It’s time to start getting excited, Dear Reader. We’re less than a month away from the unofficial start of our 2019 festival season. That May Day Bank Holiday weekend means one thing – Live At Leeds. Packed with (literally) hundreds of the best new bands on the planet, it sees one of the country’s most vibrant creative cities turned into a mecca of buzz, hype and awesome live music.
To celebrate, we’re holding a special Live At Leeds takeover. Over the course of the day (11th April 2019, in case you’re coming to this late – Ed), we’ll be bringing you all kinds of stuff from and about the acts playing this year’s event. If you’re going, it’ll help you plan out those all-important spreadsheets. If you’ve not yet picked up your tickets – well, what are you waiting for? You can grab ’em here, right now.
Leeds bunch Cruel World only have one song ‘out there’ at the mo, so either it’s going to be a very short set at Live At Leeds, or you’re going to be one of a lucky few to hear their not-yet-on-the-internet tunes. Lucky you, eh? In the meantime, you can check out ‘Boxer’ below, and find out more about the group from songwriter James Anthony Smith too.
Hey James, how’s it going?
Hello, it’s going great. I’ve just spent the day in Manchester with my wife and my dad. We went to three (THREE!) art exhibitions. I saw an anatomical metal point drawing of a fetus which was over 500 years old, a photograph of a baby outside a bookies in the late 80s and a princess Leia toy pickling in a jar. Guess which one I liked best.
What first got you into wanting to be a musician, and what bands were you into growing up?
I used to write raps and song lyrics when I was a kid, even though I didn’t play any instruments until I was a teenager. I’d draw album covers and write track listings on the back cover for songs that only existed in my head. It was mostly rap music I listened to as a kid. I really liked rap music and The Lightning Seeds.
How did you guys meet and form the band?
The band was assembled by me. I simply liked them all and wanted to be in a band with them. I also thought that by me being the person each of them had the closest relationship with, I could create a pyramid of power with me at the top (naturally). The problem was that when they finally met they all got on really well, and now I think that, at worst… they’re plotting against me… at best… they go to the pub without me.
Can you remember the first song you wrote together, is it still kicking about?
I think it was ‘Boxer’, actually. The only song we’ve put out so far.
What do you most enjoy writing about, generally?
Things I don’t understand.
You’re a Leeds group, and you’re playing Live At Leeds soon – do you have any tips for navigating the festival?
If you and your friends get separated during the day, make sure you’ve agreed on a designated meeting point. I’d suggest underneath the man with the barrel.
Is Leeds a good place to be an up-and-coming band at the mo?
Leeds has been good to me. I’ve met some really beautiful, brilliant people in this city – they’re my best friends actually. Some still here, some sadly moved away but I met them all in this city because of its music scene. I’ve been here ten years, and I wouldn’t be here without them.
What’s been the highlight of your time as a musician so far?
Paul McCartney. That would’ve been it, if I’d met him.
What would you most like to achieve during your music career?
I’m surrounded by a lot of great people who want to make music with me, and I’ve got a four-track cassette recorder which sounds totally ace. The rest is just whistles and bells.
What are you working on right now?
Loads of new music – I dunno how it’s gonna get released though. If Dead Oceans fancy helping us put it out, just give us a shout.
Cruel World play Live At Leeds (4th May).