Interview: By the Rivers

By The Rivers Beach July 2013_1Young British reggae band By the Rivers are causing quite a stir. The six-piece from Leicester have already toured with The Specials, released 2 EPs and a self-titled debut album, and been described as “future stars of the Pyramid Stage” by BBC Glastonbury. Lead singer Nile, drummer Jordan, and keyboard player and guitarist Sam are currently touring as a three piece; playing acoustic shows with just their guitars and a melodica for company.

Following a busy day shooting a music video, DrunkenWerewolf’s Lucy Bows chats to By the Rivers to find out more before their acoustic show at the Golden Lion on Gloucester Road, Bristol.

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Hi guys! What’s your back story, how do you form a reggae band in Leicester?

Nile: It started with me and Jordan a few years ago. We’ve always been well into reggae music, and it was always something we wanted to try out. So, we just got together and started writing a few songs, and then it went from there.

What bands were you listening to?

N: Not just reggae, but the reggae influences were Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley, that kind of stuff, but all sorts really.

You’ve been labelled ‘new age reggae’ - is that a good description of what you’re doing?

N: Probably more British reggae.Sam: There was a time when a few people described us as that, we went with it for a bit and that was purely down to it being hard to describe our kind of music to people - saying it’s reggae without certain things popping into people’s heads straight away. I think if we describe our sound now we’d tell people it’s British reggae music. That’s as straightforward as we can be.

There are normally six of you in the band - why an acoustic tour?

N: It’s something that we’ve not really done before and we wanted to try out. We’ve got a few new songs so we thought we’d introduce them acoustically first, just to kickstart the year. We’ve got a full band tour planned for March time, so it’s just easing us back into touring.

You’ve done one acoustic date so far - what was the response from the crowd like? And is it different to when you play as a six?

N: Definitely different because it’s a stripped down version of what we are. When we do the full band stuff it’s a full on show, and we still try and keep it that way when we’re acoustic, but it’s more of an intimate kind of vibe. More chilled out, relaxed, and just having a laugh with it. So hopefully people enjoy it.

You spent the day doing a video shoot for "Vulture". What’s that been like? Is it fun?

Jordan: Yeah, it’s been a really good day. We had 3 hours sleep last night and got up at 6am, but it’s been wicked! We’ve been at it all day, I think we’re feeling a bit tired now but as soon as we’ve had a beer and some food we’ll be alright.S: The place was wicked, the studio was amazing. We’re aren’t going to give away too many secrets but we had some creatures in there with us…

So where are the other guys this evening?

N: They’re going home. We’ve done the video shoot today, and they’re all heading back to Leicester.

They didn’t want to stick around?

S: No, they’re not really fans of the band! Not really into the music [laughs].

Have you ever played in Bristol before?

N: Yeah quite a few times. This’ll be the first time we’ve played here acoustically. We’ve done a few full band shows here, and we’ve got one coming up again on our full band tour, in May I believe.

What can people expect from your acoustic performance?

S: Fireworks. Just pure raunchy lyricism and acoustic…N: Madness!

That’s quite a quote!

N: Can we take that back?S: It’s just really good fun. We always have fun on stage, but we do a lot of talking in the acoustic shows, and it turns into a bit of a comedy show sometimes.N: It gives us a chance to work on our one liners.

You’ve been compared to The Specials - is that something you’ve heard a lot?

N: Yeah we have. We actually toured with them a few years ago, so I think there’s always been that connection. We were inspired by The Specials, so there’s probably some sort of element of that in our sound. With them being a British, reggae, 2 tone ska band there’s probably going to be certain similarities. And the fact that we sing in an English accent.

So is that a compliment?

N: I’d say so, yeah. We love The Specials. They were a great band to tour with because it was our first experience of anything on that scale, and it was ridiculous playing to 10,000 people a night. They gave us some good advice. All bands that we’ve played with have. It’s good because you’re just constantly learning.

Finally, could you each give me one word to describe By The Rivers?

N: What have you got Jordan?J: One word? I don’t know, Sam you start us off.S: Hungry. Right now, hungry, tired.N: Music.

Hungry tired music?

N: The best kind of music.S: Indefensible.J: Is that a word? Never heard of it.N: It is now if it wasn’t!S: Can’t defend ‘em, always doing good things.J: Hungry indefensible... music.N: Hey, you can’t rob mine!J: Too late! Fun loving.N: That’s two words.J: We’ll turn it into one. Fun-loving.S: Criminals.

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