This year has seen a paradigm shift in the band as we turned the page to a new and exciting chapter.
Towards the end of last year, we were feeling somewhat despondent, myself more than anyone probably and we were on the verge of asking ourselves some difficult questions about the future of the band. We’d spent 5 years as a 3-piece, having completed our first album with a few recorded works in progress. Attempts at new material were becoming laboured and uninspiring. We had done a decent number of gigs that year but mainly very locally. With the exception of our York debut, they had been primarily in Bradford and Leeds. There was a general feeling of treading water. Although we were tight as a live unit and we were happy with what we delivered, I guess you could say we were feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. It was time for a reassessment.
It all started in the November of 2018. Emma and I came up with the idea and concept for what was to be our second album with the title “Raven”. Most of the content was already recorded if unfinished, it just needed turning into a coherent work. Howard had already given us the proverbial kick up the arse by booking us in for the album launch gig at Carpe Noctum. It was to happen in the February of 2019 and would be a co-headliner with our friends and rising stars “Sometime The Wolf”. Our friend Tim Furze had been a long time supporter and friend of the band and after a gig one night, we got chatting about guitar playing. I floated the idea of inviting him to join the band and it was met with unanimous approval. Tim excitedly accepted and we began planning his introduction to the band. We had one more gig that year in the calendar which was to become our last as a 3-piece. Tim spent the rest of the year attending rehearsals as an observer. He was unable to attend the gig due to previous commitments.
The final gig of 2018 was at The Duchess of Kent in Bradford. It was to be performed by the 3 of us with guest appearances from Paul Gooding and Kaz Buxton. We had not long since recorded and released “Divide and Conquer”, which was an old Suicide By Cop song and one which Kaz had performed many times. Since it was a Christmas gig, I asked her if she fancied doing it as a one off and she jumped at the chance. Paul had previously performed Matchstick Men with us and so I asked him if he fancied doing both that and Divide and Conquer with us. It was a fairly quiet but very enjoyable night and yet more seeds had been sown.
2019 saw us begin in earnest as a 4-piece. Tim had worked very hard to learn our set and also contributed to the album just in time for its completion. The Carpe Noctum gig took place in the February and saw Tim joining us onstage for the first time. Kaz also made another appearance singing Divide and Conquer. As a band we felt galvanised with a new found energy and enthusiasm.
Spring bank saw us begin to spread our wings as we played 3 consecutive dates in 3 cities, namely Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester. It was quite an exciting mini-tour and saw us playing in front of people who had never seen us before at venues which we had never played before. Two of the dates were supporting Christian Death. There was a real sense of us branching out more and the desire to build on that and play different places came into focus.
In the summer, I had a conversation with Kaz and she was feeling somewhat despondent herself at not being musically active enough. I suggested that she could join the band on a more significant basis rather than the odd ad-hoc guest appearance. I was curious to hear what it would sound like with her singing some of the older material. I put it to the rest of the band and again it was a unanimous approval with the caveat that I still performed some lead vocals and retained the writing responsibilities. This suited me perfectly. Changing what would essentially be the face of the band was a much bigger step than adding an extra musician. It was all immediately “signed off” and Kaz became a full time member of the band in July.
Our first gig as a 5-piece proper was at the Shadow of the Castle festival in Scarborough on 17th August. We played to a packed house and it was a roaring success. We had some excellent feedback and the new line-up went down a storm. Kaz’s voice suited a lot of the older material perfectly and we introduced a brand new song to the set “First Light”, which was the first one written as a 5-piece.
Since then, we have played a number of gigs, culminating in our final one of the year last Saturday at The Underground, all of which have been well attended and well received. Although we had made a conscious decision to not book any Bradford dates in 2019, we could not turn down the opportunity to play in support of “The Bradford Food Bank”. It is a very important cause, organised by a team and hosted at a place all of which are very close to our collective heart and it seemed fitting to round off the year in our home town.
So we leave the year a very different and more energised band. We have some gigs already in the calendar for 2020 which will see us venturing further out than before. There are studio works in progress too, which we hope to unleash in the early part of next year, all of which will feature the full line-up.
A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout the year. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2020 has in store for us.
Merry Christmas and happy new year!
Alec, Emma, Kaz, Tim and Charles.