With their self-released debut EP, ‘Never Had It So Good’, receiving great acclaim – we at PM awarded it 9/10 – and a ten-date UK and Ireland tour looming, we catch up with Whippz, frontman with The Burning Crows, to find out a bit more about the band, their close connections with The Quireboys and a general chinwag…
So, with the beginning always being a very good place to start, who the hell are they anyway?
“Well, we’re The Burning Crows, we’re from the east coast of England and we’ve been together for a few years now. We went to Rockfield Studios earlier this year to record our debut EP and since then we’ve been doing shows around the country, heading back out on the road again on September 1st.”
Well, that was a brief history lesson, wasn’t it? In our review, PM described The Crows as ploughing “a rich vein of good-time, old-fashioned sleazy, snarling rock ‘n’f’n’ roll”: we wonder, is that a fair summation of the band’s sound – or, how would Whippz describe it to people who haven’t yet enjoyed that particular aural pleasure?
“It’s good time rock. If you like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Kiss… all those kinds of bands. But, there’s loads of other influences in there as well: Lance (Daniels – guitar) listens to a lot of country, Will (Lockett – bass) and Chris (Chapman – drums) listen to a lot of metal, and that sort of comes together and sounds like us but is also reminiscent to all of the things that you grew up loving…”
As we pointed out in our review, TBC do draw on a rich musical heritage but also put their own twist on the sound as well…
“Absolutely,” the singer agrees. “I mean, we never deliberately set out to write a song that sounds like something else… You could be doing the most mundane thing in the world, and a melody pops into your head, and if it’s still there at the end of the day then there must be a song there, so you all get together and put it together…”
As Whippz mentioned in his brief intro, the band recorded their debut EP at the prestigious Rockfield Studios in Wales, with renowned producer Nick Brine, widely known for his work in helping promote the careers of little known artists such as The Darkness, Bruce Springsteen, Oasis… nah, we’ve never heard of ‘em either!
Seriously, though, what did working with such an experienced producer bring to the table for a relatively inexperienced band and what did they learn from working with someone of his stature?
“It was incredible, to be honest, because you go from just playing live – and we played something like 100 shows last year, and that’s how you learn your trade – to somewhere like Rockfield Studios and you work with someone like Nick… it’s a whole different world, a whole different way of thinking and working…
“The good thing about Nick was that he knew instantly what we wanted and how we wanted it to sound. What we wanted was to capture the energy of the live show – something which just doesn’t happen in a lot of cases, it just falls flat – but Nick just got it: he knew all the tricks, how to get it there, and I think that really comes across on the disc.”
Of course, being helped along by guys with much more experience in the music business is not a new experience, as the Crows are managed by Matt Goom, drummer with The Quireboys: how did the two parties hook up?
“Matt came to us about a year ago: we were playing a show and it was another of those chance things, you know… he approached us, we got talking, one thing led to another – and here we are a year later, still working together! But, Matt’s great. You always get people who say they have the best interests of the band at heart, and a lot of the time you have to take that with a massive pinch of salt – but, with Matt, it’s a really good working relationship and it’s really cool ‘cos we’ve gained a mate as well and everyone is pulling in the same direction and want the same things, have the same goals, and it just all works really, really well.”
It must help that band-management relationship that their mentor is also a musician, and so can see the business from that side as well?
“Absolutely. I mean, there is the business side of things but, as you say, there’s the musician side of things as well – and it’s really good to have someone around who can talk music but can also see it from an outsider’s point of view and give you an unbiased opinion. I mean, you can spend hours in the studio, writing what in your head is the best song in the world, but you’re only going to hear it from your point of view: it’s great having someone like Matt who can come in from the outside and go ‘yeah, it’s great, BUT have you tried this?’ or say ‘this bit’s not particularly good and needs a bit of this’ – someone who can step back from the whole thing and go ‘OK, let’s try it this way or that way’, and that makes for a really constructive atmosphere in the studio. And then, with the business side of things, it’s a whole different approach to the way we do things… so, it’s all great.”
The connections with The Quireboys don’t end there, as keyboard player Keith Weir pops up on the track ‘Time’: can PM assume that was Goom’s connections/influence as well?
“Well, I’ve been listening to The Quireboys since I was a boy and for me personally, as well as the rest of the boys, they’ve always been a massive influence: we did a couple of shows with them and they came to a couple of our shows, and we’d always seem to end up talking to Keith… then, fast forward a couple of years and, after chatting backstage at a couple of festivals, it came up in conversation – and it kept coming up and coming up – about doing something together: so, when we were in Rockfield and had recorded ‘Time’ and felt it needed something… it needed keyboards to kind of funk it up, and so…
“It was the same with Keith as it was with Nick (Brine): he just instinctively got what we needed to do with the track and what it need. If you listen to the song without the keys and then with the keys – they’re just worlds apart… it really makes the song. Keith’s a really great guy as well, which always helps! ”
So, with the next tour imminent, is there any chance of Weir jumping up on stage for a jam at any of the gigs?
“Ha ha. We don’t want to jump to any conclusions! If he’d like to, he’s more than welcome to: we’ll get him back home safe in the morning!”
Apart that lack of committal, what can we expect from a Burning Crows live show?
“Well, it’s all kind of in the title of the tour – ‘Never Had It So Good Alive!’. We’ve always tried to be one of those bands that we’d like to go see live: sometimes, going to see a band can be such a disappointment – you’d be just as well sitting in your bedroom looking at a picture and listening to the CD. When you’re watching a band, you don’t want to see four guys standing there, looking at their feet, playing the same song in the same way all the time – you want to be involved… a gig is one of those two-way things, like an electric connection, if you will, and if you can get that live, with everyone buzzing off each other, then it’s incredible. There’s the visuals and the sound, but there’s also the interaction between the band and the audience, and the audience and the band, so you gotta get up there every night and give it all you’ve got – and hopefully get that back from the crowd!”
Having spent some time on the festival circuit, Whippz and his bandmates are looking forward to getting back to the somewhat sweatier environment of the club circuit…
“We love playing the festivals and the bigger venues, but it’s always really cool to get back to the smaller venues, where you get a show that’s really up close and personal with the people – and it’s always to get out there after a show and meet the people who have come to see you play, have a drink and make a night of it…”
So, what next? Any plans in the pipeline for full album to follow on from the success of the EP?
“Yeah. As soon as we get this tour wrapped up it’s literally straight back into the studio, put some ideas down and get ready for recording the album, which will hopefully be done in Rockfield in the spring…”
‘Never Had It So Good’ is out now and can be downloaded for free from the band’s Facebook page:
You can watch the video to ‘Slow Up, Get Down’ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwpntqS0se4
The Burning Crows tour the UK and Ireland in September, playing:
Saturday 1st – The Waterfront, Norwich (with The Divide and Breaking Belief)
Sunday 2nd – Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton (with Piston and Dead By Dawn)
Monday 3rd – The Borderline, London (with Gypsy Pistoleros and Dead PinUps)
Wednesday 5th – Corporation, Sheffield (with Spill Sixteen and Gotteri)
Thursday 6th – Trillians, Newcastle (with Riff X and Fallen Mafia)
Friday 7th – The Cathouse, Glasgow (with Komatoze, Estrella and Rank Berry)
Saturday 8th – Auntie Annie’s, Belfast (with ‘Tric and Midnight Transmission)
Sunday 9th – Academy 2, Dublin (with BeltBuckle Overdrive and Stillroom)
Tuesday 11th – Bogiez, Cardiff (with Toadstool and Western Sand)
Wednesday 12th – The Bodega, Nottingham (Support TBC)
They also support The Electric Boy at Yardbirds, Grimsby, on November 25th and play Hard Rock Hell VI in Pwllheli on Saturday November 30th.
Full details and further information from the official website: www.theburningcrows.com
Photo credits: I. Rock Photography (colour band photo) and Kirstie Barton-Grimley.