The NME Awards may be over for another year, but that doesn’t mean the fun’s finished. Tomorrow night (March 18) the NME Awards Tour with Austin, Texas kicks off. Four incredible bands will be roaring and touring around the UK from Glasgow to London Via Manchester, Liverpool and more. Who’s playing? Meet the bands.
From: New York
Who: Paul Banks (guitars, vocals); Daniel Kessler (guitars, vocals); Sam Fogarino (drums)
Sounds like: They’re the none-more-gloomy kings of New York nighttime misanthropy.
The lowdown: 2010 marked the end of an era for Interpol: shortly after they completed their fourth, self-titled album, original bassist Carlos Dengler quit the band. Now there’s a new chapter for the NY group. Playing the NME Awards Tour for the second time (their first appearance was way back in 2003), the gigs will be their first in more than two years. “Interpol were a massive band for me when I was growing up,” says Temples’ James Bagshaw, while Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr says: “They’re a band we grew up listening to a lot and Ben’s drumming style was quite heavily influenced by them.”
What they’re bringing: “We’re still mixing the record and we haven’t got a setlist yet, so it’s hard to know exactly how many tunes we’ll play, but we’ll throw in a few from the upcoming album, definitely,” says Daniel Kessler.
Venue they’re most looking forward to playing: “I’m pretty excited to be starting in Glasgow – that’s where we played our first ever UK show, at King Tut’s in 2001,” says Kessler.
Most likely to: Bring the hits. With a healthy back catalogue to fall back on, expect to hear the likes of ‘Obstacle 1’, ‘Evil’ and ‘Slow Hands’.
Least likely to: Ask Temples if they can borrow a top.
Look out for: New songs. With a brand new album on the way, Interpol have said that they will road-test unheard material.
Slot: Second on the bill
Who: James Bagshaw (singer, guitar); Thomas Warmsley (bass); Adam Smith (keyboards, guitar); Sam Toms (drums)
Sounds like: Even more faithful worshippers of mind-blowing ‘60s psych than Tame Impala, with extra glam and grooves to boot.
The lowdown: Hair like Marc Bolan. Blouses your mum would baulk at wearing. Spouting gibberish about mystic crystals. If Temples’ debut ‘Sun Structures’ had been anything less than a 21st-century masterclass in psychedelia, they’d have looked truly foolish. But their summoning-the-mystics modern revival of Jim Morrison and Marc Bolan already sounds like one of the year’s finest albums. All hail the new Lizard Kings.
What they’re bringing: “We’re all about the songs, and our show is a more electric version of what we do on record. Every night is gonna be so different, because we play gigs according to how we feel – we try to never play the same set twice,” reveals Bagshaw.
Venue they’re most looking forward to playing: “We played Brixton with Primal Scream recently, but it’ll be interesting to see how different it is playing there again on an NME bill. Rock City in Nottingham is a cool venue too,” says Bagshaw.
Most likely to: Do a Spinal Tap and bring a replica Stonehenge onstage.
Least likely to: Wear tracksuits.
Look out for: It’s already a beast on record, but ‘Colours To Life’ sounds amazing live, like being trapped inside a huge, fuzzy kaleidoscope.
Slot: Third on the bill
Who: Mike Kerr (bass, vocals); Ben Thatcher (drums)
Sounds like: Queens of the Stone Age scrapping with Deap Vally in an alley.
The lowdown: Primal, sleazy and loud, Royal Blood became a sought-after commodity when Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders wore one of their T-shirts during last year’s Glastonbury headline slot. The Brighton pair will support the Sheffield band at their Finsbury Park shows this summer too, but first they’ll be bringing their two-man chaos to the NME Awards Tour and road-testing material from their forthcoming debut. LP: “There aren’t enough bands and there aren’t enough risks being taken,” Kerr told NME earlier this year. “We’re very new to the game, but we’re actually doing it.”
What they’re bringing: “I’m hoping we bring something fresh,” says Kerr.
Venue they’re most looking forward to playing: “O2 Academy Brixton. It’s such a legendary venue,” reckons Kerr.
Most likely to: Channel the hard-riffing spirit of Jack White and Jimmy Page with their blues-rock voodoo magic.
Least likely to: Disappear up their own backsides with a jazz odyssey.
Look out for: Carnage. At a gig in Brighton last year, Kerr tripped over his guitar pedalboard and sacrificed his own instrument to save his skin. “I threw my guitar backwards, landed on it, and snapped it clean in half,” he says.
Who: Kieran Shuddall (guitar, vocals); Joe Falconer (guitar); Sam Rourke (bass); Sian Plummer (drums)
Sounds like: The long-lost offspring of The Strokes and The Libertines.
The lowdown: “It’s the coveted slot, isn’t it?” says Circa Waves frontman Kieran. “A lot of other great bands have had that spot, so it’s a pleasure.” Talk about an understatement: Franz Ferdinand, Peace, Azealia Banks and Coldplay have all used the hallowed opening slot on the NME Awards Tour as the springboard for success. But then, Liverpool lot Circa Waves have already batted away shitloads of hype and carried on making some of the liveliest, most epic-sounding guitar tunes around, including last year’s debut single ‘Get Away’/ ‘Good For Me’.
What they’re bringing: “The early-2000-y, indie kinda sound. I don’t know if there’s anyone else on the tour like that – Interpol are darker, Royal Blood are rockier,” says Shuddall.
Venue they’re most looking forward to playing: Shudall: “Liverpool will be great, because we’re playing to our home crowd in one of the best venues in the city.”
Most likely to: Be anointed as the new saviours of British rock’n’roll.
Least likely to: Shit themselves when it comes time to back up the talk.
Look out for: Band-name high jinks. Their first gigs were played under the pseudonyms Malkovich Malkovich and Wet Wet Wet Wet Wet in order to keep the talent scouts at bay.
Listen to a Spotify playlist of all the NME Awards Tour bands below.