Whoever said Essex never produces great music talent? Nothing But Thieves, five lads from that very locale, are taking it to the masses with their self-titled debut LP. It’s an exercise in taming the multifaceted beast that is rock music. Listening to it, I can’t help but feel like someone else had the same feeling the first time they heard Radiohead.
Often, when five guys from different pools of inspiration get together and try to make music, it starts out explosive but ends up a horrible train wreck. That fate seems impossible for Nothing But Thieves though. Rather than trying to squeeze themselves into a saleable package, they appear to have simply embraced their diversity as band members and oh boy does it make for a fantastic album. “It’s funny cos Joe (Langridge-Brown) and Dom (Craik) come from completely different schools of music. Dom’s a classically trained muso, knows all his chords and Joe’s a self-taught ‘that sounds good, it is good’ kind of guy. I’m the gel in the middle. It really does work wonders,” muses vocalist Conor Mason of the band’s two guitarists.
Tracks such as Itch make it easy to see why they’ve been getting so much attention from the British media, in particular Radio 1. Other highlights on the album include the beautiful and melodic Lover Please Stay and the bi-polar If I Get High. When asked about his favourite track, Conor says, “Yeah mine has to be If I Get High, we wrote that in 45 minutes. Was a moment where all three of us just clicked and every decision made we were all in sync with. Really great to play live too, always a turning point in the set.”
The band have been trailblazing across Europe recently, taking their eclectic energy to the world. “Yeah it’s bloody fun. I’ve realised I really do have to be boring and not go out to protect my voice, so I’m in the tour bus in the evenings. A lot of reading whilst everyone’s partying, but hey ho! The gigs have been great, selling out the entire UK run was a bit of a shock really. Everyone’s singing along to it so it’s not all bad!” says Conor of the life of a traveling musician.
Whilst the extensive reach across genres makes the album extremely difficult to define, it also means that there literally is something for everyone here. Whether you enjoy it soft and melodic, heavy or even a bit weird – your tastes will be satiated by Nothing But Thieves. “Yeah (we) really don’t care what people call it. Genre Bending is cool. Obviously our publishing team struggle with what magazine to give it too but if it’s good enough people will find it you know.” So while their publishers struggle over where to publicise the material, we’ll be down here in Australia praying for the day that Nothing But Thieves decide to tour here. May that day come soon.
Read the full interview below:
Outlet: I understand you all went to school together. Can you elaborate a little on how this all began? How did you become Nothing But Thieves and start making music together?
Nothing But Thieves: Of course, Joe and were in school together (he’s a couple years older) we played in bands for 5 years, he went to university, I met dom when I was 16/17, played in bands with him who’s cousin to Phil and good mates with price. We decided to all come together, Joe deferred uni and the rest is history…
O: You sound like you connect well as musicians. Is that natural or is it something you’ve had to work at it over the years?
NBT: It’s funny cos Joe and Dom come from completely different schools of musicians, Dom’s a classically trained muso, knows all his chords and Joes a self taught ‘that sounds good, it is good’ kinda guy. I’m a the gel in the middle. It really does work wonders.
O: “Graveyard Whistling” was one of the first tracks I ever heard from you back in 2014 from your EP and till this day it’s still one of my favorites. Can you tell us story/background behind the track? How did it come together?
NBT: This track took a while to come together, maybe 4 attempts (sitting down to write it) but we knew we had something there. Some sort of prize under the dirt that we needed to scratch away until we found it. It was a lot of experimenting with my couch and sonics of instruments that brought the song together, topped off with a strong lyric. We came out very very pleased with it.
O: You guys have been a band for quite sometime now. Can you tell us what it was like working on your debut album compared to your past EP? Was there more pressure, because of the great success with the”Graveyard Whistling” EP, did you feel like you needed a great follow up?
NBT: The thing about our band, which we’ve always enjoyed, is no ones told us what to do, we’ve just written, recorded and gigged on our own terms so we’ve never felt the pressure, other then what we put on ourselves. We’re tough on each other to come out with good material. But I’m glad, that’s why it comes out meticulous.
O: What were the most challenging and rewarding parts of bringing this album together as a band?
NBT: The challenging part was getting it exactly to sound like it does in our heads haha. Took a good 6 months of recording but it came out that way. I guess the most rewarding thing I’ve realized recently when I’ve seen dabs singing along to all of the songs after it only being out a week or two. That’s magical.
O: How would you describe the overall writing process for the album? Is it something that you do over the span of a few months or is it more as the years go you sort of collect them?
NBT: Well you have your whole life to write your first album and a year to write your second so it’s hard to tell. When we sat down to write this album we didn’t sit down to write this album…we’d just been writing for a few years, no labels, no pressure, no worries just had a bunch of songs.
O: I love how every track has a different sound; it’s not the same boring beat throughout the album. Each track has its own flair, from the rock riffs of “Itch” to the soft melodies of “If I Get High” Was this intentional or did it just happen as you recorded in the studio?
NBT: It was absolutely intentional. You hit the nail on the head, we wanted to give each song it’s own identity. Worked hard to craft each song and give it a unique sound, lyric, structure. We didn’t hold any barriers when we were writing as well, if someone had a unique idea not entirely linked to songs before we didn’t care, just ran with it.
O: “Hostage” seems to go into a new territory. It really highlights your electric range and has somewhat of a 80s pop feel. Can you tell us both musically and lyrically, how did that track come together?
NBT: Yeah, it started with the bass riff on a computerised synth, the starting hook ‘when I’m in the dark’ and ‘sometimes I feel like a hostage’ I remember Joe and I fighting over which way it should go round haha. It was a free for all melody competition and it was awesome, so much fun. Joe had the idea for ‘feel like a hostage’ based on a ‘Stockholm syndrome’ kind of theme and we ran with it. The track is essentially a loop over and over that builds with slight melody changes. Like an old school 80’s dark pop track.
O: Individually, do you have a favorite track off of the album? If so, which one and why?
NBT: Yeah mine has to be if I get high, we wrote that in 45 minutes. Was a moment where all 3 of us just clicked and every decision made we were all in synch with. Really great to play live too, always a turning point in the set.
O: I find your music extremely hard to categorize or even compare to anything. Is that something you’ve intended? Do you like that about your sound?
NBT: Yeah really don’t care what people call it ‘genre bendings’ cool. Obviously our publishing team struggle with what magazine to give it too but if it’s good enough people will find it you know.
O: Growing up do you remember any shows that influenced how you perform?
NBT: Yeah led Zeppelin at Royal Albert hall, the music video for thunderstruck by AC/DC and Jeff Buckley live in Chicago. None of them ever leave me.
O: You’re touring pretty hard through the UK & Europe right now. How’s it going so far? Are you happy with the way the album is being received?
NBT: Yeah it’s bloody fun, I’ve realised I really do have to be boring and not go out to protect my voice so I’m in the tour bus in the evenings a lot reading whilst everyone’s partying, but hey ho! The gigs have been great, selling out the entire UK run was a bit of a shock really. Everyone’s singing along to it so it’s not all bad!
O: Do you guys have a tour playlist? If so, what musicians/bands are on it?
NBT: Yeah it’s actually on our Spotify channel if you wanna look. It’s quite eclectic but the ones that get us pumped before shows are queens of the Stone Age, pearl jam and the Bronx.
O: What’s next for Nothing But Thieves? Any plans to come down under anytime soon? Is a 2nd album already on your mind at the moment?
NBT: Yeah we’ve already written 14-15 ideas for the second album in our spare time so more of that. Definitely early next year! Keep you posted!
*Nothing But Thieves will be part of the 2016 Soundwave lineup.
05 Nov 2015
Berlin, Germany – Berlin Privat
06 Nov 2015
Luebeck, Germany – Luebeck Festival
08 Nov 2015
Warsaw, Poland – Proxima
09 Nov 2015
Vienna, Austria – B72
10 Nov 2015
Milan, Italy – Biko
11 Nov 2015
Bologna, Italy – Locomotiv
For more tour dates go to nbthieves.com