BREEZEing through

Drummer Joe Gray from East Yorkshire band BREEZE speaks to about the trials of seeking exposure in the music industry alongside the thrill of supporting Catfish & The Bottlemen

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While the broadening face of UK charts in recent months has proven the expanding taste of the British public, in housing American indie rock bands (such as Walk the Moon) and 21-year-old Belgium Deep House DJs alongside the moaning pop of Little Mix, the music industry is still, undeniably, one of the most competitive around. Despite this, Hull born garage-pop band BREEZE has already had the privilege of supporting world-beating acts such as Skaters and Catfish and The Bottlemen.

The four musicians, Aron Gilbey on vocals and guitar, Dom Hepworth on guitar and backing vocals, Adam Frost on bass and Joe Gray on drums, all hark from the Hull area and are due to release their first track of 2015, ‘Same Wave’, next month. I asked drummer Joe how the band began: “A couple of years back me and Dom we’re talking about putting a band together, just as Aron’s old band had broken up. He was looking to start something else, so it just made sense
to try and make it work all together. Adam and Aron have been best mates since they were kids, plus he was the only person we knew at the time who owned a bass and a car!”

Producing ourselves allows us to get exactly the sound we want

For the past two years BREEZE have experimented with their sound, and according to Joe it is only recently “with these new songs” that the band have begun to craft the quirky alternative-indie sound that they had wanted when starting out. Joe continues however that “a lot of a bands’ sound is shaped by whoever is producing at the time. We used to get tagged with ‘lo-fi’ and ‘grunge’ in our early demos, but I think that was more just because they were recorded live very quickly and a bit rough round edges. Hopefully this new stuff will see us shake off those sort of tags, at the minute people seem to be banding about ‘garage-pop’ in reviews. We’ll take that.”

Impressively, BREEZE have decided to self-produce, a decision which to Joe seemed “pretty obvious”, given that guitarist Dom studies music production at university. “This meant we could get a load of free studio time” while “doing it ourselves allows us to get exactly the sound we want, rather than what the producer wants, which has been the case in the past.” Although the majority of BREEZE’s recent gigs have been based in Hull, Joe thinks that the band is “finally starting to get up the ladder a bit;” for the new band gigging “out of town” is now the priority. “We do as much as we can out of town, but places like London are difficult to break into as most venues expect you to sell 30 tickets in advance.”

BREEZE have been lucky enough to support some good bands in the past such as Skaters, Drowners and Richie Ramone, but Joe insists that “supporting Catfish & The Bottlemen at Fruit in Hull” has been the highlight. This was, according to Joe “the first time we had ever played to a sold out crowd, so it was a really good experience.” Having shared a drink with the band after the gig, Joe comments that “they’re all really nice lads, so we’re happy that it’s going well for them. They’ve been going 7/8 years now though and have had to graft to get where they are” teaching the boys to “just work hard and keep at it.” Joe continues that “playing with the likes of Skaters, Drowners, Catfish etc has rubbed off a little bit” in musical terms, leading BREEZE to write their first “3 minute pop songs with a massive chorus.”

we do as much as we can out of town, but places like London are difficult to break into

Finding opportunities and platforms for young bands or up and coming musicians is often extremely difficult due to the competitive nature of the music industry but Joe acknowledges the aid of social media. “The only problem is that there are so many bands now locally, let alone nationally. Obviously you’ve got to be good and have some decent songs, but a lot of it is just luck. A few of us from local bands were at Glastonbury a couple of weeks back and we saw loads of really average bands but for some reason they’ve got the lucky break. We’ve just got to hope that we’ll also get a lucky break along the way.” Joe admits that “it doesn’t get any better than Glastonbury for me personally” but if given the opportunity to play at any festival this summer, Joe chooses “SXSW in Texas, for the weather alone.”

When asked about BREEZE’s inspirations, Joe expressed that all four band members were “into totally different stuff” which Joe hopes, “helps our own music be slightly different and not just be a blatant rip off of another band. It’s not that often that we all agree on each other’s tastes, although saying that, I think we’ve all been enjoying the new Tame Impala material and the latest Paul Weller album ‘Saturn’s Pattern’ has been playing a lot in the car to rehearsals.”

Despite their varying tastes in music, Joe suggests that the way the band produces their music is “fairly collaborative…Usually Dom or Aron will come in with a bit of a riff or a chorus and then we’ll flesh it out between the four of us. Very rarely has anyone come in with a fully finished song. Aron
comes up with the lyrics the majority of the time, although a song like ‘It’s All Mine’ Dom had kicking about before the band even started, so we’ve just gone with his original lyrics.”

we’ve just got to hope that we’ll also get a lucky break along the way

In terms of what’s coming next for the East Yorkshire group, Joe comments that “we’ve already got our next single ‘Can You Get Along?’ recorded” which comes out on 28th September meaning the four “probably won’t be doing any recording for the next couple of months” and instead will be focusing on “getting these new songs out at the festivals.” However, as soon as festival season is over Joe remarks that the team will aim to “get straight back into the studio.” Obviously the dream for these four musicians is to make a career out of their music, however for now their ethos is simply, as Joe puts it, “to write good tunes.” Their new single ‘Same Wave’ certainly captures a bit of a summer vibe, which vocalist Aron regards as intentional, “we’d been listening to a lot of bright poppy music whilst writing this song so we wanted people to feel like it’s a proper summer tune.”

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