I yearn to find a band that is not only fresh and hungry…
but have genuinely fascinating members in its ranks. There are a lot of faceless and anodyne bands doing the rounds. Discovering a group that has flair, energy and genuine talent in the locker is a treat reserved for a choice few. Frankie Lord, Jack Reynolds; Ryan Morritt, Sam Brookland and Dean Ward are the boys behind SALT. The quintet has a string of awesome gigs ahead and just released the insane, brain-melting video for Don’t Look at Me That Way. Since 2012, the guys have been building their reputation and sound: you feel they are a group ready for the big stages – surely that will be something in their future. In addition to being part of Musicians Against Homelessness: I ask them about how the group came together; which artists influence their sounds – and reveal a rather naughty secret about one of their members…
Hi guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey, hey; yer pretty good, thanks. Nothing too crazy but pretty good.
For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
Well, we’re SALT; I guess we’re Alt.-Rock. I guess a lot of people seem to be saying we’ve got a kind of Kings of Leon sound going on (hopefully the early albums). I can see what they’re saying.
We don’t aim to sound like anybody, though - we try our best to create our own sound through a number of different influences wherever possible.
It might seem like an old question, but how did you guys come together?
Right now; over to me (Frankie). Ha. Jack and I were always hanging out trying to learn covers and write music since we were about 16 or so. It was only quite a bit later on that we were like ‘Hey, why don’t we actually try and do this properly?’ One of our other mates, Tom, was pretty keen to join and he helped find us a drummer, Ryan Morritt (now guitar). Me and Jack grew up with Sam Brookland at school and we asked if he would be interested in playing bass. Tom quickly realised that being in a band wasn’t quite for him and Ryan - being desperate to show off his guitar skills - quickly found Dean Ward to jump on the drums. Turns out Ryan was better at guitar than drums anyway and you’d find it hard to find a more solid drummer than Dean. So that was that. It hasn’t changed since.
You seem to be a step above most the Alternative/Rock acts there. What, would you say, is the secret behind that recipe?
Wow, thanks very much. Well, I’m not sure there really is a secret. Just practice and practice and practice; write as much as possible. If it’s what you’re meant to do, it very quickly turns into an obsession. You can’t go anywhere without thinking of a lyric or a riff. We’ve always found it really important to have respect for other musicians. So often we’ll play gigs and the other bands will pretty much avoid any interaction at all. I mean we are hugely competitive also but what’s the point in being rude. Doesn’t seem to help at all as far as we’re concerned.
Which bands and artists were on your stereos when growing up? Have you kept them close to your heart or are newer artists dictating your influences and creative direction?
This is where you’re meant to say something really cool right; like I grew up only listening to Black Sabbath or something? I can’t talk for all the lads but for me growing up you’d just as likely hear me listening to something like 50 Cent or Eminem as you would Foo Fighters or Red Hot Chili Peppers (or Blink-182). When you’re young you don’t have a prejudice: if you hear something and you like it for some reason, then you’ll probably listen to it.
I think you always hold the music you listened to when you're young close to your heart but again, can’t speak for all the lads, it was the music I was listening to in my late-teens up until now (early-20s) that really sticks with me and influences myself.
As a young male, I’m often interested by coming-of-age music. I think it’s well-documented that going through your teenage years will be tough but nobody warns you about your 20s. I think in many ways there’s more confusion there than when you are young.
Skepta has just won the Mercury Prize. Do you think it is a sign music is accepting lesser-respected genres and what was your reaction to the win?
What a provocative question. But let’s be honest, it's great really, isn’t it? If you go back 50/60 years; Rock and Roll was a ‘lesser-respected genre’. Everything changes and it comes and goes in waves. I think Grime has got some serious passion. Anything that has passion; I think deserves to be acknowledged. It’s just a different form of expression. Just got to keep rollin’ with the times.
Don’t Look at Me That Way’s video is rather groundbreaking and eye-catching. Can you talk us through it and what was it like to film?
Thank you. Honestly, it was so much fun. We filmed in an old barn and all of our friends and fans came along to help out and just watch and be a part of it. We filmed in the middle of winter for some stupid reason and it was absolutely freezing! In-between takes we all huddled around this space heater for warmth. We made our own makeshift rain machine using water pumps and various bits of hosing and then filled up a giant vat of this water mixed with Fluorescein - and then just had it spraying out and over us. We haven’t used any visual effects at all in the film; I’m not sure that people realise that though because it is so strong visually. We really couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the film.
Can we expect to see an E.P. or album from SALT in the near-future?
E.P., definitely. We were incredibly lucky and recently recorded at Abbey Road, thanks to an online completion that we won.
So, we’ve recorded a 3-track E.P. that we will be releasing probably a bit deeper into the winter.
We want to get another video filmed to coincide with the release, but now were all racking our brains with how to out-do the last video. As for an album, I think we’ve kind of agreed to come across that if we can get signed. For now, we’re just writing and creating demos. that we can send off to the right people.
You guys hail from High Wycombe but are based in London. What is the capital like (compared with home) and do you still get a chance to play places like High Wycombe?
Capital as in monetary? I would love to say that we get really well looked after everywhere we go but it’s not exactly true. There are a lot of promoters inside and outside of London that are really looking to screw-over young bands. We do prefer to play in London though because of the opportunity. In London, you actually feel like you have a chance; everybody knows somebody. I mean, a few gigs back we had Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol in our audience. He gave me his email so I’ve been sending over tracks and taking notes. He’s going to try and get us onto some festivals with any luck.
We still absolutely love playing home shows but we’ve started to do them less regularly and when we do we put on our own nights and really pack out the venue.
On the issue of touring: which gigs have been especially memorable or epic over the course of this year?
Well, the last gig we played was a festival. One of the stage lights dropped right down onto the stage whilst we were playing.
It genuinely almost hit me but we just carried on playing. That was memorable. We’ve had some absolutely brilliant gigs. We headlined a local festival in our hometown. Not huge, only around 300 people, but everybody seemed to know us and were singing along to our music and just going a bit crazy. Usually, it’s the gigs you’re not expecting much from that are the ones that are really brilliant.
You play the Musicians Against Homelessness Festival on 24th. What was it like to be asked and is fighting homelessness an important thing the band feels compelled to be involved with?
Funnily enough; at one point very early on we were called Arm the Homeless. I think it was a paraphrase taken from Tom Morello’s guitar; the original quote was something like “Arm them with knowledge, arm them with an education, arm the homeless” - I’m not 100% sure if that’s correct. Well, I feel if people are in need of a bit of help and shelter then why should they be denied that.
What do you guys want to tick off the ‘to-do list’ in the coming years? Any cities you’d like to perform in or goals in mind?
Well, I think for us Reading Festival has always been on our ‘to-do’ list. I don’t doubt that we’re good enough to do that anymore: we just have to gain enough exposure and find the right avenue. Personal goals: never end up as a poor imitation of your previous self; always change and evolve. So many bands just end up trying to recreate what they had early on. We all hope that we never become that.
Away from gigs and music: do you guys hang a lot and what is the bond like in the band?
Can’t get anyway from one another. We’re all a part of the same friend group now so we’re pretty much always together; that’s if were not already gigging or practising.
A lot of singers and musicians will be inspired to follow you into music. What advice would you offer them?
Well, if they are any then were truly honoured. At times it will literally feel like the shittest thing in a world to try and keep five strong-minded people together - all with different thoughts and ideas.
But, if you just keep doing what you’re doing you’ll literally have some of the best moments of your whole life.
We’ve not been together for so long but already we look back at some of the things we’ve managed to achieve and it’s just incredible - I mean: Abbey Road. You just can’t describe how it feels to be recording in the same room as the piano that was used for Hey Jude. And just musically to watch your own development; there’s something really magical about it all.
Can you tell us a secret about SALT or gossip on one of the boys – something most people would be unaware of?
Ha ha. Well, Frankie once accidentally went on a date with - albeit a very gorgeous transgender lady - following her; being won over by our performance at The Hope and Anchor. There. How’s that for a bit of gossip?
(Thanks so much for the questions. Some really interesting stuff being asked there).
Finally, and for being a good egg, you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…
Hhmm. how about My Body Is a Cage by Arcade Fire? Haven’t heard that in a while.