The Reytons have spoken about being on the cusp of a UK Number One album as an independent band, saying that their success is built solely on the support of “fans, friends, family and community”. Read NME‘s interview with frontman Jonny Yerrell below.
The South Yorkshire outfit – completed by Lee Holland (bass), Joe O’Brien (guitar) and Jamie Todd (drums) – self-released their second studio record ‘What’s Rock And Roll?’ last Friday (January 20).
On Monday (January 23) Yerrell and co. claimed the top spot on the midweek update, positioning themselves above major label artists The Weeknd (Number Five), Taylor Swift (Number Four), and Eurovision stars Måneskin (Number Three).
“The mood just changed when the midweeks dropped and said we were Number One,” Yerrell told NME ahead of tomorrow’s crucial chart countdown. “Everyone’s going, ‘We’re gonna do it! We’re gonna do it!’ It’s just been crazy, honestly. I never knew what to expect but now that I’m in the moment of it happening, it’s just surreal.”
He continued: “Every artist wants to have a Number One album. But when you’re talking to people like Jack Saunders on Radio 1… I’m just looking down the camera and he’s there in the studio. It’s like, ‘What the fuck?! This is real now’.”
The Reytons’ first album, 2021’s ‘Kids Off The Estate’, narrowly missed out on the Top 10. For Yerrell, there’s a sense of “unfinished business” as the group vie for even greater chart glory this time around.
“We haven’t tried to move the goal posts or anything, we just tried to carry on writing,” he said. “It’s being able to come back and do it properly, and do it as soon as possible while the fire was still burning. I just feel like the timing is amazing for us.”
On social media, The Reytons display the motto ‘No Label. No Backing. All Reytons’ like a badge of honour. How important is bagging a Number One album as a 100 per cent independent act?
“I don’t think it’s important as such to achieve it without a label. For us, it’s not an option,” Yerrell responded. “It’s more of an inspirational thing.
“We’re proud that we’ve done it independently, and it’s just a reminder that you can do it. Because we’ve had so many doors shut in our face over the years that we’ve had to literally find different ways around things, make things happen our own way.
“There’s no financial backing, we never started with any money. We started with very little money, if anything. We’ve had to work our way to where we are. The whole Reytons thing is just to say, ‘This is a community’, and I want everyone to feel part of that. And also feel like they can achieve it as well.”
This DIY approach extends to every area of the band, including their music videos, promo and marketing campaigns. Recently, the four-piece transformed a disused retail unit into a pop-up store at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.
“We built the shop ourselves; we were there in the middle of the night with tools and paint brushes,” Yerrell told NME. “We’ve literally turned an empty shit room into a slightly less shit room.”
Last night (January 25) the band participated in one of Tim Burgess‘ #TimsTwitterListeningParty from the store, where they also hosted two of many UK signings. “We wanted to meet as many people as possible,” Yerrell explained.
Though the singer acknowledges that TikTok and social media can “play a massive part” in the popularity of an upcoming act, he said it’s more about “the real life stuff and getting out there” for The Reytons.
Last year saw the group sell out the 4500-capacity Magna venue in Sheffield, ahead of a huge concert at the Steel City’s 13,600-strong Utilita Arena this September.
“Rather than just going, ‘Fucking hell, we’ve sold all these tickets!’, we literally just went, ‘Right, let’s do the [second] album. Let’s put the album out ourselves’,” Yerrell remembered.
“So we took that money and gambled it, and said, ‘Let’s put all this into the album’. And d’you know what? We’re gonna do the same again. We wanna go again, and go bigger and better. For us it’s about the journey.”
He continued: “If we get a Number Two, I know exactly what I’m doing: Monday, we’re back in the studio. We’ll start again. That’s the thing, I only know how to fail.”
But what if they do clinch victory?
“I think I’ll just get family and friends [together], open a bottle of whiskey, get really drunk and just start crying and reminiscing,” Yerrell said. “God knows – it’s just been a long time coming.
“Everything will be very foggy over the weekend. I’ll probably have a hangover for a week.”
As for how The Reytons stack up against their competitors in the Top Five, the frontman explained: “From the second I realised we were in front, I’m not turning around. I’m not even bothered about what’s happening behind us.
“We’re just going forwards and trying to run as fast as we can. I don’t want to get complacent with our position and think, ‘Alright, that’s it’. It’s not like that. We’re just gonna keep going as if we were at Number 11 again.”
Currently occupying the Number Two spot are rock band Black Star Riders (comprising Thin Lizzy‘s Ricky Warwick, Sam Wood, Robbie Crane and Zak St John), whose fifth album ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’ was released via indie label Earache.
Recent years have seen a shift back to guitar-led artists in the UK albums chart. In 2021, it was reported as the best 12 months for British bands, commercially, in over a decade. Courteeners last week went to Number One with a 15th anniversary reissue of their debut album ‘St. Jude’, a feat Yerrell described as “amazing”. He also gave a shout out to The Snuts for “absolutely smashing it” with their first two records.
“I feel like guitar music really is making a comeback at the minute, it definitely is,” the musician told NME. “I think that the way the music industry works, and culture, is that it changes and rotates. You see different genres coming in, and back in and out.
“The scene seems to be on its way back, which is great. I’m just really happy to be part of it. We never imagined in a million years that we’d be able to be one of the names that are in there, but I’m just so glad that we are.”
Does he have a message for the fans who got The Reytons to this level?
“D’you know what? It’s not even just fans; it’s friends, family, community. Everyone that’s around us: just thanks,” Yerrell told NME. “There isn’t another word to say other than thank you.”
He added: “Even the people who don’t like us: keep saying you don’t like us, because it works for us. Keep our names in your mouth, because we literally came here as massive underdogs – and hopefully on Friday we’re taking the fucking lot.”
This week’s UK Number One album will be revealed on the Official Charts website at 5:45pm GMT tomorrow (January 27). Alternatively, you can tune into The Official Chart countdown on BBC Radio 1 with Jack Saunders from 4pm GMT.
The Reytons play the Utilita Arena in Sheffield on September 30 – find any remaining tickets here. They’ll also make appearances at Warrington’s Neighbourhood Weekender this May and the Isle Of Wight Festival in June.