DIY bands and artists are great for a music scene. They’re the glue cementing the building blocks of a society of men and women who congregate in the little venues easily mistaken for dodgy pubs unless you are… in the know. Leeds has a fair few DIY bands, artists and promoters – without the work of Richard Watson at the 360 Club, there’s many a band that would not get the time of day in Leeds. However, what does DIY actually mean? Technically, it translates as ‘Do It Yourself’, and you’re probably wondering why there’s even a need to explain it, but to really get into the mind set of these bands, it’s important to understand that fun and games and a great deal of hard work goes into being successful.
As a journalist, when you start out meeting bands, you end up asking them questions about their influences and aspirations. As lame and overused as they sound, it soon became clear that asking these questions made them think. These guys have clear visions – real passion for music and creating it…They didn’t care whether it was just their mums watching their set at a local pub, they really enjoyed the idea of playing music they had created, in a place which wasn’t their bedrooms, making a few heads nod while holding two fingers up to the mainstream. I know this has been going on for years and probably said as many times as there are bands dancing on the head of snare drum, but you don’t go into this for the money.
The idea of being in a band is incredibly fashionable and idolised by many, but it takes real strength to make it work. Spending a lot of time with the same humans for a considerable amount of time is half the battle…the other, gaining likes on Facebook. And with that in mind…
Treason Kings, DIY Alternative rock quartet from Leeds, met up with me to talk about the band, their DIY approach and most importantly, the release of their single
‘Your Suit’ a AA-Side Single released on 24th April. The band, made up of Harry Scott (Vocals/Guitar), Sam Wood (Backing Vocal/Guitar), Matt Levy (Bass) and Rob Carruthers (Drums) are an interesting bunch. Living under one roof in a houses with a half collapsed basement and boasting a highly suspect record collection the four men spend a heck of a lot of time with each other with pros and cons attached.
It’s clear that bands are always trying to find new things that work, new developments and new paths to take, and these can meet with varying levels of success… and failure. With Treason Kings living under one roof, they do have one major advantage when it comes to developing their sound: the time to do it. Rob told me that having a home studio allowed them to set times to practise, but also to know that they could wander down to the basement 3 hours later or whenever without it being a problem – perhaps bands these days are too rushed with the pressures of time and money, and that’s why they disappear – perhaps… Treason Kings on the other hand seem pretty confident that their existence will continue for a long time.
Harry and Matt grew up together in Leeds, attending the same primary and high school listening to Usher and Craig David, idolising Biggie Smalls, eager to form an RnB collective – to make the cool kids jealous. Sadly though, after many attempts, Matt’s dreams were well and truly crushed when his dance moves took a turn for the worse and Harry handed him a guitar, pleading with him to learn a few AC/DC tracks.
Matt:“Me and my friend were going to this youth group thing because we knew some people who went, and we ended up getting tricked into going on a crazy religious retreat with them, which they sold to us as an outdoor activity weekend; we were thirteen at the time. This crazy religious boot camp, let’s say, had a band there! Me and this guy Joel, our very first singer, decided to start a band, and that’s when we came back and I told Levy to start learning the bass. The Christian rock band did covers of the Friends theme tune, even though they weren’t cool in the slightest, we were like ‘woah, that was really good’, so then we wanted to be in a band. Sam came along much later after answering an advert we’d put up in Music Ground so from around 2008-9, Me, Matt, and Sam formed a band together called Black Water and played for a couple of years with a different drummer. Sam was also in a band called Arizona Bay with Rob at the time who he knew through Uni. Black Water broke up late 2011 because we kept having drummers quit on us which coincidently fell around the same time that Arizona Bay split up too – so we got Rob in to play drums and we formed Treason Kings.”
Treason Kings released their debut EP titled ‘Mother’ in January of this year, which is quite frankly a stunning piece of riff-age. Alt-rock is one of those genres that can approach a touch on the timid side. However, Treason Kings’ sound is a sound that jumps into your head first with no holding back. With the release of ‘Your Suit’ AA-SIde single, this fuelled the ever growing anticipation for the developments for the band.
‘Your Suit’ most definitely bites and attacks with a gradual build-up of atmospheric soundscapes creating a strong concoction of drama and suspense. With a post-rock feel, it wouldn’t go amiss to mention that you Oceansize fans out there should be taking a definite interest in the wonderful racket this foursome create. Second track, ‘Unless You’ll Be’ has a heavier drive to it, with faster and more ferocious stimulations rounding the AA-Side single off to be one heck of an entertaining ball of fire.
The single, recorded in the half-collapsed basement is a work of art. Textured perfectly with elements of experimentation and consistency Treason Kings can really put up a fight, presenting us with solid proof of a basement created single which can blow minds.
To go along with the single, the band released a self-shot interactive video to the second track ‘Unless You’ll Be’ using a GoPro camera placed on their heads to invite us in to the making of the single.
Sam: “We want to give people an insight into what we’re doing when we’re not out playing live; the video was filmed in our basement where the songs were written and recorded. It’s something different, something we think is creative and we hope people like it.”
Evidently so, and Treason Kings are definitely set to go places. Where they’ll end up though is unclear. It’s an exciting time to be in a band. The increase in vinyl consumption, the closeness you can get to a band through the use of social media and developments in technology that enable you to record yourself at home without it being financial suicide – it’s all good.
Matt: “I think it’s always better to be a good live band, to be better live than you are on CD whittling out the good bands from the over produced. This makes bands try a lot harder. I mean, that’s what happened at the start, people made music to be able to play it live and in front of people. It should always be about live stuff.”
Treason Kings are completely DIY- self-funded, self-released, self-everything. Therefore money is limited. However, there are little email gems from Bandcamp informing the band when people purchased their debut EP for an extra couple of quid. Rob: “We just received our first royalty for £27 from iTunes, we’ve been on there for about 2 years now!” Rock royalties? Who would have thought. It appears that Treason Kings find themselves in interesting times. Let’s see where they end up, shall we?
Originally written forVibrations
Filed under: Music