AfterDark’s Dean Hodge speaks to James Cairns from Cold Committee, one of this year’s Horizons 2015 artists.
As the old saying goes, ‘rock ‘n’ roll will never die’. While the rock genre is quite far from dead, it lately seems to be in a prolonged state of hibernation, lurking in the shadows as a wind of soulless, manufactured-pop blandness sweeps across the musical plain.
Where there is a gust of third-rate Ed Sheeran wannabes or mediocre Arctic Monkeys offshoots, there is always a wave of frustrated young men with guitars to counterbalance it. But while there are plenty new bands making a big noise, it doesn’t seem to be getting heard by the masses. Rock itself is in a current state of deep freeze, slowly being preserved for when the time arises for it to reignite in the mist.
One of its torch bearers may have just arrived in the form of four North Walian lads who together form Cold Committee. Possessing a love for back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form along with a disdain with the bland scene around them, they have decided to do something about it by picking up instruments, learning a few chords and writing great tunes.
Possessing towering riffs, soaring melodies and sinewy vocals, they match it all with an unbounded cockiness that would make even the most hardened cynic blush –and impressed a certain Liam Gallagher and Miles Kane enough for both of them to invite the lads to open for them on tour.
Now as one of the selected acts for this year’s Horizons, delivered by BBC Wales and Arts Council Wales, Cold Committee are ready to break through the pearly gates of the musical attic and establish themselves as the real deal, in the process bursting open the floodbanks for rock to sail through on its arc. AfterDark’s Dean Hodge speaks to James Cairns – guitarist and backing vox for Cold Committee – about their plans for the year ahead.
DEAN: First of all, congratulations on being selected for Horizons. What do you hope this will bring for the band?
JAMES (CC): This year, for us, is all about just taking any opportunity that comes our way and getting our music out there. It’s hard to say what will happen within the next year. We’ve just got to work hard to get as much as we can out of this and enjoy the adventure ahead.
DEAN: Are any of you already familiar with some of this year’s other Horizons artists?
JAMES (CC): At the start of March, we played with Cut Ribbons and Delyth McLean and they’re really good. But that’s as far it goes. We haven’t known any of the other artists before, but that’s what great about Horizons, in that it’s latching you on to new artists you likely wouldn’t have heard otherwise. It’s going to be great to tour and get to see all the other artists.
DEAN: You already released the EP ‘Masquerade’. Is there another new release in the pipeline?
JAMES (CC): There are definitely plans to do another three or four-track EP and it’s just deciding a studio where to record it. The songs we recorded have a real summery vibe to them, and are crying out for a summer release and to be blasted full volume at any festival sets we do, so hopefully we will have something done by then.
We uploaded two rough demos to our SoundCloud earlier this year to give our fans some fresh material to listen to while we finish recording them. Even in their demo form, there is a raw energy to the songs that really shines through.
DEAN: One of the demos is Ghosts which has already received a glowing review from AfterDark. Is that a possible candidate for the next single?
JAMES (CC): We recorded the demo in under a day, and we were instantly thinking among ourselves that it would be a definite contender for our new single. Musically, it defines where we want to go as a band, and everything else we’ve recorded since has measured up to whether it is as good as Ghosts.
Rather than try and finish it now in time to release it as the next single, we want to preserve it for the time being so we can perfect it when the time is right. It will still be a constant feature in our sets.
DEAN: In terms of the songwriting process, is there a singular writer in the process or as a group do you just bounce ideas off each other?
JAMES (CC): Jordan [Samuel] writes all the lyrics and then we all just take it from there and work out musical parts around that. It’s a collaborative effort.
DEAN: You’ve already been approached by Beady Eye and Miles Kane to support them on tour. Has playing in the company of such big acts given you an extra dose of confidence?
JAMES (CC): It was very sudden for us as prior to those shows, we’d only been together for two years, and to be asked by the likes of Beady Eye and Miles Kane to play for them is pretty much living the dream.
Right from the beginning of our band though, we’ve always been confident in ourselves and in our ability. We’ve never shied away from any opportunity that is presented to us.
But to play on such a massive stage does give us that extra dose of belief. We grow with confidence after every gig we play really, and that is what our music is about which is the live element.
DEAN: You do have a ‘live’ feel to your sound. Does playing in a live setting feel more natural to you than recording in a studio?
JAMES (CC): The whole idea of basically been lumped together in a room and instructed to lay down all the different parts for a song is something that just doesn’t feel organic to us. That’s not what we’re about. Our music has to maintain our ‘live’ energy because that is the force that drives our songs.
DEAN: Taken that into consideration, would a live album or EP be on the cards?
JAMES (CC): Until this point, we’ve not had these opportunities to be able to do all this. Everything has escalated for us in the past few months, and being selected for Horizons has taken things up a couple of gears for us.
It’s something we wanted to do for a long time but it’s hard where we’re from because there isn’t many people around we know who could help us bring it to fruition, and we’ve very much just had to do everything for ourselves at the start of the band. If we do ever do it, we want to make it as perfect as it should be. We don’t ever do anything half-baked.
DEAN: With the band coming from the towns of Prestytan and Rhyl, was it difficult growing up in an area where there isn’t much happening in the way of live music, or any reminiscence of a scene?
JAMES (CC): It’s funny because even though we’re from North Wales, most people there haven’t even heard of us because we’ve never played there. We’ve had to go to places outside Wales such as Manchester and Liverpool to play proper gigs. Where we are, there’s no proper venues with the exception of Central Station in Wrexham.
When we first started out, we hardly ever played covers at all and went straight into writing and performing our own songs. We’re weren’t a ‘pub’ band basically – which is probably why we struggled to find gigs in North Wales to play.
It’s strange that when we left North Wales, we seemed to be one of the only bands there, but now more seemed to have sprung up.
DEAN: Cold Committee have arrived at a time when other guitar bands seem to be springing up in Wales including Houdini Dax, Pretty Vicious, and Catfish and the Bottleman. Rock, in general, seems to be regaining popularity amidst a manufactured pop-dominated landscape.
Do you feel CC are riding on the cusp of a growing musical wave reverberating from Wales?
JAMES (CC): I think guitar music is probably doing better than ever now and even though it’s not reflected in the charts, if you bother to go out to your local venues there are always new guitar bands coming up. Particularly in Wales, there are more bands here than usual such as Houdini Dax and Pretty Vicious. Whether it’ll lead to anything remains to be seen but the catalyst for a homegrown scene is there.
DEAN: Do you think the music scene in Wales has what it takes to get bigger?
JAMES (CC): It only really takes one band from Wales to get big, and inspire a whole host of other bands to do the same and set a scene in motion. There’s a healthy amount of bands and artists coming from Wales now and the important thing is they’re all good!
That’s what Horizons is about really, which is broadcasting real ‘homegrown’ music to a wider audience. It’s great that on this year’s Horizons, there is a strong representation of guitar bands, as well as a broad scope of musicians.
DEAN: As previously mentioned, you were approached by none other than Liam Gallagher to support Beady Eye on tour? How do you sum up the first thoughts that went into your head when you first met him?
JAMES (CC): It was just mad really as all of us are massive fans of Oasis and they’re a primary influence on our music. Our manager at the time just sent our demos to him, and he responded saying how much he dug them and later invited us to play a few gigs in his Pretty Green stores as well as with Beady Eye. Having Liam Gallagher, one of our musical idols, go up to us and say that he was into our music was just really cool.
DEAN: If you had one other musical hero you would like to meet, who would it be and why?
JAMES (CC): Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, because we take a lot of inspiration from them. It would just be cool to meet him and see what he had to say for himself!
DEAN: Any advice CC would impart onto other bands who are starting out?
JAMES (CC): Just pick up an instrument, buy a van, go around and play as many shows as you can!
Find out more about Cold Committee and this year’s Horizons 2015 artists here.
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