Hard Rock Records believes in these guys so much to offer $1 million to the NFL to have them as the next Superbowl headliners. It’s easy to understand why a recording label would do so: The Carnabys are both musically and commercially viable.
I was particularly impressed by their energy and musical skills when I first was invited to their ‘The Pocket’ EP launch at the Barfly in Camden. I was literally dumbfounded. I was expecting the same old unprepared indie band but had to change my mind from the first notes. These guys from Richmond definitely know how to do rock music and they are as cute as it gets to drive the young girls crazy. They looked and sounded ready for the big stages, so it didn’t surprise me at all to learn that some months later they joined legendary Blondie for their European Summer Tour.
It goes without saying that when I was invited to their debut album “No Money On The Moon” launch party at the Borderline in Soho on October 7th I was glad to arrange a live interview with Jack, Ben, Frankie, Mike and James right before they walked on stage to deliver another mind-blowing performance.
G: How and when did you come up with the idea of creating a band and do music?
James: We all were individual musicians from a young age, just really loved playing music whatever it was, drums, guitars. We came across each other in different ways, we met through social media groups, friends and stuff like that and instantly kind of kicked it off and we wanted to be a band.
Frankie: We used to play in pubs and stuff like that and we would get phone calls that they really enjoyed it and we kept doing it. And every time we did it people would turn up, so eventually we thought wow this is going really well.
James: This was 3 years ago. And then we just started writing. It was great, it worked out really well.
G: Who writes the songs?
Jack: I write all the lyrics and then we all do the music together.
Frankie: We don’t really have a formula, it’s like when we got a spare hour we just play in the rehearsals and see what happens. Someone might come up with an idea one day, maybe it’s just two of us. It changes, it’s different from day to day.
James: I would say as a band we kind of always avoid writing with a formula, we don’t kind of sit down and say right, we’re gonna do this kind of song, it’s gonna be this kind of length… no we don’t that at all, we kind of just, as Frankie said, we get together all the time whenever we have time to write, we write in a kind of free way.
G: Who or what is your inspiration?
James: Our original inspiration when we started the band that kind of things like the The Faces, The Stones. For me anyway that whole era of music especially British Music, has got a kind of… I don’t know how to say, you always look at it like in a romantic kind of way, you look at it like ‘this is amazing’, so cool. So obsessed about these bands and what they were all about, and you wanna get involved in it and it’s the coolest thing about that age. And I think that’s a great foundation for you to start from.
Frankie: We like all sorts of songs, we like from rap to jazz to hip hop, we love anything, we listen to everything. What’s nice about our name, The Carnabys, is if you look at Carnaby street and what it represents, it was cultural and now it’s today’s culture, there’s so much that it represents that relates to us in a sort of way.
G: How about the lyrics? Where do you take inspiration from?
Jack: All kinds of inspiration, I mean. I’ve actually just started reading a lot of Charles Buchokwski. All things poets and stuff, but I think an inspiration from bands and musicians, Alex Turner, he is great, and John Cooper Clarke. I don’t think of these people for topics, all songs are about me having experience, but they’re great inspirations on how to phrase things, and stuff like that. I like to write a story, if you play a song I like to tell a story with it, so. Yeah, each of the songs has a story.
G: I have a specific question for you Jack. I was at the Barfly when you did the single launching party, I was particularly impressed by your vocals. Did you train them or is it a natural thing?
Jack: Thank you very much. I was at the ICMP, a music college just off on Kilburn High Road, for me the course was a mix of vocals, music business and stuff. I had 4 or 5 lessons with one of the teachers there, Vic, he was a really really cool guy, but apart from that no.
G: How long did it take to record the new album?
James: Three weeks. It was wicked, we put a load of work in before so we knew that when we came into the studio we would tight up.
G: So it took three weeks to record it, but how about pre-production?
James: Months and months and months. We started recordings in January (2014), but it was september or october. We had kind of loads of ideas and came up with even more. Before we were ready to go it had been 6 or 7 months. We had loads of stuff for a long period of time. If we hadn’t done all the work, three weeks could have easily turned into 6 months.
G: You opened for Blondie’s European tour. How was it?
James: It was wicked.
Jack: They’re really really cool.
James: We had the best time ever. Blondie as a band are amazing, I was really struck by how amazing they were, they don’t show off, lovely people. These people are legends in music industry, they are huge, and we were just having conversations about guitars and stuff like this, it’s just great.
Frankie: We learned a lot, they have such a professional outfit, they’re amazing so again it was another opportunity for us to learn off the best. James: And the fact that they’ve been here for so many years and they’re still having fun. They’re still enjoying it.
Jack: They’ve got an amazing fan base as well.
James: And we met some of their fans as well, who are here tonight, so it’s amazing.
G: Are you touring after this show?
James: Yeah, there’s gonna be more dates. We’ll be touring England after the album.
G: Pick the 3 albums you would take on a desert island with you.
Mike: Paul Simon’s Graceland, and I speak for all of us when I say that (laughs).
Jack: No Money On The Moon by The Carnabys out on iTunes now (laughs).
Frankie: Bob Marley on a desert island!
James: I’d take Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, that’s a great album.
Mike: Jeff Buckley’s Grace.
Everyone: Yes, definitely, the best!
Then just the time for a quick photo and off to enjoy their incredibly energetic show!
Watch out for these guys, as you’re going to remember their name for a long time.