Interview: The Boy from the Crowd

Boy from the Crowd

Where did you guys get your name from?

We wanted something similar to “misfits”. Something about not fitting in, being the odd one out, us against the world kind of thing. I know these feelings can be ridiculed as teenage stuff, but even we’re grown ups, this is still largely how feel in our day to day life, day job and interaction with a lot of people. Boy from the crowd is a slightly more abstract way of expressing that and I just happened to say it in a conversation with Vegas, so it came naturally and was adopted.

What first got you guys into making music?

Vinny: The Cure
Vegas: Black Flag

You both strike me as very experienced musicians. What have some of your past musical ventures been like?

Disasters! {laughter} No, they were not all bad. In fact looking back we have made some pretty good music over the years in various bands and projects. We’ve always been very underground though, appealing to a small core of fans. People like us. I (Vinny) had some success writing soundtrack / library music, but I got bored of it and did not carry on doing it. It’s the only time I got real money out of making music though. I really am a fool!

It’s surprising that fairly few rock bands go for a duo approach. I do think two-man bands are great for bouncing ideas between each other. What’s your experience working together been like?

Really? I tell you what, in the UK the little fuckers are everywhere. Duos are now so common on the alt-rock scene, it’s unreal. It largely comes down to the fact that it is easier to manage and to get going quickly. You know, it’s really hard when you have 4 people in a band, some with a day job, some with night job, social life, other commitments  etc. and you try to arrange rehearsals, gigs, tours etc. It’s a fucking nightmare and it usually falls to one person in the band to do all the organising stuff. So, since White Stripes showed the way, a lot of bands have become duos. Not because they want to be like White Stripes or Black keys, but more because they realised it was possible to make good music, play good shows and it also is more manageable. In a way, that’s us. We didn’t want to wait to find a bass player or other. We realised we were good and could make a huge amount of noise just the 2 of us, so we thought: Let’s do it!

From the videos and album artworks you’ve released so far, there’s definitely a visual motif of a face with a cross through it. What inspired this aesthetic?

Yeah. That’s our logo. We try to imitate our logo. We call him “The little guy” and we have come to refer to him as a better version of ourselves. So, we often say things like “our little guy would have done this or that”. We created this little super hero icon to represent us, and we do our make up to try look like him. I know, it makes no sense at all to most people outside the band, but it makes sense to us. We put the make up on and we’re ready for war.

The styles you’re playing on this EP are varied– everything from post-punk to blues and surf rock– but it all comes together to make a style that sounds right to my ears. How would you say these different styles fell in line together?

I really don’t know. I swear none of it is forced or calculated. We never say “let’s make this a little more punk and add this and that to it etc”. We never calculate like that. I write songs, I play guitar. I try to keep my guitar pedal board to a bare minimum, So, in the end, we only have a few core sounds to use and the way we play does the rest. It’s that simple.  I was so surprised when we started getting feedback on social channels and from journalists that we were referred to as “Punk music”. Really, I never thought that was the case. I knew the song “Revelator” was punk driven, yes,  but I always saw it as a one off. I think we take our roots in the blues but it is not a framework or musical rule we have to follow either. We just do what we want and never worry about continuity between the various songs either.

You released a new EP a while back, entitled Where the bees comes to die. How did you guys go about recording this one?

It’s quite simple. We had to make a choice. Do we truly record as a 2 piece, as we play live, or do we track additional bass, guitar solos, BVs etc. We decided to do the latter. Somehow I didn’t want to make a “thin sounding” record. I was worried about the lack of a tight bottom end. So, once this was agreed, we did the drums in a cool studio called Fish Studios because they have such a great live room. Drums sound great there. I have my own recording studio called Maako studios in London. We did everything there. It took a long time, because of the day job etc.. But we got there and very happy with the result.

How does the new EP compare to your past work on Revelator? What tricks of the trade have you picked up in the year-plus between albums?

Nothing much really. The only thing is that I mixed Revelator with a great sound engineer, Sean Douglas, but then I mixed the rest of it on my own. I guess once I had a reference track, a blue print, I felt confident enough to do my own mixes.

Boy from the Crowd are big into the idea of rock n’ roll; not just the sound, but the mentality the style represents. While styles have evolved and multiplied, do you think the real essence of rock has changed much over the course of decades?

Really, I think it is just an endless circle. Things just comes and go. When there is a bit of a new sound with advanced production techniques and technology, everybody gets mad into it. Then after a while everybody says “I’m tired of this over produced sound, I want something raw and organic”. That’s how I see it. I’m big into rock’nroll, but not because of it’s cliché behaviour and guitar licks. It is more the spirit of freedom, the expression of frustration  though music. It is just good to let go, and nothing does it best than a loud valve amp and a powerful drummer. When I look at Hendrix play, yes, I am mesmerised by the guitar stuff of course, but what always gets me is how free he looks while he plays. How totally lost in his thing. You know, that is what I love about Rock’nRoll. It makes me feel warm inside.

Do you think traditional rock will ever be poised for a revival? It’s always said that electronic music has bumped rock off its throne, but there seems to be an increasingly wide number of people who seem frustrated with this.

Real traditional rock? I don’t know. And I love some electronic music too. I don’t think the 2 cannot coexists. There is room for guitar stuff and electronic stuff and everything in between.

Would you say there are any albums by other artists out there that are nailing the sort of experience you’re going for? Or would you say you’re trying to do something fresh with rock?

Yes, I really don’t listen to many other new bands. We are definitely not trying to emulate anything or anyone. We just do our stuff. And even then we are not trying to be unique, groundbreaking or leaders of a pack. No, we just try to write good songs and play them how we feel like playing them. That’s it. Not much of a master plan is it?

I would imagine live performances with Boy from the Crowd are pretty wild. What’s been your experience so far?

Yes.. I miss that. It has been a while. At our very first gig, on the very first song, Vegas stripped naked. {laughter}. I didn’t find it too funny at the time as he stopped playing drums and was playing with his nipples instead. But yes, we are spontaneous when we perform and things can happen.

How’s it been being a part of the legendary London music scene?

I’ve been playing it for so long! I don’t know.  It’s ok, but I’m glad when we get out of London too. People outside are less blasé, pay more attention and respect to the bands.  London is a cool place to play, yes, but you know, you don’t want to make it the only place you play either.

What have you been listening to these days? 

I’ve been listening to a lot of Bowie. Since he died. I just felt the need to, you know. It’s just such a big loss. Even though he wasn’t making much music lately you felt he was around. I’ve been to his memorial in Brixton (South London, where he was born). It was so emotional, all the people there. It was great because no one was hysterical or acting silly. It was just this great sense of togetherness, loss, and more than anything wanting to say “Thank you”. Now he’s gone, it’s different. Such a void that cannot be filled.

What advice might you give to other budding rock musicians?

Don’t focus on fitting a specific music genre. Just do what you want, what you feel, hopefully with some like minded people. Try to choose musicians you play with only based on their musicianship, but more importantly find good, kind people to work with. It’s the only way to be happy in a band and make long term progress.

Anything I might have missed? What can we expect to see from you guys in the coming year?

Thanks Connor. An Album, a UK tour and hopefully further afield too.

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