The release of one of the tracks of the year, ‘Make it Better’ has propelled Leeds band Sounds Like a Storm into being one of the most exciting up and coming bands in the UK right now.
The band already have sold out hometown headline shows under their belt at the likes of The Wardrobe, Keyclub and Oporto, as well as support slots for The Blinders, Twisted Wheel and VANT. They even made an appearance at one of the UK’s biggest festivals, playing the BBC Radio 1 Stage at Reading and Leeds, as well as gracing Bingley Weekender and Live at Leeds before the world headed into lockdown.
We caught up with frontman, Sennen Ludman and drummer, Joseph Schofield over Zoom, with a fitting backdrop of the Gallagher brothers and an electric guitar. We discussed the influences behind Sounds Like a Storm, the latest single ‘Make it Better’, life in lockdown, plans for 2021 and plenty more.
NC: I’ll start by asking about your influences, as we can see the Oasis posters in the background. Is this reflective of the band’s tastes and do you also enjoy the heavier side of music as well, judging from some of your tracks?
Sennen: “We love any music that’s good, we’re not limited to specific genres. We like Oasis but we’ve been listening to stuff in the last year that’s opened up our musical creativity, like Alabama Shakes and Gang of Youths. I’ve also had The Joshua Tree on repeat recently. We do listen to heavier music sometimes, one day I might fancy blasting Nevermind (Nirvana) but then the next I could be chilled out listening to Jake Bugg. As long as the music speaks to me and I can connect with it, it’s fine by me. I usually write acoustically and then the band naturally progresses the sound to make it a bit heavier.”
NC: How have you found lockdown as a band. Have you managed to be creative or has it proven difficult?
Sennen: “In terms of our momentum as a band, it was hit by a brick wall. Everyone’s lives have been put on hold for a year. In terms of our maturity as artists however, it allowed us to reflect on what we’ve been doing and where we want to take this. I miss the gigs and the lifestyle of being in a band, but for our own development it has been a good period I would say.”
NC: We’ll talk about the latest track, ‘Make it Better’ now, can you give us a bit of a backround on the track and tell me what the reception has been like for you personally?
Sennen: “My dad was in hospital and it was a constant two months of visiting. Everyone knows how horrible those hospital corridors are. One night I just took my guitar, pressed record on my phone, closed my eyes and it was exactly what I said at the time, none of the lyrics have changed at all. The band developed it, we recorded it and knew this was the direction we wanted to go. That was last February so we’ve sat on it for a while, waiting for the point when we wanted to delve back into the scene. The reception has been insane, probably our most well received track to date. Honest music lovers are reacting to it nicely, so it’s lovely to see.”
NC: Do you think it is your best track to date and do you think it shows signs of progression?
Joseph: “I think it’s interesting because it was only actually written two weeks before we went to record the track. We never went into the recording studio thinking we’d record Make it Better because we’d only played it live at three dates. It did show progression, especially in the sense of the song structure. It was all of us developing as musicians, I’m so proud of the track.”
Sennen: “I think it is the band’s turning point sonically, we knew this was the road we wanted to go down. It means something different to each of us, we connect with it on different levels. We’ve wrote a lot of music since then, this feels like an old tune to us. But it was the springboard we used to influence the next tunes.”
NC: Have you missed the live element of the track and not being able to bring the new song to life on stage post release?
Sennen: “We toured with Skylights two weeks before lockdown so managed to test the waters with it a bit. Now people are going to know the lyrics and meaning so it will be different. A gig is where we come to life, that’s where we find new fans, so we can’t wait to get back out there.”
NC: Are you hesitant to release any more tracks before you can test them out live?
Sennen: “We’ve got the music and we know the singles we want to put out but we’ve had two recording sessions cancelled. So it’s not our decision it’s just the way of the world at the minute, as soon as we can physically get in a recording studio we will be in a position to release new music. We are really excited to show this new chapter, they are the strongest tunes we’ve got. Make it Better is at the bottom of the pile, they only get better from here.”
NC: In an ideal world if you can get into a studio, how do you see the timeline from here on out in terms of releases and then also gigs?
Joseph: “During the first lockdown we did create a whole plan of what we wanted to do but it’s hard during these uncertain times. Once we get into the studio we know which songs we want to release in which order, and we’ll hopefully release another this year.”
Sennen: “We’ll see how Make it Better goes for a bit longer. We’ve got our headline show at the Brudenell Social Club (Leeds) in December, so we’ve been talking about releasing something before then so fingers crossed. We’ve got so many tunes ready to go.”
NC: What is it like as a new band at the minute in Leeds, in terms of the music scene?
Sennen: “I think it’s exciting. There’s a lot of local bands coming through at the minute that are making us feel old, but because there’s a scene it gives us a focus. The bands and venues are there to compete with the likes of Manchester’s music scene, we’re in a really good position at the minute. It’s nice to see so many bands being proud of coming from Leeds.”
NC: Do you ever feel a pressure to innovate with your music as a new guitar band, with the constant ‘guitar music is dead’ statement unfairly branded about?
Sennen: “Not really, people love the guitar scene, that’s why it has lasted for so many years. It might change in terms of size and popularity, but there’ll always be room for new guitar music, it isn’t going anywhere.”
NC: The reason I asked was because your music does sound different to most indie bands at the minute, it has a bit of an edge to it. Is that something that comes naturally or an intention to stand out from the crowd?
Sennen: “We get this quite a lot but we do just what we want to do. The records we love have heavy guitars, shouty vocals, in your face. There are lots of indie bands that are duplicates of each other and it drains the life out of me, but if that’s what they want to do, leave them to it. The edge to our music just comes naturally.”
Joseph: “We’re quite old school in the sense that we try to bring a live element to our recordings, so we’re not too polished. We try to record our tracks in one take so that they feel raw and we can bring the energy through on the track.”
NC: How have you found the politics surrounding the industry recently as an up and coming band, in terms of musicians being encouraged to re-train, the EU touring visa being declined etc?
Sennen: “I’ll never judge politicians or try to be one, so they shouldn’t really judge musicians. There has been massive disrespect in the government statements, especially during a time when people were turning to the arts as a form of escapism and they’re pushing this re-train campaign. New artists need to tour Europe and bands are skint until they re two albums in, that’s just how it usually is. So we need their support now more than ever.”
NC: And do you resonate with campaigns like Music Venue Trust who are working hard to save small venues during this time?
Joseph: “A lot of these grassroots venues are so important for local artists trying to break through. All the big artists and headliners came from playing these venues, so we can’t forget about them. It will become solely about money if they aren’t still there to support new bands, if you’ve got money you’ll make it and if not you’ll be left behind.”
Sennen: “We play these venues that need saving so we’ll do anything we can to support and keep them going. Music lovers and artists need to be aware of the impacts if these venues shut down and just keep supporting small venues and artists when we can.”
NC: I imagine the band’s sound would be great in the bigger venues as well as the small ones, have you got an eye on those big venues as you progress?
Sennen: “We dream and write the music for big festivals and arena shows. People who review us say we have an arena sound and people tell us we sound too big for certain venues. But you’ve got to live life now, so we appreciate the smaller venues and everyone who comes to see us. You read about Kelly Jones (Stereophonics) going to all the smaller venues because he misses the intimacy and maybe as frontman I would miss the audience connection. But the way I’m thinking now, it’s got to be the bigger venues!”
NC: So what are the short term and long term goals for the band now?
Sennen: “We are going to take each day as it comes. When gigs come along we’re going to smash them. That’s why we love doing this, playing live and performing for an audience. Long term, we just want to be the best that we can be. If that means Brudenell is the maximum size we play, then so be it. But we have dreams to climb that ladder and we want to do it organically. We’ll try to keep things honest and make this a band for the people.”
NC: Have you noticed your fanbase growing during lockdown or has it been hard to judge?
Sennen: “It has been tricky to work out. Bands need to produce content and we feel like we need to keep waving at people to say we are still here. We’re not on a massive social media platform but we’ve sold out venues in Leeds so we know we can pull genuine crowds, rather than it all being online.”
NC: Now for your fantasy pints. Three musicians past or present that you can choose to go for a drink with. Who are you choosing and why?
Joseph: “Presently, I’d choose Gang of Youths, I’d love to speak to them about their sound and how they write their music. I’d also say John Bonham, he’d have some great stories. And Liam Gallagher, not so much for the music just to hear some crazy stories really!”
Sennen: “I’d go for a beer with Michael Hutchence from INXS, just because he seemed quite cool. Then Mike Skinner from The Streets. I love U2 but I wouldn’t go for a beer with Bono! Liam Gallagher would be my third, he’d be great for a beer. We’d be gone for a week I reckon!”
NC: And finally, what’s the one thing you’re looking forward to once normality resumes?
Sennen: “Just that sense of freedom where we can live with no restrictions. I just can’t wait for people to be happier and there will be so much energy once people are out again. And going for a pint of course!”
Joseph: “We’ve had bad luck with gigs getting cancelled so we can’t wait to get back out there and gig again!”
Sounds Like a Storm headline the Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday 22nd December, and we’ve been promised a Christmas cover! You can get your tickets here. In the meantime, check out the latest single ‘Make it Better’ here.
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