On Thursday, I met APRIL TOWERS prior to their headline show at The Bodega for an interview. Here’s what went down.
So, April Towers, you have your first headline gig at The Bodega tonight, are you excited?
Alex: We are unbelievably excited. Because it got booked quite a while ago, there has been a lot of build up to it. It sounds strange, but you don’t think about the actual day, and then it just creeps up on you. But yeah, we can’t wait. We’ve worked for a year and a half to get to where we are now, so it’s going to be a special show I think.
What have you guys been up to lately? I know April Towers has had a single release?
Charlie: Yeah, we released Arcadia on 27th October, and we had a couple of gigs last week in Bristol and Machester supporting Kyla La Grange which was pretty special. We played at Hockley Hustle at The Contemporary for BBC Introducing which was a great show, and now here we are today! With a headline show to top it all off really…
Alex: We’ve been rehearsing our new songs really. We’re playing for 45 minutes tonight, and we’ve never played longer than 25 before. So, we’re playing four new songs, and that’s been a bit nerve wracking to get everything ready but we have sound checked, and everything works, so that’s a bonus! So yeah, that’s really what we’ve been working on, and this will probably be our last show for a while.
Have you got some stuff in the pipeline then?
Alex: Well yeah, hopefully next year we will still be touring in some capacity, but until Christmas and New Year we’ll be concentrating in the studio and getting some new tracks ready for next year. Then looking towards a single release towards February time. It’s going to be weird when tonight’s over cause we’ve been working towards it for such a long time. Dunno what I’m gonna do tomorrow.
Charlie: It’s gonna be a day off tomorrow for the first time in 3 weeks! This is the weird point now, the interim where you’re waiting for the show. I find this part the hardest part, because it’s a build up of nerves and excitement. I just kinda want to get on the stage.
So you mentioned a single release, reckon you guys might put together an EP or an album in the future?
Charlie: For us, an EP isn’t necessarily the way we want to go. We wouldn’t like to give too much material away before doing an album. It’s nice for people to hone in on particular tracks and maybe a b-side. I think that’s a nicer way for us of doing things.
Alex: It’d be nice for us if we’re on the road next year if we maybe brought something out just to sell on the road perhaps, but we’ve not said in concrete we’re gonna put out an EP or an album. We haven’t even thought of an album yet as we have so many tracks that it’s going to be a bit painful to choose an album as we’ll have to exclude a lot of tracks that are special to us. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Talk to me a bit more about your process of writing music and how you go about it?
Charlie: It’s a bit of an interesting one between us because we don’t write music together, we write completely separately, so Alex might send me an iPhone recording with a vocal melody and a basic drumbeat (on an old Yamaha keyboard), with a sort of synth line or whatever, and I’ll essentially craft that into a song. From then we’ll just send it back and forth via email and kind of go “yes”, “no” or “what do you think of this?”.
Alex: You’re making it sound more simple than it is. We send it via email, but there’s like a million different phone conversations of “what chord goes after this chord?”, and “what is that exact note” and it’s all very much a case of modern technology firing the writing process, which is a different way of doing it. I have to write long emails explaining exactly what I mean because I’m not as technical as Charlie, so I’ll say “something sounds a bit spacey” when I know it actually has a technical term.
Charlie: But I always seem to understand what he means. A lot of stuff we’ve written recently, I’ve written the instrumental and sent Alex the track and said “put some vocals on it”. Two songs we’re playing tonight we’ve done that approach, and it’s completely different angle to April Towers. It’s more dance-y stuff.
Alex: It’s a set of two halves tonight. It’s vibrant, exciting dance stuff combined with the more dreamy aspects, like Arcadia and Running Blind. It’s going to be nice to give these other longer, more sophisticated songs a live outing tonight. That’s the great thing, we were able to sculpt our set tonight, whereas with a 25 minute support slot you are kind of limited in what you can do, and you have to show yourself off a bit. We’ve worked hard to get to this point, and hopefully it’s just the beginning.
You talked a bit about your future plans, but do you have any dreams for April Towers on where you’d like to be in a few years time?
Charlie: It’s really hard to say, because you never know with music where it’s going to take you. Look at Royal Blood for example, they were playing at The Chameleon to 7 people, and now they’re one of the biggest bands in the UK right now.
Alex: I think me and Charlie just want to have a career as musicians more than anything, and want that first and foremost. We want to work hard to what we’re doing, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to headline Glastonbury or play arena shows, but we’d be just as happy making a comfortable living being a musician. On a local level, I was watching Sleaford Mods 7 or 8 years ago, and you wouldn’t have thought they’d be where they are now, but that’s through hard work and determination, and shows how strong Nottingham is as a scene at the moment.
So, talking about the Nottingham Scene, who are you guys fans of?
Charlie: Oh God, erm. OneGirlOneBoy we’re particularly big fans of, we like what they’re doing.
Alex: I like the new indie music coming through, like Suspect Alibi, a new young and great band. There’s Hotbox too who are from our old school, they’re gonna be something for sure.
Charlie: The Gorgeous Chans.
Alex: Yep, we played on such a great bill for Hockley Hustle. Aja too.
Charlie: And Georgie Rose we love, she’s fantastic.
Alex: She is fantastic. There’s a great electronic scene in Nottingham but we don’t just focus on that, we go and watch people from all genres.
If you could describe yourselves in 3 words, how would you?
Alex: Music or personality?
Well, music is what I was going for…
Charlie: You do a music one, I’ll just do a general one of what I think describes us as people.
Alex: Three words… Danceable dream pop.
Charlie: Personality wise… Alan Partridge fanatics.
Having last seen APRIL TOWERS at The Chameleon in the spring time, I was feeling hyped to see them again. Before I got the chance to, I was first treated to a set by ONEBIT, a band I haven’t heard of before, which is always a great feeling.
OneBit are another electronic duo of boys, however, they are different in their own right. OneBit have some seriously funky electronic beats, with some punchy vocals and an intensity to the music which is both exciting and emotive. The songs have some excellent build ups, with one song using a live snare drum which really pushed it forward. The music is absorbing, it just seems to suck you in and make you dance, even if you aren’t particularly willing. Their songs have some great textures, combining spacious and expansive synths which are soft and dramatic, with other synths that are poignant and poke through the soundscape. They have a great dance feel to them, whilst also not going too far and being a little downbeat. On stage they have a great presence together, and are entertaining to watch. Well worth catching a gig.
APRIL TOWERS were next on the stage, playing their first headline show ever at The Bodega, and they packed it out for sure. The people flocked in to see them perform, and were bopping throughout the entire set. Their performance was passionate, with so much energy being put into it, that I almost thought they were going to burst at some points! They’ve got some well balanced layers in their music, combining some fuzzy synths which high pitched melodies which set it off and make it fly. Charlie and Alex performed some great vocal harmonies together, which connected them on stage and made the music gel. It was tense and heartfelt, and the expressive vocal delivery from Alex teetered on the edge of being a bit pitchy, but this often happened in the higher registers where his voice was being strained, which was usually during an emotional climax of the song, so it didn’t really bother me as I quite like that kind of thing. A favourite song of mine from the set was written about “that friend who moves to London and becomes a kn*b”, as Alex described on stage. It’s a fun track, with some powerful simple melodies, which were sang with gusto and passion. The vocals felt quite stark over the music, due to a lack of reverb, but it punched through and added an interesting layer. Another favourite track of the evening (met with an amazing crowd response) was Arcadia. This is their single which was released on 27th October, and it’s a great choice for a single, but live it’s even better. With an erupting chorus and a catchy melody, it’s a winner. Plus the lights went bonkers which just made it even more exciting. It was performed with feeling, which is always a pleasure to watch, as it feels honest. April Towers also bust out some new songs, with No Curruption being one, which was sang in a very interesting, conversational vocal style, with lines being thrown between the two voices. I like it, it’s a bit weird, and the chords feel relentless and cyclic which adds a bit of tension to the song. They ended on Peaks, another musically interesting piece, with the vocals going to places I wouldn’t expect, and being taken by surprise is something I always enjoy at a gig. The track started synthy as per, but when the drums kicked in, I heard one of those classic “arghs” of satisfaction from the audience, where they could totally feel the beat and had to make noise as a direct result of that. There is some great guitar work too, with the past paced repetitive notes which rumble underneath the synths and add uncertainty and angst. April Towers have come on impressively since I saw them, I’m really loving their new musical direction, and I like that they are experimenting and hope to see even more of this in their future work.
April Towers’ single Arcadia is out now, available from iTunes.
Written by Cassia Helme
Photographs by Cassia Helme