North London has always been notorious for being one of the most exciting, vivid cities for rock music, and new indie rock band The Black Roses are certainly going to be a part of the city’s rich musical legacy. Composed of Anthony (lead singer and guitarist), Richard (guitarist), Mike (drummer) and Val (bassist), the four piece already have a couple of recorded tracks, ‘Bad Habits‘ and ‘She Makes The Rain Dance,’ and a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet the band (minus Val) in the heart of Camden at the iconic Hawley Arms. The band formed in September 2015, and have ‘been gigging extensively for the past four months’, including around ten gigs between March and July, their first gig being in March itself. Currently their gig setlist is made up of nine tracks and one cover, which is the band’s version of old Arctic Monkeys demo ‘Cigarette Smoke,’ the original version of ‘Cigarette Smoker Fiona’ from the ‘Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?’ EP. In terms of what their music is about, Anthony tells me they tend to write about ‘relationships and feelings and stuff,’ ‘general misdemeanors and love and relationships,’ which leads me on to ask about the influence modern day politics may have on their music, and whether or not it’s something they’d consider writing about. To be honest, they make it clear that you’ve ‘got to be very involved in politics to be a political band,’ and they would most likely be ‘alienating a large number of people if we start going down a political route.’ However, they joke that their ‘next song will be about Trident or Brexit’- in all seriousness though, they’re more about ‘going out and having fun and enjoying yourself’, with an emphasis on ‘life experience over politics.’ The atmosphere throughout the interview was really fun and chilled and relaxed; the band are such lovely genuine guys, and it was great to talk about the ‘shitloads of fun’ they’ve been having. Sometimes gigs from brand new bands can be a bit awkward and not too much fun, especially if it’s too early on for the band to have a solid fan base, but that’s not the case with The Black Roses. ‘At our first gig my mate broke his finger!’ I’m told, with their first performance drawing moshpits, and just being ‘chaos’- ‘the place was rammed.’ When it comes to building a fan base, the band acknowledge that it can be hard but they’re steadily playing to bigger and bigger crowds, with around 100 people watching their set at the O2 Academy Islington. Self-promotion is something the band are also focusing on, especially with ‘This Feeling’ who are the ‘best new promoters for getting new bands exposure,’ with links to Jack Daniels, Radio X, Y Not festival, and Isle of Wight festival. The band now have 3-4 promoters, but they ‘kind of offer the same venues,’ and they’ve also found that lots of promoters are looking for female fronted bands right now, which would explain the rise of acts like Wolf Alice, Fish, Pale Waves, and Black Honey to name but a few- the issue simply is ‘being four guys in a band right now isn’t in fashion.’
We then go on to talk about musical inspirations and the band’s aims. ‘We wanna be as big as you can be’ they tell me, a big influence in terms of success being ‘the Rolling Stones, playing Glastonbury when you’re 70 years old.’ ‘If you don’t aim big, you won’t get big’ Anthony insists (followed by a humorous line of ‘that’s what she said.’) They’re a funny, charismatic band with something really warm and friendly about them, a little similar to Arctic Monkeys back in 2005/2006. That would be music to Anthony’s ears, as he’s ‘probably the biggest Arctic Monkeys fan in the group.’ We chatted about the Sheffield band, and the influence they’ve had. The Black Roses, as mentioned, cover ‘Cigarette Smoke’ at gigs, and also note them as one of their main influences, alongside Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, The Libertines and The Stone Roses. In terms of who they’d like to be as big as, Oasis and The Beatles are mentioned, as well as Spandau Ballet who were namedropped earlier as an inspiration- despite me being told to not quote them on that. In terms of their goals, the band seem to have a unanimous ambition of headlining Glastonbury, as well as playing some of London’s iconic venues, like the Forum Kentish Town, Roundhouse, and O2 Academy Brixton. Their love for these venues make sense though, as they met through Glastonbury festival and the Jazz Cafe in Camden. Talking about venues, the conversation moved on to funniest stories they have from their own live gigs. One of my favourites was when Anthony’s guitar string broke, despite being constantly reminded to change it before their set. This happened in the middle of their set, following their pedal board turning itself on and off throughout the set. When his string broke, he was forced to ask the crowd if anyone had a spare guitar, resulting in the band playing the rest of their set with Anthony using a ‘spiky metal guitar, jet black’ which they’d had to borrow. Since then though, they’ve grown so much as a live band and ‘100% our last gig was easily our best one’, it was ‘incredibly flawless.’ Their recorded music is great as well- ‘She Makes The Rain Dance’ is incredibly catchy with a great guitar sound to it, really intricate riffs and a vivid underlying drum beat to it. Their lyrics are amazing as well; personal favourites of mine are ‘feeling hopeless with these feelings, like floating debris in the wind’ as well as ‘yank my chain it’s always the same, the heat or the darkness, the lure of the flame.’ ‘Bad Habits’ also features the lyric ‘we didn’t leave the cat money’ which literally means what it says; they’d booked a rehearsal space which turned out to be a ‘shithole’ just ‘awful, absolutely terrible.’ The rehearsal door had been locked from the outside meaning they spent over half an hour waiting outside, ‘drinking on the street like complete idiots.’ Once inside, they could hardly move it was that tiny and cramped, and they ‘couldn’t make an audible sound,’ so just left and went back to the pub, literally not giving any money to the cat which was where money’s meant to be left. Before we finished our interview, I wanted to ask them about why they chose music as a career, and why they chose to be in a band. ‘Well being in a band is always a dream when you’re younger’ and ‘we all really enjoy it’ I’m told. As for the name, there’s no deep story behind it or anything; ‘we made it up’ Anthony laughs. The band are really exciting and fresh and cool, something that’s quite rare. There aren’t many new small bands like them right now, and this is definitely the start of something which could go on to be huge- and that would be something they definitely deserve.
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