Feature: Jack Foley
IN WHAT is turning out to be an exciting year for emerging bands,
Liverpool's The Stands is yet another alternative outfit that
could be worth getting excited about.
Break-through single, Here She Comes Again, had people
reflecting on the heyday of The La's, while anyone who listens
to the debut album, All Years Leaving, employs the same sort of
simplistic songwriting techniques that ensured The Beatles and
the Stones enjoy such a lasting legacy.
Hell, Djs are raving, and Noel Gallagher is talking them up -
so much so that the band, itself, is keen to thank him.
Not bad for an outfit which was the brainchild of Liverpudlian
songwriter, Howie Payne, who started on the path to success a
couple of years ago, having spent years wrestling with centuries
of musical history.
" I was playing a lot of acoustic nights on my own,"
he recalls, in an interview on the band's website.
"Just doing my own stuff and a lot of traditional music
and early blues. I was getting into songs that were four or 500
years old and it got me thinking, Who wrote these songs?
And how did they come to last so long?
"After a while, you start to hear the same melodic structures
over and over again. Theyre really simple.
"Everything is based around the melody and the lyrics. That
led me to think that I should form a band that was just about
that. I mean, Im not interested in fashion and Im
not interested in hipness. All I wanted to do was write songs
from the heart. So thats what I did..."
The Stands - comprised of Payne on lead vocals and guitar, Luke
Thomson, on guitar, Dean Ravera, on bass, and Steve Pilgrim on
drums - subsequently played their first gig at Liverpools
cult Bandwagon Club, in Christmas 2001.
At that point, they were an amalgamation of several groups, Howie
being joined on stage by his younger brother, (and member of the
Zutons), Sean on drums, Robbie, from the Hokum Clones, on guitar
and Martin Campbell, on bass.
The reception that night was so good that, coupled with the burgeoning
success of local acts like The Coral, Howie realised that the
time was definitely now.
"It made me realise that people were interested in what
was happening up here," he explained. "The choice for
me, though, was: 'did I want to rush it and get my songs out there
with everyone else or did I want to leave some time? In the end,
I decided to leave some time and let it come naturally..."
It wasn't until the following year, however, that the band really
started to develop, gradually mutating into their current line-up.
"I knew what I wanted to do," says Howie firmly, "so
I did it. If people wanted us to play in London, we did. If people
wanted us in Manchester, we went there. We didnt want to
be the next big thing, we just wanted people to hear our songs..."
But while the desire not to seek instant fame is admirable, Howie
kept one eye on the future and started to consider how to construct
the first album, determining, early on, to avoid compromises of
Hence, by the time they signed with Echo in April 2003, The Stands
had already recorded over 90 per cent of the record.
"We got a bit of help here and there," laughs Howie,
in humble reference to the likes of Noel Gallagher, who first
caught up with them during one of his frequent visits to the Bandwagon,
and quickly offered them time in his Buckinghamshire studio.
"Noels brilliant," asserts Howie. "Hes
a great lad, I love him. He just sat in the corner going, That
sounds great. He actually phoned me up before we went into
his studio and said to me, I dont care where you do
it, I just want to be there when it happens."
The result of Noels encouragement and Howies single-mindedness
is the type of debut that sounds both instantly recognisable and
totally fresh; and one which you really ought to grab a hold of.
And the successes keep on coming. Following their support slot
shows with JET, and the sell-out NME Awards Show, The Stands have
announced a 12-date tour that will see the band hitting cities
across the UK in March this year on the following dates:
Thursday, March 11 - Bristol Fleece and Firkin
Friday, 12 - Stoke Sugarmill
Saturday, 13 - Leeds Cockpit
Monday, 15 - Manchester University Academy
Tuesday, 16 - Preston The Mill
Thursday, 18 - Edinburgh Venue
Friday, 19 - Glasgow King Tuts
Saturday, 20 - March Sheffield Leadmill
Sunday, 21 - Middlesborough Cornerhouse
Tuesday, 23 - Birmingham Academy 2
Wed, 24 - Brighton Concorde 2
Thursday, 25 - Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Wednesday, April 7 - April London Mean Fiddler
Needless to say, Howie is looking forward to the forthcoming
"I'm really excited about it. We always look forward to
playing anyway because we like going out and playing live - it's
not a bad old life really rolling around the country playing music!"