Martin and bass player Glen Bartup have been playing in bands together for years, but the current line-up came together in August 2002, and within a matter of months they were signed up by those curators of taste, Heavenly. Martin takes up the story:
“We’re all from in and around Lincoln, and we’ve all played in various bands around the local circuit for a number of years, so when our old drummer left last summer, James (Irving) seemed the right choice for the band. His first gig with the band was actually in London, and from that moment on everything seemed to happen so quickly. With the old drummer, we’d already put 4 songs down on a demo, and when James Baillie from the Heavenly Social heard it, he offered to put us on and the rest is…just a blur really!”
So, with the record deal inked, The 22-20s (named after the Skip James song ’22-20 Blues’) then decided that the best thing to do was go on tour and they have rarely been home since.
“It’s been great. Just being able to play headline gigs in England and seeing some of the same faces night after night. It really gets you when people know the songs word for word, particularly as we hadn’t released a record at that stage.”
Since then of course, the seven-inch only blues/spunk strut ‘Such A Fool’ cleared out the vinyl racks at just about every record store in Britain on the first day of release, while October sees the release of their debut album, ‘05/03’, which was recorded throughout their UK tour of, yes you guessed it, May 2003.
Every single band in living memory spends hour upon hour trying to get the right producer to recreate that “live” sound, so the 22-20s have gone one better by actually recording their first opus live. Martin fills us in:-
“We were first noticed on the strength of how we play as a live band, so it seemed the right thing to do. Some of the songs on ‘05/03’ wouldn’t work on a studio album, so we felt the live album would be a fitting document of the first songs we ever did together. We have got enough songs for a studio album as well, and we plan to get it recorded before Christmas. We actually want to record the album on tape, because it sounds better…”
It seems quite strange that a bunch of teenagers have found themselves playing a type of blues that seems more appropriate to 50 year old men in trilby hats and long black overcoats, and so it may come as a compliment that along with bands like The White Stripes and The Mooney Suzuki, The 22-20’s could be seen as more of an introduction to a revitalised genre rather than retrospective revivalists.
“When I was 14, my uncle used to stay with my family at Christmas, and he used to bring me these old blues 45s, people like Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Hank Williams. I was learning to play the guitar at the time so I was prepared to listen to anything and everything. I think it’s flattering that we’re being compared to bands like the White Stripes, who I have a lot of respect for, but in terms of the way we both sound, I can’t really see it myself. I think we have a few things in common, namely that we both try and keep our songs direct and simple with good melodies, and also that we’re both obviously influenced by the blues but at the same time don’t necessarily believe that it should be kept how it was.”
The band’s reputation as one of 2003’s must-see artists was quickly enhanced when they were invited to tour the States with the Kings Of Leon and Jet, both of whom have risen from the status of being pub bands in their native cities to platinum album sellers in a matter of months.
“The whole experience of playing with those bands was just great. It just goes to show that there is such a demand for live, raw, rootsy music at the moment.”
So with that in mind, could the 22-20s be the Brits that finally prosper where Oasis, Robbie and the Manics all failed? Martin Trimble seems almost disconsolate at the thought:-
“We’ve no massive ambition to break territories. It’s never been an intention of mine to initiate such a move…”
On the subject of future plans and ambitions, and bearing in mind the giant leaps Martin and the band have taken over the past 12 months, where next for the 22-20’s?
“We enjoyed playing the festival circuit during the summer, so we’re definitely looking forward to doing some of those again. In the long term, if I could make an album half as good as ‘Exile On Main Street’ with the integrity of what Primal Scream have carried throughout their entire career, that’ll do me. For now though, we can’t wait for Christmas as I can’t remember the last time I had a day off…”