Radar Band Of The Week – No. 21: Tribes

Tribes – Brit indie finds its new poster boys

You want to hunt out the secret band? The hidden Tribes of Camden Town? Then keep your ears to the ground, your eyes to the flyers, your fingers off the ’net.

“We want it to happen word-of-mouth,” says Johnny Lloyd, master conspirator of the new London underground. “You can’t find us on the internet, you have look at posters to know when the gigs are.”

Fuzz-hungry tunesmiths Tribes (also with bassist Jim Cratchley, drummer Miguel Demelo and guitarist Dan White) have built a cult following via, yes, traditional means. Their modus operandi? They hand eight-track demos to friends and spread the word organically.

It’s been remarkably effective too – a year after rising from the ashes of various Camden scene bands with the intention of making “something a little bit heavier with better tunes and singalong moments”, they’ve had Blaine from Mystery Jets asking to cover their hook-heavy yowler ‘We Were Children’ and, come gig six, received a personal invite to play with their heroes Pixies at London’s Troxy.

“Our favourite bands are mostly American,” Johnny says. “It’s all early-’90s influence, Pixies, Pavement and REM. But we’re very much a British band.”

Listening to Johnny’s demos you picture them as the UK wing of the new US invasion. Kings Of Leon to Yuck’s Strokes. ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Come And Go’ share the same tenet (ie, fucking up gorgeous pop songs) that drives the likes of Girls, Smith Westerns and Crocodiles. There’s also a common tendency towards lyrical confrontation: take ‘Nightdriving/Useless God’, Tribes’ tribute to Ou Est Le Swimming Pool late singer Charlie Haddon, featuring the line “What use is God if you can’t see him”.

“It’s an angry song,” Johnny explains, “on the idea of a greater being and how people cling onto that when someone dies.”

Then there’s the stunning ‘Sappho’, named after the goddess of lesbian love. “It’s about going home with a girl you don’t know is gay. How are you going to tell your friends about it?”

And remember with Tribes, it’s allllll about telling your friends. Pass it on…

Need To Know

• Dan and Miguel met five years ago after Miguel caught Dan stealing his wallet at his own birthday party

• Jimmy was arrested for fraud at the age of 12 for selling stolen videos

• Johnny once got drunk with Juliette Lewis in Texas and woke up with the cosmos tattooed on his arm


This article originally appeared in the October 9 issue of NME

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