IT has long been my assertion that some of the most interesting bands…
in the country are emerging from outside the capital. This is true of Nottingham’s four-piece sensation, Mowbeck. The guys have just released the gripping ballad, Vaseline. Taken from the recent debut E.P. Talkabout: it is a bold and bright statement from a band with plenty more left to say. Recorded in a dark and dingy studio deep in an industrial estate; it allowed the boys chance to get down to the core and create some gritty, edgy sounds. Stepping away from their early Pop roots: the new material finds Mowbeck stepping into new realms and coming up with some sensational results. I have been chatting to Andy, Lee and Phil from the band about their recent material and what went into the E.P.; advice they would give to new artists and how important their hometown is to them.
Hey guys. How has your week been? What have you been getting up to?
Andy: Hello! Thanks for having us. It’s been good - we’ve spent the past few nights writing and tracking demos which is always pretty exciting. Our drummer, Finn, is currently in America so we’re gonna bombard him with new tracks when he gets back.
For those who are new to your work: can you introduce yourself to us?
Lee: We’re a band called Mowbeck from Notts. and we play moody, gritty, Pop music - that we hope you enjoy.
Vaseline is your new track. It continues on from your previous sound but is your (in my view) finest track yet. Can you tell us about the track and where the idea came from?
Andy: Vaseline is the song in the set that puts us all in a trance during the set. We tried to create a certain vibe during the writing process and make the lyrics really come to life as much as possible. I think every band tries to write a song that is instantly recognisable and that fans (and new listeners) both love. The lyrics are quite hitting and we’ve had some really great feedback so far from it.
A lot of bands/musicians love music videos whilst others hate shooting them. Do you like shooting then? It seemed like Vaseline’s shoot would have been pretty fun.
Lee: Music videos are really fun but always risky because they cost a lot of money and can quite easily look average - unless you find a really passionate and talented director. Vaseline is the first video we’ve been a part of that we’re not actually in - and relinquishing that control to someone to paint the visuals over your track is always a big risk. Luckily, George Maguire (who shot the video) did such a great job and has got such a cool knack for the kind of visuals we wanted. Big kudos!
Talkabout is the latest E.P. and has been met with acclaim. What has the reaction been like when playing the tracks live?
Andy: I remember when we first recorded the initial demo. for Talkabout. There’s this bit at the start of the last chorus where the instruments cut out and the phrase “We’ve got something to talk about” comes back in - and we really hoped that the crowd would latch onto that and scream it back to us (if we ever get a big enough crowd to do it). Luckily, at our London headline show last month, that happened. The electricity during that whole song was insane. Likewise, with the whole E.P. just the idea that people have sat at home learning all the words to your tunes - and then come to your shows and sing them all louder than you do - is so magical. The live versions of those songs have ten-times the energy and we never get tired of playing any of them.
The E.P. was recorded in a dark and dingy space on an industrial estate. That seems like an extreme way to work. What was the reason behind that decision and did it help with regards recording/creativity?
Phil: We didn’t really have any other choice in all honesty. We found a cool practice space in a town called Sleaford that we fell in love with pretty early on; the songs just came to life in there. There’s something really special about that space and our sound just developed every week while we were there. It was magic.
You have pushed away from your Pop roots to embrace something darker and gritty. What compelled that creative transformation?
Andy: I think, naturally, as musicians we were always going to develop our sound at some point. Our earliest songs were recorded and released before our lineup was even completed. They just didn’t sound like we did anymore if that makes sense? We’d outgrown it. Also, lyrically, I didn’t like what I had written about back then as it wasn’t what was on my mind and anymore. I didn’t want people to hear Mowbeck and think 'Oh this guy is really cheesy; he’s never experienced anything bad'. We’d started listening to rockier music too and more ‘60s/’70s influences started to peek into the songs we were playing. It’s been a really exciting transition and we’ve all really grown as people during the process as well.
Over the course of your career, the band has played Reading & Leeds and (had your music) played on Radio 1 and Radio X – among other stations. Has it been quite surprising getting this acclaim or has it been a lot of hard graft?
Andy: I think a lot of bands don’t really mention all the late nights, shitty jobs and compromised relationships you have to accept as a norm. even at this stage. So, it’s always really gratifying to get opportunities such as Reading & Leeds and airplay on Radio 1. BBC is such a great support mechanism for bands like us and we can’t thank them enough for their support. We’re very far from ‘making it’ but it still feels pretty insane to hear ourselves played on stations like that.
You hail from Nottingham. What is the local scene like there and are you still there at the moment?
Phil: Nottingham is sick! We fall more and more in love with the place the more we’re there. It’s got such an exciting music scene in as well. We went along to a charity music event last week called Hockley Hustle where loads of local artists play loads of music venues around the city centre for charity. It was such a good day. The bands and artists here are so talented as well - we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Mowbeck have been championed due to their D.I.Y. approach and homemade sound. Do you feel too many bands are keen to rush into the studio and over-polish their sounds?
Lee: Yeah. I think there was a time a few years ago when bands were all trying to sound as polished as possible and spend all their money in these big studios - but independent and unsigned artists just don’t have the money to do that every time they want to get tracks laid down. We love doing it ourselves because it means we can tweak or edit everything whenever we want it. Plus, it’s was more fun this way!
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Music-making is becoming expensive (in the studio) so more or turning to cheaper spaces and technology to record their sounds. Do you think this is a sign of the future?
Lee: 100%, yeah. A lot of people complain that there’s no money in the music industry anymore and it’s really hard to get anywhere, but I think, if you make good music and write good things then you’re going to eventually be recognised even if your tracks aren’t recorded at the best studio in the world. We recorded the whole of our E.P. in Phil’s house with Phil on the desk - as we all grew as musicians; he grows as a producer as well. Money isn’t always the key to it and you learn so much more in a situation like that.
Every band has that prankster or messy member; the one that causes a bit of chaos. Is there anyone like that in Mowbeck?
Andy: Haha. I think we all have our moments, although Phil can be a bit of a wildcard at times. After our first show in Newcastle - just over a year ago - he had one too many shandys and ended up passed-out in a graveyard. It took me the best part of an hour to find him. Luckily, we didn’t have a show the next day or you’d have seen a very fragile bassist on stage.
Phil: No comment.
Looking to the future: what plans have you guys got for the coming months?
Phil: We’re currently building a team around to help take everything to the next stage. We’re also really keen to better everything we did on the Talkabout E.P. so we’re going to lock ourselves away for a bit and make sure what we put out next is bigger and better. We’ve got a headline show booked on the 19th November at the Nottingham Bodega - where we’ll be playing our longest and biggest headline set yet; so we’ll hopefully see a bunch of our supporter there before we head back to the studio.
PHOTO CREDIT: Georgia Richards
Are there any particular acts or albums that have been influential to the band? Who are the musical heroes/heroines that have had the biggest effect on you
Andy: The first album I bought was T-Rex & Marc Bolan’s greatest hits. I remember watching Billy Elliot when I was really young and becoming obsessed with the soundtrack - which was probably why guitar music has always had a special place in my heart. As a band, we take a lot of influence from bands such as the Killers and Kings of Leon. Everything we hear influences us in some way. The more music you listen to, the more open you are to create something unique and original.
Which new bands/artists coming through would you recommend we check out?
Andy: VANT IS a band we’re really excited about right now: 2017 should be pretty huge for them. We checked them out at Reading Festival and you can tell it’s only a matter of time before they blow up. We saw a guy called Youngr the other day too who is ridiculously talented and we’ll all be hearing a lot more from soon.
For those young bands looking to follow you into music: what advice and tips would you offer them?
Andy: Don’t do it, it’s a trap. Ha. But, seriously, it’s a lot of hard work so make sure you’re willing to work your balls off even if it’s just for a little reward. Be original too: we’ve still got a lot to learn but all the bands that become massive always do something that nobody else is.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can select any song (other than your own as I’ll include one) and I’ll play it here…
Phil: Mystery Jets – Bubblegum. It’s been our favourite song of the year so far!