Music Interviews

Interview: New Rhodes

Despite forming way back in 2001, it seems the big time is finally appearing on the horizon for New Rhodes.

Constant touring as well as a couple of well received singles have earned them praise in all quarters of the music press.

musicOMH caught up with all four band members over dinner in an Oxford Street watering hole, just before their recent headline show at the 100 Club.
“It kind of started about four years ago, when me, Jack and Joe used to go to college together – we were doing music technology. We were in other bands but they weren’t really working, so we just decided to form one. We had a couple of drummers that didnt really work out and then Steve joined us, and it’s been happily ever after!” ponders James, their sharply dressed and well spoken vocalist, when asked about how the band came together originally.

On getting a record deal, their bassist Jack explains: “After we formed with Steve we found our own sound really, and then we met Moshi (their record label) through my brother – they came to a gig and they were interested, and the rest is history I guess.”

Their sound has drawn comparisons to a wide range of guitar bands, from The Strokes to Interpol to The Smiths to The Futureheads – indeed, they’re not the easiest to pin down. I put the dreaded question to them, hoping for a more concise answer.

“I suppose it is kind of Smiths, kind of like that British jingly guitar sound,” offers guitarist Joe after some thought. “English jingly jangly pop I suppose you could say!” agrees Jack.

James butts in, eager to deal with the issue head on: “There are just so many things that inspire us, it’s not like we only listen to one type of music. Our parents all had very diverse music collections, so we grew up listening to a wide variety of things. That’s why now we listen to jazz…”

Snoop Dogg!” interrupts drummer Steve, an ever jovial character. “Yeah, Snoop Dogg,” agrees James. “You won’t really find any traces of Snoop in our music, but we listen to stuff like that.”

“If we sound too much like something, we just stop it and look at that differently”
– New Rhodes aren’t a band to bow to any current trends.

As you can see, New Rhodes are not a band who like to be pigeon-holed. Jack continues: “We wouldn’t ever go out to sound like someone ever, we wouldn’t want to do that – we want to be New Rhodes, and I think we’ve actually found our sound now. I don’t think we sound too much like The Smiths, I don’t think we sound too much like The Strokes!”

I went on to ask whether they’d heard anything lately that had perhaps inspired them, to a degree where the influence may have in fact seeped through into the recording process. “I think it’s the opposite! If we sound too much like something, we just stop it and look at that differently,” remarks Jack. “We don’t really listen to that much really up to date music – we had The Cribs on the bus the other day – but most of it is really old stuff,” continues James.

As for lyrical content, James explains that the themes are equally ambiguous, preferring not over analyse his own words. “In a way, if you listen to it I think everyone can relate to it in one way or another. It doesn’t have to be about a certain thing – you can read into it what you like. That’s why I don’t have the lyrics written down or have them printed anywhere, because I like the fact that you can listen to it, and if you can’t really hear what I’m singing, just make it up yourself – sing what you want to sing!”

The band hail from Bristol, which they insist is not the best place to be if you’re in an alternative rock band.

“That’s why we’re in London now!” exclaims Jack. “There was no point being in Bristol, we were selling out venues down there and the review would just be “crap,” New Rhodes, “crap,” and the trip hop support act would be fantastic,” explains Joe with a certain degree of irritation.

“I think there are more bands who play indie nowadays in Bristol, but it still has this love for trip hop. We played just before Roni Size on Sunday – we had quite a few people, it was alright. But then to see the difference between when we finished and Roni Size was just insane!” recalls James, still rather baffled by this.

Steve goes on to explain their recent move to the capital: “There’s more venues, more people to see you. There’s only so many places you can play in Bristol for one – you can play in London every month. Bristol you can play every couple of months, or else people will get really sick of you!”

“I think there are more bands who play indie nowadays in Bristol, but it still has this love for trip hop”
– James on the lack of a proper rock scene in their hometown…

Their debut long player is slated for release hopefully before the end of the year. So what’s the latest on this?

“We’re finalising funding and stuff at the minute – all the songs are ready to go, and we’re hopefully recording it in the next month or two,” Jack reveals.

“We’re going to wait and see what the success of the Crazy Frog album is, and if it goes down really well we’re going to turn all of our songs into ring tones with various animals,” jokes James, to chuckles from his cohorts.

Perhaps more seriously, although you never know with this band, Jack sums up what fans can look forward to when the album does see the light of day:

“As well as the three singles, there’s a lot more depth – slightly quieter songs, more intricate songs and stuff that’s maybe a little less solid pop structure. We’ve got so many in the pipeline that we’re working on that we prefer to those songs, so it’s always evolving.”

And if there was ever an indication of a great band, surely it’s a prolific song writing ability – as long as their slightly off the wall influences don’t shape the record too much, we should be in for a treat. Watch this space.

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More on New Rhodes
New Rhodes – Everybody Loves A Scene
New Rhodes – Songs From The Lodge
Interview: New Rhodes
New Rhodes @ 100 Club, London