As the fabulous new night, Monkey Garbage comes to a close here at The Hope, The Verse was lucky enough to sit down with headlining act NEKO; to get their thoughts on their music and the Brighton music scene as a whole.
“We’ve been playing in little bands for a couple of years, and playing together on and off for a long time. About two years ago we decided we all wanted to do this properly”, says bass player Lucas Knight.
‘We basically, had a massive break from music,” comments Tom Brennan (Guitar/Vocals), “Getting married and working.” As Lucas puts it, “Doing life stuff.”
Bands like NEKO come around rarely on the smaller circuits. As a three-piece epic that delivers an intense live show, working around life’s many commitments and producing high quality music is near impossible for most, but not these boys from Worthing.
“Playing together was kind of our football on Tuesdays, except it’s beating the crap out of drum kits” mentions a rather exhausted David Cassell (Drums).
So where does a band as rhythmically complicated as NEKO draw its influences from?
“I think one our biggest influences, since we were kids, are Muse,” says Lucas. Equally, David and Tom both agree that a key influence is “Definitely Queens of the Stone Age and Muse.”
Perhaps a ‘sludgier’ stoner vibe, in the future of NEKO?
“I think definitely hard rock,” laughs Lucas, “In the last couple of years we played about with different ideas, six months ago we were a very different band; these days we really just want to go for it!”
An admirable goal for the bands of today, as sadly so many young musicians just focus on ‘looking’ as intense as possible.
“I think as band, its very important to us that we give that kind of energy to our audience,” says Tom, “Backstage, Dave will be there rallying us together; plus we don’t know when our last gig is going to be.” “Play every gig like it could be our last gig”, adds Dave triumphantly. It is refreshing to see a band with such a genuine punk-rock sensibility in this day and age.
“I thinks that Dave’s motto that he’s kind of enforced upon us, I’m always worried what the hell he will do when our backs are turned, probably stab us,” jokes Lucas.
“Yea with his pencil sharpener and drumstick”, adds Tom.
“These small venues though, are where all the energy is”, finishes Lucas.
In The Verse’s experience of the Brighton music scene, a lot of bands talk of intense competitiveness and, sometimes, an elitist mentality around the South Coast. What are your thoughts on that?
“You know what we played a bit in Worthing and met Observing the Ghost, then played Sticky Mikes and met Deaf from Behind, and we found an immediate connection with those guys. We have played gigs where bands turn up and just leave immediately after, but I don’t think that’s the case really down here”, says Lucas.
“I have had friends in a lot of bands round here and they have never said anything like that to me,” adds Dave.
“When your in a band though,” starts Tom, “You kind of have to leave your ego at the door. It puts people off coming to see you. Plus, it may sound soppy, but how are you supposed to get any better if bands are like that to one another. I used to work in schools, being critical doesn’t help inspire creativity, so how does it inspire the next set of bands? I mean, a year ago we were shit.”
The Verse refuses to believe that.
“I have video evidence”, laughs Lucas.
“I mean, our friends are in Royal blood, we have known them since they were kids, it would be easy for us to say ‘oh look who got a lucky break’, but they didn’t, they grafted and worked so hard, and they deserve everything they have”, continues Tom.
This kind of appreciation for the scene and its infrastructure is very refreshing. The trend for bands, over the last ten years, has been to aggressively seek success fast, therefore, in short, the graft went unnoticed for many a deserving band. Sadly, many a pompous self-indulgent band makes their way to success in the mainstream today.
“I was talking with Luke on the way over,” concludes Tom, “And we considered that as a band we do care about what our music really says to the audience. They (our lyrics) are not un-relatable, like say a Coldplay song, with tigers leaping over mountains, all cryptic. I like to write lyrics that are meaningful and can be taken at face value, or delved into a little deeper, but it doesn’t matter.”
What brought you guys together then?
“Me (Lucas) and Dave were at college together at the same time. We had polar opposite interests and subjects. So, outside of lessons we would see each other and casually ask the other if one of us fancied playing some music together after school?”
“I was in the year below”, laughs Tom, “So they saw me at a school talent show singing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and I blew the amp on the stage. Apparently, Dave walked over to Luke pointed and said ‘him’.
“I think we learned our instruments at the same time so it was very even in terms of pace in the beginning,” laughs Luke, “I mean now, we all push each other further, and we all bring different things to the band in terms of influence. So we all work at different start points when writing; maybe Tom has a new riff or Dave has a new groove, either way it keeps us going forward.”
So what are NEKO’’s plans for the future?
“We are recording in April and gigging”, says Tom. “I think the emphasis for some is making it, but I think we just like playing the gigs and getting all sweaty”, adds Lucas.
NEKO are certainly a force to reckoned with, there shows are in short, what every regular gig-goer needs on occasion; something that is truly exhilarating to watch and listen to. Check out NEKO’s website…
A big thanks to the boys from Worthing, and to Monkey Garbage, for an excellent first night.
Written by Matthew Iredale and Tom Cairns