Earlier this month, I went along to a musical collective evening in my local town, Louth Later. I loved it, and gave it a glimmering positive review on my website. During the evening, I had a spontaneous interview with psychedelic/rock/pop group Chariots. The guys are from Cleethorpes, and as well as breaking out of Lincolnshire they are becoming one of the biggest psychedelic names around. Releasing their first album in the next few months, I sat down with the lads and we spoke about the band’s varied line-ups over the last few years, their heroes, fracking, the local music scene and many other topics which have not left the walls of the interview room (a quick chat turned into a crazy, revealing conversation which was entertaining, and maybe I’ll reveal more details in person one day).
Q: I’d like you guys to introduce your band name…
ROB: Our name is Chariots and we’re a band from Cleethorpes, but now we have members that come from close to Lincoln – we’re spread quite out. The current members of the band have been in the present line-up for one week – today everyone met the keyboard player for the first time!
Q: How long has Chariots been a musical project for?
ROB: We started in 2014 – initially our first sound was very trippy, but because of how trippy it was the sound would often alienate listeners. This line-up now is the fourth line-up of the band that we’ve ever had. So, when we say we started in 2014 the band sort of did, but none of these members (members of the band who performed at the Louth Later concert) were in it.
Q: Why do you feel your starting trippy sound alienated people?
ROB: We were playing with young bands that sounded like The Libertines or Oasis; you know that middle of the road indie sound. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re into it, but we (at the time) were doing something a bit more out there more akin to the early 1960s Pink Floyd. We’ve kept a bit (of that sound) now, whilst changing it up a little bit. We’ve ended up going more 1960s pop, and that change is now what has led the band to start doing well, because your grandma could enjoy it, your son could enjoy it, your daughter could enjoy it who’s 17, you could enjoy it if you’re 30, 28, do you get what I’m saying? There’s nothing threatening about it; it’s just good music which is good fun, with simple songs that are catchy.
Q: So, tell me who’s in the band in its current fourth line-up:
ROB: Gaf is our drummer; he came to two practices as he didn’t have a lot of time, but as soon as I heard him play two beats in the room, I thought ‘this guy is an effing genius’! Then, we have another rhythm guitar player who is still in the band – he couldn’t make it tonight (Louth Later V) as he is moving house at the moment. He’s been in the band once before, during line-up three…
STEVE: He was in line-up two!
ROB: Yeah that’s right, he was in line-up two, but not line-up three, but he’s now back for the fourth. Also, this guy here Matty, who’s a friend of mine, one of the best psychedelic guitar player’s I’ve ever met. He was in the first line-up when we started, and even when he wasn’t in the band he’s my best mate, so we were always meeting up at practices; we’d just drink and jam together!
Q: So how different is this line-up then compared to the previous third line-up then?
ROB: With the third line-up I was at a bit of a whim; basically, I got the first bunch of guys I could find who could play the instruments, and with more practice we formed a good sounding band. Whilst their sound became solid, there was nothing there – it was just a band going through the motions, who sounded a bit beige. That’s not a diss to them!
MATTY: The sound had become too focused on the 1960s, it was too focused.
ROB: It was too pop.
MATTY: Yeah, it sounded like your typical Primal Scream, Manchester vibe that we had in the second line-up.
ME: Well, I definitely feel that you are mixing the sounds together now.
ROB: Yeah, we were saying that before the recording.
ME: This might sound a bit random, but the Happy Mondays are actually heading to Lincoln in December!
THE BAND: We should go!
At this stage, one of the band members mentioned something along the lines of being in a transit van going to Bradford, which prompted me to ask the next question…
Q: Is that what the band is doing at present; travelling around the country in a van and playing shows?
ROB: We’ve (at the time of interview) still got gigs booked still in Wales, Manchester, York, London, and a few more in Grimsby, Cleethorpes, obviously those ones are more local shows. I try not to play too many local gigs, because I’ve been performing local gigs for a long time – you saw that it can become convoluted, being caught up in a local scene. You can only go so far and grow as a band if you stick to playing shows in your hometown can’t you, and we’ve got as far as we can go here I think.
“This is the second psychedelic resurgence happening right now, like it happened in the 60s and now it isn’t being watered down”.
Q: How did you feel your performance went, as the first one in your new fresh line-up?
MATTY: That was our best gig, since line-up two!
STEVE: That was one of my favourite gigs!
ROB: Yeah, it was! We had two practices – we practiced for three hours and 10 minutes (before the Louth Later performance).
ME: Did all your practicing for that performance happen today then?
ROB: There was one time we practiced on Tuesday, then on Sunday…
REST OF BAND: Sunday we practiced for two hours, then on Thursday we had one (hour).
ROB: Gaf had to drive to practice like a bat out of hell!
ME: Honestly, you wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was the first performance in your line-up, and that there hadn’t been loads and loads of practice!
ROB: What, you could tell or you couldn’t tell?
ME: Nah, I couldn’t tell! You seemed to have a strong confident stage presence, and looked like you knew what you were doing – it really appeared like that to me.
ROB: That’s another thing though – everyone has probably been in a band before, so that helps, doesn’t it.
ME: Yeah, I feel like once you’ve been on the stage before you kind of get a feel for it.
MATTY: People who were a fan in the second line-up, stopped coming to see us didn’t they? So, having people come up and dance tonight, that hasn’t happened for at least a year!
ROB: Oh god yeah, like our old fan base would always be up dancing!
MATTY: We used to have a professional dancer…
ROB: Yeah, we did, we used to paint someone’s body and they’d go up and dance at festivals and stuff, it’s just that 1960s vibe.
Q: You’ve played at festivals in the past, which ones?
ROB: We’ve played festivals; including Shanti (Lincolnshire music and cultural festival); we’ve also played one in Amsterdam but that was in the line-up before the band was called Chariots. Yeah, we’ve played a fair amount of festivals, yeah! We’ve also done a lot of gigs, and played with some really famous people. I don’t want to brag, but we’ve played with Little Barrie (Barry Cadogan) from Primal Scream, Bruce Foxton from The Jam, members of Hawkwind, The Bluetones, The Pigeon Detectives, Reverend and the Makers…
MATTY: We’ve played with Space as well! And we’ve also played with Cast.
ROB: That was crazy, wasn’t it! Members of Inspiral Carpets as well…
ME: Yeah, I heard that one of them died from Inspiral Carpets.
ROB: It was Gill (Craig Gill), the drummer.
ME: It was so sad, he was really young as well. There’s that whole thing though isn’t there, musicians dying at the age of 27…
ROB: Well, I’m 30 now!
MATTY: I’m turning 27 this year…
ME: Got my fingers crossed for you!
ROB: Also, so far in the band I’ve been the chief songwriter, and I play over 30 instruments. I play them just well enough to get the ideas out of my head, and put them onto tracks, and from that I can make coherent, catchy-enough songs. In other bands, I could have taken the instruments from the players and played them as well as they did, again that isn’t a diss, but in this band although I write all the songs, I am the worst instrument player! This is insane!
ME: But being in a band is a team effort anyway, isn’t it?
ROB: Yeah it is! When you’ve got a team behind you which is this strong, it’s just a blessing and just makes the process so easy. It’s actually enjoyable now; I enjoyed that.
MATTY: I’ve been dreading playing gigs for a year, physically feeling anxious and not wanting to do it, and I’ve just gone home in a weird mood feeling like I wanted to cry. Now suddenly, I want to shout as I’m not in a band that expresses…
ME: But, you seem really happy in the position that the band is in.
ROB: He’s rubbing his hands together now, and he’s loving it!
MATTY: A black cloud had been over me for about a year, because the band that I loved had become this stale, dry thing.
ME: I feel a lot of bands have a moment, where you do almost give up on the whole dream, but you’ve got to persevere with it.
ROB: It’s like being in a relationship sometimes being in a band.
LEE: As the newest member of this band, I feel like something special is going on – I’ve been playing for twelve years, but I’ve never been until now, in a group of people where it feels this natural, where it feels so comfortable.
ME: You guys have a vibe between you; you all click so well. And it’s there, even if you do not know each other for very long.
ROB: Yeah, it’s the universal language of music.
Q: What is your favourite song that you have ever recorded / written as a band? It can be from any of the previous line-ups:
ROB: It’s called ‘Resisting A Rest’. Not resisting arrest by the coppers, but resisting a rest like trying not to fall asleep. That’s had the most plays on YouTube, and in 2015 it won the best Pop Magazine award and it was in the list for the best videos of that year, alongside bands such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ringo Deathstarr, all bands that I love and the reason I make music, and we were alongside these bands! So it’s like wait a second, the bands who make me do what I’m doing, were on a list with us! Like the company, what they say people will listen to it.
ME: That’s such an honour as well; not many bands will have the chance to say they’ve been included in a list with their heroes.
ROB: And then after that (being included in the list), we were signed to a label, for one song on a psychedelic compilation, and that’s now out on vinyl, on Suspect Records which is a part of Matt Berry from the Mighty Boosh’s Acid Jazz Records. On that record, there’s bands that I look up to like Joel Gion from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, there’s like royalty line of psychedelic pantheon, and we’re on there! We’re from Cleethorpes man, you know, the armpit of England.
ME: Lincolnshire isn’t exactly renowned for having very famous music acts from there, compared to other areas of the country.
MATTY: You say that, but from Cleethorpes is the guy who wrote all of the music for Michael Jackson, and the bass player for Bowie (David) or Bolen (Marc) was also from there…
ROB: Also, we found lately a band called Forest from 1966 who came from Grimsby, and they were a psychedelic band in the 1960s! They were signed to all the labels we love, so there has been bands there but it’s like a bit of a melting pot – it’s (the area) has tight borders around it and it’s hard to get out of there.
MATTY: As I was saying earlier, the people from Grimsby are great bands, and there’s great music.
We chatted at this point about some of the bands in the local music scene – there’s bands from the Grimsby area such as MINT, who are starting to hit the big time as well.
Q: I have already alluded to this previously, but do any bands inspire your image or sound?
ROB: I’d have to say Mick Jagger.
ME: I thought so!
ROB: I really like him; I think he’s dead good. He’s got the moves like Jagger, hasn’t me!
ME: So, how about everyone else – who do you like?
STEVE: My hero is Frank Zappa!
ME: I feel like a bit of everything inspires you guys! It’s really weird because I’m really into punk music and indie rock, but then my hero is Morrissey…
ROB: So what music do you like then? Ahh, you like Morrissey? Yeah, I like Johnny Marr, Morrissey is murder!
MATTY: Well, you would’ve liked the third line-up then!
ROB: We covered The Smiths *Rob goes into a beautiful passionate rendition of ‘Hand in Glove’ in the style of the great Morrissey, and the rest of the band gradually join in*.
MATTY: (quietly in the background) That was probably the best thing we did.
ME: I like The Cure as well…
ROB: Oh The Cure!
ME: I like a lot of 1970s and 1980s music, and then obviously also The Stone Roses.
ROB: The Stone Roses are good!
ME: And Tame Impala as well!
ROB: Yeah, they’re great too! They’re friends with another band from the same country as them, The Babe Rainbow, and they’re one of them bands that remind me ever so much of what I do. They have sitars in their music and I also play sitar, like all different ethnic instruments, because I like how they become transcendental, like how the Shayman did it. Certain sounds and frequencies, and even the BPM (beats per minute) can alter the heart of the song, and without using drugs you can get into these transcendental states. And that’s what The Beatles were getting onto – I love all the ethnic instruments. And you also get the Babe Rainbow who are crazy for doing that.
ME: Apparently Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is about their drug use and was written whilst the band were using drugs…
ROB: Apparently his son came up with that song name, what a load of bollocks!
ME: Right now, I’ve got three loads of backups here (recording the interview).
ROB: I like that; I like what you’re doing. I enjoy doing stuff like this – why be in a band if you’re not going to be in interviews with some cool chick and some cool dude, you get filmed and do an interview. Why not be in a band – this is the dream!
ME: Well, this helps bloggers my age in the county out as well, as it can be hard to…
ROB: And you may help us out as well – they’ll (the blog audience) read it and think ‘oh they’re good’.
Q: How many albums has the band done – have any been released yet?
ROB: Well this is the thing – we’ve only just been signed up to a label…
ME: What is the label name?
ROB: It’s called CMB *Rob then showed off his tattoo which is of the initials of the record label*. It stands for Caitlin, Miles and Brody, my three children. Anything I do is for them.
*laughing from the whole band*.
ROB: And also, it’s called Old Tin Box Recordings – that’s the main thing (label), and CMB is the psychedelic subsidiary of it. We’ve got around five full length albums ready to release. I’ve released a few things for free on the internet, because I like to be at a house party and put my tunes on! And that’s why I’ve released music!
ME: I think it’s Chance the Rapper who has so far released all his music for free. And Radiohead did something like that too.
LEE: Ah, Radiohead!
ROB: Yeah, you choose how much you pay for it.
LEE: They’re one of my favourite bands.
ME: I literally just bought OK Computer from a charity shop the other day.
LEE: Nice one, I grew up on their music.
ME: I wish I was going to see them this year!
Rob left the interview at this point to grab a beer, and after a great live performance I did not blame him at all!
STEVE: Other releases, actually quite topical, there was an incident I had with the police on a live stream – I’ve been trying to get it on Twitter as I have no Twitter presence, but basically I got arrested doing a lock on protest. There’s a Facebook stream and its ace. This week I’ve actually done a charity single; it just costs £2 and 100% of the money is going towards Fighting Fracking in the UK. Everyone should chip in as if you don’t make an effort to get other people…
ME: So do you use the cultural events in the news to inspire your music, because I know more and more bands are doing that now.
STEVE: I was…I’m not really a lyricist, and I’m quite tween when I am a lyricist, so for about a month I’ve been…there’s also a couple of poets involved in the movement and said ‘give us some audio’ but they didn’t, but after being in Lancashire and having quite a decent experience, and it was quite powerful, that sort of wrote the song for me. It just gave me all these elements, like I did not want it to be a ‘fuck the police’ kind of thing, because the police are great. So I just wrote them in about them protecting the company and treating us like criminals, and then it moves onto the science and the government corruption. Anyway, I’ll give you the link.
ROB: Oh say all about it!
ME: I just thought it was an interesting question to ask, as there’s this band called Cabbage…
ROB: Oh yeah, we love Cabbage!
ME: Yeah, I’m seeing them on Monday (20th March), with Blossoms in Lincoln.
ROB: Blossoms are so good, but Cabbage; I like the dark thing they do.
ME: They’re supporting Blossoms at the moment on the NME Tour.
ROB: So you’re mates with Cabbage, then?
ME: No, sadly not!
ROB: Are you going to get to interview them?
ME: It would be cool, I tried that once.
ROB: We gave them our CD – we could open for them one day.
MATTY: I wouldn’t have supported Cabbage in the old line-up, but in this line-up – yes!
Rob at this point gave my friend and I free merch, including free badges, a top and their exclusive first recorded album, proving they are the loveliest group of lads!
ME: When I went to see Cabbage for the first time, they had this song about Donald Trump – and it was brilliant, absolutely hilarious.
STEVE: Let me give you the link (to the charity song). It’s on Nimbit.com, and the band is called The Space Lizards. And the song, is called ‘Keep the Frack out of the Ghetto’.
ME: That’s an interesting name – how did you come up with the title for that?
STEVE: I grew up in the 1980s and a huge thing was ‘Keep the Crack out of the Ghetto’ – my first batch of lyrics were terrible, I was trying to make a metaphor out of fracking and ‘let me stick a syringe in your arm’.
Matty then told me some of the original lyrics of the song, in what Rob described as the ‘X-Rated’ version of the song, and they will be left off the blog!
STEVE: I am glad now I did not go ahead with that version of the song!
ME: Thank you so much for your time – this has been ace and I’ve really enjoyed it! Is there anything else you quickly want to add to the interview?
ROB: Peace and love, and we don’t like fracking!
Chariot’s debut album on Old Tin Box Recordings is aptly named Chapter One – you know it’s going to be a feisty, raucous thriller of an album when there’s an instruction to play it at maximum volume, and I cannot wait for you guys to get to hear it soon!
A lot of exciting things are happening for the lads right now, and you can keep tabs on them through following their Facebook page 🙂