When you’re geographically isolated you’re often left out of the party. But if that’s the case, just throw your own. This year sees Hull doing just that, with the City of Culture hosting the party while local band LIFE supply the soundtrack.
LIFE are brothers Mez Green and Mick Sanders backed up by Stewart Baxter and Loz Etheridge. Their songs are driven by political angst and frustration, tinged with an ironic humour and pop subtleties, and delivered live with immense passion. DIY to the core, they’ve recently announced that debut album ‘Popular Music’ is due for release May 26th.
The last few months have seen LIFE tour the UK and Europe supporting Slaves, record the aforementioned debut album and play SXSW in Texas. Now, as the album is about to be released, they’re heading out on their own UK tour that will see them play in Leicester as part of Handmade Festival.
I’ve read that because you’ve been holed in the studio while recording the album you’ve had time to create, time to strip songs back and rebuild them. But have you managed to capture the LIFE live sound or has a LIFE studio sound emerged?
Having a block of time in the studio was great and meant we could really push the songs to reach their full potential and be a bit more creative. Time was tight only having 10 days to complete everything, but we did find time to record a steel ladder and scream into guitar pickups. We approached every song fresh and spent time getting the right sound for that song, then recorded the song live together in a big room. So we definitely caught the energy and feel of the live performance.
‘Popular Music’ is obviously on the album. It was such a game changer of a song and seemed to mark a shifting of gears yet it was a re-worked song from the Neat. There’s a rumour that there’s another old (Neat?) song making a reappearance and sounding so different. What can you tell us about it?
Bringing back elements from The Neat track to write ‘Popular Music’ was a conscious decision, combining the pop side of LIFE with the aggression of The Neat to move forward with a new sound. It was a statement. We ain’t planning to re hash Neat songs, but there will always be elements of that running through our veins.†
The album was supported by the Momentum Music Fund from PRS for Music Foundation. Would it have been possible without that?
We would have always found a way to make this album, we are a DIY band and we don’t sit around waiting for handouts. But having the PRSF funding has enabled us to do it much sooner and better than we may been able to afford. We’re the first Hull band to get this investment and we wanna prove we’re worth it.
You ran a course at Leicester College once prior to playing The Soundhouse. Was that part of the PRS deal?
We toured Independent Venue Week 2016 and wanted to do something more and give something back so worked with IVW to offer Q&A’s in each city for young people interested in what we do. Two of us are youth workers and are passionate about engaging young people so we feel it was an obvious thing to do. The groups appreciated a band like us telling it how it is rather than a visit from Roger Taylor from Queen or someone that has no relevance to their generation and DIY music.
You are rightly proud of Hull. How would you persuade people to visit the city?
We are proud of where we’re from. We love Hull, but it’s just a city and we don’t need to persuade people to come. The people in Hull are all about community and the music scene is built on it. The Adelphi Club is massively responsible for instilling that sense of equality and DIY attitude into Hull music. Hull deserves your attention, but we won’t beg for it.
Who else should we be looking out for from Hull?
Musically were rating young bands Serial Chiller and Lumer right now… great energy. Also check out Chiedu Oraka fighting the corner for a Hull voice in rap and grime music.†
Can we mention Lincoln?
Mick and Mez were ‘Born in Lincoln but Brewed in Hull’. Nuff said.
Mez/Mick. What’s it like working with your brother?
As two brothers we were brought up on the same musical diet. We owe a lot to our parents for instilling our creative interests. As a writing partnership it feels very natural, like two voices saying the same thing.
You have been touted as the next big thing, ones to watch, about to break for a while now, do you think with the release of the album the moment is arriving?
It’s good to have your name banded about as ‘ones to watch’ but you can’t pay too much attention to that shit. The industry is fickle and what’s cool now won’t be next week. So we just stay focused and smash it out for ourselves and anyone who cares. We’ve worked hard on our music and hope the album reaches out and opens more doors. We wanna be surrounded by good people who are on board with what we do. The moment is now… board the train or miss the ride.
How was the tour with Slaves?
Fucking epic. We had the best time with those guys and their crew. We kept them on their toes and played our hearts out. It’s rare for a band in their position to care so much about DIY music and go out of their way to support it… love them or hate them, you won’t get a more genuine pair of legends.
On the Slaves tour the crowd seemed to be really into you with plenty moshing and movement. Has it left you wanting more of the same?
The crowds were insane, it was great to play 2-3k capacity venues and have the room bouncing… just proved we can work those shows, so of course we want more. We†will always give a full show no matter how many people are with us.
You’re not long back from SXSW 2017 which must have been great. Is it a pilgrimage that every music fan should make? Did you get much time to see other bands while you were there?
SXSW was a great experience and we loved every minute. It’s a mad place and the shows were wild. It’s worth any artist taking an opportunity to see the world and jumping on shows like that. We caught up with comrades Idles who smashed it and saw some good sets from PWR BTTM, Duchess Says, and SURVIVOR. We mostly ate pizza slices, drank vodka and avoided gunfire. Don’t mess with Texas.
What are the plans for LIFE for the rest of 2017?
Gig like fuck, release our debut album, smash a load of festivals, keep on doing what we do and not looking back. You’re all invited.
LIFE Play Handmade Festival on the weekend of the 28th – 30th April.