With a sound that revels in a congealed montage of all that was good about the last three decades and a name that epitomises the meaning of style, London based quartet Good Shoes look set to be one of the names on the tips of a few wagging tongues this year.
Comprising of Rhys Jones on guitar and vocals, his brother Tom on drums and Joel Cox (bass) and Steve Leach (guitar), Good Shoes were the first signings to impressive independent outlet Brille Records last year, and in that time have released two sold out singles (‘Small Town Girl’ and ‘We Are Not The Same’) as well as embarking on a tour with press darlings of the minute Be Your Own Pet at the start of this year.
Currently in the middle of the first headlining tour of their own, DiS collared Rhys Jones after an impressive, adrenalin-fuelled set at Nottingham Social.
I guess the best place to start would be with our review of your last single, ‘We Are Not The Same’, which received a measly 3/10 on this here site. How do you react to negative comments and reviews in the press?
(Laughing) I guess that the thing with Drowned In Sound is that there is no editorial process, so if one writer likes or dislikes something they are allowed to say what they like as opposed to having to tow the line like in other sections of the music press. I suppose you can’t have a positive review every time, and to be fair, we’ve had a pretty positive response from most of the press, even on Drowned In Sound, who gave one of our live shows a good review last year. Sometimes it’s good to be knocked back a peg or two…
With that kind of thing at the back of your mind, what made you want to form a band and join the cutthroat world of the music industry?
I don’t think we ever thought of the pitfalls to start with. Steve and I have known each other for years and we both play the guitar, and one day we decided it was more useful to form a band than just sit in our rooms playing to no one. I’m sure if we hadn’t done that I’d still be at Uni not enjoying myself! Tom’s my brother and he’s the only drummer I knew (“best drummer you knew!” shouts the other Jones in the Good Shoes camp…) and he turned out to be really good…and Joel has been one of our mates since childhood as well so….I think it all came together really naturally to be honest. We never aimed at a particular sound. I’ve been in a band before and I’d spent about a year prior to Good Shoes writing songs.
As the first signings to Brille Records, why do you think they were so keen to get hold of you on their label?
Probably about 60% good luck! No, I think we had a lot of good songs and we were working our arses off playing live as often as we could. You read about bands who’ve come out of nowhere onto the front pages of the NME, and you’re scratching your head thinking, “who the hell are they?”, whereas some weeks we played one – sometimes two – gigs a night for months, and we knew a few people already in bands who were on my foundation course which helped us get better gigs, and after about three months of slogging it around the toilets we got a bit of leverage where we could be more selective about where we played. That led to us getting a bit of press here and there, and before we knew it labels were coming to see us. We played an Artrocker show during this period with FC Kahuna, and one of their band members was friends with the people at Brille and told them about us, and soon after they came to see us play ‘In The City’ at Manchester, liked what they saw and offered us a record deal the next day.
You make no secret of where you come from, as the song ‘Morden’ suggests, with its tales of violent Burberry clad skinheads, people hanging themselves in supermarket car parks and drug dealers crashing into chicanes. Is it really that bad where you live?
No, no, it’s not THAT bad! The thing is, ‘Morden’ is quite a short song and although those things did happen, it’s like condensing a long-term diary into a three-minute song. It all happened over a number of years – I mean, a notorious drug dealer crashed his car at the end of my road and died – but it’s not just about Morden. Everywhere you go you’ll probably find things like that. Morden isn’t particularly bad – it’s just as shit as everywhere else, basically. It’s like here in Nottingham. It gets a lot of bad publicity with the recent gun crimes but I bet that’s not a fair representation of the city as a whole, yet at the same time if you were to experience it every day, then you probably wouldn’t know any different.
Staying on the subject matter of your songs, both ‘We Are Not The Same’ and ‘Small Town Girl’ seem to be almost bitter laments about past relationships. Are they about the same person?
No they’re not about the same person, but yeah, they’re about certain people I’ve known. I guess that’s just what I’m feeling at the moment. I’m finding it difficult to write in a positive way at the minute. ‘We Are Not The Same’ I suppose could be seen as being about more than just a girl, which to some extent it is, whereas ‘Small Town Girl’ – yeah, that is about a particular girl I knew off my foundation course at college…
Do you see yourselves as part of the “second coming” of the London scene along with the likes of Larrikin Love and Jamie T?
No not really. Being based in Morden kind of sets us apart from everyone else, and we never really go out to the obvious scene-type hangouts. When I’m not playing gigs, I tend to hang around with my mates who I’ve known all my life. I don’t tend to want to be a part of that whole scene thing to be honest.
You’ve recently remixed Maximo Park. How did that come about and do you have any plans to remix any other artists?
We got asked by Maximo Park’s management because they’re friends with the people who run our record label, and if the truth be known, we’re not really massive Maximo Park fans and we’d only remix songs that we didn’t particularly like in the first place. It was Joel and Steve basically who de-constructed and re-constructed it, and its certainly something that we’d consider again in the future. We’ve been approached to do Architecture In Helsinki but we all really love them so…and at the moment we are busy with the tour and everything but…
Finally, what would you consider to be good shoes?
My brogues! I’ve been wearing them so much that my soles have worn down to a 45 degree angle and my socks get soaked, so I suppose they won’t be good shoes for that much longer! But I guess it’s really a case of each to their own. I mean, I wouldn’t wear Reebok Classics or boxing boots but I’m sure if other people saw my battered brown brogues they’d say they’re not good shoes either. Everyone’s got their own opinions…
And with that, DiS bids Rhys Jones good night, and marks Sunday 28th May’s date in its’ diary as the band’s next venture into the city will be as part of the bill for the Dot-to-Dot Festival over the bank holiday weekend.
With numerous other festival appearances in the pipeline, Good Shoes look set to be the cool soundtrack to 2006’s proposed long hot summer.
Live photos by Mark Moore