Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Interview: Spring Offensive

 It's been a brilliant year for Spring Offensive. Having just returned from a European tour, they were recently named BBC Introducing in Oxford's 'band of the year', whilst their single, Not Drowning But Waving, released in September, has been widely praised. However, amongst all this, they found the time to answer some questions - carry on reading to find out how the music scene in Oxford has shaped them as a band, and the most intimate place to play a gig...

First off, how did you all meet?
Rather unexcitingly, most of us met at school a long long long time ago. Lucas and Theo are brothers though, so they had met each other before. We just started playing music together one day, and it kind of went from there.

Why did you decide to name the band after the Wilfred Owen poem, 'Spring Offensive'?
Just fanboys of the poem really. We feel like it is a name that we have kind of grown into a bit; as if it is more suited to us now than ever before.

What is it that inspires you to write songs? Is it a band collaboration or does one person take the lead?
Matt usually starts the song off with an idea, or a verse of something and we take it from there. It is very much of a collaboration though. Lucas and Matt work closely on the lyrics and melody, and the rest of the guys make the music sound super special. It is a bit clinical to take it apart like that. It is a group thing really. It is shaped by all five of us.

Have you found that your current songs have a very different sound to those you wrote when you first started out as a band?
Yeah there has been a natural change and shift in sound. Having said that though, we are still playing songs that we had at our first ever shows in Oxford. We are still singing about the same things in the same way, it is just that hopefully we are better at doing it! Naturally, a band kind of hones in on its sound.

You've played in a huge variety of venues, from living rooms to churches to museums, but what's your favourite setting for a gig?
Living rooms are always pretty special. You can't really get much more intimate. Except maybe in a bed....

Oxford has been producing many first class bands of late - do you feel the rich diversity of the Oxford music scene has helped with the band's development?
Of course! We thought we knew what we were doing when we arrived in Oxford. We thought we were brilliant. Then we started watching other local acts and realising that the calibre of bands in Oxford is incredible. We knew that we had to up our game! It's all on your doorstep with a local music scene like Ox. So many gigs to choose from, playing such a variety of styles. It is hard not to soak it all up!

You've just been on a big European tour. When you're spending so much time together, how do you avoid getting on each other's nerves?
Who said we avoid getting on each other's nerves?

With illegal downloading so common nowadays, how important do you think tours are for bands in terms of building your profile and paying the bills?
100%. Not only that though, a live show on a tour, in our opinion, is one of the best ways of seeing a band play. For a new band it is the best way of getting yourself out there. But yeah, the frequent need to tour (especially for bigger acts) is a consequence of money slowly trickling away via illegal downloading, amongst other things.

A live show is something that cannot be replicated or compromised in any way. Obviously. Unless they invent some new technology which would enable holograms of the band playing a live show in your room. Hmmm. Now there's an idea.

If you weren't in Spring Offensive, what would you all be doing?
Easy! A TV cookery show!

Can you recommend some bands we probably haven't heard of, but really should?
Tricky one, because we don't know how much you know! Our Lost Infantry have just released a fantastic album. Tessera Skies from Newcastle blew us away the other day. Also, All We Are from Liverpool are amazing too.

Finally, any plans for a new album to be released soon?
It shouldn't be too long now. But we don't like making promises that we cannot keep.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Stornoway announces news of sophomore album, Tales From Terra Firma

     Today brought the exciting news of Stornoway's long awaited follow-up to their debut album, Beachcomber's Windowsill, which had great success  in 2010 with sales of over 75,000. Due to be released on 11 March, Tales From Terra Firma coincides with a 25 date UK tour, including two in the band's hometown of Oxford, and a show at The Forum in London.

     But for those who can't wait that long, on 5 December, the band will be taking part in the Sounds From A Room sessions, performing songs from their new album, which will be streamed live via The Guardian.

To see the full list of tour dates visit 
and read my interviews with Oli Steadman (bassist) and Rob Steadman (drummer)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Album review: Sell Everything You Own - The Standard Lamps

Album: Sell Everything You Own
Genre: Indie-folk
Best song: Right Train
Rating: 8/10

      For a band that 'believe in sounding like where you come from', I'm rather glad that in my view, The Standard Lamps don't sound like their home town of Brighton, considering my memories of a rather soggy, bitterly cold day in February spent down there. Instead, the band harnesses a vibrant sound with a rock'n'roll edge - more United States than southern England.

      But never mind where they hail from, as at its core Sell Everything You Own is a brilliant masterclass in compressing a wide-ranging variety of genres into 35 thrilling minutes. The 60s vibe of Portland is infectiously happy with jangling guitar hooks whilst The Harmonica Song's americana roots transport you to the deserts of North America. It's the almost Hispanic feel towards the end of Distractions, however, that truly brings the album into its own, with its melancholy melody contrasting with the upbeat nature of the other tracks.

      Despite the lyrics lacking a certain amount of depth, their simplicity is unpretentious, and though the album might not contain the most thought-provoking of songs, it's a lovely recording - proof that we will see more good things from The Standard Lamps in the future.

Sell Everything You Own is out now. For more information visit:

Sunday, 11 November 2012

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