The past 12 months have put the brakes on the music industry. Tours cancelled, album release dates pushed back and an uncertain future for musicians everywhere. So how the hell have The Lathums managed to defy odds and become one of the buzziest bands around?
A major label deal, hordes of enthusiastic fans, a spot of fundraising for a football team, and plenty of celebrity supporters – it’s been quite the year for the Wigan indie band.
Now they’re included in the NME 100 – our list of essential new artists set to take over the next year – and have a debut album and tours with both Blossoms and Paul Weller on the horizon. And it looks like 2021 could be even bigger for The Lathums.
In the latest of NME’s In Conversation series, we sat down with frontman Alex Moore and drummer Ryan Durrans to talk their first record, A-list fans and coming up with their band name on the way to performing at a hen party. Here are five things we learned.
They have a host of big-name fans
James Skelly of The Coral has been producing The Lathums debut album, and Tim Burgess booked them for one of their first gigs ever at Kendall Calling when they were just starting out. The band say it’s been surreal to hang out with their heroes.
“It’s weird to see these people and speak to them as people,” laughs Ryan. “Not being like, ‘Can I have a picture?’, but offering them a sandwich and a brew instead.”
“We’re still a bit scared to ask James Skelly for a selfie,” Ryan jokes, before Alex chips in: “We’re not really selfie people – I’m not very photogenic…”
Expect the unexpected with their debut album
When The Lathums released their EP ‘Ghosts’ fans were surprised by the diversity of the tunes, and Alex says they deliberately like to keep people on their toes: “I think everyone’s gonna be very happily surprised with what comes out [on their debut album]. None of the tracks sound the same – they’ve all got their own stories to tell.
“Being a songwriter, I saw them in my room just as little ideas and structures and then to actually hear them come to life with the lads playing together, and producers James Skelly and Chris Taylor doing all the magic. It brings them to life, and I think everyone is going to buzz off them.”
Their first ever gig was at a hen do
From festival stages to their show at the iconic Blackpool Tower, The Lathums have played a host of exciting venues over the past few years; but before they were being booked to tour with Blossoms and Paul Weller they were playing very different locations. In fact, the band’s first ever gig was at a hen do.
“That hen do was crazy – that was the first ever gig as ‘The Lathums’. We got that name on the way to the gig,” Ryan explains.
As for their favourite shows they’ve played since, they cite supporting Scottish crooner Gerry Cinnamon at Brixton Academy as a highlight (“That was surreal – the first time we played London and it was Brixton!”) and as well as Glasgow’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, where Oasis were famously discovered (“it was amazing,” says Alex).
They’re bowled over by their success
The Lathums first started out when they were at college, and always longed for this sort of success. “It was always a hope and a dream,” says Ryan. “I think it was never like ‘this is going to happen!’ It was always like, ‘what if?’”
While they’re enjoying the ride, Alex acknowledges that it’s been pretty crazy. “I think everybody if you’re starting a band, you want it to happen,” he explains. “I never thought it would happen like this – but I always knew I’d like try and really make it and proper go of it. So, in some ways I was kind of prepared for it. I’m not trying to downplay it or anything because, it’s absolutely mental what’s going on!”
Signing to a major label has given the band new freedom
Back in March of last year The Lathums signed a huge deal with Island Records. The band credit this with giving them new freedom.
“It’s given us the opportunity to do everything we’ve had in our heads for the short amount of time we’ve been in a band,” says Ryan. “All the ideas we’ve had, this year has finally allowed us to do it – especially the album.”
Due out later this year, the band’s debut album – which they’ve been working on with producers Chris Taylor and the aforementioned James Skelly – is now finished. “It’s a pinnacle of your musical career your debut album,” Ryan says of it – we can’t wait to hear it.