arenas. Be sure to catch them on the Main Stage this summer, you won’t regret it.