With the recent release of Artic Monkey’s AM, the rise of The Black Keys and the undisputed coolness of Jack White’s solo efforts following the end of The White Stripes, it seems we are revisiting a genre of music that, not only is reminiscent of the blues-driven riffs of times past, but puts the ‘sex’ back into ‘sex’. With such a pretext, backstage in a bathroom at the Joiners I joined up – apologies for the pun – with a band that is now emerging into this frontline of bassline bumping, dancefloor dunking acts that are fusing together the blues and the bouncing beats of hip-hop with all kinds of fleshy melodies and an untamed carnal energy. Born and bred in Bath and made up of brothers Will (23), Ollie (25) and Tim Walter (23), that band is called The Family Rain.
Before another storming set and after I got my annoying fan-boy statements out of the way, we finally got onto talking music.
Right. You guys have just got off the road supporting Jake Bugg; how was that? How does it feel to be straight back on the road on your own headline tour?
Tim: It’s just been going amazingly, so good – especially the bigger tours, we’re getting to play to so many people. And a headline tour, with longer sets to people who have seen us previously, is the chance to show them what we can do.
Will: The crowds have got rowdier as the tour’s gone on; it kicks off.
So do you reckon you guys have got rowdier as the tour’s gone on?
Tim: I think we have due to the reason that we’re now in a position to ask people to push it and I think for that reason it’s played off each other.
Could you put a finger on your genre? For me it’s Jack White meets later Beatles.
Tim: Oh that’s amazing.
Will: We had one the other day, someone said a cross between the Arctic Monkeys and The Black Keys.
Tim: Yeah, we want to make English-sounding records, which are kind of like American blues influenced. But we listen to loads of 80s hip-hop.
Will: And in terms of vocals, Jack White and The Beatles are definitely a big influence.
Would you then say what you’re writing is – like bands such as the Arctic Monkeys – partly a fusion of hip-hop with blues?
Tim: It’s really good that hip-hop and pop records exist and that there’s some good in everything going on because you could easily fall into the trap of just listening to 60s records and trying to recreate that. We’d much rather try and get the best of everything.
You could compare that then to the way that the division between ‘chavs’ and ‘grungers’ isn’t really there anymore.
Tim: Yeah we were saying that to someone the other day. Now we’re older we’re not really as rigid with what we listen to, as long as it’s cool shit. It’s really nice to get old and just not worry about that.
That can be seen in festival line-ups too.
Tim: Exactly. Ten, fifteen years ago you wouldn’t have seen pop acts. You would have only seen big rock and roll bands.
Ollie: They have to diversify now.
Tim: In Germany they have Hurricane festival and all these little festivals, and as a result the line-up is just amazing. Whereas in England there are so many festivals that the big acts are split up, which is why you get Bruce Forsyth playing Glastonbury.
What festival bills did you get on over summer then?
Will: We played British Summertime with the Stones, and backstage – I don’t know how – I’d got into a position where I could pat Mick Jagger on the back. But I was kind of thrust away.
Are you more Rolling Stones or Beatles or both?
Will: It changes daily, one day I’ll slap out some Beatles, then it’ll be the Stones.
Do you all have a favourite Beatles then?
Ollie: Funnily enough, we all used to have rings didn’t we?
Tim: I got John Lennon, Ollie has George and Will likes Paul most. He likes his kind of poppy melodies. But you know, even Lennon’s later albums I really like and you [Ollie] take influence from George Harrison don’t you?
Ollie: Well he’s a guitar man isn’t he.
After some research I discovered that you used to be called ‘Rock Pirates’.
Will: The thing with that is that, it says it on our Wikipedia page, but it’s locked, we can’t get on it. So now everyone asks us about it. That was when we were learning our instruments.
Tim: It was shit, we were a shit covers band. Now, we like to think we’re getting better year after year, and it’s one of those things, we’ll carry on evolving and trying to improve and when we all feel that we can longer do that, that it’s something we can’t do anymore, that’s when we’ll have to stop.
Ollie: It’s weird that it used to be a thing at all.
So who out of you first picked up an instrument then?
[Tim points to Ollie] Ollie: That was me. As soon as I got my first pay check, I got a guitar. All my friends were getting one. Then from there… well you can’t have a band of just guitarists.
Tim: Our dad had a rubbish drum kit that he bought back off a mate for something silly like £50. He wasn’t great though, at first we thought he was great but he can’t really play too well.
Will: He’s going to read this now and not be too happy. But yeah, it all fell into place fairly easily.
Tim: We wanted to make the biggest sound we could. We said that we all have to sing and we all have to get the music side of things as big as possible. We kind of learnt on the stage, we were terrible at skateboarding, we were never going to be professional wrestlers, it sort of worked out in our favour that we were actually kind of good at it and stuck at it and getting jobs to fund buying instruments. Every weekend we’d hit the gig circuit up, then after a while, once we’d been playing as a three-piece for a while, we just locked ourselves up in the basement and decided what kind of sound we wanted to create.
Will: That was the first time that we took it seriously.
Tim: We went straight from school, to a stockroom packing boxes.
Will: That was for about seven years. And we’d gig whilst doing that, every fortnight. We genuinely didn’t want to do anything else.
Tim: We wanted to find people who believed in what we were doing. We didn’t really tap into the scene in Bath.
Me: Did you find most bands were either death metal or stupidly indie?
All: Yes, yes yes.
Ollie: It was fairly saturated.
Right, the debut album comes out in February; tell us about it! What inspired the name [Under the Volcano]? Also was the idea to market it as a Valentine’s gift?
Will: No one’s said that yet actually, that’s a good idea.
Tim: The name came from a film, some unknown 80s film that we fell in love with. It’s based on a book. As soon as we heard it we thought, wait, that’s an album name.
Ollie: We’re pretty filmy. But the last few weeks we’ve just been trying to get to sleep.
Will: Yeah exactly, I mean fans have been setting up after parties and we’ve been DJing on nights off.
When it came to writing the album, were you stuck for material or did you have a fair bit to choose from?
Tim: There were about forty songs. We wanted different landscapes; we didn’t want any two songs that sounded similar.
Will: Two summers ago we banged out like three tracks a week.
Ollie: Then after the release we’ll just carry on writing.
[Then, at this point the guys were told dinner was ready, but they gracefully said they’d wait. Gentlemen indeed.]
If you could tour with any artist or band, who would it be?
Will: Biffy Clyro.
Ollie: We played with them in Ibiza and they were incredible.
And, finally, what inspires you to do all this?
Will: ‘Just the whole package, it’s always been the whole thing for us. Recording songs, writing songs and playing live. It’s kind of always been the plan to get as big as we can. And we’re getting there.’
Tim: ‘We don’t want to stop it, you know, five albums in; we just want to keep going.’
The Family Rain’s debut album ‘Under The Volcano’ is set to be released through Universal on 3rd February 2014.