The Retrospectives - Interview

03 September 2014

With The Retrospectives' latest single 'Insane', the band show us a different side to their vintage inspired indie rock. They're a band who are doing things the 'old-skool' way; touring, building a strong fanbase and getting music fans truly excited about who they are as a band. Here, they tell us what their latest track 'Insane' is all about, what it was like playing with The Boomtown Rats and their latest plans.

Contactmusic: It's been mentioned you were exposed to a lot of bands from the 60s and 70s - which bands from that time have had the most impact on you and why?
The Retrospectives: I think when you're young and in a band that are just finding their feet musically, you can listen to a ton of music and still be struggling to find something to take influence from. Most great music is something that's just inspired someone, been copied, flipped on its head and turned into something new. I think the first time we really found something that inspired us was when we started listening to Elvis Costello. It just somehow seemed in our repertoire to do something with it and take it on board as an influence. He has the attitude of the punk, the playing ability of rock and rhythm & blues all tied together with really good lyrics. It just seemed something we could relate to really easily. I think it's from there that we really started to build on our sound a bit more and since then we've drawn a lot of influence from bands like Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Free, Tom Petty and even The Rolling Stones. I think it just took finding one thing that we could adapt and make our own before we could really start listening to other bands and say, 'We could do that!'.

CM: Do you think there's still a place for good British guitar led music in 2014?
TR: There's a place for every kind of music in 2014. The music industry is more and more moving away from a mass market to a mass of niche markets. There's an audience on the internet for almost any kind of music, even incredibly specific sub genres. Us personally, we're not trying to re-invent the wheel, we just feel that a lot of the music that was handed down to us from the previous generation, music that we grew up listening to, is under-represented in the influences of a lot of modern British bands. We try to write as honestly as possible, taking influence from what originally got us excited about music in the first place, which for us just so happens to be guitar led music.

CM: Tom and Will met first and were later joined by drummer Paul. What was the moment you decided you could all make music and play together?
TR: The way we came together was actually really unusual in the fact that we didn't have a lot of time to get good at playing together as a band. Between our first practice and going into the studio to record our single '52 Records', there was only a week. The studio was already booked, so even from the first practice we were pretty comfortable playing and making music together, because we didn't really have time not to be.

CM: What's your next single 'Insane' all about?
TR: Lyrically, it's a song about moving away home, making a sacrifice and leaving something behind. It's a lot slower than our other releases, which hopefully shows a bit of variety and gives people something a bit different to listen to from us. We'd been playing it a lot live on the tour for the last single just because we had a longer set and wanted to be able to take the pace of the show down a bit. When it came to deciding what to release next it just kind of jumped out at us.

CM: What are your plans after the single?
TR: We're trying to get our music out there anyway we can, at the moment that tends to be with singles although at some point we're looking to do another longer release, an EP, and eventually an album. We're always touring so more of that is inevitable, but as far as specific plans go there's nothing we can give away just yet.

CM: You've supported a range of bands including The Boomtown Rats - what was that like and did you get to meet Sir Bob Geldof?
TR: Supporting The Boomtown Rats was an amazing experience. We were playing at Doncaster Dome which is probably the biggest venue we've ever played and it was just really interesting to be able to do what we do in somewhere of that size. It was such a great opportunity to get out there in front of more people. We didn't get to meet Bob Geldof, unfortunately. We've been in a couple of those sort of support situations and we've never really met any of the people we've been supporting. I guess that day we could have tried to track him down, forced a CD into his hand and irritated him immensely as we all posed for an Instagram picture with him, but it's not really what we were there for. We want to have as many of these opportunities as possible and burning a bridge with the person who's been kind enough to put you on because you've p**sed off their headline act by pestering them for an autograph and a photo just didn't really seem worth it to us.

CM: What would you say makes you different from other bands in your genre?
TR: I think the influences which we have already mentioned differentiate us from other bands in our genre quite a bit. We try to avoid falling into the gimmicks of the day as much as possible. Trends seem to dictate the music that bands make so much and that's never really been our thing. It can just lead you into making something that's not particularly truthful and often far too derivative. We try to just stay true to ourselves and make the music that we like. When we play live we like to add a bit of flair to our sets with guitar solos and stuff. I think the art of a good tasteful guitar solo is largely lost in our day and age, but I guess that works in our favour if we're trying to do it and other people aren't.

CM: What are your hopes for the band in the coming 12 months?
TR: I think we'd really like to get out and play live in some new places. There's a lot of places one or two people keep asking us to come to, but with there only being one or two people in that area it can be tricky. It makes it hard for us because if people are into what we're doing online and just really want to come and see us live, it becomes really important to us to make it happen. Hopefully, in the next 12 months we can start ticking some of these places off the list and getting to some of these people!

CM: What are the biggest problems, would you say, that new bands face at the moment?
TR: I think for any new band finding an audience is by far the hardest thing to do. You make music because you want to say something, get something off your chest and if there's no one to say it to then it's not really as rewarding. In the past year I feel like we've got this core little group of people interested in us, and that's so important to what we do because it means we're actually communicating something rather than just making a load of noise. A lot of people would probably say that the biggest problem facing bands is financial instability caused by illegal downloading and streaming. But I think if you're in it for the right reasons then the internet is the best thing that's ever happened to music. It allows you to connect with people more easily than ever before and gives you the freedom to do it the way you want to do it. If that's not the end goal then I really don't know what is.

CM: Finally, if we want to find out more, which track would you recommend we start with and why?
TR: I'd probably go with our last single 'Gold & Green'. It's loud, in your face and pretty much sums up what we're about.

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