I’m keen to know more about their blend of influences and alchemic cross-pollination of music; but when I ask, I am intrigued and refreshed to discover that the band don’t really understand why it should come as a surprise to others. “We all just listened to the same kind of music. And that was every kind of music” says Andy. Tom concurs; “It’s more just saying: Have you listened to this? We always bring stuff to play each other, it’s all very open”. To add emphasis to this, Joe expands upon their creative process: “We’ll do a verse, then suddenly think “This might work”. So we give it a try, and it usually does. It just feels right”. To try and gain a little more insight into this, I ask how the lads would describe their music. After a long silence, Joe pipes up with “It’s just a feeling”. Which seems like the perfect answer, until Tom follows this with “It’s more like a feline really. It’s a big cat jumping at you, claws, and massive bollocks, and conga drums. When you’re that Gazelle and it grabs you, you’re not getting out. Other Gazelles get off, they go to see bands with fringes”. This funny little exchange is followed by a lively intra-band discussion about having David Attenborough reporting on the curious behaviours of The Janice Graham Band. As they laugh amongst themselves, it’s clear to me that one of the central aspects of this band is their personal and musical togetherness. Rocksteady-tight and in touch with each other on stage, they’re equally as precise as a unit offstage, firing anecdotes off to each other, picking up each other’s stories and always coming back to the same mutual conclusions. It’s something that makes them endearingly genuine and individual. Tom brushes on this later when he says, “This is us. I’ve got four friends and three of them are in a band with me” “It’s the main thing to us,” confirms Andy. “This is what it’s all about”
Discussing the experience of the current Manchester scene, the responses are particularly telling. “Manchester is a brilliant city, there’s no denying that. And there’s brilliant music that’s come from it, don’t get me wrong” says Tom, carefully choosing his words. “But that was then, this is now, y’know?” He continues: “There’s a stigma attached to coming from Manchester. That’s something we want to get away from”. Joe thinks for a second, before imparting “The best thing about Manchester is northern people, they’re great. The worst thing: professional mancunianism”. This is greeted with universal nods and murmurs of agreement, before Tom sums the whole thing up succinctly. “We don’t want to be a geography band”
The band sees these new recordings as the next step in firmly imprinting themselves on the local musical scene. They admit to being surprised at the interest they have from some of the more experienced heads in Manchester. “It’s nice, this age range thing. The over 25’s really seem to get it” says Joe. “But we want to get it out to more people, get more people back and bring it together a lot more”. Despite their success so far, I ask whether it’s important to be different, or if that can sometimes prove a hindrance. The answer they give speaks volumes about their focus: “It’s important to do what you want to do, not what you think you should,” says Joe. “Every band that have every been any good have stuck to what they wanted to do. It just so happens that we do different things”. After a pause for thought, he continues “And we’ve got to live with that. We’re not going to just start being an indie band because some people don’t like us”. And following another pause “We do what we want to do”. Everyone in the band agrees that quality is the key to everything. “A lot of these bands have 90 songs and you don’t remember any of them,” states Tom, as if issuing a manifesto. “I’d rather have 12 songs that people actually remember”. As if to underline this point further, Joe remarks, half-disgusted “I don’t understand why people are proud to play shit songs. You’ve got to want to play the best stuff. Fucking hell, isn’t that the point of being in a band?”
And so, with the interview completed, cigarettes stubbed out and sausage sandwiches eaten, the band all head back into Toast Studios with producer Chris Hamilton to complete their recordings, the band aiming to have them out in the next month. One thing continues to burns clearly though, long after the stubs are crushed into the ground and the fire pit smoulders out. It is very fashionable and often predictable for bands to describe themselves as a group of mates first and foremost, but with The Janice Graham Band, it is abundantly clear that this is true. They seem to revel in their “Last gang in town” stance and this confidence and belief is reflected in the adrenaline fuelled, expansive and adventurous approach that is formulated in the crucible of four young lads with desire, commitment and passion for music as their masterplan (Combined with just the right amount of bravado to pull the whole thing together). Manchester needs bands like this right now, bands with the vision to look forward, not back. To lead, not follow. To inspire, not imitate. And above all, to make people dance. “It’s shake your arse music,” explains Tom. “Shake your arse, don’t be up it. Get your head out of it, have a look around, have a dance” Then with a wry smile; “That’s what we’re all about”.
LAST GANG IN TOWN
WORDS : David Edwards April 2010
PICTURES : (c) Gu 2010
All photographs by Gu at Gu Photography
Gu’s collaboration with ManchesterMusic, came about after just one look at his photographic style and technique – Gu exploits and manipulates natural light in all of his shots, creating an immensely individual quality to his work.
GuPhotography is ever expanding its portfolio, but is also eager to engage with independent artists in all streams of art, from music to fashion to business.
Preferential rates are available, especially if you mention ManchesterMusic in your enquiry, so you’ll get affordable promotional shots as well as a different perspective.
Contacts and phone numbers available via the GuPhography webiste
(c) (p) mybigmouth for manchestermusic.co.uk 2010