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.
Manchester guitar-poppers Larkins make massive tunes with huge choruses made for the indie dancefloor, radio airwaves, and pm anywhere else you’d usually find up-and-coming bands with heaps of potential. They’ve not long played for 2000 fans at a Manchester Albert Hall headliner, and now they’re heading off for festival season. Frontman and guitarist Josh Noble tells us about his band.
Hey Josh, what are we interrupting?
We’ve just finished a rehearsal at our studio in Ancoats, Manchester. Myself and Dom have spent the last few days in London designing some new gear for a clothing line we want to bring out, so it’s good to be home and feeling out some new songs. It’s cool to get the chance to speak with you guys, we always try and keep up with Dork.
Is life in Manchester good at the mo? It must be a fun place to be an up-and-coming band.
Manchester is blossoming right now. It’s a beautiful day, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, to be honest. Our studio is right by the canal and lets in loads of natural light in so we find ourselves here most of the time whether it’s writing or demoing new stuff. We live in the Northern Quarter right now, so we’re kind of at the centre of where we want to be. There are loads of venues around the corner, and the vibe around the NQ is cool. We grew up in a little town called Glossop so moving into the centre was what we had always wanted, and it’s started to affect the way we write and create music.
When did you realise you wanted to make music, did you have a musical upbringing?
We didn’t really have a musical upbringing in the traditional sense. There were no pianos in the front room, if that’s what you mean? Our parents just had amazing music taste and great record collections. Dom’s parents loved Bob Dylan and The Stones whereas my Dad was totally hooked on Duran Duran and always had Led Zeppelin on in the car.
I guess growing up I didn’t appreciate how important this would be and how I would have to apologise to my Dad for ignoring his advice that ‘Going to California’ is the best song ever written and listening to something else instead.
We realised when we started to play music together that it was something we would do for a long time. I think myself and Dom played a charity event together at our school when we were like 13, and we covered a Simon and Garfunkel tune followed by ‘She’s leaving home’ by The Beatles. Our classmates didn’t appreciate it much, but we were like, “We have to try and make music like this.”
How did you guys get together?
We started at school together and began to take it more seriously at college. We started learning more about production, and I got into making sounds on synths and stuff. Dom started to get lost in the world of pedals and in-depth guitar tech, and I guess it grew from there.
Bringing in Henry was key as he had been at school with us but was a few years younger and we had no idea he could play bass. Our old music teacher suggested him when we started asking around. I’d put his skills up on a bass against anyone in the world right now, and I’m not even joking. He’s insanely talented. The boy can’t make toast to save his life, but he can really play bass.
Joe was a later addition and was someone Henry knew. He slotted right in and is obsessed with funk and rock, so he had a flair that suited what we were trying to do.
Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
I guess so. I don’t paint or anything like that, but I’m really into fashion designing and that kind of vibe. We design all our own merch, so we’re keen to see where that goes. I’m also really into abstract art like the collage work on our artwork. The guy who did that is called Joel Galvin, and we met him at a show in Leeds, and from then on he kind of showed us what was cool and what was real. We’re looking into doing some work with some Japanese graffiti artists which could be cool.
What do you do for fun?
Haha, we do music. It’s all we do. Someone asked me the other day that cliché question about what I would do if I won the lottery, but I was like, “I’d do this”. We have a blast being in this band; it’s all we ever wanted and more. Outside of music we play a bit of tennis together and being in Manchester it’s hard to get away from playing football. We go to a lot of shows and try and hang out with people outside of the band for once but we always end up being dragged back together somehow.
What’s been the highlight of your time as a musician so far? Is headlining Manchester’s Albert Hall up there?
Yeah, I’d say so. It was a monumental gig for us, and it went the way we wanted. That many people singing lyrics I wrote in my bedroom is something that hits you super, super hard the morning after. That tour, in general, was probably our highlight. I think seeing the response to ‘TV Dream’ the day it was released was cool as well, definitely a highlight!
You’re playing Live At Leeds soon, have you spent much time in Leeds? Do you have any favourite spots?
Love love love Leeds. Rowdy crowds as well. I love the venues in Leeds. The Wardrobe is cool, but the Church is on another level. We played the Chapel, that room on the side of Church, and that was great, but hopefully, we can get to Church in the next year or so. Leeds has given us some of the best shows, and I went to the festival last year as a punter, so we’re looking forward to playing It this time around.
Are you going to hang around to catch some other bands?
Always! We’re gonna check out Sam Fender again as we saw him at SXSW and he was great. Our friends Marsicans are always great so will try and catch them and then might try and see Vant cause I’m really digging the new vibes he’s been releasing!
What’s the key to putting on a good festival set, do you think?
Energy, probably. The sound is never going to be perfect, and the stage might be hard to navigate, but as long as you give it everything and at least seem to be enjoying it, I think you’re ok. Festivals are always tricky just because you can guarantee that there are people watching who didn’t come to see you so you either have to win them around or annoy them so much that they leave.
What are you working on at the mo?
We’ve just finished up with the mixing stages of a live recording that we’re super keen to release, and we’re at the demo stage of writing our first album. I’m still figuring out how I want everything to sound, and I’m just trying to work out a pallet of sounds and instruments to work from. I’m still like a kid in a sweet shop at the moment, so I need to chill out with crazy synths and guitar pedals.
Lyrically I feel like I hit on something we ‘TV Dream’ and I guess that’s where we’re going with the songs right now. Larkins are at a stage where we can really develop on what we have already released and that really exciting. We’re also about to finalise dates for the next tour which is an absolute monster so I can’t wait to get out on that.
Larkins play Live At Leeds (4th May) and more.