A/V Room









Thirteen Senses - We've got the pianos, and we've got the nice melodies, and nice vocals and everything

Interview feature by Jack Foley

IT'S been an incredible year in the life of Thirteen Senses, given the band's rise to prominence in a relatively short space of time.

The Cornish four-piece have released a hugely accomplished debut album, which rates as one of the year's best, as well as a couple of belting singles, including Into The Fire and Thru The Glass, and have made friends of high-profile DJs including Steve Lamacq, Zane Lowe, Claire Sturgess and Jo Whiley.

And they look set to finish the year on a similar high, with a series of high profile supporting slots, alongside the likes of The Charlatans, Embrace and Starsailor - not to mention a few headline gigs of their own.

Speaking to lead singer, Will South, and guitarist, Tom Welham, recently, the jovial duo confessed that their rapid rise to fame had taken them by surprise, especially since some of their support slots were with bands who helped to inspire them.

"It's getting to the stage now where it's becoming very, very weird, because we used to listen to these bands to death, and bought Embrace's album, and were always discussing how great they were, and now we're going to be playing with them. That was only five years ago!" exclaimed Will.

WWe just thought it would never, ever, in a million years, happen," added Tom.

But taking a look at the band's rise to stardom, it's easy to see why they might be surprised.

Thirteen Senses were formed three and a half years ago, comprised of Will on vocals and keyboards, Tom on guitar, Adam Wilson on bass, and Brendon James on drums.

Explains 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 [2003] that we signed."

"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, when 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'," continued Tom.

"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."

Having got their break, it wasn't long before the band was courting the attention of Radio 1's Steve Lamacq, who quickly got them in for a live session.

"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," recalled Will.

"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."

In spite of the initial nerves, Will and co set about making a big impression and haven't really had to look back since.

They've also been helped by the re-emergence of guitar-based bands, and by receiving favourable comparisons with the likes of Coldplay, Keane and, to a certain extent, Radiohead.

And they're flattered by such comparisons, even though they hope to find their own place in the market-place without having to rely on them for too long.

"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," explained Will.

"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."

Indeed, in a year which has brought them friend after friend, and success after success, the only real blip came in the Summer when Will caught tonsilitis.

"It kicked in at The Eden Project, in Cornwall, right before V, and I realised I couldn't sing," explained Will.

"We pulled out after one song. We went on and I started singing and it just went... and that was it!"

The illness meant that the V Festival - the band's only real date of the festival season - also had to be cancelled.

"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 I guess I'm just unlucky with things like that, they come at the worst times," admitted Will.

The band did appear at the last One Big Weekend event, put on by Radio 1, which saw them competing for attention with Razorlight - but even though the first half of their set was relatively quiet, their tent filled out once Razorlight had finished.

And now they intend to go out with a bang in 2005, with support slots alongside Embrace, The Charlatans and Starsailor - all in London.

First up, it's Embrace at the Hammersmith Palais on November 22 and 23, followed by their own headline slot at the Barfly, in Camden, on December 9.

Then, it's Brixton Academy, alongside The Charlatans, on December 16, before the year is rounded off with a one-off date alongside Starsailor at Hammersmith Apollo on December 21.

All of the bands have helped to inspire them in some way, but for Tom, in particular, the Embrace gigs are proving to be the most exciting prospects.

"Good Will Out, for me, was a really important album when I was 14 or 15," explained the guitarist.

So what's next for the band?

"Next up, in January, is Thru The Glass," said Will, a re-edited version of a track they released on a limited edition EP.

"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," he added.

"As for the rest of 2005, I think we'll just keep touring a lot and playing; trying to get more people to buy the album.

"Then I think probably towards the end of the year we'll be thinking possibly about album two."

Listeners should be waiting with baited breath, for if it matches the quality of Invitation - their glorious debut - they could well be in the same league as Coldplay in a very short space of time.


# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z