The Lines interview – Robert Plant endorsed Midlands band talk touring North America and eating their greens

October 27, 2011
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The Lines - photo by Farid Singh, Music Vice

Midlands, UK band The Lines hit the headlines after Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant was quoted as saying “There aren’t many good bands coming out of Wolverhampton, just one great band called The Lines”. The Lines recently finished a touring stint with the notorious Pete Doherty and are gearing up for what looks to be a sold out show at Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton. The Lines caught up with Music Vice on the last night of their tour with Pete Doherty. Ngawara Madison sat with the boys backstage at London’s Brixton Academy to talk about their busy year of touring and whether they would eat more vegetables if Robert Plant told them they should!

MV: Hi everybody this is Music Vice sitting backstage at the 02 Academy in Brixton, London with ‘The Lines’! Okay so can you guys introduce yourselves?

Paddy: Im Paddy and Im the drummer.
Alex: Im Alex and Im front.. guy!
Dean: Im Dean and Im the guitarist..

And he looks like a ‘Dean’ too!
{Laughter}
Danny: Im Danny and I play Bass guitar..

The band just got off stage and you were absolutely fantastic! I really enjoyed a moment where all of a sudden there was this very ‘special’ drum playing going on. You’re from Wolverhampton. Where is Wolverhampton? Can you explain in basic terms...

Alex: It’s the heart of England!

I was reading an article in the Metro [UK Newspaper] the other day that was talking about how theres different musical scenes that trace their origins back to different geographical areas. You could say for example New Orleans has the jazz and the soul kinda side of things; obviously Nashvilles going to have country music… and then it came up and they said that they reckon the Midlands is one of the main areas where you can trace back Rock… especially the harder side of British rock…

Alex: Sabbath…
Dean: Slade.

… And it all comes from that area of England. So that does lead me to what I was going to mention. Obviously it comes up quite a lot that you have a particular ‘celebrity’ fan.. Robert Plant. Hes been known to say some rather nice things about you guys.

Alex: He said [Dean] he looks like a Dean

{Laughter}

Its the best compliment you can give someone! … So Robert Plant! You cant argue with him. That guy has a certain stature. Hes probably one of the most, if not THE most influential rock artists there is.

Paddy: Well I won’t talk to people who don’t like Zeppelin

Well he certainly stands by the fact that you guys know what you’re doing and he likes the way you sound. How do you feel about that kind of pressure upon you though? Are you okay with being ‘the band that Robert Plant made this comment* about’? Do you find that puts extra pressure on to you?

Alex: We’re all pretty okay with it!
Danny: Its quite a nice thing to say really…
Dean: Its good to have that pressure on you so you don’t sorta just sit back and..

Get lazy?

Dean: Yeah, get a bit lazy. We’re constantly sorta working at it. Its good.
Paddy: I suppose when you’re writing new music, you want each song to be better than the last one; so having that sort of extra pressure is only a good thing.

I suppose its kinda like being a child and you’re at school and your parents expect you to be a high achiever..

Alex: Hes not a pushy parent [laughs]

He’s not a pushy parent – he’s not ringing you up being like –

Dean: “Oy have you learned that riff yet?”
Alex: Yeah sending us to bed early…
Paddy: You cant have your supper till you’ve done your practice – and finish your greens!
Alex: Brain Food!

At the same point though, if Robert Plant did ring you up and say that you should probably eat more vegetables do you think you would?

{laughter}
Paddy: Yeah
Dean: Yeah probably

I find him very interesting because obviously hes got Zeppelin, the band that is ridiculously huge; but he has also gone off and done solo work at this later part of his life. He did a couple of collaborations with one of my favourite singers, a bluegrass singer called Alison Krauss…

Band: Yeah.

Do you remember hearing that?

Paddy: That must have been the album before he done Big Easy.
Danny: The Band of Joy… Apparently The Band of Joy is one of the first musical things he ever did. So he has actually gone back.

So what would you say as far as collaborating? You get these bands these days that are more known for their collaborations than they are for their actual music. Would you collaborate with another band or do you find that your style or your sound doesn’t allow this?

Dean: Yeah we’d be open to it. Yeah definitely open to it.. always open to working with somebody else.

What about genre-wise? Have you got a safe zone?

Paddy: I really enjoy some of the dance remixes that people have done for us. And because we’re all quite into our dance music as well so..

Oh really? Cool…

Alex: Yeah we’re all into different genres and some of the dance remixes that have been done they sound really really good. So Id be open to trying to do more stuff like that.

That’s actually quite a big scene at the moment, no? Taking that raw band sound, but then combining it with the electronic music.. and I suppose once you play a song loads its a nice change. What would be the song that you would say you’ve played the highest number of times out of your repertoire?

Alex: Possibly “Domino Effect”…

That was one of the singles wasn’t it? When did you guys release that?

Dean: Yeah, we released that song through Robert Plants studio label on like a 10 inch vinyl. We’re going back a few years.
Danny: That’s the main acoustic one… but I think recently, we’ve been doing a lot more dance music.
Alex: Not necessarily dance, but more upbeat. We’ve got a load more songs that are just as good [as “Domino Effect”] now.

Yeah that’s good otherwise people would be coming along to the same gig a hundred times…

Paddy: Even when we’re on tour we’ll often only decide the songs we’re performing as we go on stage.

Really? Okay I haven’t heard of that done before. Who’s scribbling out the set list and stapling it to the floor?

Danny: We don’t. I think we just play it.

What you turn around and there’s a particular ‘wink’ that means a particular song is next?

{Laughs}
Danny: Yeah I guess we just see how its going..

Feeling the crowd?

Dean: Yeah. Sometimes it’ll be dance-y, some times itll be kinda like drum and base, sometimes itll be acoustic funk-y. So its good we’ve got a bunch of different genres in there..

So do you say you have a particular group of people that are mainly attracted to your music? Like do you have a niche as far as you are concerned?

Paddy: No not really I think its very broad based. I mean we’ve got people who are properly properly into metal who have gone to our gigs and theyd usually slate any ‘indie’ band under the sun just ’cause they’re indie…

Those are the best characters to convert!

Danny: Itll be like an accomplishment!
Alex: Its always nice if they go “Its not my sort of thing but it was good!”

Just respect I suppose?

Alex: Yeah yeah I suppose. I think we’re trying to do our own sound anyway so it doesnt matter. Theres not a lot of bands out that do it these days, yeah theyre all sort of..

Copycats…

Dean: Yeah Im thinking and I can only think of bands that have been out and done it in the nineties that are especially unique.

A lot of our readers, the ones who subscribe to blogs, twitter and stuff like that; are Canadian but we have people in Australia and England and all over the place. Thats the joys of the world wide web I suppose! I know that you guys… went over to Canada earlier this year and that you played the Canadian Music Week this year, and also South By South West. Have you gone over to the States much as well? You did some business… It was in New York wasnt it?

Paddy: Yeah we did Canadian Music Week, and then travelled down to New York… did two days there and then travelled down to Austin for South by South West and then back up to New York, rounding off the trip with one or two gigs in New York..

Which got pretty good reviews I must add… I was reading a couple. People were quite upbeat about you.

Dean: Yeah it was really nice actually. We got in some well thought of reviews there.
Paddy: And what we were talking about earlier, the difference when we play over there. It went really well. Somtimes you can play in England, in London; and its just, pah…

Bland? There’s something about London; theres such an overflow of bands. I think it takes a lot to get people excited.

Paddy: I think that in America the fact that we’ve got a bit of an “accent” just adds…

It does help doesnt it?

Paddy: Just a little bit, theres that “newness” to it..

Well maybe you’re one of the leading ones as I was saying to the “next British invasion”, cos it does seem to be a trend that happens. Every now and then North America seems to get really into the British “image and illusion”, and the accents are going to go far I think…

Alex: I don’t know about the Midlands accent!
Dean: Yeah you always get it when you go to different countries where you talk and people go “Ah your accents brilliant!”

So you’re saying the difference between American and the UK. You get more enthusiasm on the American edge because you guys are new or foreign?

Dean: Yeah, well a bit; maybe because as you say, in England we’re a British band, in Britain; so there’s so many bands; but when you go abroad it means more.

How do people compare? Did you get some groupies there or any kind of ‘hanger on-ers’ over that side of the pond?

Dean: We’ve got James and Libby
Paddy: We got Texas Pete!

Texas Pete?

Danny: When we turned up at South by South West we had to go the hard way. One guitar amp and some bits and bobs of the drum kit so that Al could do the drum off at the end of the set and we got chatting to a couple of people in the queue who were with us – and it was a massive queue; it took us about three hours.
Alex: Five hours.
Dean: Stupid!
Paddy: We just kept going over the road to get more beers and just left James, our manager, in the queue. But we got chatting to quite a few of the people around us and they came to the show and the gig, the first one… and the second one… and the third. They came to as many as they could. And it was this one chap, Pete; he drove to the house we were staying at on his way back, like as he was leaving Texas; he drove by the house we were staying at just to say goodbye and everything. It was quite sweet.
Danny: Yeah and also there was a band that were in Texas and we all stuck together. After we did our set in Austin we went back to the gig in New York and they came to see us and stayed with us our last night in America.

Proper camaraderie. That’s cool.

Dean: Yeah, so it was cool.

So you’ll stay in touch with them?

Dean: Actually Gus the guitarist from that band just messaged me on facebook today to say hi

Aww… Facebook buddies thats nice!

Alex; We’ve got friends we made our first time in New York who we saw when we were last back.

Dean: It’s quite sereal really to say ’cause New York is such a big place but when we’re playing its like we’ve already got a bit of a following there… following/friends there.
Danny: Yeah and everyone was kinda jumping up and down. We spoke to a lot of people round there and I said ‘that never happens in England’ , like new bands getting that response. But we had people jumping around and dancing.

Sounds rawcous! So you guys are now with Amboy Road records now. Congratulations on that. You’ve supported bands like The Killers, Maccabees, Charletans, and a whole load of different other ones… and tonight at Brixton your supporting Pete Doherty.
You’ve managed to support bands from different genres and styles. When you think about your memories, what’s the lineup that you really just prize?

Dean: Thats a tricky one.. I mean in terms of venues and stuff um the venue we played when we were supporting Ash. In terms of a night that was a big one. Walking out on that stage was amazing.
Alex: We also supported Iain Browning that was a good one. That was a place called The Paradiso.

Huge floor that one.

Dean: Yeah absolutely huge. I think that was one of mine..

Thats your choice?

Dean: Yeah my fondest…

Ngawara: Okay gosh I feel like we could talk music for hours but we are going to have to wrap this one up now! Thanks so much for chatting with Music Vice and all the best for the year ahead and your home show in December. Keep us posted when you hop back over the pond to Canada!

© Ngawara Madison, Music Vice

For those living in the UK and interested in catching the bands homeground show; be sure to book tickets before they sell out!  The Lines play Wulfrun Hall, Saturday 3 December 2011. Tickets priced £9.50 are  available from Midland Box Office, on 0870 320 7000 or online at www.wolvescivic.co.uk.

Exclusive photos of The Lines at 02 Academy, Brixton courtesy of Farid Singh (iSnap by Farid):


The Lines – “Glorious Aftermath” music video:

Internet links:
The Lines

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