Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun Interview

ahead of their show at The Waterfront Studio in Norwich on Tuesday 16 April 2013

eGigs had the opportunity to catch up with Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun ahead of their show at The Waterfront Studio in Norwich. Lockey is joined in the band by guitarist Chris Capewell, bassist Phil Randall and drummer Simon Cripps and it's been a busy twelve months for the band as eGigs explored...

So, you guys have just got back from America where you supported Dropkick Murphys, how did that go for you?
Jim: Ace man it's great, it's a great experience.

Was that your first time?
Jim: I went over the year before to do South By South West on my own, but yeah the first time going over as a band.

Well received?
Jim: Yeah I think so.
Chris: It's weird, it's difficult you know, we did the first half of our tour but we were headlining shows, then to go over there and be a support band; it's a totally different ball game. It's our first time in America and we just played our show and I think we won so many people over which is great for us and we were more thinking let's just go out and be the best support band we can and it turned out that a lot of people were digging our stuff. Yeah massive learning curve like Jim was just getting at there. It just taught us so much in such a short space of time so yeah you can't buy that kind of opportunity.

Now you're back over here for the second part of your headline tour, how's it all been going?
Jim: It's been great man, it's always nice to get out and play to people in towns you've never been too, as well as going back to the ones you've played at a few times before. We're just noticing the response is getting way bigger every time we go back or some of the places we played on this tour for the first time; the turn out and everything has just been way over what we thought it would be like if you know what I mean and we're just loving it. It's so nice to have that kind of support and especially considering we had to move a bunch of dates.

Yeah, this was one of them.
Jim: People are still coming to the shows and they're not as angry with us as we thought they would be.

I think it's understandable, given the opportunity you had to go across to the States.
Chris: Most people have got our back with it. It's cool as well, we were very aware that it was a year pretty much exactly since we put our album out. And people are still so enthusiastic about that album, about the songs on that album. You can see that over the past year it's actually come to mean something to these people as much as it means to us. That's what's lovely about this run of shows especially, it really feels like people have taken the last year and taken the album and listened to it and made it their own and now we're going out and playing these songs but they're kind of playing them with us in a way, without sounding too cheesy. This past tour since January has been the best few months of our lives as a band.

How important do you think it is for young bands such as yourselves to be out on the road and constantly touring?
Jim: It's the most important part of being in a band I think, because your band gets better if you're out on the road playing a show every day. You get tighter, you learn how to work with each other a lot better, and you're just out doing what you do and it's a good way of honing your craft.
Chris: Yeah definitely you can't help but become closer and closer as a group of people as well, and I think that is often overlooked as when you go see a band there's no chemistry on stage and it's just boring; so if you're spending this amount of time together you're just gonna feel a better band and that's gonna come across when you play. I think that over the past two years we've toured so much we can feel it now on stage a lot more than maybe we could have a year. So just on a personal level touring and what that does to you in relationships in the band is an amazing thing for your performance and that translates across to the fans; so it's a positive thing, like Jim says it's the most important thing about being a young active band.

You guys seem pretty lucky with your record label Extra Mile Recordings. But a lot of artists these days are turning to other methods such as Pledge Music. What are your thoughts on that?
Jim: I like the idea. It creates a kind of community around that album which is quite nice and ultimately they're the people that will be buying the record anyway.
Chris: On those things they don't just offer the album they offer like all sorts of things and there's a fine line between really prostituting yourself out and really belittling what you do and I think you have to be real careful. But like we were just talking about if people are into it then they're into it, and if they paid for the album before, after or with it or they don't pay for it at all, they're into your band and that's it at the end of the day; so yeah each to their own I guess. It's because there are a lot of bands we respect that have done it; as have probably lots of others who we don't respect.

What are your opinions of illegal downloading?
Chris: It's a toughie.
Jim: I kind of have a weird view on it I think. As a band, as someone who performs, I don't really care about it all that much to be honest. The idea of making a wage out of your music has pretty much gone to shot anyway, so if people are listening to your songs hopefully at some point they'll come to a show and that's how you'll make the money out of them listening to your music. I'm not overly against.
Chris: Yeah, I know it's difficult. It's such a weird one, but like Jim said you get your financial reward in different ways when people download your music and in a way its kind of complimentary if someone's like yeah I want to go search out your music and it's so easy to pay for things these days anyway that it's not that much of a compliment if they have just clicked and paid ten quid for it; realistically we don't see much of that anyway so you know. I'm not saying, yeah everyone go out and nick our albums, you know it's still if people are into your band they're into your band.
Jim: You've got to think realistically; you have to think about how that's just part of your job now, its gonna happen all the time anyway no matter what you do to stop it, so it's better to just go play more shows really.
Chris: Sell T-shirts. If you're in it for the money, sell more T-shirts.

You said it was about a year ago you put out 'Death', which is your most recent album, how has the reception to the album been?
Jim: It's been mental. If you think a year ago when we put out the album pretty much no one knew who we were; and now we've been to America and toured the UK two or three times in that time and loads of festivals. Like I said earlier people when we go to places and people turn up at the shows and they've already got a t-shirt on and stuff its mental, it's like being a real band basically, which is a nice feeling.
Chris: We had this moment over in America where we were all really tired and about to get up really early and we had like two hours sleep and our manager was there with us and he's like; I remember a year ago we were in Scotland, in the top of Scotland in Ayr, and we played this show and there was literally like two people there who had come to the show by chance because the battle of the bands down the road had been cancelled and we absolutely loved it and had the best time ever and then later that same day we played Terminal 5 in New York and in the space of year we'd gone from Ayr and playing to no one to playing America, and it was unbelievable. I think we all woke up at the point and actually, yeah this is the album that over the past year has actually been amazing for us.

Have you had a chance to look to the future and your next album, any thoughts or plans?
Jim: We are working on it now. I think early next year is probably more realistic for when it would come out I guess. We're really sure that we don't want to rush anything just to make a release date. I certainly don't want to rush an album if I don't have to because that's your work isn't it; when you stop your remembered for the albums you made and I wouldn't want any of those to be like a cop out because we're on the road too much. We need to really believe in what we put out. I think that's really important to me. Yeah, we are working on it though; it is getting there. It's starting to twist away from where we are at the moment which is nice because it seems that every album has developed from the last one.
Chris: We finish our massive two to three month tour we embarked on at the start of January, and we finish it basically on Saturday night and so from there until September realistically we've just got to play some festivals and get our heads down and concentrate on writing again. I think for all of us we're kind of looking forward to sinking our teeth in to that bit because it's actually a really nice circular thing like when you're on the road you just want to be in the studio writing, not that you're not appreciating the road as obviously you are, and then when your recording the album all we want to do is go out and play it. It's actually like one fuels the other which is a really nice part of it.

You've got two albums worth of material now, so is getting harder to pick your set list?
Jim: We play a few off 'Atlases' at the moment. Chris joined the band two years ago or something, since then we haven't really gone back and re-learnt a lot of 'Atlases'. A lot of it just stays there and at some point we'll go back and go over it again because since 'Death's been out 'Atlases' has got a bit more popular with people and people are after it now; so I think it's becoming more likely that we're going to have to play more off 'Atlases' as well as 'Death' and new stuff when the new stuffs done as well. So the sets will just have to be longer I think, so we'll have to chill out a little bit during our live set because at the moment we're caning about 45 minutes but I think most of us would quite happily die after that so if we can just chill it down a bit so we can play an hour, or maybe a bit more then that would be alright.

How useful is social media for young bands?
Jim: It's probably imperative. I imagine now if you don't have it you're probably not a real band. If you don't exist on the internet in some way then its near impossible for anyone to get anything. Not that it is impossible, but apparently the human race just can't act now without a computer, they're incapable of doing anything if it's not right in front of them on a screen. So yeah, it's the first thing you should do, basically before you've even named your band you should be thinking about your Facebook and stuff.
Chris: There are a couple of bands that really work the social networking to their advantage and I think again you have to be real careful with that. We mess around so much, all we ever do is mess around in the band and we have to really hold back on the social networking otherwise we'll just make ourselves look like idiots. But there's some bands that do really well in it and use cool websites and stuff and work it their advantage in a cool way, but like Jim said its probably the most important thing because its suddenly like bands are really accessible now and it puts everyone on the same level which I think is a lovely thing about it, like there's not this horrible boundary or barrier anymore.
Jim: It's the instant feedback that's really good as well. Like post something up like a tour or something and people will instantly be like "I'll come to that show" or "you haven't played my town, you suck and I'm not going to see you ever again" and that sort of thing. It's great for that connectivity and its paramount to any band really.

This is probably more for you Jim, because correct me if I'm wrong but you were part of Frank Turner's expanded band at the Olympic opening ceremony?
Jim: Yeah we were actually; Chris and Si were as well.

How did that come about?
Jim: It was mental. He rang me at work one day basically and was like "I've got something really crazy to ask you." I was like, "yeah mate can it wait I'm at work, can you ring me back later." So he rang me back later and he was like "yeah I've been asked to do the Olympic opening ceremony and would like to get you guys in to do the singing and stuff" and I was like "of course yeah I'll do it, like no worries!" I didn't really think about it at the time, and then when you get there it's like, Jesus we actually have to do this and we spent the whole week in the green rooms surrounded by famous people, eating amazing food and doing rehearsals and things. It was great.

A once in a lifetime experience!
Jim: Yeah, it was mental. It was a totally unreal experience basically and it was nice being able to watch the rest of the ceremony afterwards as well. It was quite cool that our bit was the first bit and then we got to see the rest of it afterwards.

If I'm right there were sheep in front of you?
Jim: Yeah all kinds of stuff.
Chris: It was the weirdest thing ever. And what was weirdest about it was that we had in ear monitors in so you can't hear anything apart from what's going on musically, but there's 80,000 people around you and you know there's 80,000 people around you; but you just can't hear them and it's the weirdest thing. Sheep and everything and people playing cricket, really weird but once in a life time, it was amazing.
Jim: Yeah definitely.
Chris: Very grateful. Our name was on big screens. We're actually technically, well like one of the first bands to play that stadium so that's on our CV.

Our sister website is eFesitvals so I've got a few festival questions. First of all, where are you playing this summer?
Chris: Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Download. No we're not, I'm just joking!
Jim: We're doing loads of independent ones like a bunch of city festivals as well. We're doing Two Thousand Trees again, it's like our home basically, we do it every year. We're doing X and Y in Liverpool. There's a bunch of them, basically almost every weekend we're either in a field or a city playing.

What if I said The Lock-Up at Reading and Leeds?
Jim: We're certainly trying.

What are you favourite festivals to play at?
Jim: We love (Two Thousand) Trees because this bands kind of grown with it if you know what I mean. It was me on my own the first time I played Trees and that was the first year. Since then the band has developed with the festival and now the festival is this big deal basically and it's made Cheltenham's live scene way better as well so yeah Trees will always be the favourite I think, plus if we didn't say that our manager would be so angry at us.
Chris: Everybody says it's got this nice sense of community about it and for a little town like Cheltenham to have so many great UK touring bands coming to a festival it's a great thing. It's kind of like our music scenes Christmas and everyone gets together and everyone supports local bands and stuff. We always have the best shows at Trees, it's just ace. It's definitely our favourite one.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Jim: We're doing some dates with the Levellers in May and June which are probably worth a mention I guess. I don't know the exact support dates but it's all on their website I think, but we're on a bunch of them shows if anyone's going to them shows just to come early and check us out.
Chris: Likewise with festivals, we're going to announce all our festivals next week so if anybody is at any of those festivals it'll be great to come and have a chat and stuff. I think on behalf of everyone if anyone has been to any of the shows on this tour, then thanks very much, it's been great.

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article by: Paul Barnes

published: 16/04/2013 16:49