Having been born and bred in sunny Essex, Online Music Editor Lewis Norman couldn’t resist the opportunity to interview Dom and Conor (guitar and vocals) from Southend’s Nothing But Thieves.
Have you played here before? And how does the Cavern compare to other venues?
Yeah, this is our third timeIt is cool and the Exeter crowd is always quite responsible, lots of uni students. I like the fact it is underground too. It is been here for years, it is fucking famous. Coldplay have played here as well as a lot of up-and-coming artists like Jack Garratt and the Xcerts who we are massive fans of. It is just a hub of great music, and I really hope Exeter appreciates that.
How did you all meet? I know a couple of you went to Westcliff Boys but where did the rest of you come from?
Well I went to school across the road, Tommy Moore’s, and our school didn’t offer music but Westcliff did and that is where I bumped into Conor. He’d been in bands before with Joe and Phil is my cousin so I have to know him! Everyone has basically been in the Southend music scene for years and it just sort-of happened that this was the one band that we all decided to take seriously. We just went into school and started casually writing a few tunes. It is really hard to find a good-sounding male singer so I had to meet up with Conor for a jam or two.
Conor: I saw him play keyboards and I just had to… he’s a guitarist, I’m just joking!
Dom: I occasionally play the keys so the in-joke is that I play the keyboard. But if you include that in the arcticle I will hunt you down.
How would you describe your sound?
We have this thing where people think we look like a band when we wander round which is really cliche and probably just because we occasionally wear leather jackets. Whenever a cab driver asks us what music we play we generally say atmospheric rock, not just to shut him up but also because it is the most dilute description of the sound. It is quite an expansive sound, it doesn’t really hit on any particular genre and explores lots of different areas. I think it would be awful if we could say we were indie-rock with a slice of this-that-and-the-other it is more of a crossover. It was always the objective of the band to do something original compared to being boxed in and we spent so long trying to do that. There is a lot of ambiance, a lot of electronic influence and it is very dynamic. There is a lot of interesting soundscaping with Joe’s incredible pedal board.
So are there any bands in particular that influence your sound?
Dom: Any band that does something new is always influential and I think that people can appreciate that.
Conor: Bands like Arcade Fire and Alt-J that are really trying to do something different is so inspiring to us. It is really humbling to us that you don’t know what to call our sound.
How was your experience of your first European tour?
It was the best time we’ve ever had. We didn’t know what to expect because we’d never played in Europe. We’d heard a few crazy things about the way that they behave as fans. They are very receptive and open-minded when it comes to music. They will listen to anything and if they think it is good they will definitely show their appreciation. This was most obvious in Warsaw, which I later found out is in Poland in case you didn’t know. Just a little bit of education for your readers there. They were just mad, they loved us.
“This was most obvious in Warsaw, which I later found out was in Poland in case you didn’t know”
So how did it compare to home crowds?
It is different, this is our first proper headline tour and we didn’t expect the response and the tickets to go like it has. We got a text before our first show and our managed told us it was sold out and we were like: ‘really?’ It has been like this every night, it has either sold out or there have been 10 tickets left. It is the best feeling ever.
Where did the name ‘Nothing But Thieves’ come from?
Funny story. We were texting each other for ages with different band names and we would always share them. Nothing good was coming out of it. It had been a week and I hadn’t heard anything from Joe or Conor so I texted Joe asking him if he had anything and he replied with ‘Nothing But Thieves’ – auto-correct had changed whatever he was trying to say to ‘Thieves’. I thought it was pretty good so I texted Conor without Joe knowing and I asked him what he thought of it.
Conor: I think Joe was trying to write ‘Nothing But Shit’, so ‘Nothing But Shit’ actually turned into ‘Nothing But Thieves’. You might still think it is nothing but shit, but hopefully not!
“I bumped into Thom Yorke and I essentially wet my pants”
What would be your dream band to tour with?
Dom: It would have to be Foo Fighters… or Radiohead. Any of the bands that we have been listening to for years. Obviously they have huge fanbases and you can showcase your music to all these people but to be able to do it alongside your idols… I can’t even put it into words how I would feel. I bumped into Thom Yorke from Radiohead and I essentially wet my pants because I was so taken back.
How did that happen?
I was in a studio in Hoxton and I popped to see a friend of mine who works in the studio there and as I was leaving he wandered past. The first time it happened I didn’t say anything because I was so starstuck which I didn’t think would happen because I am usually so relaxed around people. When I walked back into the studio he walked past me again so I stopped him and told him that I listened to his music every day and he was amazing. He was really cool about it. It was very brief but I can say that I’ve met Thom Yorke… and Conor hasn’t.
Have there been any mad crowd experiences? What is the live setting of a Nothing But Thieves gig?
In Warsaw you couldn’t get in without being mobbed by people, we had to get escorted in and out of the venue. It was as if we had some sort of celebrity status when we’re actually just five guys from Southend. You could not hear yourself think. It was absolutely piercing. We stopped mid-song for about 30 seconds to absorb the crowd and it was an amazing moment. The other memorable moment was playing Thekla with Darlia and Conor had his first opportunity to stage dive and crowd surf
Conor: High-five my eleven year old self! So that was the dream really, now we can retire!
So E.P/Album wise, what can we look forward to this year?
I will tell you right now. There is an album in August, if we stick to our timing. It i already recorded. We worked hard on it and we are very proud of it. It has a few of things we have already released on it but not loads. We have quite a lot of music written and we want to share it with the world.
Has it got a title yet?
Yeah, it is going to be self titled. So watch out for that!
Lewis Norman, Online Music Editor