Liverpool band, RATS’ fast-pace rise has resulted in desirable support slots for the likes of DMA’s and becoming the first signing to new music champions, This Feeling’s new record label. Now, with a new bassist and drummer joining during the lockdown, we’ve had the first taste of the band’s new era with the release of latest single, ‘Patsy Decline‘!
The infectious new single was released last week and has been a hit with fans both on social media and at the recent tour dates. We caught up with frontman, Joe Maddocks to talk about the track, as well as discussing their flourishing hometown music scene in Liverpool, signing to This Feeling Records earlier this year, touring with DMA’s and plenty more!
NC: Your new single ‘Patsy Decline’ is out now, tell us all about the track?
Joe: “It’s the first song written with the new members during the lockdown. They are both actually my oldest musical mates so getting them in RATS felt more like old bandmates returning. They’ve always had good songs I’ve wanted to work with, and now they’re starting to write songs from my perspective. So Patsy was brought in but didn’t really have a story to it about this character. Mikey came up with the riff and then I added some lyrics on top. It’s just a boss tune and was really easy to write.”
NC: What has the reception been like since release?
Joe: “We only released it a few days ago but the day it was released, we played in Sheffield and people already knew the words. Then when we played with DMA’s in Camden it went off. Everyone was onto our tunes before DMA’s, it was really surreal.”
NC: How was touring with DMA’s, are they a band you admire?
Joe: “100%. They were my lockdown band. When all gigs were a pipedream I was manifesting these sorts of shows in my head. People were telling me they wouldn’t happen for 10 years but I was confident we’d be on a tour like this in some form. It was the hope that got me through.”
NC: Is this confidence something you’ve always had throughout the band when you think in terms of progression?
Joe: “Yeah I always think of it like baby steps. I’m not thinking about Ferraris or anything. I just think about what we need to do to move forward step by step. The only way we could come out of lockdown and succeed is by doing gigs like that.”
NC: A big moment for the band was signing with This Feeling Records, talk me through how that felt?
Joe: “It was a landmark moment, and to do it with This Feeling was even more special. They’ve been a huge part of our career from the start, putting on gigs for us and building a strong relationship. It’s a two way street, we had to prove ourselves to them. Mikey (This Feeling founder) is a special human, you don’t get too many people like him in the industry anymore who are real and honest. Katie (This Feeling Records co-founder) is a proper legend too – the band mum, she takes care of us.”
NC: To be singled out as the first signing with such strong competition must have been a nice feeling too?
Joe: “It’s a massive compliment. To think of all the bands who have come through This Feeling and it was us first, we’re really grateful to them. There was lots of boss competition, all people I actually listen to. So to use us as catalysts for the label is an honour.”
NC: Does the new single on a new label signal a new chapter for RATS?
Joe: “Yeah it’s a completely new chapter, you’re right in saying that. The old two members added a lot to the band and took away a lot when they left, but the new half is adding new flavours. We’ve left our old management behind, our new manager Glyn works with DMA’s, Courteeners and he’s a scouser so he’s relatable. He’s not a yes man, he’s not afraid to put is in our place and that’s what we want.”
NC: The Liverpool music scene is really thriving at the minute, is that a pressure as a local band or is it helpful?
Joe: “I think that’s been Liverpool’s problem in past generations, too much of a competition to be the top dog. Nowadays you rarely get that vibe here, Liverpool is the strongest and most together it’s ever been. People like The Sway, Jamie Webster, Red Rum Club, Columbia, The Kairos and The Mysterines just off the top of my head, loads of good indie artists in the same melting pot. Former members of RATS are in other bands now too, we’ve all grown up together and it shows with the sense of unity here.”
NC: There’s no hiding where you’re from in the vocals, whereas some singers often mask their accent, does this relate to hometown pride?
Joe: “I take a lot of influence from artists who sing in their accent, such as Gerry Cinnamon, Paul Weller and Bob Marley. It’d be a bit weird if Bob Marley sung in an American accent, do you know what I mean? It adds character and helps telling a story.”
NC: Another thing that makes RATS stand out is your casual style, which again differs to most bands out there today. Is this intentional?
Joe: “That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was 14. When Suck it and See came out, I remember a youth centre in Everton and everyone came in with slicked back hair and a leather jacket. It’s always been the thing in the lower brackets of the music industry. I just wanted to go out in clothes my mum had dressed me in. My mum would get me a North Face trackie or a pair of 110s for Christmas. I’d want to wear those, that’s me and I’ll not pretend to be anyone Im not.”
NC: Has it been a struggle trying to stand out as a modern guitar band?
Joe: “Yeah, we’ve spent time living in tents in Ipswich, travelling up and down the country putting in the graft. You take the highs with the lows and get on with it. There’s no money in it anymore which is a shame, but it’s not all about money. We do it for the fans. Speaking to fans in Blackpool, someone’s girlfirend had bought them a ticket to see us for his birthday, and hearing things like that is why we do it. People give us so much love on tour across the country, and they’re the type of people I’d want to be into us.”
NC: So what has been the tour highlight so far?
Joe: “I’d say Glasgow was the highlight of the tour. Such a special city and I’d only been before once when I was 17 playing in front of two people with an old band. This was my first time walking down Sauchiehall Street, they’re just like scousers a proper special atmosphere.”
NC: Are there any plans for an album around the corner?
Joe: “100%. I want to get an album out but we’re in no rush. We’ll only release it if it’s the right time. We wouldn’t want to do it an injustice, we want to make sure that when we do release something it’s gonna pop off. The songs are ready to go but it’s all demos at the minute.”
NC: Seeing other guitar bands getting number 1 albums this year must be encouraging?
Joe: “Loads of bands are getting success, like The Snuts for example. Gerry Cinnamon hasn’t even got a record deal and he’s absolutely killing the game, some of the best crowds I’ve seen in my lifetime have been at Gerry. Audiences being that connected is a once in a generation kind of thing. Artists doing well inspires us, the British music scene hasn’t been this strong since the 90’s.”
NC: What can we expect from RATS in 2022?
Joe: “We’ve got a new single on the way called ‘Jenny’, it’s like a female version of ‘Jack’. That’ll be out at the start of next year. We’ll play the biggest gigs we’ve ever done in 2022. The goal is to beat what we’ve done this year, and we’ve got a massive gig in Liverpool planned for Spring in the Baltic Triangle.”
NC: And finally, what’s your dream venue to play in the future?
Joe: “Goodison Park. I’m a blue, it’d be nice to play there before they move. I learnt how to sing in there, that’s where I realised how much I enjoyed it. Singing about how much we hate Liverpool FC really. I think every song we sing at Everton is about how much we hate Liverpool, I don’t think they have a single song where they even acknowledge we exist though! I used to love trying to get the crowd going even as a kid.”
Check out the clip below from our interview with RATS, where Joe discusses supporting DMA’s and band progression…
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If you haven’t already, make sure you check out our Fantasy Pints Podcast, where we interview a different guest each week and ask the one common question – “if you could go for a drink with any three musicians past or present, who would you choose any why?” Check out the latest episode with DMA’s on Spotify, Apple, YouTube & more!