“We find it very difficult to describe our sound. If anyone asks me I just say…rock music.”
I was lucky to catch up with Scottish six-piece Neon Waltz down at The Hope And Ruin during the second half of their ‘Spring 2017’ tour. The infamous Brighton venue sits at the heart of the city (both culturally and geographically), and has been known to host some of the UK’s greatest artists before they are launched into stardom. It’s previously seen the likes of George Ezra and James Bay grace its stage, and if this performance was anything to go by it’s reputation will certainly not be damaged anytime soon.
Despite being over 750 miles from home the band were greeted by an impressive crowd, chanting along to every chorus and meeting each track with a roaring applause. This was the band’s 10th live performance in as many days, but the band showed no signs of weariness as they stormed through their set of high powered grungy ballads. Their powerful combination of psychedelic indie pop and dreamy ambient melodies produce something truly unique, providing a welcome departure from the jangly upbeat guitar riffs that have swamped the indie scene in recent years. Thanks to the catchy vocal that lines drive every track, the only issue you’d have is finding a way to get them out of your head. The high-energy performance was only broken briefly for an acoustic rendition of “I Fall Asleep”, lulling the crowd into an appreciative silence before returning to a run of hard-hitting tunes. Although the set was consistently well received, the more recent singles “Dreamers” and “Perfect Frame” drew the most attention. Clearly since their debut in 2014 the band have only improved with each release. It’s not often that a band forms such a strong original sound this early in their career, and it won’t be long before Neon Waltz start seeing the success they deserve.
After the show I caught up with lead singer Jord for a quick interview to discuss the performance and the tour in general, as well as any plans they might have for the future.
So you’ve just finished your set here down at The Hope & Ruin, How did you find it?
“Good! really good actually. This is the complete opposite end of where we are from, so the fact that people want to come and see us here is insane. It’s as far away as we can be from home in the same country you know?”
Have you managed to visit many new locations on this tour?
“There’s been a few we haven’t played before; Oxford, Saint Albans, and we’ve never even heard of St Albans. We expected it to be really bad because its just on the outskirts of London isn’t it? So we thought “Who’s going to have heard of us in St. Albans?” but it was great, this whole tour’s just been ace. Oxford is the only place we didn’t get a decent amount, most of them have been pretty much sold out. For a band from the very tip of Scotland, that’s insane for us you know? It’s unbelievable that people know who we are.”
You’ve performed almost every night so far, that must be exhausting…
“Pretty much yeah, we’ve had one day off, a two week tour and one day off. We normally don’t stay in the city we’re playing in sort of thing, because we’ve got to make up distance for the next gig that we’re playing. So normally we find somewhere halfway to stay for the night, so we’re staying in London tonight and playing in hull tomorrow.”
Am I right in thinking that this isn’t you’re first UK tour?
“We’ve done a few, we started touring like two years ago. We supported a band called Augustines from America. We kind of just got told about it through the management and none of us were really into their music but we were playing in front of massive crowds every night. That was actually the first tour that we went on and it was really good for us because we got to play in front of a huge amounts of people, and we’d never done gigs together you know? So it helped us grow as a band.”
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened at one of your shows?
“It’s hard to think off the top of my head. Last night in Bristol was like rammed and there were a couple of people in the front row who were total dicks, complete knob heads you know?”
We played our acoustic song and they were talking all the way through, and I was just like “Am I going to do something?” I was planning on doing something but I thought nah, if it goes wrong and backfires it would ruin the rest of the gig, because we still had six songs to play.
Have you ever seen Dig!? The film about Brian Jonestown Massacre & The Dandy Warhols? You should watch it man, It’s a film about those two bands and they were like friends and kind of grew apart, and The Dandy Warhols got really big and Brian Jonestown Massacre stayed underground even though they were way better. There’s a bit at the end of the film where Anton the singer (BJM), who is completely fucking mental by the way, kicks a guy in the face. He’s in the front row and he was like ‘Ey’.”
So you were thinking of doing something similar?
(Laughs) “Yeah but you know he wasn’t that bad. He was just talking through everything and being really lairy and I was just like shut up. I was half planning going Anton but I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t.”
When it comes to songwriting, do you all have similar influences or are your tastes more varied?
“We all write songs for the band you know, all six of us, so we bring our own influences in. There’s certain stuff that I love that some of the band hate. I’m really into David Lynch the filmmaker, and he’s got his own music as well and it’s fucking brilliant. We actually have a song coming out called David lynch, and the only reason I called it that is because it sounded like one of his songs as I was really into him at the time. But there are a few things that we all agree on. We all love The Band; The Walkmen, The National for example, but then we all go in different directions. We don’t try and fit into a certain category, which is good I think. We find it very difficult to describe it (their sound). If anyone asks me I just say…rock music.”
What’s the plan for the rest of the year? Are you planning on playing at any festivals?
“We will do yeah, but we’ve not heard anything. We’ll been playing a lot of festivals and we’ll be on tour again reasonably soon, but nothing properly confirmed yet.”
Do you plan to return to Brighton?
“Definitely, we’ve played great escape a couple times and it was ace. Might have been last year and the year before. When we toured with the Augustines, two of the gigs were at great escape and it was amazing. It was before we went on tour with that band and we’d never played in front of a proper crowd until then. We played in Brighton at another one that was a 200 capacity venue, and we were watching the band before us and there was about 50 people in, and we were just like ‘ll take 50 you know Then we went backstage and had a drink and then went on and it was just completely fucking rammed…the most insane feeling ever.”
Neon Waltz will be following their tour with another single, and will be releasing a full album later on this year.
Reviewed by Jon Munro of CJFM Presents, for more like this and to stay up to date with our weekly radio show give us a like on Facebook.
CJFM Presents – Tuesdays 6-8PM on URF.
All imagery is my own, the logos used are copyrighted to their respective owners.