It’s a cold Thursday evening when we meet up with NOTHING BUT THIEVES. Having just had to cancel their gig in Berlin due to their lead singer Conor being sick and on bed rest, the other four guys were still in the city and were kind enough to meet with NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION for a little interview.
NOTHING BUT THIEVES that’s Conor Mason (vocals), Dominic Craik (on guitar), Joe Langridge-Brown (also on guitar), Phil Blake (on bass) and James Price (on drums) – five guys from Southend-On-Sea in Essex, England and making music together since 2012. Just having completed their sold out UK tour, the band are currently touring Europe and playing tracks off their debut album Nothing But Thieves.
It’s a quaint little Italian restaurant the guys and their crew settle down in to be interviewed. As the beers are being ordered NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION explain the rules of interview.
So guys, I don’t have any specific questions for you. I have however, this hat with a variety of words in it. We thought it’d be great for you sort of ‘lucky-dip’ for words and then you can simply tell me what you associate with this word. It can be the truth, a made up story or whatever just springs to mind. Let’s begin…
Joe: Our album’s really, really good.
Dom: It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it will change your life. (grins)
Joe: We spent four years writing it and then spent almost a year and a half recording it. It got to Nr. 7 on the album charts – which we never expected and was really nice… But my favourite fact about the album is that it got to Nr. 1 in the vinyl charts, which was really cool.
Dom: (laughs) We’re all fond of ladies. Hmm, do I have to tell a story about them?
Whatever, you want to tell us…
Joe: So many stories… (laughs). Dom just recently broke up with his girlfriend.
Dom: When you’re on tour, sometimes you don’t get to see your lady that often. So I thought it would be the right thing to break up with her. – Also there is a lot of ladies on the road. I don’t wanna tell too many stories because I don’t kiss and tell, I’m a very personal kind of person – keep my cards close to my chest.
Joe: So not true.
Dom: Well, she did say we could lie!
‘Nothing But Thieves’
Phil: Oh, I picked a really boring one. Well, we’re a five piece from Southend, Essex and we play rock. And that’s about it. The names comes from… whatever we feel like it comes from when we get asked. Today, the story is that we basically got a hat, cut up loads of different words, put them into the hat and just picked out random words…
Dom: And it just happened to be ‘But’ ‘Nothing’ ‘Thieves” but we rearranged it to make more sense. (laughs)
Dom: I was in the studio in Shoreditch and I went out to get some lunch and I walked out the door and walked into Thom Yorke (RADIOHEAD). I didn’t know what to do… and the whole time at lunch I was thinking ‘Why didn’t I say something?’. Like how listening to his music inspires us cause collectively RADIOHEAD are one of our favourite bands. So I thought it was just such a missed opportunity. So, on my way back, I saw into him again – he literally opened the door for me – and I just said I’m a massive fan. I don’t really get starstruck but that was the only person I ever sort of did because I never really expected to meet or see him there. That was really cool.
Joe: I don’t really get starstruck ever either, but once we played in Monaco and we met Felix Baumgartner. And I said, ‘You’ve actually been in space. And now you’re down here’. It was surreal.
Price: So like favourite venue perhaps? Joe and I would really like to play the Emirate Stadium because we’re big Arsenal fans but we just recently got to play the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London and that was sold out. I mean, most of us have been to that venue to see other bands play so it’s been really cool to say that we’ve been there and played it ourselves for a show and sell it out.
Joe: Anyone else got a favourite venue?
Dom: I love the Camden Barfly. It’s small but there’s something about it. It was our first sold out London show and everyone just gets packed in because it’s so small. But the sound is amazing. I’ve also seen many other bands play there and it’s always a great night out.
Price: What do you mean with that exactly?
Well, you’ve all made it quite obvious in the past that you like to keep song meanings and such under wraps and would prefer your audience to make up their own minds to what you sing about.
Price: Oh right well, I’ll let Joe take this one… He’s a bit of a genius.
Joe: Aw, thanks mate! Yeah, so like you’ve just said mentioned, we don’t like saying too much about our songs because one of our fave things to do as a band is to look through comments on YouTube or listen to what someone says after they come up to me after a show and they’re like ‘this song means to me this or that’ or ‘it speaks to me in this sort of way’. And I love it when it’s not how I intended (the song to mean) because it kinda adds a whole new layer to the song. If I just went and said in interview that it’s especially about this or my personal stories, I’d hinder other peoples stories and I wouldn’t want that.
Dom: I love the idea when you write a song, once it’s written, you’re giving it away and it’s somebody else’s…
But haven’t you ever felt like there is one particular song you would like to tell people what it’s about?
Joe: We like giving background stories about songs. For instance the the last song on the album called Tempt You (Evocatio) is actually about an old roman religious practice – which is a really odd thing to write a song about but because it’s written in a certain way it’s got so many other meanings.
Phil: We’re music fans so part of the fun, I find, is when you can rip apart lyrics and you have your own meaning and that is your own. You’ve figured it out and it’s personal to you in that way. And you can really change words to be certain situations in your head. So if I turn around and say: Well it’s actually about something completely irrelevant – it’s like, oh, I didn’t interpret it right…
Joe: If you’re giving away all the secrets of lyrics or even the music, it kind of takes away from us. – It takes away the magic, I think.
So have you got any good fan experience stories?
Dom: We passed the venue we were supposed to play in before and saw some balloons with ‘Get Well Soon Conor’ outside. And that just goes to show how that we have fans that don’t only care about our music but also care about us…
Phil: It’s been amazing for us. I mean we’ve done headline runs before but this tour is more of a proper headline run. And to see the fan base grow and the numbers come up, people wearing the t-shirts it’s kind of been a rather magical experience…
Dom: Speaking of t-shirts, I’ve been seeing people in t-shirts from our first tours and bringing EP’s that we self-released years ago. So we can see that they’ve stuck with us from the start, grown with the band, been with us even before the album had been recorded and still coming to our shows. Some fans travel from countries that aren’t even that close and that just goes to show how strongly the fans feel about the music and us to travel such distances.
So that’s for the word questions. Maybe one last ‘proper’ question: is there a question you would like to get asked but no one’s ever asked you?
Phil: ‘Are you alright?’
Joe: ‘How are you coping?’
Dom: ‘How is all of this taking its toll on your life?’ – Well I can tell you all the questions we do get asked all the time, without fail: ‘Where’s the band name come from?’, ‘What have you been doing? What are you going to be doing?’, ‘How did you meet?’, ‘Where do you come from?’ – and those are the generic five questions.
Phil: So that’s why I think, we’ve enjoyed this interview so much because it’s been different and we’ve kind of had to make up our own question, which we’ve enjoyed.