The Longsands: Little Britain

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    Little Britain is the third single from The Longsands’ excellent debut album Meet Me In Spanish City and once more it offers the mightiest persuasion as to why the band is so highly rated and passionately followed by their fans. The Northumberland quintet has earned an impressive reputation for their passionate and fiery live performances and a wealth of acclaim for their singles and album. The new release will be no exception, the song a potent and attentive inciting companion for thoughts and emotions.

Emerging from as guitarist Ian Barnes said in our interview with him, “…mucking about with a few tunes in 2006 and it was more of a hobby…”, the band went from winning a national unsigned competition to selling out local venues the following year and touring Greece with a commission from Sony music and Jack Daniels.  With the line-up of Barnes, vocalist Trevor Cox, lead guitarist David Stanyer, bassist Gary Ormston, and drummer Paul Stephenson in place from this point, The Longsands has continued to ignite audiences across the UK, gaining notable fans in the shape of Steve White of The Style Council and Bruce Foxton of The Jam, who the band supported on a tour, and gained support and exposure through the likes of Bob Harris, Dave Stewart, and Simon Fowler of Ocean Colour Scene, who The Longsands have just completed a February tour with.

     Little Britain is a smouldering fire which grows and impresses the more you allow its anthemic and rich defiant fire to burn upon the ear. Emerging from a guitar stroke of the ear which is laced with elements of The Jam even in its brief unaccompanied moment, the song is soon a brewing passion of licking guitar flames and the continually impressive expressive vocals of Cox, Soon a velvety growl of bass from Ormston brings its shadows to bear accompanied by the firm rhythmic frame engineered by the forceful beats of Stephenson. Fully into its stride the track evolves into a heart driven melodic tempest of confrontation and impassioned intensity of emotive elegance and political honesty.

The song is a call to arms for thoughts and emotions in league with an irresistible temptation for the passions to feed lustily on its glorious melodic feast and enrapturing crescendos of power and craft. Whilst reviewing their album we as suggested earlier found the song a slow burner but it soon stood and still stands as a track which ignites the richest emotions inside with each welcome meeting.

Completed by the engaging An Affair In Manchester and an instrumental version of the single, Little Britain inspires a real passion for itself and the band which their album accelerates further. With an accompanying video for the single which features Howard Marks, the release should finally see The Longsands find the deserved break into the widest recognition, they certainly burn brightly on our and a great many others radar already.

www.thelongsands.co.uk

8/10

RingMaster 23/02/2013

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Interview with Ian Barnes from The Longsands

If anyone gets the notion that invention and quality within UK the indie/rock scene is lacking need to go no further than listening to the debut album Meet Me In Spanish City from The Longsands. It is a release which is passionate, mesmeric, and easily one of the more impressive and essential albums to come out this year. The Newcastle quintet ignite thought and emotions with their and impassioned and infectious blend of rock, pop, and indie sounds for a full and lingering pleasure. Given the opportunity to talk with guitarist Ian Barnes from the band we delved deeper into and behind the band and album.

Hi Ian and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.

Firstly please could you introduce the band members?

We are The Longsands from Newcastle (well Northumberland if you wanna get technical!) we serve up rock n roll tunes with great melodies and honest lyrics.

Singer: Trev
Guitar and songwriter: me (Ian Barnes)
Lead guitar and songwriter: Stan
Bass: Gaz
Drums: Paul

What was the beginning of the band?

Started mucking about with a few tunes in 2006 and it was more of a hobby then, but we won a national unsigned competition and put a single out which made us take things more seriously. Myself and Trev quit work to get us off the ground. We then got a collection of early songs and got out there gigging as much as possible around the UK at the end of 2007. We sold out The Sage in Newcastle and then went on a few tours of Greece commissioned by Sony music and Jack Daniels.  At this point our old drummer Sean (and he was old) decided sunshine, free whiskey and rock ‘n’ roll was not for him!  Haha! Well I think it was more the commitment, really… After that tour we took things far more seriously through 2009 and began working on a debut record with a new drummer (Paul) and an agenda of world domination! There have been a few curve balls since then but we are still here and I believe we have one of the best records this year.

Is there a musical history before The Longsands?

Yeh 4 of us at some point between the age of 15 and 21 were in a band called Lotus.  We had some good tunes and it was the most fun I’ve ever had, but although we had ambition it was really just about getting off your tits and playing music in shit holes! Without management we were young, drunk and lacked direction.  We were a great band though! We made a few demos and at some point I’d like to get all the former members together and re-record an album just for myself! And maybe do a show for a laugh! God knows when though! Very busy with The Longsands at the mo!

It seems like The Longsands was grabbing attention almost from the start, was that the case?

Partly, live we have always performed well and drummed up fans but there are parts of the British music scene that I don’t think will ever warm to us.

It’s a funny old place – 2012 – for bands, but great music will pull through I hope and something has to give.  I have no doubt that there are tons of talented people out there, but for whatever reason it’s getting tougher and tougher for new artists to get noticed.

Now we have a record out though, no-one can argue with that and it’s getting to the stage now where we are getting in people’s faces whether they like us or not!  And I think whatever peoples’ initial thoughts, if you give this record the time it deserves you’ll love it!

Which are the major influences that shaped your personal musical directions and the band sound?

Musically, the most important band for me were Oasis. Without them I would not have picked up the guitar or wanted to be a songwriter.  They opened the door to a lot of other music as well.  The Stone Roses, The Jam and the most important band of all time, the Beatles.  As a 12 year old kid I would never have listened to a band my dad liked if Noel Gallagher hadn’t told me too!  I’m so pleased he did… We could go on and on – The Doors, Tom Petty, Neil Young…

More currently bands like The Streets and The Courteeners have made me really improve lyrically which I always thought was my weak point as a writer.

You have just released your new album Meet Me In Spanish City which we loved. What has been the early response towards it?

Unreal, let’s put this into perspective… We are an independent band with our own label.  We pay for the manufacturing, recording, touring, PR the lot! Our marketing budget wouldn’t buy you a pack of cigarettes at today’s prices!

We have had 3 five star reviews, Dave Stewart championing the record, plays by Bob Harris and Alex Lester on BBC Radio 2 and the response from fans on iTunes, Twitter, etc. has been fantastic. I always believed in the record but peoples’ comments really made the last 5 years feel worthwhile, and let’s be honest the fans are the real critics.  Let’s just hope enough people get to hear about it to fall in love with it.

Obviously as a band you had great confidence in the album but how much is that tempered by trepidation whenever you release something?

This is not the game to be in if you fear the response to something you do.  We write music for ourselves and hope others like it and we would never put out anything that we don’t think is good. I think our b-sides on the singles show that. You can’t worry about things like that. Obviously nerves are natural, you want things to do well and reviews to be good etc., but we are big boys and can take the rough with the smooth! I’m more worried if the fans think something is shit, but that’s not happened yet and the more you do good things the more belief you have in your music. I think that is natural!

How long was the album in the making?

It was written over a period of about 5 years with some songs being ones I’d had for years i.e. North South Divide and Worlds Collide. I spent about 6 months from summer 2008 to early 2009 with Stan writing the gaps so I was happy with every track.  We demoed and recorded it in about 4 months and produced it by the end of 2009 just before The Jam tour.

With record labels talking to our management and a debut album ready to go, we went into that major tour with high hopes.  We nailed that tour; we were brilliant probably better than them if I’m honest. But a few things out of our control occurred, and by the end of 2010 we had split with the management and had two deals go sour.  As you can imagine we were deflated and an old fan and friend of the band Steve Wraith of Player Inc events management offered us a no nonsense management deal.

We regrouped, and after following up a few leads decided to set up Unknown Soldier records and began releasing things.  We could have put the record out then but we wanted to test the water with a few single releases to get to grips with a side of the record industry we knew little about.  Both Little Britain and Streets and Pavements were released last year and helped us raise some funds to plough into the album release as well as contributions from our sponsors VW Pullman and DT contacts.  By early this year we set the release dates for June giving us time to organise everything. So far so good!

Did you have an exact outcome for songs which were realised going into the studio or did the tracks evolve as you were inside?

The songs were written and picked and we had played them all live, so everything we could do live went down 1st.

Obviously in the studio you can layer further tracks, so we were able to build on areas of guitar work, keyboards (which we don’t have live) and also percussion.  The producer also changed the rawness of the live takes with all the fairy dust and effects to make it sound like a proper record not a demo.

How does the songwriting happen within the band?

It’s mainly my bag at the moment, and Stan and I collaborate now and then, but that tends to be instrumentally. All the lyrics on the record are written by me. Trev is writing for the next record and has a couple of corkers up his sleeve as well! It’s nice, I hope the lads chip in more as long as the tunes are good enough they are all welcome to write.  The best songs will always be picked though, no matter who wrote them, there is no ‘you get 4 and he gets 4 ‘to keep it fair! Obviously, judging what are the best is where the fighting begins. They are fun sessions! Haha!

Your songs are infectiously anthemic is this a deliberate part of the songwriting or just how your music emerges organically?

There is nothing deliberate about any of my songs. An idea can start with a hook, a chord progression or a melody, and from there the creativity serves the song. If it’s an upbeat idea then you build on how it feels, if it’s a slower song then the music will have more dynamics and feel. I usually write the lyrics last, and they can be inspired by anything, from a headline I read in the paper to my own personal thoughts and feelings. Again the lyrical content matches the musical style.  If the song sounds anthemic it’s ‘cause it should do!

What is the biggest inspiration for your songs and lyrics?

It’s nothing specific.  As I said above I write about my own life and personal experiences sometimes but I try not to do this too much as I’m probably not that interesting!

I love politics, although we are not a politically driven band as such, I just like writing about current issues that affect us all.  Things you hear on the news, things that people react to. Sometimes people watching or conversations spring an idea. Quite often I will sing random words to a chord progression just to get an idea of the melody and then a line may stick. Streets and Pavements was like that, I had ‘and it’s happening all over’ in my head and then thought ‘what’s happening all over?’ That week I read 3 articles about knife crime in different parts of the UK and I found them shocking, worrying, and thought it was an important issue. I also tried to suggest some reasons as to why kids end up in gangs, as it was something I studied at university.

Are you a band which road tests your songs on stage before unveiling them in the studio or vice versa?

Other than maybe 1 b-side, we have always played things live before recording and releasing them. It’s not a rule, I think it’s just because this is our debut record and to drum up a fanbase you have to play live.  There may be a point where a record comes first and then a tour, once we are more established.

Is there any particular part of the album you are most proud of or feel things really hit the sweet spot for you personally?

The climax for me is where Trev sings ‘it’s just you-oo-oo-oo who can change the world’ on Let Love Rain On You. Hairs on the neck moment!

But they are all great songs, and everyone will have their favourites. A fan came up to me last week and said ‘This is the first album I can listen to back to back in a long time. I never skip a track!’ that made me a little bit pleased, as you can imagine!

You led up to the release of the album with the single Shut Your mouth, can you tell us about the song and its inspiration?

I could but it might split the band up! Our video company came up with an idea of domestic violence against men after reading the lyrics and listening so we ran with that for the video. But really it’s about another band member who I was really angry with a few years back!  It was only for a day or so and was written in the heat of the moment, so is not really a true reflection of how I feel about him! Thoughts and moods are temporary and change quickly, but songs stay in that moment forever so should never be taken too seriously! I think it has great attack for it though and you can really feel the intensity. Songwriting is often a great way to make something positive come out of anger and frustration, and helps you deal with stuff. Just for the record, we are all mates now!

Amongst your continually growing army of fans you have the likes of Steve White of The Style Council and Bruce Foxton of The Jam as notable followers the latter of the two inviting you to be the main support for The Jam’s winter tour in 2009 as you mentioned before. Do you know how he came across you and how inspirational was the tour?

First of all let’s just clarify that Bruce has never ‘came across me’ !  If you mean where did he hear about us, it was through Russell who is the singer in From The Jam.  He saw us live and recommended we contact their agent and that was that.  We had a great tour and made a lot of friends.

You have gained a great reputation for your live shows; you are a band that ensures all have a good time as much as simply hearing great songs?

I’m not really sure! We don’t really do much apart from play and sing our songs as well as we can!  We are not the type of band who has visuals or jumps about, but it doesn’t stop the crowd going for it! Guess you could say we let the music do the talking!

Please tell us about the series of sporting challenges videos you have made ‘The Longsands Challenges’. How did the idea of those come about?

It wasn’t really planned as a series, it just kind of happened! We knew we were playing at the Tyson event and Trev suggested we try a PR stunt.  We were having a round of golf and we were in the trees looking for a ball (as usual). Trev was under a conker tree and said that’s it I’ll fight him at conkers, thinking it was a very English game and he would find it quite random! Which he did! He wouldn’t let anyone have the conker after he was besotted with it!  The response was so good to the clip that we contacted other sports stars and once Tyson has done something everyone wants a crack! He’s over in the UK again this year, so the re-match may be on! Who knows!?

Was it easy to get the likes of Ricky Hatton, Steve Harmison, Shay Given and Mike Tyson involved?

Yeh they are all contacts of our manager, Steve. His sports events company use these guys a lot for charity do’s and so we were lucky we had their details!  They still had to agree to it tho’ and we thank them all for being up for a laugh!

Did you sell them a copy of the album too?;)

The winners got a free one! Sorry Shay!

Will this be an on-going thing if the opportunity arises or was just part of the album build up?

Like I said, it wasn’t really planned but worked well in the build up!  At the end of the day we are a band and it’s mainly about the music, but our style of music sits well with sport and sports fans for some reason.  We won’t continue to flog a dead horse just for a bit of cheap PR though as it would not be interesting! People would have to demand more, and if our fans are enjoying something and it’s helping push the music to new places, then never say never!  I think the Tyson rematch is most likely, as Trev has been winding him up on Twitter!

Are you all sporting fans?

Yeh, all Newcastle Fans and fans of most sports really!

What s next for The Longsands?

2nd single out at the beginning of September, hopefully with 4 big UK tour supports and just work our way up the ladder with radio, press, etc.  We are also working on a new record in between everything and releasing a live DVD for Christmas.

Again thank you for sharing your time

Have you any last words for the readers?

Just thanks for reading and hopefully listening! The word is spreading and we need their help to get out there and tell the world about The Longsands :-)

And lastly did anyone take ‘a dive’ out of fear of facing Mike Tyson in conkers? :)

No, but Gaz bottled British Bulldog against the Newcastle Falcons due to a shoulder injury!

Read the review of Meet Me In Spanish City @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/the-longsands-meet-me-in-spanish-city/

The Ringmaster Review 08/07/2012

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The Longsands: Meet Me In Spanish City

Passionate, anthemic, and with a life honesty the debut album from UK rock band The Longsands is a mesmeric and deeply impressive release. Meet Me In Spanish City from a solid initial approval eventually within a few more plays took a slow but deep hold of the heart to emerge as one of the more impressive and essential albums to come out this year. It is an eleven track slice of realism in a musical world swarming with heartless and photoshop blended presences. The Longsands offer a striking and impassioned blend of rock, pop, and indie sounds brought through an open window of truth and thought to realise the everyday trials and lives of us all.

The Newcastle quintet have built a strong following in the North of England and made inroads across the UK with their unforgettable sounds and live shows drawing the attention of the likes of Steve White (The Style Council) and Bruce Foxton of The Jam, who The Longsands supported on a winter tour, amongst an ever growing fan base. Meet Me In Spanish City is destined to be the trigger igniting a nationwide affection as its addictive body and irrepressible soul is discovered.

There is a great humour to the band and their work which fully endears and was in great evidence with a recently started viral internet campaign called The Longsands Challenges which saw the band challenging sports stars to games such as a conker fight with Mike Tyson and darts with Ricky Hatton. Listening to the album one can see the tongue in cheek attitude of the band though it never detracts from the cutting and direct lyrics and ideas within songs.

The album opens with the instantly compulsive Worlds Collide. The song loiters in the ear at the start with the vocals of Trevor Cox stealing the attention from the undemanding sounds around him. Slowly essences add to and wrap around his excellent vocals in the form of the additional pleasing voice of David Stanyer who also alongside fellow guitarist Ian Barnes explores the track with fine and concise play. The song does not ignite the touch papers but is a strong and impossible to resist as an entry to the album.

The mighty and defiant Bully takes over next and instantly levels rise with its immense presence. The bass of Gary Ormston paces the song with a heavy shadowed essence to spine the song alongside drummer Paul Stephenson who offers up a fighting heart to the song. With vocal harmonies enflaming the passions within a weave of stirring guitar invention the song incites a deep connection of thought and pleasure.

Every track has an anthemic pull and none so more so then Little Britain, a song which raises a fire within and again defiance in its stand. The song took a while to fully grab but turned into one of the most impressive on the album, its persuasion impossible to deny.  The following Street And Pavements is equally as powerful and contagious with a sprawling emotion and open declaration. With more than a spice of The Jam to it, the song is a melodically glowing guitar gem. Vocally it is a feverish joy involving all concerned whilst musically the song contrasts and blends its warm infectious imagination to the striking lyrical address.

First single from the album Shut Your Mouth which was released the first week of the month, reminds of eighties band The Mighty Lemondrops with its tumbling rhythms and scorched melodic and harmonic ingenuity. It is another irresistible piece of songwriting and musical invention marking the band as one of the most captivating and outstanding new bands.

There is not a weakness on the album with the likes of University Of Life with its sure swagger, the epic heart spawn Let Love Rain On You, and the blues rocker The Chance, all fanning the flames of delight as much as those earlier mentioned and other to be discovered.

Closing on the stunning emotive Spirals the album leaves one enthralled and glowing from the generous wealth of creativity and inspiring sounds. Meet Me In Spanish City and The Longsands have the ability and skill to turn great songs into passions and passages from a life we all know. They make it fun though keeping a light burning within shadows but most of all they feed the heart with real and immensely gratifying songs.

RingMaster 09/06/2012

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