Interview: Nothing But Thieves on their music

Written by kirstiekeate

Living in Brighton has its obvious benefits, but to be honest, one of the better ones in the years I’ve lived here has to be the opportunity I was given last week not just to interview this gen

Living in Brighton has its obvious benefits, but to be honest, one of the better ones in the years I’ve lived here has to be the opportunity I was given last week not just to interview this genuinely lovely, friendly and self depreciating band, but also to hear them play live.

Described as an indie rock band by others, I asked how they would describe their music to new listeners. The consensus was ‘atmospheric rock,’ something that teams the two ideas of atmospheric music with the rock music of their childhood.

Although they are keen to stress they would never dream of comparing themselves to groups like Radiohead, they admit there is something Radiohead-esque about them, with touch of the dynamic vocals of Keane.

Asked about personal influences, it varies. As a group, the rock classics of Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd are not only touted but also apparent once pointed out. However, individually it’s clear they’ve all come to this point in their musical careers through their own means. 

For example, Dom, the classically trained guitarist of the group tells the story of how Phil, his cousin and group bass player, ‘ripped’ the classical guitar from his hands at a young age and replaced it with an electrical one on the basis classical guitarists never make any money. 

The general consensus is that Phil is probably right and very much responsible for pointing Dom in the right direction.

Nothing But Thieves have played across the UK and are off to New York shortly for their next set of dates. When asked what their favourite gig was, although the allure of the decent weather of their recent set in Gibralter obviously appealed to them, they ultimately feel their best performance was the their recent appearance at Camden Barfly, when they experienced their song lyrics being sung back to them for the first time.

Asked to choose a favourite song was a tougher question for them to answer. ‘Excuse Me’ is a definite favourite as they feel it really defines their sound, but the complexities of crafting others make them equally as special. 

While the haunting ‘Emergency,’ which was picked up by Zane Lowe as soon as it was on their sound cloud, only took 45 minutes to write, others such as ‘Tempt You’ have taken as long as six months. 

Breath taking vocals with immense range and style

Setting up a band is always a challenge, asked what the early goals for the band were they were all pretty resolute, they wanted to get on the XFM playlist, play festivals and, ultimately Wembley and they’re ecstatic that they’ve only got Wembley left to do now!

Asked about what makes the band so distinctive from others out there, guitarists Dom and Joe are quick to say that it has to be vocalist Conor’s voice, though modest of his talent as ever, Conor is keen to play down the importance of his voice and point out that what really makes them different is that their drummer Price was born without knee caps!  

Whatever Conor’s objections to being temporarily in the spot light, not only is his vocal talent quite frankly breath taking with an immense range and style that sounds as good live as it does on any of their tracks, but it’s also testament to the musical talent of Nothing But Thieves that they are able to use it as as much of an instrument as any of the others they have at their disposable, exploring it’s capabilities and working out exactly how they want to use it and make it sound on each track.

Talented and committed, genuine musical craftsmen 

They still claim to be on the boundary of true self discovery as a band. Although they certainly feel they’re moving in the right direction thanks to spending time in the US last year. 

Having stagnated trying to write music for two years prior to the trip, they believe it was invaluable as their schooling in writing music. It gave them the opportunity to work with a variety of producers all over the States and it certainly worked. 

Since then they’ve managed to pen roughly forty songs.  It also helped each of them establish their position in the band, with Dom as the in-house producer, Joe working on lyrics and melody and Conor using his extensive knowledge of music to compare, deconstruct and reconstruct each track ensuring it’s as good as it can be, and making the overall writing process more fluid.

Talented and committed, they are genuine musical craftsmen, treating creating music as a journey and an art rather than a means to a superstar ending. This group is definitely one to watch, they are already on Zane Lowe’s radar, having been put his Future 15 feature and they should certainly be on yours!

What do you think of Nothing But Thieves? Let us know in the comments below!