‘The biggest crowd we’d played before we got asked to play Kendal Calling was in our local pub, The Crown. We were singing a song about peace [‘The Great Escape’] and a massive brawl kicked off”, chuckles fresh faced frontman of The Lathums Alex Moore, as he explains to NME over a Zoom call how one of the Wigan four-piece’s early gigs ended in chaos. “We were stood in suits at the time because we’d just played a wedding. Riot vans turned up. It was mental.”
“The weirdest thing was we couldn’t hear anything while it was going on,” adds guitarist Scott Concepcion. “It was like watching the whole thing on mute.” The foursome’s musical trajectory has been littered with surreal tales like this one ever since the band – completed by bassist Johnny Cunliffe and drummer Ryan Durrans – first met up at a music college in Pemberton two years ago.
Even the scene of their first gig – a hen do in the Wirral – sounded bonkers. “These girls were putting on their own version of Coachella for their hen do and they came into our college asking for any acts who could play a gig and play songs and we just said, ‘Yeah we’re up for it’,” shrugs Alex. “We played me nan’s birthday a couple of weeks after it as well,” laughs Scott. A band for all ages.
In just two years, the jangly guitar outfit have amassed a huge following, signed to Island Records (U2, The Streets and Ariana Grande), packed out an American diner at Kendal Calling thanks to a last-minute call from Tim Burgess, supported Blossoms, sold out two headline tours in a matter of minutes and scored a Number One single in the vinyl charts with ‘All My Life’. Phew.
There’s shades of Arctic Monkeys in their rise and in the spine-tingling ‘All My Life’ (which has amassed over two million listens on Spotify), the tumbling Smiths-style anthem ‘Fight On’ and jangly single ‘The Great Escape’. But the fun is only just getting started…
Your latest tour sold out in five minutes and things are picking up nationwide. What’s happened there, then?
Alex: “It’s crazy really, it’s all word of mouth how this has happened. We put a few tunes out and got a bit of a local following. Then with Twitter and social media everybody got onto it and we’ve just built up from there and it’s not stopped. I think people are just ready for some proper music again. Not to be arrogant but everybody wants to hear good music and for a long time there’s not really been that [guitar] band you can get behind and really get involved with.”
“The gigs have been mental too. Sometimes I don’t even have to sing. We played a gig at King Tuts and literally from stepping out to going off stage, everybody was singing every word to our songs. It was madness.”
Tim Burgess invited you to Kendal Calling last year. How did that come about?
Alex: “He just tweeted us. Some other band couldn’t make it because they had another gig. So they dropped out and we filled in at the Tim Peaks Diner [an American style diner created by Burgess at the festival in 2012] and it’s been all crazy ever since. It was one of the first proper gigs we’d done. The Libertines played a secret gig there the year before we appeared and apparently when we played it, was more packed than when anybody else performed there. There’s a field outside the diner and all of that was just completely swarmed, no-one could get in. There was just like a sea of people.”
Another indie legend, The Coral’s James Skelly came on board to produce your last EP. How have you found working with him?
Alex: “It felt like being on work experience really for musicians. It’s kind of like learning your trade. He’s dead good with us James as well because he’s kind of been there and done it. He’s already had this journey. He always says if ‘you need any guidance or advice or anything just give me a text’ and that gave us a lot of confidence. He knows that we’re screwed on and very on to the music. When we go in the studio, we know what songs we’ve got and how we’re gonna portray them and get them across and James soaks up that information.”
Scott: “Sometimes he tells us to tone it down a little bit because we go overboard sometimes. He just adds a bit of class.”
The single off the ‘All My Life’ EP also got to Number One in the UK singles vinyl chart…
Alex: “Yeah with stuff like that, it’s bit crazy because I’m clueless with stuff like that, like charts and everything. But to see it in with all the other songs and the other artists that you see or hear everyday on the radio, it’s a bit mad. It’s also weird when you go shopping at the local Co-op or something and you’re buying teabags and ‘Fight On’ comes on the radio.”
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the live circuit this year. How have you coped with it?
Scott: “At first it was like a crushing blow because we had loads of gigs lined up but after we’d got over the initial bitterness of it all, we just realised that we could just go in the studio after lockdown had been lifted and record the tunes that we had. So silver linings.”
Alex: “Everyone is in the same position though aren’t they? We were very lucky because we had just signed our record deal and we could just sit in our rooms and write songs for weeks and weeks. There was a good momentum going for us before COVID but I don’t think it’s stopped to be honest. Everyone is just more raring to go. Obviously it’s a really horrible time for everybody but I feel like it’s put things into perspective, what we take for granted, even just going to a gig. I think it’ll make people realise when we come back, what’s actually important.”
You recently announced plans to help Wigan Athletic Football club from going into administration by raffling off an Al Wilson cover on vinyl. What made you step in?
Scott: “We’re not massive sports fans to be honest but we’re from Wigan so I’ve always supported them.”
Alex: “It’s more the community aspect, getting everyone involved in helping the club and getting the community together because even though I’ve been only been to a few Wigan games and I’m not a massive fan, I’ve got friends and family who go there and it’s not just about the 90 minutes of playing football, it’s the build up, getting everyone together and everybody going to the pub afterwards.”
Where do you go from here?
Alex: “Finish the album and make sure its a Number One timeless classic and keep building things up until we can actually get back on the road. We can’t wait to play again to be honest.”
The Lathums’ new single ‘I See Your Ghost’ is out today and the band’s ‘Ghosts’ EP is out on October 30.