Lounging about backstage at Brixton Electric, Childhood guitarist Leo Dobsen and singer Ben Romans-Hopcraft are feeling good, sipping beers and looking forward to supporting Palma Violets. Declaring the vibe in the camp as “wavy”, Ben is happy that his life is a whirl of recording sessions with producer and former Test Icicles man Rory Atwell. Hanging with his mates beats the lectures and essays he was used to this time last year.
Both Ben and Leo were finishing degrees (American Studies and History Of Art respectively) at university in Nottingham. Now they’re a band full time, and they’ve already got a tour with Palma Violets under their belts. “It made us feel like we owned England,” says Ben, relishing more of the same to come.
‘Solemn Skies’ is the first taste of what’s in store. It’s a striking reintroduction to the four-piece (the band is now completed by bassist Daniel Salamons and drummer Chris O’Driscoll), a song that’s as bright and dreamy as a thousand sunrises. “I had this John Lennon moment when it came to me in a dream and I had to get up and just record it in my pants,” says Ben. “We’re two songs away from finishing the album and we want it out before the end of the year. All the songs are there. The next single we do after ‘Solemn Skies’ will lead into the album. We’re talking to labels but it’s a lot of chat at the moment and I don’t really do chatting,” he says, speaking non-stop for five minutes.
Guitarist Leo is the silent partner in this. He and Ben became friends over a mutual love of Deerhunter, talking in Nottingham nightclubs where, he says, “Joy Orbison seemed to be playing every week”. Musically the pair are perfectly matched, as proven by the band’s live shows – coming together on songs like ‘Haltija’ and ‘Blue Velvet’, Leo’s shoegazey sonics are subtly lifted by Ben’s carefree vocals. The combination even saw the band win over a small French village with one show. “We just played in a newsagents. It was a shop full of French hipsters and old people. It was great – we became like local heroes.”
Later that night, Brixton is feeling a lot like that village. But when ‘Solemn Skies’ arrives Childhood are destined to be much more than mere local heroes.
Need To Know
For Fans Of: Real Estate, Deerhunter
Buy it now: ‘Solemn Skies’ is released on iTunes on April 29, and on seven-inch on June 10
On NME.COM: Listen to ‘Solemn Skies’ now
Believe it or not: Pete Kember, aka Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom, has remixed ‘Semester’ for a future B-side