Interview by Jack Foley
Q. Congratulations on a great album. For me it's one
of the year's best.
A. We're really chuffed with it...
Q. I was going to ask about the reaction, which has
been mostly positive. How does that make you feel?
Will. We started it in December, so we waited nearly
a year. And I think all the time through it, we were enjoying
the recording and thinking thisis good, we were liking it. But
at the same time, we were thinking, like, are other people going
to like it? Is it going to be... connect in any way. But so far
Tom: We've seen some really good reviews out
Q. What's next up in terms of singles?
Will. Next up, in January, is Thru The Glass.
Q. Re-releasing it?
Tom: Well actually it's a new version, because the first
time it was released, it was actually the demo that we recorded
in Cornwall, but remixed. But this is a proper new version, the
one that appears on the album. It's been remixed again.
Q. It came out originally as an EP, didn't it?
Tom: Yeah, just a little two-track thing. But it went
down really well, actually. I think we sold out in the first week,
on a really limited press, but we were chuffed with the results,
because it was the first thing we'd ever done.
Will: I think it was a good track to introduce
us, because it mainly only went out to most of the people that
would have it - it would be the hardcore fanbase we've got now,
and the radio people and press people. So it was a good way to
get the name out.
Q. But you had some pretty high-profile Djs on-board
quite quickly, like Steve Lamacq...
Tom: Yeah, he was the first one. We did his first of
the new year session, called The Evening Session, which was nerve-wracking
Will: It was our first experience on radio and
it was live, on Radio 1, and we were in there being grilled about
what was going to happen, you know, he's [Lamacq] going to talk
to you for a minute and then you're going to play. And we heard
the song before the introduction, then the introduction came on,
and then he's there, talking to you... It's really weird.
Tom: First time you do it, it really takes you
back, because you can hear this presenter's voice, but then it
stops and you have to reply; it's not like he's going to carry
on if you don't reply. It was cool, though, but it was just a
weird introduction, so quick and quite intense.
Will: It was pretty much as soon as we came up
to London from Cornwall, we were put on the radio. And then since
then, everyone else has come on board. We've just had an email
from Jo Whiley this morning.
Q. And you also have some high-profile support slots
coming up - Embrace, Starsailor and Charlatans? A big December
in London, because there's also a headline Barfly gig, isn't there?
Tom: We've got a few headline dates in November as well,
before and after the Embrace tour, but Embrace are adding more
dates every day, so we'll be at Hammersmith.
Will: It's getting to the stage now where it's
becoming very, very weird, because these bands that we did listen
to death, like Embrace, and buying Embrace's album, and discussing
how great they were, and now we're going to be playing with them.
Yet, that was only five years ago.
Tom: We just thought it would never, ever, in
a million years, would ever happen!
Will: Hopefully, we can pass that weirdness,
though, and become an artist in our own right!
Q. So will they represent the biggest shows you've done
then? Because you had to pull out of V2004, didn't you?
Will: Yeah, we pulled out because I had tonsilities,
which was a pain in the arse.
Tom: The biggest one we've done up til now was
probably The Forum, with Keane.
Q. And which of the three bands are you looking forward
to supporting most?
Will: It would definitely be close between The Charlatans
and Embrace, but I think Embrace will probably be bigger, just
because of The Good Will Out. But with Charlatans, at the same
time, Tellin Stories, I love that album. I don't know.
Tom: But Good Will Out, for me, was a really
important album when I was 14 or 15.
Q. When you say you're nervous going into a Radio 1 studio,
what's it like appearing on-stage? Especially when you sold out
the 100 Club for your first gig?
Will: To be honest, just because I think we do the live
thing a lot more, playing a gig is not as big a deal. You get
the usual nerves and wondering how it's going to go, hopefully
you're going to play well, but once you're there you just forget
about it and play. Certainly, when I do live radio, though, there's
always something in my mind saying, 'this is live radio, going
to a lot of people'. Over time, though, I'm sure we'll do a lot
more and we'll be fine.
Q. Given the rapid rise you have enjoyed, how big a blow
was the tonsilities in the Summer?
Will: It was quite big, because I mean in the Summer,
we hadn't done a load of gigs. We'd been finishing the album and
doing one-off things, so the V Festival was something we were
looking forward to doing, and hopefully it would have been in
front of a nice big audience. But, yeah, I'm just unlucky with
things like that, they come at the worst times. We also had a
thing at The Eden Project, in Cornwall, right before V, and that
was where it kicked in - I realised I couldn't sing. We pulled
out after one song. We went on and I started singing and it just
went... and that was it!
Tom: You could hear the moment at which it went,
and then yeah.
Q. But you are expected to be one of the big festival
pulls next year?
Will: With a bit of luck. But that was the other thing
with V, it was our only... we did T in the Park, but we missed
out on Glastonbury and all the others, so it was our only chance
at a festival.
Q. You were at One Big Weekend, though. How did that
Will: Yeah, that was good, from the second half on, because
we were competing with Razorlight. When we started, there was
like the first two rows and that was all, but as soon as Razorlight
finished, there was a swarm of people and the tent filled up,
so it ended happily. But we can understand that people would want
to go and see Razorlight.
Q. They are one of the bands of the moment...
Will: They're great.
Q. I saw their performance on Parkinson, with the gospel
Will: Oh it was brilliant. Did you hear them doing Hey
Ya on Radio 1? It was cool. But they did that with gospel singers
again. And they're doing a new version of Fairytale of New York...
Q. Any plans to work with gospel singers for you guys?
Will: We'd probably be classed as copying. We've been
thinking about it, yeah, and we have a lot of ideas for some things
we'd like to do in the future.
Tom: Something to make our TV performance as
good as that!
Q. You've said you've been
working on this album for about a year, so are you now thinking
in terms of new material and the second album?
Will: It's only starting to creep in. We're not really
going to think about recording or writing, but it's getting to
the stage where I'm starting to burst with creativity, because
I haven't had time to do anything. We've got a week off coming
up, where I'm going to go home and sit at the piano, and pick
up the guitar and see what comes up. But generally we're not going
to concentrate on anything other than the first album for now.
Q. You've been compared to bands with some pretty high-profile
names. Keane, obviously, and Coldplay and Radiohead. What do you
think about those sorts of comparisons? Do you think it helps
you, or would you rather not be compared to anyone?
Will: I think it definitely helps you to a certain degree
at the beginning. But we want to get to a stage where people start
to see our sound as our own sound, you know. If in a year's time
people are still saying that we sound like Radiohead and Coldplay
and Keane, then I think there would probably be a problem. But
obviously, we've got the pianos, and we've got the nice melodies,
and nice vocals and everything.
But when we first started out and people were saying that we sounded
like these other bands, we thought 'that's great', so the people
that read about us will think that if they like those bands, they'll
get into us as well.
Tom: But we want to shake off that comparison
as well and develop an identity of our own, which I'm sure will
develop over time.
Q. But it's certainly a good time for guitar bands at
the moment. There does seem to be a re-surgence.
Tom: Yeah, it's really coming to the front at the moment
and there's a lot of bands being signed, which is cool, and a
lot of bands coming up and making an impact.
Q. Going back, then, when did you form and when did you
first realise that you were going to become musicians. When was
it that you decided to chase the dream?
Tom: Three years ago, three and a half years ago now
we started the band...
Will: It started off as, you know, I had some
songs, let's get a band and play them. But as time went on, we
played more, got more serious and our goals raised until we had
to get a record deal. Then all our energies were spent on recording,
playing and sending out demos. That was a year ago, last November
 that we signed.
Tom: In fact, I think it was August last year,
we'd sent out about 100 of our demos that we'd recorded ourselves
to all the major record labels, not to anyone in particular, just
the label, and we were doing a gig in Bristol, cos we'd tried
to set up a load of gigs so that the labels could come and see
us. And we got a phone call that afternoon from Joel at Island
Records, who said, 'oh God, I just heard your demo, it's great,
I'm coming down'. Two hours later, he was there and he was just
so enthusiastic that, from there, it just snowballed. It was just
amazing. We went on holiday to France and just every single day
while we were away we had a phone call from Will's dad, who was
managing us at the time, saying 'oh, there's another label on
board', or 'this label wanted to meet you'. It was really exciting.
It seems so bizarre that it should happen that way.
Q. How did you all first meet?
Will: Well, me and Adam were friends from secondary school,
since the start there, so we've known each other for quite a long
time, but we met Tom and Bren just over three years ago.
Tom: Yeah, we just kind of hooked up and went about it
together. Started off playing acoustic gigs for a bit and then
took drums after that. It was quite good, actually, because our
first three or four gigs were in this tiny little pub in St Ives,
in Cornwall, which were just sort of singer-songwriter nights,
and we just went up and did three songs, but got a really good
reaction from that, which was really encouraging.
Will: I think the fact that we got encouraging
reports back from those performances, that's what spurred us on
to carry on. If we'd played those songs those nights and it was....
it could have been different.
Q. So when did you first pick up the guitar?
Tom: I started playing in Year 10, so I was 15. I started
off playing drums... or piano when I was six, and then drums and
bass and trumpet, before finally settling on guitar.
Q. And Will? When on guitars and piano?
Will: I first started quite young on guitar. I was probably
about six or seven when I got my first guitar. But I gave up on
it when I was about nine or ten, for about five years, and forgot
about it. And I only started piano about three or four years ago,
when we started the band, as a new avenue to explore.
Q. So what inspired you to do that? What was the point
when you realised this was definitely going to be the career-path
Will: Um, I think when I realised that there was no other
career path [laughs], when I'd messed up at college, and it was
the only ray of hope. If we could pull this off, it was going
to save me...
Q. And Tom?
Tom: Well, I'd always had a uni plan, so I suppose it
was when we started getting some interest from the label, and
so I thought this is what I want to be doing and gave up everything
else to carry on with it. But I'm really happy that it's turned
out like this.
Q. You've commented, as well, that Cornwall wasn't one
of the easiest places to get going...
Will: It it a really hard place to be in a band, if you
want to get a deal, but at the same time it does give you a chance
to develop out of the eye of the London scene. Because if you
start a band in London, I'm sure you're going to get an A&R
guy coming along at an early stage, as soon as they hear about
you, and obviously you're not going to be prepared, so they will
just write you off. But with us, it just gave us a chance. We
were off the radar for everyone for like two years.
Tom: We were gigging for about two or three times
a week for about a year and a half and it did so much for us in
terms of timing and getting to know each other's sounds, and that
type of thing. When we actually got picked up by the label, it
was at quite a developed point.
Q. And the album is very personal when you listen to
it. What were the themes that inspired it?
Will: The themes... I don't know, well it was basically
a document of my life; of things that I've seen and things that
I've done. So hopefully those will ring a bell in other people's
ears as well.
Q. And if you had to pick out a favourite couple of tracks,
what would they be?
Will: My favourite is probably Automatic or
History, I'd say.
Tom: Yeah, I agree. I love all the tracks, actually,
but Angels and Spies and Saving, tracks like
that are slightly more quirky, and they're great tracks. But there
is something about History - I love it, it's just a beautiful
song. And Automatic is just really big in the way it
builds. It's great.
Q. And looking ahead to 2005 now, what's the plan for
next year? How do you top 2004?
Will: I think we'll just keep touring a lot and playing.
Trying to get more people to buy the album...
Tom: We just want to get our name out to as many
people as possible, and keep doing whatever we can to do that.
Will: I think probably towards the end of the
year we'll be thinking possibly about album two.
Tom: And hopefully some decent spots at festivals next Summer.
Q. What about America - does that hold any interest?
Tom: We've been once - for the South by Southwest Festival
- and that was cool, but I think we're going to concentrate on
Will: I guess it depends on how well things go.
I don't know how things like that work yet, when you get sent
to America or not.
Tom: I suppose they probably want to secure a
base, a real solid base here, that's not going to fade with time.
And then you can go out there, because it's so big.