Sam Fender’s older brother Liam has teased his hopeful debut single ‘Love Will Conquer’ and confirmed a headline show at Newcastle’s Riverside. Check out our interview with Fender below, alongside an exclusive snippet of the track.
‘Love Will Conquer’ will be released tomorrow (October 28) and is the first proper release from Liam Fender. “It’s been a long time coming,” he told NME of his debut single.
Fender went on to say the dreamy indie anthem is about “that feeling of togetherness in turbulent times. I’ve certainly felt that over the last few years, the world’s been going to hell in a handcart.” The song, which champions believing in yourself and other people, has “a universal message” according to the musician: “It’s about optimism and how things can always get better.”
The video for ‘Love Will Conquer’ is set in the Fish Quay of Fender’s hometown of North Shields and sees Jacob Anderton as an aspiring musician, playing pub gigs to disinterested crowds while wrestling with self-belief. It is auto-biographical “to a degree” Fender explained, although he’s never actually been a trawlerman. “But it’s a story that a lot of people in the North East scene know well, as they slog away, trying to get their music out there and doing the gigs that they have to in order to pay the bills.”
Check out a snippet below:
Musically, Fender takes inspiration from “people who always follow their own path”, listing David Bowie, Tom Waits, Richard Hawley as key influences. “Coming from the North, there’s a certain romance in songwriting that I grew up with.”
“I’m really impressed by Arctic Monkey’s new stuff,” he continued. “They’ve taken on this crooner-ish feel and I know that’s influenced by Americana, but that romanticism of a bygone era is also something that’s deeply rooted in northern, working class towns. I’ve always drawn upon that.”
Fender has been writing songs for over 20 years now and spent a bulk of his twenties self-releasing EPs and playing the pub circuit. “It runs in the family,” he explained. “My dad was a musician and I come from a musical household. I was always fascinated by these bizarre characters and anarchist musicians that would come over to the house. I loved how they just followed their own path so from a really young age, I just wanted to do that.”
He played his first gig aged 13 as a stand-in drummer for his dad’s mate’s band “and that’s where the bug really started. For better or worse, it’s always what I’ve wanted to do,” he explained. After struggling to make it and feeling “pretty disillusioned” with music in general, though, Fender took “a good few years out.”
“It’s really refreshing now, because I’ve fallen back in love with music. Everything feels exciting again,” he said.
But why now? “Sam’s stuff has really taken off over the last few years to a fairly crazy level,” explained Fender, who realised there was an audience for the raw, authentic, character-driven stories he was writing. “I just thought that if I didn’t have another shot at things now, I never would.”
Fender goes on to say that while Sam’s success has inspired him, he’s “not jumping on the bandwagon”. “We’re two very different artists, and I think we’ve inspired each other over the years,” he explained.
Growing up, there was no chance of Liam and Sam making the Newcastle version of Oasis though. “There’s a nine-year age gap between us, so I was too busy mopping up his sick and trying to stop him from ruining my instruments,” Fender laughed.
Earlier this year, Liam did join Sam onstage at Newcastle Arena to perform ‘The Dying Light’. “I’d been working on this project long before that but that certainly reminded me that this is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Fender before describing the experience as “exhilarating and surreal.”
Fender went on to say that because of the age gap between him and his brother “there’s absolutely no rivalry there.” The siblings don’t text each other for advice, either. “If I gave him advice, he wouldn’t listen. Same if he tried to give me any advice. We do talk about the madness of it all though, and have a laugh about it all,” said Fender. “We’ve both always followed our own path though, and don’t like to interfere beyond listening to what each other are working on.”
Liam knows there are “definitely some expectations” that come with being related to one of the biggest rockstars in the country. “There’s a bit of pressure and it feels daunting but it’s also entertaining,” he said. “I didn’t think at the age of 37 I’d be putting out music in any meaningful sense, considering all my mates are having kids and settling down.”
“I don’t have any massive expectations and I’m not trying to become a big star or anything like that,” he added. “I just want to make music that I’m proud of.” He is currently sat on a handful of other songs that are “quite different” to ‘Love Will Conquer’ but “sit in place next to each other” and aren’t “totally sporadic”. There is also talk of an EP next year, followed by a “great” album: “That’s the ambition at the moment. What comes after that? Who knows. It’s all there for the taking really.”
Liam is currently in rehearsals for his headline show at Newcastle’s Riverside on December 8, with tickets going on sale tomorrow. “I’m not one for doing things by half, so I’ve got a band of top musicians from the North East that I’ve handpicked,” he said.
“I’ve had people who’ve known me for years get really excited about the fact I’m getting back out there and giving it a go. That response has been really encouraging. I’m looking forward to the ride.”
He added: “There’s always an element of belief in what you do, but there’s always an element of doubt as well. If it feels good to me though, I know I’m doing the best I can.”
Liam Fender’s debut single ‘Love Will Conquer’ will be released tomorrow (October 28).