INTERVIEW – Spotted:another freaking talented band from England! Name? Nothing But Thieves. 5 young British guys fed by the best pop-rock music that exists in their incredible motherland. They’ve stopped in Paris during their European tour, at the end of November 2015, 12 days after Paris attacks. They had decided they wanted to come anyway. They wanted to play. It was my first concert after the attacks. Not an easy thing to do, I have to say. But Joe (guitar) and Phil (bass) that I met a few hours before their show were two very kind human being and they put me at ease. We’ve talked about serious things, but also about slighty less serious things. A delight.[Read this interview in French]
So guys, your music is always compared to Muse’s. You’ve already said that you are used to it and that you don’t feel any pressure, but don’t you get tired of this association?
Phil: Well it’s fine they’re a massive band, so it’s not the worst comparison. We’re happy about it. We’ve gone our way to sound like them…
Joe : If it was the only one we get, then it wouldn’t be a problem, but we Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, oddly enough we get Royal Blood, which I don’t get (smiling)! It doesn’t make any sense. It’s natural, they want to compare you to something. We’ve already got 12 songs out so… The longer we make music, the more people are going to know what we sound like as a band ourselves. It’s fine, it’s only our first album!
Phil : Hopefully we will sound like ourselves, that would be nice (laughing)!
Joe : Yeah, that’s the dream (laughs)!
Your sound is really solid and mature, and I’ve read that you’re already working on your second album, even though you’re still touring a lot. So I was wondering if you actually had time to live your youth to the full?
Phil: (laughs) This is kind of the dream job! I think it’s what we want to do. So us, living our life to the full is what we’re doing now: we love to tour, we love to be on the road, we love to record, so this is it! I also like to see my Mum , but that can wait! I can see her when I get home.
Joe: It’s not really a job is it, what we’re doing? I was a Uni student, Phil worked.. when the band first started, we all had shitty job, but now I feel like we all have so much fun, this does feel kind of best thing to do in the world really.
Phil: We get to travel around with our closest friends, and make music. Lots of people save up for years just to be able to do what we’re doing, so it’s a supreme amazing job if you can call it that! So I think we’re ok.
On stage you seem to give every inch of energy and strenght you have. Is it a way to let off steam, an outlet for you?
Joe: Probably! We’ve spent so long writing songs and getting them perfect, we really believe in what we are presenting, and feel we present each song how we want to present it. So yes, it is a release I guess, especially at the moment because we get caught up and stuck in a van for 8 hours on the road! [they were playing in Copenhagen the night before and drove all the day to be able to play in Paris the next day]
Phil: It’s not something we have conscientiously decided to do, to be a crazy energetic band… What you see on stage is not planned, we just love playing music together.
Joe: It’s just how those songs make us move. It’s what it is.
You have eclectic music tastes in the band however your album is mainly rock music. Have you through out your slower music, or is it something you didn’t want to put on the album?
Joe: Kinda! We’ve got some slow songs in the album, « If I Get High », « Graveyard Whistling », « Last Orders »…We wanted an album with peaks and softs, rockier songs more energetic and slower songs, we wanted to have both. The album is diverse in the sense that we have electronic elements, with « Hostage », guitar elements, ballads…
Phil: Like we are massive fans of Radiohead and all that sides of it, and in the future maybe that might be something that we might do. But where we are right now the songs just come out and we’re happy about it.
Joe: If you listen to all our favorite bands, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, bands that we admire, they have a lot of diversity on their albums, and that’s what we like to do…
How did you build your tracklist? Lover, please stay for example is in the middle of rockiers songs. Was it a way to break up the rhythm?
Phil: The setlist of the album is something we’ve spoke about for a very, very long time. Our favorite albums tend to go up from the start, keep going and going and just have a bit of a little deep in the middle, and straight back up again. We loved that format.
Joe: If we had too many rock songs in a row, or too many slow songs in a row, then you kind of get a bit lost. We wanted it to be a journey, we didn’t want to just have 10 rock songs and then two slow ones.
Phil: There’s a point to why they are in the middle.
Joe: It’s bold!
Phil: Well, we think so! (laughs) Anyway, we do what we want!
You’ve done a great cover a Bonnie Tyler’s « Holding Out For A Hero » for Vikings. Do you have other covers in mind or soundtracks projects maybe?
Joe: No! They came to us and asked us to do it, they liked the band, they had the song… we were like « ok it’s a cool program » and we love turning songs inside out. We’ve done a couple now… It was fun! We didn’t realy think it’s gonna be heard as much as it’s been heard! People think to really like it.
Phil: That’s the idea, like you meant to listen to it, and sort of not really know what the hell you’re supposed to be listening to, and then by the time came the chorus, you pick up the lyrics and « haa that’s what it is! ».
Joe: We just wanted to make it sound like our band, so we took the lyrics, half the melody of the song… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain how we made it.
Phil: If you listen to the original, it’s a disco classic so we absolutely turned it out, to make it quite dark. The original is quite dancy, it’s « I need a man! », in the end the lyrics are quite desperate (laughing)…
You are quite prolific on social networks, is it something you like to do, or it’s just a part of the job?
Phil: We never ever set out to be in some ways online. We just like to engage each other. I think that fans are seeing we talk to each other like that…
Joe: It’s cool as a fan of the band. I like having close connections with them, and it’s one of the best advantage of Twitter because people didn’t have that before, it’s like the new age! It’s the first time that fans can have a direct contact with bands they like, whoever… There’re bits I don’t like so much, I don’t like getting too involved, you can’t live your life on it.
Phil: It can be nice. I like having notifications, they might be tonne of questions a day, people wishing me happy birthday while I’m in the van, it’s gonna take me two seconds of my day to answer, and that can be a nice thing for these people. I really like that side of it, it’s a really good way of keeping in contact with people.
Joe: Recently, people were asking if we were going to play today, and it’s so easy and so quick to say « yes we will be playing » and explain that we’re giving all the proceeds to the victims of the attacks, to post it on Twitter and Facebook…
Phil: I can’t imagine how the bands did it before!
End of my boring questions! Hope these ones will be more fun. So favorite band you’ve been supporting?
Joe: We’ve supported Arcade Fire once at the British Summer Time Festival, and I love that band!
Phil: We played Reading Festival and Foals was doing a secret set, there was one band after us and then Foals. It was huge!
Favorite festival so far?
Joe: Reading probably! It’s the festival we used to go as kids, we were there all the time, and get the chance to play it…
Phil: We’ve played on Saturday, but we went on the Friday anyway… I swear I know this place better than I know a lot of locations I’ve lived in! I love Reading Festival, it’s such a good atmosphere.
Favoriste comfort food on tour?
Joe: I don’t know, I try not to eat on tour (laughs), that’s because we’re in a bus or in a bar, and it’s really, really hard to eat healthily because you’re living on service stations.
Phil: When we’re on tour, we can’t help drinking beers a lot, like on stage or whatever, and honestly after a few days, your clothes are a bit tight… We’re trying to be carreful, unfortunately we’re not that kind of people who can eat whatever we want. Need to not eat whatever you want! However I do quite like tea cakes! (Joe laughs) It’s marshmallow on biscuit, covered in chocolate… In Europe you have hot dogs served at every stations! I remember in the last European tour we did, I was in a vegetarian stage, I hadn’t had meat in four months, and it was impossible to go around Europe and not eat meat! Horrible! I was just eating bread (smiles).
Joe: I’m hoping here! [this interview was done at the venue they were playing later on, Le Pop-Up du Label in Paris]
Phil: It smells good! There was that one festival we did in Denmark and their backstage area was the best I’ve ever been to: you could get a massage, right in the middle there was a juice bar with every fruits and vegetables possible, ginger… and they made you whatever you wanted. And if it wasn’t good enough, there was a restaurant where I ate the best food in my life. I didn’t want to go! I was like: massage, juice, food, massage, juice and again food… We played a show as well!
Favorite shower song?
Joe: I don’t listen to music in the shower, I need to concentrate. But my favorite song of the year is « What Went Down » by Foals, I think it’s incredible!
Phil: I don’t want to seem lazy, but I’m gonna agree. I have sang that many times in the shower it’s a great song! I’ve listened to it every day on this tour. Mainly because I’ve lost all my music on my phone, so I have Foals’ album and that’s it! (smiles)
Favorite rumour you’ve heard about you?
Phil: I’ve heard some terrible ones… (laughs)
Joe: What’s your favorite rumour about us that you’ve heard?
Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s rumour or not so…
Joe: True! (they have a quick chat). Do you know who Olly Murs is? He’s never heard of badminton! We’ve heard that the other day, it’s weird isn’t it?
And a rumour about you guys?
Joe: I don’t know one, I don’t think we’re big enough yet to have rumours.
I can start one if you want.
Joe: Please! A good one though. A nice one. Like we’re Dave Grohl’s favorite band in the world! Dave Grohl fucking loves Nothing But Thieves.
Phil: Good rumour! You’ve speak to Dave Grohl online and he told you that he loves Joe’s hair.
Joe: Ha! And I can be a hair modeler.
Favorite lie during interviews?
Joe: Where the band name came from. We’ve never told the truth, it’s always a lie. Once we said the truth, but you’ll never know. If you did your research… But no, never.
Do you always invent different things every time or is it the same lie?
Phil: I did an interview the other day, and the interviewer said: I know that you always lie about the band name. She said: could you make up a lie on the spot? It was hard!
Joe: We did too many interviews to lie every time, so we say a couple of the same lies.
Phil: And your next question is: « where’s the band name from » yeah?
No no 🙂 Favorite cliché you’ve heard about Paris, which is actually true?
Phil: (laughs) That you all wear berets! My Mum is actually French so I don’t have clichés about France… I don’t think you smell (smiles)…
Joe: French food meant to be amazing. And is.
► Nothing But Thieves first album is already available.
Interview by Emma Shindo (25th November, 2015 in Paris).