Indie band The Frontiers talk about their origins, their progress and their future

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From left to right: Dylan, Keir, James and Ross (Credit: Black Ace Photography)

Ayrshire-based indie rockers The Frontiers spoke to us, as is the way of all good band interviews, in the smoking bit outside a nightclub after they’d finished their set.

The boys were friendly, enthusiastic, and very happy with how they’d done. We were also happy with how they’d done: it was a cracking show, even if The Frontiers were just supporting. The band’s sound is a great mix of stuff: a little indie, a little hard rock, and a little bit old school.

The more classic sound of their tunes is what really sets them apart: any band these days will talk about how they’ve been influenced by The Arctic Monkeys, but when The Frontiers mentioned their influences, the first thing out their vocalist’s mouth was The Jam. The Jam! Who listens to The Jam anymore? The Frontiers are basically as if your dad’s record collection had four kids with a trendy indie playlist on Spotify (speaking of, they released their first single on the streaming service last week). Those four kids, by the way, are:

The Band

Keir Mitchell – Vocals

Ross Phillips – Lead guitarist

Dylan Canniffe – Drums

James Campbell – Bass

 

EN4 News: So let’s start from the start: how long have you guys been playing together?

Ross: About a year and a half? Me and Keir have played longer, maybe three years.

Keir: Aye, just after school. Me and Ross were playing locally, but we wanted to do bigger gigs, and take it a bit further, so we like “we need a drummer now”. So we found Dylan, then found James through him. It’s been good, we’ve played good gigs in that year and a half.

James: We have, like King Tuts was only our third gig together!

EN4: Really! That’s a big one for such a new band. Do you play Glasgow a lot?

Ross: As much as we can.

Keir: King Tuts was only our third gig together, but I completely, completely bullsh—ed my way into it. Told them we’d be gigging for two years and that, then they made us headliners! To be fair, we managed to bring about 140 folk over, so it was pretty good. But it’s stuff like that that helps build a fanbase, moving past just friends and family.

Ross: That’s our main goal now, we’ve just recently passed one thousand likes of Facebook.

Keir: That’s a big thing for us too, because where we come from [Cumnock in Ayrshire], the music scene isn’t a big thing at all.

EN4: Do you know a lot of bands in Ayrshire? Is there much competition?

Keir: You could count on one hand the ones that are any good.

Dylan: Even less of them doing their own songs.

Keir: Aye, it’s mostly cover bands since it’s all pubs and villages.

EN4: So would you blame it on a lack of venues or a lack of interest?

Dylan: There did used to be a scene for it.

James: I would say that it’s also people in our area don’t really take music seriously.

Keir: Up here, folk will come see you play even if they don’t know who you are ’cause there’s a music scene. Down our way you’ve no chance.

James: Yeah, the heritage of Cumnock is as a mining village, so everybody back home really has a work mentality.

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From left to right: Dylan, Keir, James and Ross (Credit: Black Ace Photography)

EN4: So do you take inspiration more from Glasgow music scene, or bigger bands, or do you very much focus on your own stuff?

Keir: I’m personally a bit too much of a dreamer, so I like to follow what other bands have done more than anything else. What I mean is like you go to the venues and you play the gigs and the same stages as the bigger bands, but obviously in your own way with you own tunes.

Ross: The sound is a bit heavier in Glasgow than most our stuff.

Dylan: It’s hard to find somebody the same genre as us [amongst smaller bands]. Tonight’s probably the closest we’ll get to similar bands.

EN4 News: Do you think that’s because you’ve got a bit more of an old-school vibe in your songs?

Keir: Aye, there’s not anything like what we do in the charts. But it’s not that we’re trying to get it there, we’re just doing what we love. Even if it’s a style of music that’s maybe faded a bit.

James: Also, everybody brings different inspiration to the band, so it all kind of mashes together into something unique.

EN4: Is there anybody you all listen to and think “that’s how I want us to sound”?

Ross: It always changes for me. Week to week, honestly.

Keir: I love music that much, one day I’ll be like “I want to sound like The Jam”, the next it’ll be someone else.

Dylan: Yeah, you don’t just take one thing, you’ve got to take it all in.

EN4: Completely different topic: where’s the name from?

James: I dunno, the name was there before I was!

Keir: If you want me to be honest, it’s not a good story: I was watching a film called “The Frontiers” and I thought, that’s cool man! Me and Ross had a name before, but it was a bit dodgy. (Laughing) We’ll not go there!

EN4: So what do The Frontiers have coming up? You’ve got a tour planned?

Keir: It’s called the “It’s Alright Tour” after our single which we just released today. That’s doing really well, already a couple hundred downloads.

Dylan: The gigs are the 29th, 30th and 31st of March, in Hamilton, Bathgate, and Glasgow.

Keir: We’re in The Record Factory in Glasgow in June as well, but that’s gonna be our sort of second stage. It’s all just about promoting the single, which is tough for a band without management. We kinda fell into a lot of stuff playing here in Glasgow, actually: someone heard us and liked us, and told us “I’ll record your single for you and send you on tour.” And well, we weren’t really gonna say no!

EN4 News: More recording coming up too?

Ross: Nothing booked, but we’re definitely gonna get on that.

Keir: Yeah we have plans for an EP at some point, and hopefully get our main songs recorded in the summer, so watch out for that.

Today’s International News

EN4 News journalist Bryce Arthur discusses all the biggest international news stories of the day.

 

In today’s international news:

  • Jeff Bezos accuses National Inquirer of blackmail
  • Thai princess announces bid for Prime Minister in upcoming elections
  • Ten die in Rio fire – check our EN4News report for more.

 

EN4 Newspaper Roundup 8/2/19

EN4 News journalists Ross Hempseed, Bryce Arthur, and John Menzies bring you the headlines and top stories from today’s newspapers.

 

If you want to read the Herald’s Brexit Voices stories, click here.

For more on the upcoming match against Ireland, listen to our podcast.

Find EN4 News’ previous stories on the tourist tax here.

 

BREAKING: Mother found guilty of FGM

A mother of a three year old girl has been found guilty of female genital mutilation today, marking the first time a person in the United Kingdom has been found guilty of the crime.

The 37-year-old woman from Uganda was convicted following a trial at The Old Bailey in London.

Her 34-year-old partner was acquitted by the jury.

The mutilation was likely committed as part of a religious or cultural superstition. The trial heard that “spells and curses” intended to prevent social workers and police from investigating were found at the woman’s home.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act has existed in UK law since 2003 but this marks the first time someone has been prosecuted under this legislation.

Today’s International News

EN4 News journalist Bryce Arthur presents the latest development and news stories from abroad.

Today’s National News

EN4 News journalist Bryce Arthur discusses the biggest national news stories for today.

 

EN4 Newspaper Roundup 1/2/19

EN4 journalists Ross Hempseed, Bryce Arthur, and John Menzies discuss the front pages of today’s papers, as well as the top sports news.

Musician Zoe Graham on being Scottish, being female, and being Zoe Graham.

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“Even now if you’re a good female guitarist, people are a bit surprised.” (Photo credit: Cameron Brisbane)

EN4 journalist Bryce Arthur spoke to Zoe Graham before her Celtic Connections show at King Tut’s in Glasgow. Zoe discussed her influences, her shows, and what she has in store for the future.

EN4 News: So let’s start at the beginning. How long have you been doing music? 

Zoe Graham: I picked up my first guitar at about 10 – got it for Christmas – and I just started playing from then on. I did my first gig at 14.

EN4: How old are you now?

ZG: I’m 21 now (laughs) so I guess I’ve been playing for quite a long time. I started gigging at 14, did tons of tiny local gigs, but I didn’t really know that there was a huge music scene in Glasgow until I was 18. It was weird, music was something I always wanted to do but I wasn’t hugely influenced by the Glasgow music scene since it was something I came upon years afterwards.

EN4: Speaking of music and Glasgow, you’re doing Celtic Connections just now, and you’ve done it a couple times before. You seem to do a lot of festivals and showcases [Zoe’s played at TRNSMT, performed at the Off The Record showcase and did the St. Andrews Sessions last year]. Do you prefer the vibe of a big group of musicians, rather than having all the pressure on you?

ZG: Yeah, these things differ depending on what the specific event is. Sometimes I find it’s nice being a support act because then you can build on the fans of the headliner, but sometimes nobody shows up to see the support. It’s nice to take part in a bigger thing, ’cause sometimes a lot more people are there – sometimes they’re not, though! It depends on a lot of stuff.

EN4: With Celtic Connections in mind, as well as the Scottish references in your back catalogue [Hacket & Knackered, Anniesland Lights], would you say you think of yourself as a Scottish musician? Is it a big influence or your music or more of a background thing?

ZG: It’s kind of the same as how I don’t really think about myself as a female musician, I don’t really think of myself as a Scottish musician. I sometimes think it’s because when your life is filled with tons of other Scottish musician, it very much becomes the norm. It’s a lot to do with the accent, being Scottish in Scotland isn’t a big deal but the minute you go abroad –

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EN4: Suddenly you’re weird.

ZG: Yeah! When I was growing up doing gigs I did this thing called Sounds of the Summers. I supported a lot of American artists there and they all had these really strong American accents, and they could tell any story and it sounded great, but after them I always felt a bit daft getting on stage with my accent. But that’s the only time I’ve ever thought about it, honestly.

EN4: So the Scottishness isn’t a huge influence, but what is? Are there artists that you hear and think “I want to sound like them”?

ZG: All the time, actually. It’s a big thing for me, sometimes it’s a hindrance as much as it is a good thing. Like, I’ll hear something really left field and say “aw yeah I wanna sound like that!” and I’ll get really confused. I’ll forget to stick with what I’m doing and I’ll start doing really weird jazz music or try to create a rock album or something. But what I’m listening to right now: St. Vincent, Christine & The Queens, I’ve always been a huge KT Tunstall fan for a bunch of reasons, Hookworms, The National… there’s this amazing jazz musician Esperanza Spalding that’s absolutely awesome.

EN4: So being a female musician isn’t something you actively think about, but you listen to a lot of female artists, so would you say it’s been kind of an unconscious influence?

ZG: For me, it’s genuinely never really been a thing I thought about until I discovered the Glasgow music scene and I saw bands like The Van T’s or Crystal. Not to discredit all-female bands but I really like a mixture in a band, I love the teamwork there. I’ve never thought of myself of a female artist but other people do. It comes with its burdens sometimes, even now if you’re a good female guitarist, people are a bit surprised.

EN4: Do you still find that? In 2019?

ZG: Yeah. People are like “she’s really good…for a girl.” It’s stupid to hear that but it’s still positive. (Laughs) It’s like people are trying to make me feel better? I dunno.

EN4: We could go on for ages but I guess I’ll wrap up: what does Zoe Graham have coming up?

ZG: I’m gonna release some new music at some point this year, but no dates. That’s all I can really say for now, it’s all a bit mysterious. (Laughs)

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from Zoe as much as we enjoyed speaking to her! You can find her tunes on Spotify and Apple Music, and feel free to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Zoe Graham at Celtic Connections (supported by John Edge & The Kings of Nowhere)

Zoe Graham played at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut’s intimate venue space in front of an adoring crowd on January 24. Its stage has hosted many massive acts, like Snow Patrol and Radiohead, but Zoe has lived up to the pedigree.

The concert was part of the Celtic Connections festival, Scotland’s wintertime festival which celebrates Scottish music & musicians.

Spread across Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, it invites musicians from around the globe and attracts thousands of visitors which pack the city’s most spectacular venues, attending concerts, ceilidhs, art exhibitions and much more.

It can occasionally tend towards the old-fashioned, but Thursday night’s show was evidence that Celtic Connections is very much moving with the times.

John Edge & The Kings Of Nowhere opened for Zoe Graham and their genre-defying melodies are a perfect example of Celtic Connection’s modernisation.

The band self-describes its music as “folk musings” but that doesn’t really scratch the surface. The Scottish highlands musicians manage to be multi-layered yet superbly smooth, bringing to life their Celtic roots.

John Edge as a band could be compared to Scottish synthpop band Prides, except they’ve torn out all the keyboard and autotune and fired about three acoustic guitars in its place — that’s John Edge’s sound.

However, at times they over-relied on this sound. It’s good, but they may have gotten in the habit of repeating themselves, and end up sounding a little repetitive on occasion.

The music somehow manages to roll over the crowd like a physical thing — this is maybe where the patriotic vibe comes from, with their tunes emulating the landscape.

But that’s a deeply pretentious description of a deeply unpretentious band. The five musicians on stage have obviously known each other a while, and if not, they get on well enough that they enjoy the mere act of playing alongside each other. The jokes between songs, the natural smiles and banter, all point to the bond these five artists share — something which is invaluable to smaller artists trying to make their reputation. John Edge & the Kings of Nowhere have the advantage being a five-piece band. When you are a solo artist, however you have to work a little harder to create a atmosphere around you.

Zoe Graham does this with ease.

Zoe — a fairly short 21-year-old Weegie gal with a great big guitar — shows appearances are deceiving and easily fills the rooms with her presence.

As well as a great big guitar, she brought with her a great big voice: clear, slightly accented, somewhat ethereal. It’s a voice that makes her recorded singles sound personal and emotional (they’re available on Spotify in case you don’t believe me) but her live performances change the nature of her music, becoming a bit less emotional and even more powerful. It’s definitely music that makes you will make you sit up and listen.

I’ve reviewed Zoe before, when she was performing solo. It’s all very slow, very moving, and a little melancholic. This time, backed by several musicians, the difference is startling. Personally, I’d call it an improvement.

The emotion that disappears from the softer songs changes them into these big powerful room-filling anthems — Industrial Strength, which on record is a quirky little tune, got completely turned on its head. The core of the songs remains the same though — Zoe’s songs all have a synthy soul, all very indie.

She returned to her solo portfolio for a few last songs — and for an artist of her size, getting called on for an encore is pretty nuts — for which she played Anniesland Lights. This last moment reflected the girl’s range — her last song, a track called Know By Now, had this big rock-on drum-solo finish. But for the encore, she returned to break hearts with her soft little ballad.

I have big hopes for Zoe Graham. Her music, her lyrics, her chat on-stage are all so refined and full of personality. If nothing else, she’s a unique character. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

John Edge & The Kings of Nowhere have plenty songs on their Youtube and a few on Spotify, and you can keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram (@johnedge_thekings) for news of their forthcoming album. You can find a link Zoe Graham’s Spotify in the article, her Youtube is here, and check out her Facebook and Instagram (@iamzoegraham) to keep up with her gigs and future releases.

 

Oscar nominations podcast

EN4 News reporters Bryce Arthur, Jade du Preez, Ross Hempseed and Liam Mackay chat about the 2019 Oscar nominees, announced on January 22 by the Academy Awards Committee.

 

Want more film chat? Listen to Liam talk about Scotland’s top flicks, read our Bohemian Rhapsody review, or read Jade’s Oscars article mentioned in the podcast.

 

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