An array of colourful spotlights rain down onto the crowd of this beautifully indie venue creating a surreal atmosphere.
Two members of our WaveByte team were lucky enough to host an interview with the band before their London show. Will Wilkins accompanied by myself (Jamie Law) got the chance to ask the band some questions, which can be read here:
In this interview, WW stands for Will Wilkins, RC for Robert Cole and MH for Matt Hall.
WW // So, to begin, what does your band name mean?
RC // Well, it’s just ‘Little Comets,’ isn’t it? (laughs)
MH // Not an awful lot.
RC // It was probably the best of a bad bunch, we were pretty bad at coming up with band names.
MH // I’ve always thought the band makes the name, the name doesn’t make the band. If you look at band names across the board and take away what they’ve done musically, they’re all pretty crap. Look at The Beatles, not a great band name, but it is because of what they managed to do and how they’re known now.
RC // Yeah, exactly. Little Comets is still a bad band name
WW // And I’ve always wondered, how did you guys actually meet?
RC // Well, Mickey and I are brothers so… (laughs)
WW // Yeah, that one’s quite obvious. (laughs)
RC // Yeah we grew up in the same house.
MH // We met at a rehearsal
RC // Yeah like you always used to poke your head around the door like… “you alright?” … “yeah not bad, how are you mate?” and uh he was really nice.
WW // Did you all just figure out that you were all musically talented? Did you just say “Hey let’s have a jam together”?
RC // I’m still not that musically talented… but we always used to have dreams about being in a band together.
MH // Yeah so the drummer at the time, Mark, I told him “look I had a dream about you last night,” and he was like “Really? I had a dream about you last night.” We had the same dream about each other but, he was me and I was him. But it was the same dream.
RC // Do you remember he used to work at the green grocers? And he always used to come in with a random bit of fruit or veg? You never knew what he was gonna come up with next.
MH // Yeah, the best one was them purple carrots. Got a lot of purple carrots and just brought them into rehearsal.
RC // He used to challenge me, he was like ‘I’ll bring a bunch of ingredients and you have to make a meal round my house… like that one time he just bought courgettes, celeriac, and garlic? I was like, what am I meant to do with that? Make soup?
WW // So just to ask when did you guys have ‘that feeling’? The one where you knew you’d made it?
RC // Still waiting for it mate.
WW // Do you not feel it now?
RC // No, we just write songs and record ‘em and…
WW // You genuinely don’t think you’re a ‘successful’ band though?
MH // I think someone asked us about this the other day, like, ‘what is success.’? Like what defines it? Is success making loads of money? Or is success just being happy in your life? I think that’s how we probably define it.
RC // Don’t we do retrospectives where, like you can go either forwards or backwards, up or down a staircase… you don’t see what’s coming, you’re just always looking ahead. You’re always looking at what’s coming next. Like, there’s always lovely moments where you think ‘Oh, that was so cool.’ Like, for instance, playing the Academy in Newcastle. To be standing on the stage that we used to go and watch bands at… like that was a real lovely moment. But it wasn’t like..
MH // “Yeah!! We’ve arrived!!”
RC // … yeah like, that’s genuinely a nice thing to have done. So, we do have like, nostalgic moments. But it’s not often, so I don’t think I’d ever use that word, like, ‘success.’
WW // Yeah, I can’t argue with that. Very insightful stuff. So, Worhead came out last month, and it’s great, so really nice job there guys, but obviously your previous album Hope is Just a State of Mind came out in 2015. So do you have any plans for what’s next? Or will you just keep writing and seeing what sticks?
RC // Yeah, I think, we release the music ourselves so we don’t have like a label that requires a promo and an album in a certain amount of time, so we can pretty much do what we like. We’re confident that we have some good songs, and we want to record them soon, so we’ll probably get around to that sooner rather then later.
WW // Yeah, I hope so too! So, we have a couple of fun questions now to ask you, what is the funniest moment that’s ever happened whilst performing or on tour?
RC // Think the gig in Dundee might’ve been the funniest. There were about 20 people there and this guy was so drunk he couldn’t even stand, so he got a chair and just sat down in the middle of the gig. Just sat there for the rest of the gig, and we were like “… Right..”
MH // You lost it on stage didn’t you?
RC // Yeah, I just totally lost it uncontrollably.
WW // And Matt, have you got any funny moments?
MH // Not so much ‘funny’, but this one time I snapped a string on my bass, which is like really uncommon… I’ve only done it like twice in 8 – 10 years, but it was during a song called ‘Isles’, and it snapped at the end of the verse, so I was like ‘ah, man,’ panicked slightly, and went off stage, got a new bass, got retuned in a matter of minutes and just came back in for the next chorus like … “Cool, managed to make that one!”
WW // As a band, as ‘Little Comets,’ what’s kind of your inspiration? Like do you have any bands you kind of go ‘man I wish to be like them one day,’ or ‘Oh, we wanna make music just like them?’
RC // We don’t do that with the sound of our music, we don’t necessarily want to do the opposite but like… if you have a song, it’s your job to kind of translate the song well. The way you do that, the way we do that, is we think about how to make this song sound as good as it possibly can. Not like, ‘Ah! We could use that thingy from that song and put it here..’ do you know what I mean? It defeats the process for us, you’re defeating the zeitgeist almost.
WW // Sure, so to sort of change the question, what kind of bands do you listen too on a daily basis then?
RC // Uh… we like listening to a lot of old stuff… but not quite ‘old stuff’, like 60s, 70s, 80s
WW // So, ‘classic’ stuff?
RC // Yeah, there’s just so many good albums from back then. Like there’s the occasional modern thing, like I love Radiohead and Everything Everything.
MH // Yeah, I think I always end up listening to NWA. Like the other day, I was absolutely knackered and just put on ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ absolute classic. Such a good album. Like it’s got a load of hooks and lines from Dr Dre’s early kinda melody-making.
WW // And looking at your own music, what’s your favorite album or song that you’ve produced?
RC // I think it’s like… they’re all our little… children, like in a way?
WW // So you have no favorite, really?
RC // Yeah, like, certain songs may be better to play live at certain points in gigs but … I think each album is a fair representation of the way we were at that time, and those couple of years. That’s what I like about it… I don’t often put our own music on, but if I do then it just takes me back to that time… It’s probably a selfish way of looking at it, but I think it’s healthy to make music for whatever purpose you make it for, and for us that was the perfect way of expressing ourselves. And, that is ultimately a selfish way of making music, like if you’re just making it for yourself, but it happens to be an amazing byproduct that we’re making music for people, and people genuinely enjoy it. I think we have to keep it real, it can never be more complicated than two people sitting in a room writing songs, and then making those songs sound as good as they could possibly be.
WW // So, obviously, you guys are full-time musicians. In your experiences, what’s the best part of doing that as a job, and what’s the worst part?
RC // I think the best part is doing it as a job. You know, we get to be creative, we get to play with music and experiment. The worst part, you know, it has it’s down sides, it can be really frustrating at times. Often, there’s not a lot of logic involved on the industry side. Now, that can be really frustrating for a logical person because you think like, well… Festivals are a good example. Look at Latitude last year, Latitude told us they wouldn’t take us on because we’re “not a Latitude-type band…” like, I don’t know what that means? If you take a look at Latitude, at the whole point of Latitude, it’s in the title of the festival; it’s a wide variety of things across a wide range of art forms. So if you take a band, who is quite broad in terms of lyrical and musical content, isn’t a ‘Latitude-type’ band, then…
MH // Yeah, I’d really prefer if they just said they didn’t like us, (laughs), like I find that so frustrating.
RC // We’re pretty straight with people, and so you just hope that people can be as straight back to you, but that lack of honesty, I think the whole world needs to be a little more real.
WW // And, so Matt, do you agree with that? Or do you think there’s something else that’s the best thing?
MH // No I think that’s absolutely bang on. The highs are high, and the lows are really low. That’s kind of how it works.
WW // So is there one type of venue, or festival, that you look at and aspire to play at one day?
RC // No, like…
MH // No, not really,
RC // … we tend to find there’s no correlation between the size and prestige of a venue and our enjoyment of it? Like, it’s usually what just happens at a gig, or at a festival. Like, at a festival in New York called the Governor’s Ball, a few years ago, it was quality because it was in New York, we did the gig, and it was like… It was all a bit rushed, because they’re all on, but it was only until after, the next day in fact, that we thought ‘yeah yesterday was class,’ because several different things. Like the gig was good, yeah, we played well, people seemed to enjoy it. There wasn’t a lot of people there, but it was an enjoyable gig to play. Afterwards, we got a, like again, this is the thing about being in a band and all that stuff, we got to hang out with our mates, like our best mates, and just having a drink. We’re not big drinkers, but back there when we were just having a drink, playing that shuffleboard-thing, and just chatting, having a craic, it was just such a good day… but then again, the hangover the next day was not great (laughs,) because we’re not big drinkers, the hangover was pretty bad. But yeah, that day, and well the morning after, sums up being in a band for me. It’s class and then it’s, painful (laughs.)
WW // (Laughs,) Yeah, I get you. And obviously, we don’t want to keep you for too long as you need to get ready for the show. So just one final question; if a small indie band came up to you and said “Guys, you’re our heroes. We want to be like you,” what kind of advice would you give to them?
RC // Follow your heart. Like, I think instinct is very important. Always trust your instincts and never second-guess yourself. That’s one thing, like, know why you’re doing it. It’s very important. Don’t kid yourself. There are lots of reasons why people are in bands and why people write songs, with very different reasons. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘Oh, I want to write songs for money.’ If that is your true intention, go for it, because that works well. That’s one thing. If you’re a song writer, that’s what you’re doing. So, work, write songs, keep writing songs, then keep writing more songs. If it’s meant to be, it has nothing to do with how good you are, like it’s just got to do with whether the spotlight manages to shine on you at the right time. If it wasn’t for a guy called Steve Tilly, who showed Hugh Stevens one of our songs randomly, we might never have ‘got anywhere.’ We know plenty of people in the North-East who are amazingly talented people, but for whatever reason, they’ve just never been in the right place at the right time. The 1975 are an amazing example of this. Songs like ‘Sex’ and ‘Chocolate.’ People knew those songs within the industry for a good four or five years, but nobody wanted anything to do with them for whatever reason. Then, the planets aligned, and suddenly all those people decided that those were the songs they wanted to hear. I think they’re a great example of a band who persevered, did the rounds, were surrounded by people who believed in them. And essentially, the winds changed and that type of music became in. But they could’ve packed it in, but they didn’t. For every ‘The 1975’, there are loads of bands who we’ve never heard of, but so many talented people who… Like, okay, so you always hear people say ‘Oh, you never hear about people singing about issues on the radio,’ but it’s like, yeah, but the implication there should be people aren’t writing about these issues. What you should draw from that is, people who run radio stations don’t want that type of music on their radio. There are people out there who make fantastic music about a wide variety of issues, but they just haven’t got their shot yet.
WW // Well, thank you guys so much. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for doing this interview with us. It means quite a lot to us that we’re meeting you guys.
Before I go into Little Comets’ set, I would just like to give a special mention to Eliza and the Bear – the support act on the night. Unfortunately, we missed the majority of their set due to the interview but we did manage catch the last 10 minutes and they were insanely good, just like they are every time I have seen them previously.
Now, moving onto Little Comets. This tour was fresh from their release of new album ‘Worhead’ and my god, what a show they put on. They played songs, old and new that had the crowd gripped throughout – singing and dancing all the way through ‘Dancing Song’ to ‘Hunting’. It was clear the fans were fully on board with the new album the band had released. This notion of acceptance from the fans was one Robert Coles (frontman) was clearly relieved about, as throughout the show he would take the time to analyse the room full of people who were in complete and utter awe of himself and the band as a whole.
One thing from the interview which stood out to me, was when Coles spoke about the metaphorical spotlight shining on you and the subsequent discovery. Now, rather ironically, a key part of the show was the lighting. It consisted of several spotlights, which would illuminate the room as well as the members of the audience. It was a very powerful use of the lighting in this very intimate venue, one that I interpreted as the band’s way of showing how every member of the audience is responsible for their discovery. This was their way of giving back to the audience who are responsible for the band’s ever-growing success. It’s really a beautiful sentiment.
Overall the night was a fantastic one, where we were given the chance to speak to some top musicians and listen to some outstanding music – an experience I can only thank the band for allowing us to have, it is sure to be one myself and Will shall hold close for a long time.