London based four-piece Inheaven have emerged as one of the most exciting new bands on the UK circuit this past year. Having only formed last year, they've put out four singles and toured extensively for what seems like the entire duration of their existence.
Currently on the road to promote latest 45 'Drift', DiS caught up with the quartet - James Taylor (vocals/guitar), Chloe Little (bass), Jake Lucas (guitar) and Joe Lazarus (drums) - prior to their show at Nottingham Bodega.
DiS: How did the band first get together?
James: Me and Chloe first met at The Lexington. It was a new band night and we were both in two different bands at the time. I played guitar in one and Chloe was singing in another. We realized we both shared the same influences, liked the same movies, loved the same bands. So we just made this video at the start, which ended up being the first 'Regeneration' video. Then we wrote some music over the top of that video, so it was almost like a soundtrack to the film. And it was so good that we just sacked off everything else we were doing and steamed ahead. Then we met Jake who was living nearby and Joe came much later on through one of our friends who was in another band. We did have another drummer at the start but Joe has added a new dimension to what we're doing. It's all happened quite naturally. We didn't have to think about how it was going to sound. That just happened. If things seem right it's just easy. You can just tell from ploughing away. If things are hard and everyone's pulling in different directions it usually means it's not right. Whereas with us everything just flowed. It was all instinct. It's probably been the most exciting year of my life.
The UK seems to be producing a spate of interesting guitar bands right now. Why do you think that is?
James: It's quite exciting. There's loads of great new bands at the moment. The more we tour, the more we see just how many good bands there are. What's really exciting is how young most of them are. It's the same with the audiences. It's great to see young kids going mental at gigs and getting interested in bands and fanzines and vinyl. It's all happened fairly recently, but there's already a couple of bands who've broken through into mainstream areas like Radio 1. There's a huge underbelly of bands and fans driving the scene at the minute.
You have your own Inheaven fanzine. When did that start?
James: Chloe does the fanzine.
Chloe: I've always liked fanzines. Ours started with the release of 'Regeneration'. I collected loads of images and made this short video for the song and it went from there. That became the concept for the first fanzine. Then we decided to do one every time we released something. The current fanzine is number four to commemorate 'Drift' being our fourth single. We only give them out on tour and they're free off our merch stand. Hopefully one day they'll be collectable.
Do you see the visuals being as important as the music?
Chloe: I think so. It's part of our identity which is really important when it comes to how people see you. You can tell when someone else has made a video for a bands without their input, whereas with us this is all of our own doing.
James: Possibly the best way to separate us from other bands is by doing everything ourselves. Once bands start using the same design companies everything becomes quite similar. Whereas we design everything ourselves. The poster for this tour we designed ourselves. Every single record sleeve is designed by us, our visuals on stage, everything. When you look back on things like that, its bands who do their own thing that tend to stand out a lot more from run of the mill graphic design bands.
Chloe: We've sent our artwork to promoters for every gig we've done.
James: I think a great video can help make a song. I know some people say it's all about the music but for me it's all about the whole package.
Joe: Not many bands seem to care about the visual element as much as we do and it can get lost.
There does seem to be more bands making videos for every song rather than just to promote their singles. Is it something you see yourselves doing going forwards?
James: I think we're already doing that by accident. Every song has a video.
Chloe: It's more about doing a video that we want to be doing. That fits the song rather than just doing one for the sake of it.
Do you think it's important for bands to retain a DIY aesthetic?
James: The best bands always do everything themselves. I don't necessarily think it's an aesthetic thing. It's more about if you have a passion for it.
Chloe: Why would you want someone else to do it? It's your brain. If you want to, go ahead and do it. If you have the tools to be able to do it yourself then why not?
Your first single 'Regeneration' came out on Julian Casablancas' label Cult Records. How did that come about?
James: We built a website and we had a load of demos and DIY videos all in the style of the 'Regeneration' one. The band were called Blossom back then. We were uploading demos every two weeks. We wanted to get some press and it started to pick up soon after. Several blogs started writing about us and it became like a chain reaction. The two people who became our managers got in contact with us. They said the demos were amazing but we should take them all down and do them again. So that's what we did. We took everything down, changed the name to Inheaven because we heard there was a band from Stockport called Blossoms. Ironically we're going on tour with them later this year!
Chloe: I don't think they'd have asked us if we were still called Blossom.
James: So we took all the demos down, and it wasn't for several months later that Rory Attwell, who mixed those demos, emailed me and said check this out. I just saw the Cult Records logo, scrolled down the page and it read, "Hey Rory, that fucking band... Who are they? Where are they? Why don't we release that song? I can't find it anywhere. I can't find any contact details. Where the fuck are they? I want to put it out. Me and Julian are completely blown away." So that's how it came about. We went and did it and that got the ball rolling. It was probably one of the best days of my life! I was jumping round the flat and skidding on my knees.
Your lyrics appear to be politically and socially motivated. For instance 'Baby's Alright', 'Bitter Town', and 'Regeneration'. Is that something you consciously think about when you're writing?
James: It's something I think about all the time but I still think its quite subconscious from a lyrical point of view the way it comes out. I write with instinct rather than over intellect, so I go with my gut feelings initially and then I just flow with it. I try not to overthink anything. That way I tend to get a steadier flow. I don't sit there and think right, I'm going to write a political banger or whatever! It's not forced. Everything comes naturally. Also, I grew up loving bands like The Clash and their music and lyrics formed the way I do things. I think it's important for bands to have a say in things.
Absolutely. Especially in the current climate.
James: Exactly. I think all bands should really.
On the flipside, a song like 'Slow' - which reminds me of classic Creation Records era bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive - suggests you're also quite partial to experimenting with different sounds and structures.
James: We're big fans of all those bands. I just love noise really. But I also love pop songs as well.
Chloe: We like to try and have the two meet in the middle.
You've been compared to the likes of My Bloody Valentine and The Ramones and had your music described as a cross between punk and dream pop. Would you say that's a fairly accurate description?
James: I think so. By fusing certain things together I think it's possible to come up with something really original. I don't think you should confine yourself to any one particular genre. You can be all your favourite bands at once.
You made two videos for 'Baby's Alright'. Why was that?
Chloe: When we first recorded that song we wouldn't play it to anyone until we had a video to go with it. So we sent it to the label with the first video. But then there were issues around clearance for using some of the clips, so we had to make another one instead.
James: Basically, a lot of the clips were stolen off the internet.
Chloe: Some of them were off a North Korean McDonalds advert. So Vevo were reluctant to use them without permission.
How did you find North Korean McDonalds adverts?
Chloe: My friend the internet! It's a really powerful tool. When I originally made that video I didn't think anyone was going to see it.
Are there any plans to release an album in the none too distant future?
James: We should have an album out next year at some point.
Any specific timescale or deadline?
Chloe: Hopefully within the first six months of the year.
Are you signed to a label for the album?
James: It's going to be coming out on Epic Records. The first two singles as Blossom we put out ourselves then we did a single with Cult Records then the next one with Hometown Records. Then we signed our album deal with Sony, so I guess that makes us big sellouts!
Will any of the singles be on the album or will it be entirely made up of previously unreleased material?
James: We've currently got over 60 songs so I guess we're a little spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what goes on the album. I think we'd like to be like The Ramones and just release an album every year.
Are there any expectations from the label regarding sales targets or recording a follow-up quickly?
James: It's weird because labels have gone the other way and become more independent thinking. They've seen labels like XL that are really smashing it, so more majors are adopting their models as a result. They want smaller rosters with smaller teams. The whole thing has flipped on its head and I think it's quite an exciting time to be in a band because there's less pressure on the sales side.
Chloe: If we had been doing this three years earlier when major labels were signing bands but doing little on the development side I don't think we'd still be here today.
James: I look at a band like Blossoms. They've been playing for ages, nurturing their sound and playing literally dozens of shows before they got signed to a label. That's how it used to be. Because we do everything ourselves, they're quite supportive of what we do. It probably sounds clichéd but that's the beauty of doing things our way. Chloe does the videos. I do most of the artwork. We produce it to the highest level we can and then we record it properly so I'll never change no matter what label we're on.
You've been on tour and playing festivals for virtually the entire year. What's been your most memorable and enjoyable experiences so far?
James: In terms of an experience I'd say Glastonbury. To play, I'd say Reading.
Joe: Definitely Reading. It meant a lot to all of us as we've all been there as fans. It was my first festival when I was 16.
James: We went out and sound checked while it was empty then went back out for the show and I've never seen that many crazy kids so hyped up. Just a sea of people doing circle pits. Moshing to the slow songs! It was fucking great! It's probably one of the best gigs I've ever played.
Joe: It was a great gig, a great vibe, we played really well. It was just one of those days where everything clicked.
James: I crowdsurfed at the end and landed on top of our booking agent! He didn't even notice me when I appeared just in front of him.
What are your plans for the rest of the year once this tour is over?
James: We've got another single coming out very soon. Then we're going on tour with Blossoms in December which takes us up to the new year. It has been a gradual year in many ways. Lots of one off gigs to begin with then the DIY tour with The Big Moon and Vant. Then a huge gap followed by loads of festivals. Its starting to build momentum now. It's all felt very natural for us.
Joe: I think we're getting better as a band and the audiences are becoming more familiar with the songs.
What advice would you give to new bands just starting out?
James: Never give up! Ever.
Joe: We've all been in loads of bands before. It takes a lot of time to get good and find yourself.
Chloe: You think you're good. And then you tour for a year. That's when you become good.
James: The best thing you can do is what we did. Put songs out yourselves. Get a website going. Write your own blogs. Build up your own momentum. Do everything yourself for as long as you can.
Are there any new bands you'd recommend for Drowned In Sound and its readers to check out?
James Pale Waves. They're supporting us on this tour. Dream Wife are great too. We've got to see loads of great bands while we've been touring. It's an exciting time.
For more information on Inheaven visit their [official website] (http://www.inheaven.co/).
Photo by Shaun Gordon