Brighton’s Newest Stadium Heroes
Life looks pretty good from the stage of Brixton Academy, as the Lyrebirds discovered last month. Just one of the dates on a hugely successful tour with The Maccabees, many new bands would struggle to fill the massive room but, still to release their debut single, the Lyrebirds widescreen gloom swelled out of the speakers like a massive wall of sound. Their Interpol-filtered-through-post-Joy-Division-80s-raincoat-pop slayed the crowd. The band have never lacked the confidence but even they must have beside themselves with fear.
“We loved it,” says singer Adam. “Our music is designed for bigger venues so strangely we feel more comfortable doing that. It was an incredible night. We knew how much it meant to The Maccabees to do it, so for us to be asked to do it was a real privilege.”
As just one of a handful of experiences that a band so young shouldn’t have had yet, it’d be easy to expect frustration at the slog around small venues with shitty soundsystems that can’t cope with their huge sound. The Lyrebirds don’t sound like a band that are going to miss playing the Princess Charlotte when they’re headlining Wembley Stadium – intimacy definitely takes a back seat to widescreen emotional storms.
“We’ve played Brixton and we’ve played Hyde Park but one of my favourites we’ve played was our first headline gig in Brighton, at New Hero,” reckons Adam. “The stage was like playing on a soapbox but the atmosphere and the energy was just brilliant. Our songs are big, and epic in parts – to get that across in a small venue can be quite hard. We’re getting there though.”
“It’s about getting the energy across in the small venues,” adds Jackson. “Where you’d have space in the bigger venues – and the space in our sound is really important – in the smaller venues we’ll sacrifice that for an energy. And that’s equally as good I think.”
Apparently the immense sound came fully formed right at the start of the band’s life, and completely by accident. It’s merely the sum of the parts but it very much serves a purpose. There was no danger – even at their earliest gigs – of the band being talked over.
“Whether people like it or not, they have to fucking listen,” Adam smiles.
It certainly seems to be working on both large and small stages, as their gig at this year’s Great Escape saw them invited to play on the same bill as Neil Young at Hyde Park. Adam and Jackson wandered up the day before to see their heroes Echo & The Bunnymen play on the same stage they were going to play on the next day. When the Lyrebirds struck their first chords about a hundred people were there. Jackson remembers looking up after the third song and seeing thousands.
“That was the first proper moment I thought, ‘Wow, we’re actually doing this,'” says Adam. “It’s different from playing smaller venues because when you finish a song and there’s so many people you can actually feel it coming towards you, like a wave of appreciation. It’s overwhelming at first, but that’s what we want to do.”
But it’s not just live that the band are succeeding. Their debut single Closer is a purposeful dirge of bittersweet, atmospheric longing. For a band whose sound is clearly such an important element, getting the right producer is paramount. The Lyrebirds went straight to the top and bagged arguably the best knob twiddler of the last 25 years, Stephen Street of Blur and – more importantly – The Smiths fame. Mr Street (we have to show the proper respect here) had heard their demo and “really, really liked it” according to Adam. The Lyrebirds have similar respect for the Chess Club label and wanted their first single to come out on it. Chess Club is run by Mr Street’s son and well, if you don’t ask you don’t get. Street Senior is keen to do the next single and even an album, if the opportunity were to arise.
“He’s really enthusiastic and he thinks we’re a really, really good live band,” explains Adam. “It’s flattering.”
“That was the first time we got a chance to properly record, to sit down with one song and do the best that we can,” says Jackson. “We’re really chuffed with the way it came out. He definitely had a big impact. He’s made it sound a lot more polished and a lot more ‘radio’.”
So it seems like the Lyrebirds have got it all sewn up then. Big sound, big gigs, big friends. Next up, the big time.
Limited 7″ of Closer released Mon 30th
Single launch party TBC (“should be free, maybe at New Hero”)