Despite having been together for only a few months, promising local band The Rise’s tight, passionate and fresh sound is already gradually being heard across the north, prompting their invitation to play Manchester’s Dry Bar at the end of April, which received an excellent review from the BBC.
Not only that, they have been invited to play the HMV Showcase in July. I had the chance to catch up with Kirk, Andy and Jon last BH Monday at the local (which just so happens to be managed by Kirk – hurrah!), to find out more….
What inspired you to form a band?
Andy: Well I’ve been playing guitar since I was 15, getting into bands such as Oasis and The Happy Mondays. I could never learn other people’s songs so started writing my own – I’ve got a shoebox full – but I never had the confidence to play in front of anyone. 7 years later, playing football for a local league, I found out that Kirk wanted to be in a band and then we met Jon. So we started giving it a go, just messing around and realised we had something. Except a drummer. We also needed somewhere bigger to rehearse, and ended up at Blink in Armley …. with a drum machine! By chance, we came across our drummer, Mike, just by Kirk mentioning it to his regulars at the pub and it just all clicked into place. Even though he was a newbie, Mike became a fundamental part of the band from day one, suggesting ideas etc.
Jon: For me, after a 5 year break from music and being in a band, I felt it was about time to do something with my music. I went away from my roots. I had a single out with a previous band, but that didn’t work. I wasn’t doing what I like doing (musically) and I ended up on a decline away from music. The difference with this band is that I feel I’m back to my roots – part of a groove driven indie guitar band.
How did you come up with the name of the band?
Kirk and Jon: [ in unison!] DIXON!!
Andy: Yep, when I was first learning the guitar, other friends on my street showed a bit of interest too, but they never had the belief or interest that I had. When we talked about forming a band at that stage, we always said we’d be called “The Rise”, as we all lived on Crawshaw Rise (that’s in Pudsey readers), and the lads agreed when I suggested it.
What’s the story behind the fighter pilot on your website and demo sleeve?
Andy: We liked the way the fighter pilot is almost looking into the sunrise …. an assocation with the name of the band. We were shown a lot of graphics and this is the one that stood out to us all – it’s bright, and it felt right.
You’ve for an interesting list of influences, with quite a bit of variety between you – does this ever get in the way of agreeing on a “sound” or recording/writing?
Kirk: No, we go on a feeling – Jon knows the ins and outs of the way things should be done and we all work together.
Jon: I’m older than the rest of the band and I’ve done a bit already …. when we first went into the studio and did a demo, I commented that what we’d produced sounded like the demo for a demo, and I suppose that kind of knowledge comes with experience. Take some of the best producers around these days – some of the first things they produced were crap, but then things just work. And that’s what’s happening with us and it’s clicked into place. I myself am capturing what we need – it’s not perfect, but we’re getting the idea. I think I bring a little knowledge and stability to the band – the others bring energy and youth!!
Andy: Yeh, when me and Kirk get something right and go off on one, Jon calms us down and brings us back to reality!
Kirk: I agree, I look to Jon as a teacher.
I get a buzz out of that and it’s great to see it when everything comes
together. The hardest role in the band is Andy’s – frontmen always have to
deliver. The buzz I get comes from seeing how far we’ve all come in 6 months.
Andy If it wasn’t for Jon, I’d still be writing on my own in my bedroom, coming up with stuff and never completing it. But it’s not just Jon, it’s the whole band.
Jon Yeh – it’s the band that make it – if someone starts something, we all finish it together.
Can you talk me through the recording process so far and how you’ve found it?
Andy: I learnt as much from Carl (Rosamund) in 3 days about the recording process as Jon has taught me in 8 months. Carl’s a phenomenal communicator. He’s done so much for us, from actually recording and printing the cds, to helping us with the press pack.
Jon: The encouraging thing is that I have known Carl for 15 years and he’s very good at finding the right sound for the band, whether it’s for a demo or a signed band’s recording. As long as he knows the sound you’re after, it doesn’t matter if he likes it or not – he’ll still strive for the best sound. We told him what we wanted, feel-wise, and he delivered. We actullay ran out of time and Carl just said, “Look I’ll do this in my own time for you”. And for that to come from such as esteemed guy, who earns loads, meant so much to us – like he though we had something. He was there until the end and gave us confidence and direction. He’s honest and gives you a kick when you need it and I know Mike really learnt a lot as his other band has a different sound to The Rise and Carl really helped him with that. Carl is renowned on the Leeds scene, working with The Wedding Present, the Glitteratis, Kid Symphony, so he’s a really experienced guy and he actually said to us, “you’ll be there in 6 months”.
Andy: He helped us achieve the finished package and he’s very honest.
Kirk: I was struggling with the baseline and made a balls up in the first few gos, but Carl didn’t get mad or anything, he just made light of it and said “second yellow card!” and that made me feel more comfortable. Everything was just right with Carl and that’s why it worked so well.
Andy: It’s quite hard to describe the whole process, as there we so many changes, but we didn’t leave until everything was right. And it has to be said that our Manager, Mark Hullah, has been and continues to be absolutely brilliant throughout. He’s another great communicator and really is the 5th member of the band.
Which comes first, the music or the lyrics, and who does what?
Jon: Generally, I come up with the music – just general ideas which I develop with Mike and Kirk’s ideas, and Andy comes up with an intial melody. But it’s not really the melodies that define what our band’s about – it’s the style…. When we played the Dry Bar, the BBC were there to report on the main band and they actually said really good things about us too. When we do a melody, we need to ensure that Andy’s agression and tone is right for that particular melody, and I feel there’s a good contrast in our voices …. Andy’s tone is quite agressive and my tone pacifies that.
What inspires the lyrics?
Andy: It depends which song really.
Jon I come up with a couple….
Kirk: We start messing around with a few new songs and then come up with melodies and lyrics.
Jon: Just as an example, one of my new songs is inspired by Andy and his workplace, but generally Andy comes up with the lyrics.
Andy: Easy Ryder’s the most complex one for me. It’s nothing personal to me, it’s just a tale or story – Jon doesn’t know this yet, but it’s got three parts – just about a woman who’s know as the easy rider!
And what about New Situation? To me that’s a bit of a “2 fingers to you situation” to someone or something?
Andy: [laughing I should point out here!] Yep – we found out early on that we got shafted, ripped off money-wise and really bad mouthed (particularly on our site) by another band who we’d been really supportive of. Our guest book was littered with abusive comments from other bands, so I suppose there’s a little rivalry there!
From your press pack, you don’t sound overly impressed with the current Leeds music scene, but surely bands from the area having success and creating an interest in an area where success has been lacking, is a good thing?
Andy: Hmmm, I think that it comes across wrong in the press pack, what I actually mean is, that we are a little different.
Kirk: I do think Leeds is on the map, and that will give us a helping hand. Perhaps our comments have been a little misinterpreted.
Jon: Yes, there is a buzz around Leeds – I want to get back the Leeds feel and buzz that was around in the early 90s.
esque stuff, and we’re offering an alternative.
What is it that you’re hoping to bring to the Leeds scene?
Jon: We’re going to ride that buzz that’s around in Leeds at the moment. It’s what we believe in. They’ve made it already and good on them – we haven’t, but we will.
Andy: We’re an alternative to what’s around at the moment. Something a bit different as everyone’s sounding a little bit the same to me.
How have you been received on the live dates you’ve played?
Jon: I’d say good, but YOU should answer this one for us!!
Andy: When we’d just started out, we were just asked to play week nights, but now we’re bein asked to play weekends, so that’s a good indication. A huge boost for us was when the promoter at the Dry Bar gig said we’re welcome back whenever we want.
Kirk: the only thing that concerns me is that most of our crowds consist of friends. That’s why the best gig for me was the 2nd time we played The Vine – we had a great reaction from the people who’d never heard of us.
Andy: We’re finding now too that we are getting respect from other bands, which is great.
Jon: We do have a good following in Pudsey, and they are the most critical! But that’s great, as they are honest.
Andy: We’re 11 gigs in now, and what we need to do now is branch out, draw people in who’ve never heard of us.
What’s been your favourite gig so far?
Kirk: The second time at The Vine, because of the feeling on stage.
Andy: Yeh it was the first time it all really clicked on stage.
Kirk: I think the atmosphere did it for everyone.
Andy: My favourite was the Dry Bar – everyone started chanting “YORKSHIRE”!!
Jon: For me it was the first gig at the Royal (Pudsey). I didn’t want to do it – we were playing in front of our mates, they most critical, but they went away saying we were good and that we had something. It was a decider.
Andy: That night we were playing with a band who’ve been going a few years and at the end they came to us and said “you stole the night”.
Jon: A close friend of Andy and Kirk’s had tears in his eyes cos he was so proud and Mike has said that after listening to our demo properly for the first time, “I can’t believe I’m part of that”.
Have you had any interest from labels?
Jon: No, we’ve not sent the demos out yet. We need some photos and then we’ll see after that.
What would be your debut track to take the music scene by storm?
All: New Situation.
How did you get involved with Carl Rosamund who produced your demo with you?
Jon: I’ve known Carl for several years. I used to do demos with him and with a previous band, I got a deal with a demo that Carl did. It’s different with Carl – as a producer, he gets the best sound from bass and drums and gets the structure of the song right, whereas some producers concentrate more on guitar. Carl gets a feel for stuff and gets the feel right.
Andy: With us, it’s all about groove and he captures that.
If you had to pick a supergroup line up from the past to play a gig for you, who would it include?
Andy: blimey this has got to be one of Kevin’s! Erm – front – Jim Morrison, drums – Keith Moon, bass – Kirk!, guitar – Hendrix. Actually, Val Kilmer’ll do me for front – he was great in The Doors!
Kirk: I hate to be dull, but I have to say The Stone Roses. They do it for me – they are spot on. Complete.
Jon: John Bonham on drums, Jimmy Hendrix on lead guitar, rhythm guitar…
Andy: Hang on! I didn’t get rhythm guitar!!
Jon: …rhythm guitar, Jimmy Hendrix, bass player from Sly and the Familystone and Jim Morrison on vocals.
Any advice for someone who would love to be a lead singer but is absolutely tone deaf when it comes to singing (yes – Kevin’s question again)?
Andy: Get in a band and work with Kirk, Mike and Jon!Jon Listen to Ian Brown and take confidence from there. You need confidence and a bit of personality.
Andy: You don’t have to be Charlotte Church.
Jon: Look at Shane McGowen from the Pogues, or Bob Dylan live!!
I will provide ear plugs if Kevin takes this advice btw
Tell me about your Battle of the Bands experience
Andy: The lads didn’t want to do it!!
Jon: Andy had dollar signs in his eyes!
Andy: Come on Â£500 prize AND Â£500 worth of recording time – that would have been great for us! Put is this way – what at first seemed to be a well organised competition, turned out to be an amateur’s playtime.
Kirk: We initially put it down to the fact that it was a new venue for the competition.
Andy: We won’t be entering any more B of the B competitions. It’s not really us.
Kirk: But we’ve learnt from it, and that’s good.
Jon: It’s not right though is it? The promoters gain at the expense of the bands.
Andy: And it was like the Bien Venue of Selby!
FYI everyone, the band got to the club in Selby for the semi finals, along with a coach load of supporters. There they met the other bands who were competing. They waited patiently for hours, tumbleweed etc according to Andy, and the promoter never showed. You’ll be delighted to know therefore that no streak across Pudsey Market Place will be necessary – not that it would have been anyway.
…. and finally, what’s next for the band?
Andy: a break!
Kirk: Now’s the time to start afresh and get some more new songs, get some more quality sets…
Andy: We’re twice the band now than when we started out and our crowd is hearing the stuff we played at the start.
Jon: Yes we do need some new songs and we need to get playing with signed bands.
Andy: with audiences who are keen on listening to new music.
Jon: Yeh, playing with respected bands, not to compete obviously, but to test ourselves and create that buzz, and then aspire to be as big as them and live up to their expectations. The Dry Bar promoter said that if we’d been around 15 years ago, we’d have been up there with the best!
Andy: but at the moment, all we are is a local band, so we need to raise our profile and spread the word.
Since the interview, the band’s demo has been played regularly on Radio Leeds’ Raw Talent slot, so things are looking good. They’ve also got some more gigs booked in after the HMV Showcase (16.7.05 Joseph’s Well, Leeds) which will be on their website soon. The Demo, “New Situation” will be on general sale in HMV throughout July, so get yourselves down there.