South Wales trio, THE STARLING RADICALS take no prisoners, with a sound built around loud, brazen slabs of rock, the band delight in pleasing and offending in equal measure, and their output is as potent as it is prolific. Pulling from Nirvana, Stereophonics and the Manic Street Preachers, THE STARLING RADICALS release their spanking new EP, Promiseland Vol. 1, on Friday 24th November, we asked the guys to introduce themselves….
What is the full band line-up, who plays what?
That’ll be me (George), Bain and Joe Steele. I’m the singer and guitarist, Bain’s the bassist and Joe’s the drummer.
How and when did the band form?
Bain and I formed the band in a beer garden in Trefforest at the back end of 2012 after he replied to my online ad for a bassist. I took my acoustic guitar and sang a bunch of songs to him, he told me how much he liked the Corrs and the Helicopters. We thought we were going to be like the Black Keys. Then Aled (our first drummer) joined and we turned into a bit of a punk rock band, playing everything at breakneck. Drummers don’t seem to last long in this band. Me and Bain have considered it may be us.
Tell us anything interesting about your hometown.
We’re one third Valleys, one third Cardiff and one third Swansea. Though I live 2 minutes from Bain, the county border apparently makes him the valley boy, and me the city boy. Joe’s the jack. We don’t like to advertise it too much. Cardiff’s a lovely place for a coffee down the bay, though if Womanby Street goes it really WILL be a graveyard for bands. Victorian urbanity and a few nice parks. We’ve got a castle, a river, and massive stadium. Anything interesting though? Our kind of romance is a niggly, slightly flabby one. We like to stay in these days, me and Cardiff. It’s all too pleasant and pleased with itself. There’s a melancholy about the Welsh valleys though. An industrially-scarred tribal seculus of proud but modest survivors. Communities like Bain’s Beddau that still centre around the rugby and labour clubs. It’s grey and it’s steep and it’s rough, and Swansea’s like a halfway house between the two, spreading a bit more of a metropolitan kind of dereliction. All of these places are developing slowly in their own way, just like anywhere. But is there anything interesting? Nothing that wouldn’t make you want to cry.
When and how did the band really start gelling and solidifying?
During the first two years we played live together over 100 times. We had a large repertoire so sets didn’t get boring or stale. We had a remarkable energy both on and off the stage, ravenous to play anywhere and everywhere we could. We played to precisely nobody on several occasions, and endured some long drives and tough gigs for little no reward. We got very used to being snubbed, decided the world must just be against us and turned inward to each other to keep the fire alive. This is probably reading like a checklist for a great majority of bands. We learned the hard way how not to squander that vital enthusiasm. But in that time we became a close-knit trio. After Aled’s departure we had some real setbacks with drummers coming and going, being seriously let down by different individuals and losing out in many ways. We’ve had to cancel tours, had recording sabotaged, suffered some heavy indignities, rinsed our bank accounts, lost a great deal of respect for a host of institutions and ways of doing things, and shared each other’s life events and mental health. We just passed these tests together, and it’s made us stronger.
What are your musical influences?
Manic Street Preachers are a big one. The attitude, the agenda, the intellect, the songs. Plus there’s QOTSA, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, David Bowie, the Datsuns, Nirvana, Stereophonics, Radiohead, the Beatles, AC/DC, Soundgarden, U2, Led Zep, Foxy Shazam, the White Stripes, Foo Fighters, Ryan Adams, Regina Spektor, the Corrs, Velvet Revolver, Biffy Clyro, Audioslave, Linkin Park, BB King, Gary Moore, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam… too many really. It’s all there though. In the songs.
How far back does your history with each other (the band members) extend? Are you friends from school or any family relations?
The band is as old as my relationship with Bain, and Joe has been in The Starling Radicals for about a year.
Please name all the countries/regions and recognised bands that you have played with.
The most high profile show we’ve played was probably when we opened for Labrinth, Gorgon City and Sigma at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena at the Cardiff University Summer Ball in 2014. We’ve shared a stage with Annie Mac at Cardiff X Festival 2015. I’m sure there are plenty of bands we’ve played with who we just forgot about. We’ve wormed our way onto some odd bills.
In your opinion, how is your band different from all the other bands out there?
We’ve got the best songs. We’ve got a singer with a very distinctive voice. And we can write and pull off any kind of song as well. Unfortunately that usually makes us everything for just somebody, rather than something for everybody, but this band is not at all limited in the way almost every other band is. Plus, we aren’t frightened to challenge people, institutions, ideologies. We value eloquence, facetiousness, satire. Anger is definitely an energy. We have songs about Thatcher, and about mental health, and about Spanish lesbians at Westminster weddings. Music is our voice, and we have a great amount to say. THAT’s something that makes us different too. So many bands make their bread from bromide platitudes and half-had thoughts. We blur a few more lines than most.
If a deaf person were to ask you to describe the sound of your music, how would you describe it?
Like Bob Hoskins’ face at the end of The Long Good Friday. Or like a share bag of Revels. Like a bloody steak, or a mocha. Like a face you’ve seen before but can’t put a name to, only better looking, and different. It’s layered, it’s clever, it’s intricate, it’s blunt, it’s dumb, it’s fast, it’s soft, it’s nasty, it’s desperate, it’s triumphant. We’re a 4-ingredient dish. An Italian deaf person should understand what that means.
Where can we find your social media sites?
Facebook – facebook.com/TheStarlingRadicals
Twitter – twitter.com/TheStarlingRads
Instagram – instagram.com/officialstarling
Youtube – youtube.com/user/TheStarlingRadicals
Bandcamp – thestarlingradicals.bandcamp.com/music
Soundcloud – soundcloud.com/starlingradicals
Website – thestarlingradicals.com