With an expanding list of promising singles behind them, and a debut EP on the way, Priestgate could well be on the road to something big.
Words: Stephen Ackroyd. Photos: Stewart Baxter.
Driffield isn’t the centre of the musical universe. Not yet, anyway – but it might be if Priestgate have anything to do with it. Freshly signed with Lucky Number – a label with a track record of discovering new talent – the northern five piece are quickly grabbing the attention of all the right people. With a debut EP ‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’ on the way, we caught up with frontman Rob Schofield to get better acquainted with indie-pop’s latest poster band.
Hello Rob! What have you been up to today.
Today was another day at the office… not a literal office. I’m a decorator and aren’t over keen on the thought of working an office job but I’ve always been fond of that saying so I won’t bother rephrasing.
There aren’t a huge number of bands coming out of the bright lights of Driffield. How did you get together? Were you mates beforehand, or was it more a case of being the only like-minded musicians in town?
Yeah, it was definitely a case of being like-minded! None of us put a poster up saying “BAND WANTED, WILL PLAY ANYTHING”. It all happened very organically, I was looking for an excuse to get off my arse and somehow ended up asking Bridie to start a band with me. Almost as a bit of a joke I guess, the following week I was sat in a room with her and Connor explaining that I can’t actually sing. Zac was referred to us by my old man – they work alongside each other making coffins and Kai was just a friend from down the pub, we asked him to join at our local. Shook his hand and walked off into the sunset.
What was the music scene like there? Did you have to travel to find shows?
There’s a couple of middle-aged cover bands if that’s the kind of thing you’re into – but yeah, we definitely had to travel to find shows!
From a distance, it feels like you arrived with this fully-formed sound already there. How much work went on behind the scenes to get to that point?
Well, it seems we have everyone fooled – we was very shit for quite some time. That’s half the fun though isn’t it? Figuring out what’s you and what isn’t.
“Every time I think about a debut album I start smiling, and then shortly after I feel sick”Rob Schofield
Are there many shared musical reference points in the band? What’s the stuff that gets you all excited?
Anything with a buttery bass line and nice drums gets us talking, we’re all into lots of different stuff though – I guess we turn to songs that make us feel a certain way and then figure out how we can make our own version of that. Whether it’s Wu-Tang Clan or Fleet Foxes all just depends on what idea we’re chasing at the time.
Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
I think so, although I’m not sure how – we’re still figuring that bit out. Zac can make good animal noises… that’s something right?
Is there a first moment you felt the band was really on the right tracks?
The last couple of months have been full of those moments, but I think signing to Lucky Number was the first time we started to think we’re a proper band – things like that don’t happen to bands from Driffield, we all feel very lucky to be where we are right now.
What’s your definition of having ‘made it’? Is there something on the bucket list you’d consider to be the crowning glory?
Well, I guess packing in our jobs would be the real ‘made it’ moment – Zac’s made one too many coffins and I’m sick of telling people their luminous green living room looks lovely. After that I think challenging and beating Pet Shop Boys to a battle of the bands would be the crowning glory.
Lucky Number has quite the track record with exciting new acts. How did it feel to find out they were interested in singing you up? Does joining a label like that give you an extra swagger?
It felt really weird to be honest, we joked about it for so long and then when it happened we didn’t really believe it aha – I still don’t think we do. I’m sure there’s plenty of bands that get that spring in their step and start wearing sunglasses inside after getting approached by a label. Sadly we just couldn’t pull that off, now we’re stuck with a load of the sunglasses. Don’t suppose you’re after any are you?
The reaction to the last few tracks has been pretty great, and you’ve started appearing on some of the big tips lists too. Does that increase the pressure or give you confidence in what you’re already doing?
That’s a weird one, can I say both?
Have you heard yourself on Radio 1 yet? If so, where were you when you did, and how did you feel?
I was sat with my dad in the front room at the time, it felt really strange – like… that’s us… on Radio 1?
You’ve been working with some pretty experienced indie-pop hands of late. Have they given you any advice for the future?
I assume you’re talking about [former Kaiser Chief, songwriter and producer] Nick Hodgson? He’s full of great bits of advice, just those little one-liners that hit you right between the eyes – I reckon he’d be alright at rapping to be honest… not sure why he hasn’t done that yet.
What’s the best song you’ve written so far, do you think – have we even heard it yet?
See if I say you’ve heard it that’d spoil the fun wouldn’t it, everyone would just go listen to The Cure and tell us lot to shove it aha – all jokes aside. The best is yet to come.
The EP feels like a big moment for the band. Do you have any plans for what comes next? Has anyone dared mention ‘debut albums’ yet?
For sure, releasing the EP is a really big moment for us – it’s one of those milestones we’ve always spoke about. I’m not sure what will follow, more of the same but different is one way to put it I guess. Every time I think about a debut album I start smiling, and then shortly after I feel sick. Thanks for nothing Dork.
Sorry. But seriously, is being a musician living up to the hype?
Well, nothing worth doing is easy.
Taken from the March 2022 edition of Dork, out now. Priestgate’s debut EP ‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’ is out 25th March.