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AAA Music | 21 July 2018

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AAA Music Approved: Narrow Plains

| On 15, Aug 2017

Narrow Plains - Interview

Who are you and where are you from?

Narrow Plains. We are all from London. Charlie sings and plays guitar; Roger plays bass and back-up vocals; Edd plays guitar and keys; I am the drummer and also do back-up vocals. We all also play harmonicas.

We went to the same school (in Caterham, UK) and were friends but we never actually all played in the same band until 2016. Charlie and I wrote a few original, acoustic-based, songs together (that appeared on our debut EP, “Somewhere In Between”). When we were looking to record the songs in early 2012, we asked Roger (my brother) along to add bass. The three of us borrowed a house in the Dorset countryside from my Gran, begged and borrowed some recording equipment and then locked ourselves away for a week.

We rearranged the songs and decided to release them as an EP (called “Somewhere In Between”). We got a pretty good reception on social media and at some live gigs so we decided to carry on as a band. While we were recording our debut album (“Narrow Plains” we had written more complex and layered songs so we asked Edd to join us for live gigs. We were really happy when he agreed to join us as a full-time member.

What inspired you to get into music?

We all started to play music from an early age and are all self-taught. There was an annual school battle of the bands, and we all played as part of competing acts, mostly doing rock covers. Later on, we all started to get into more acoustic-based music and used to go to see artists like Newton Faulkner play locally but it was when Roger joined us to record our debut EP “Somewhere In Between”, that Narrow Plains really started.

We find it difficult to define our genre as we have a really wide level of influences but we are normally placed in the Acoustic Indie genre. We all grew up listening to modern American Rock; the likes of Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Blink-182. We loved the folk rock sound and Acoustic and Indie genres and still love to listen to acts like Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Goo Goo Dolls, Mumford and Sons and Ben Howard, There are so many more artists that we really respect (mostly newer acts but also more established acts like Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen) but I guess those are some of the main artists who have influenced us as songwriters and musicians. Ultimately we just try to make music that we want to listen to!

What have you done?

We have been lucky to get a few awards. We were recently nominated as Best Country/Folk Act in the 2016 UMAs (“Unsigned Music Awards”) and In 2015, we won the Hard Rock Rising competition at The Hard Rock Café in London. We were also winning finalists in the 2014 Canadian “Live In Your City” contest of Uprise.FM. However, one of our best moments came when we were chosen as “Judges Pick” by a panel of music experts in the USA-based, “Bands4Good” 2014 online talent contest. We won the opportunity to fly out to North Carolina for a recording session with John Davenport at his state-of-the-art studio near Raleigh, NC. John is a real legend in the music business and has engineered major albums for artists such as Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon and the Rolling Stones. We recorded a live version of one of our songs “Choices” with him.

In terms of discography, we released our initial EP “Somewhere In Between” in 2012. We then released a double A single, “So Rewind”/ “Keep You Anyway in 2014 followed by, in 2015, the live version of “Choices” (that we recorded in North Carolina with John Davenport). BBC Introducing South picked both “So Rewind “ and “Choices (Live)” as their “Track of the Day”.

We released our self-titled debut album “Narrow Plains” under the Smart Indie label in 2016. Seven of the thirteen songs from the album have also been selected as BBC Introducing “Track of the Day” and the album has received some great critical and audience reaction. The album took a year to record and we put a lot into it, so it means a lot to us when we people say good things about it!

What are you like live?

Well, we have played a lot of gigs and festivals, including iconic venues like the Cavern Club in Liverpool and the 100 Club in London. Our favourite gig so far has been our album launch at the O2 Academy in Islington last year. The venue was completely sold out and the crowd was brilliant, singing along to our songs. It’s always difficult to describe your own performances but we all really love performing live – there is no better feeling than playing your own songs to an appreciative crowd.

What makes you different?

We like to believe that it’s our songs really! We write all our songs together and try to write the kind of music that we want to hear. We aim at a clear, simple, acoustic feel where listeners can pick out all the individual instruments, vocals and layers. Obviously, we incorporate all our various influences musically but we try to be as original as we can be, so we bring different sounds in if a song is sounding too much like a particular genre.

Lyrically, we draw a lot of inspiration from our past and present relationships, not just romantic but family or friendships. We try not to make our songs too specific so that people can hopefully relate their own situation to them in a meaningful way. However, whenever we have written a new song or a new arrangement, we always “test” it out live on our audiences, which for us, is always the real acid test!

Physical vs Downloading vs Streaming…How do you listen to music?

We are all massive fans of vinyl and love the physical product (we are really hoping to see our album in vinyl soon!). Streaming has definitely been a massive boost for recorded music for listeners and has made it much more affordable and easily accessible for all. It also makes it very simple to discover new music, especially smaller less well known bands. From the artist perspective, it’s a much more mixed picture. Many of the streaming services do not really return that much to the creators and owners of the music unless you are getting millions and millions of plays so there is no real financial benefit to composers, artists and smaller labels. However, it’s still a great opportunity to get your music heard by listeners who might not normally have come across you. It’s great to see the recorded music industry growing again, but it would be cool if the split of revenues were more equitable!

What have you been listening to?

My newest discovery is James Vincent McMorrow – his falsetto is hard to believe until you hear it live!

What are your aspirations for the future?

We are working on some new material, which is sounding quite different from our earlier music. Our immediate priority is to get some new songs for another album written and recorded. Of course, it would be great if we find a record deal! Then, we would really love to do a world tour and meet and play for all the people who have been following and supporting us on social media.

Questions answered by: Stuart Connick (drums) of Narrows Plains…