Nothing But Thieves, the alternative rock five piece from Essex, are a band on the rise. Their single ‘Itch’ was all over the airwaves after getting a lot of love from Radio 1, and they have a packed summer schedule of festivals, including Reading and Leeds. We caught up with the guys at The Scala to chat about making music and MasterChef.
How is life treating you at the moment guys?
Conor: Good, busy. Life on the road is a heavy load, is that the phrase?
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
Dom: We’re all from the same area in Essex, we all went to school together or family or all just played in different bands, and yeah that’s pretty much the story.
How did you come up with the name Nothing But Thieves?
Joe: I used to deliver pizza before the band started and our friend Quiche, he’s a good friend of all of ours.
Dom: Don’t ask how he got the nickname.
Joe: He used to come on delivery with me and he used to steal all the toppings, and then you said “well he’s nothing but a…
Dom: Thieves [laughs] and because I can only speak in plural it just stuck.
Joe: That was the band name.
Tell us some of your inspirations.
Conor: I think we all grew up on classic rock, so we’ve all got that thread but then we’ve all got different pieces of pie, Price is a punk rock drummer.
Price: I’m more into expressive dance actually.
Conor: Dom was very into beats and techno stuff.
Joe: Led Zep, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, all that.
Any embarrassing songs we would find in your collection?
Conor: I’m scared to even say the names of some of them.
Joe: So four and half years we’ve been a band, two years writing, and in those two years we churned out some awful songs.
Dom: So funny though, like if you’re in bad mood and you need to chirp up, go through my laptop, go back to three or four years ago and it’s just like a compilation of the worst written songs ever. It’s great.
Joe: But now they’re marginally better.
Phil: She means embarrassing songs on your iPod. I’m gonna go with Ariana Grande ‘Break Free’.
Dom: There’s nothing embarrassing about that song.
Joe: I love Abba, and I’m not ashamed.
Dom: We were driving through LA recently and we all listened to a whole Abba compilation CD and it was probably one of the best half hours I’ve had in a while.
How would you describe your genre of music?
Dom: It’s not nice to pigeonhole it is it? We spent so long trying to not get it classified and quarantined into indie rock that’s alternative and new and has electronic in it and atmospheric moments. Who cares?
Joe: Fuck genres. But basically it’s rock.
How do you feel about the release of your single ‘Itch’?
Dom: We released ‘Itch’ and we got a really good response, Annie Mac made it her hottest record, which was nice. The video’s gone down a storm, which is really cool because we spent a lot of time on the whole creative side and imagery of things, so it’s nice that it was really well received. It’s taken the band to the next level hasn’t it?
What was the inspiration behind the single?
Dom: ‘Itch’ started as a guitar riff didn’t it, a weird noise, and we had actually written a few slower songs, and we were like “oh there are other tempos apart from slow”.
Conor: We naturally love heavier guitars and big drums. We wanted to do something like that so we did.
Dom: At first we didn’t think it was gonna be a single, it was just written, and we just enjoyed it. We’ve actually re-recorded it a few times to get to the point where it is now. It’s become a band favourite and hopefully a fan favourite. I think it gets a good response live.
When can we expect the first album release?
Conor: The autumn.
Dom: October, is that in the autumn? October is where we’re aiming for.
What do you bring that’s special?
Conor: We worked really, really hard for two, three years to actually do something different and not do anything that’s already out there, and the hard work was worth it. It was difficult at the time, we pushed ourselves and there were points where we probably thought “is this gonna work? Is this worth it?”, like all bands will have that struggle, so our sound and our music I feel like is the special thing.
Where are you playing this year?
Conor: Reading and Leeds.
Dom: Lots of festivals. Joe’s gonna name a few now.
Joe: We’re playing Japan, we’ve never been before, Summer Sonic Festival, Village Green.
Since the start of your career, what has been your proudest moment?
Dom: It’s a combination of things. We landed a plane on a train on Grand Theft Auto the other day, that was a big highlight [laughs]. We also got Radio 1 play for the first time a few years ago, that was amazing.
Conor: Live Lounge, that was a massive moment for us. We’ve all wanted to do that since we were kids. It was Norwich Academy as part of their Big Weekend, it was a really big venue so it was quite a special Live Lounge for them as well. Big moment for us.
Dom: We used to listen to all the old Live Lounges, especially on the compilation CDs they did, so it was amazing for us to feature within the Live Lounge setting.
So what has been the shittiest moment?
Dom: The drives are horrendous. We had a two week tour booked up that we were very excited for and there were no rehearsal rooms around our local area, so we had to drive an hour outside of home to rehearse, and as we arrived at the rehearsal rooms studio we got an email saying the tour’s been cancelled. Phil had just restrung his bass, Price had just sorted out his drum kit, we were ready to go and found out it got cancelled, that was demoralising.
Conor: But on the flip side we got a record deal offer the week after.
Joe: That was nice.
Dom: That was the much needed pick me up.
What aspect of the music making process excites you the most?
Dom: We love creating music because I think we’re creative people.
Conor: It’s just being open isn’t it? We’re open to being creative with our sound and you’ll hear that within the album, nothing is set in stone, we don’t set any particular boundaries.
Dom: Because then you get restricted don’t you mate?
Conor: That is correct.
Joe: It’s a way of thinking. I found that you just have to be open to writing songs all the time. It’s a change of lifestyle. If something jumps out at me I have to be ready to jump on the inspiration rather than ignore it.
Conor: That’s the fun of it.
Dom: What he said was really good just then.
If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would it be?
Dom: Probably water, maybe a bit of chlorine and some pH Minus. My dad owns a swimming pool company, hence the knowledge of pH Plus and pH Minus.
Joe: You’d fill it with jelly, I would wanna see what would happen.
Dom: Custard because apparently you can run on it. It was on Brainiac, bam, Jon Tickle [everyone laughs].
So who is the troublemaker of the group?
Phil: Price probably.
Dom: Or if Phil has a few drinks he can be a bit frustrating.
Joe: Actually we’re all ok until we get to Warsaw and then all hell breaks loose.
Dom: Poland opens up a chest of danger.
Conor: Dom’s gonna get punched one day on a night out and we all know it.
Dom: Probably by one of these people.
Conor: He’s a little shit!
Other than music what would you say you know most about?
Phil: I know the most about games.
Joe: Cooking programmes, it’s a weird thing, I don’t know why I enjoy them. It’s music and cooking programmes.
Dom: Hey Gregg Wallace.
Joe: Gregg Wallace is the man.
Dom: If you’re out there Gregg, invite us to MasterChef. Actually we broke into the MasterChef studio.
Conor: We had to run away from them.
What message do you want to pass onto the new generation with your music?
Joe: Be original because it’s so hard to copy other music.
Dom: And pointless. Take influence by all means.
Joe: It doesn’t really matter what genre, just be original.
Dom: Because we appreciate that from any artist that we listen to. They’ve always got something new going on and they’ve put a new spin on something or it sounds like nothing else, which is always inspiring, so how’s that for a genuine and real and serious answer!
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