OtherPeoplesLives combine pensive ambient moodiness with vast melodious indie soundscapes, delicately resting on frontman, Matthew “Peasey” Pease-Bower’s arresting, sonorous vocals. The band are set to headline their own single launch party on 18th April at Leeds 360 Club, and I can’t recommend more that you attend this gig and sample the musical delights of the night. OtherPeoplesLives are a band that have the potential and ability to be hugely popular, and 2014 looks to set this motion.
I caught up with the band last Monday (10/02/14) before their set supporting Shy Nature at Manchester’s Castle Hotel, to discuss everything from their début EP, the music scene in Leeds and much, much more.
Describe OtherPeoplesLives in three words or less.
Peasey (lead vocals/guitar): Hard to categorise.
Sam (synths/guitar/backing vocals): Cannot pigeonhole.
Peasey: I think we’ll settle with that, I think it’s the best answer that’s gonna come from this collective of minds.
You released your début EP, Unfold, late last year. How was the response been to that so far and I hear that you’ve been working on a new single, what can we expect from that? Is it a slight departure from your début?
Peasey: The response actually has been quite good given that it’s a self release, we haven’t tried to make a big song and dance or fanfare. It was essentially like putting your foot in a bath to see if it’s hot enough; it was just to see if people understood it. The EP launch, I think it’s fair to say, went really well; 120 people there and we put that gig on ourselves in a church, so it’s quite elaborate to do something like that.
Bryce (drums): Nobody else had really done that kind of stuff, all the regular venues that people had put gigs on at where you’d get single launches and EP launches every other week.
Peasey: The Packhorse in Leeds every week they’ve got someone launching a single or an EP there, which is great but then it’s economical. I don’t feel like that would’ve made any sense at all for us, whereas if you think about it the church does make sense; it’s a really grand gesture and it’s quite elaborate and there’s a lot of reverb in a church. We like a lot of reverb.
Bryce: It did kind of set us out as to how we’re not taking the same approach as a lot of Leeds bands and that we view things a bit differently and since doing that The Gaslight Club they put gigs on there every month now because we did it and they went if those guys can do that.
Peasey: As far as the single goes, pulling it back to the question [laughs]. It’s gonna be, oddly, Unfold, which is the title track I’d been sort of slaving over for a while in private, but I wanted to finish it. Get it right. It took a while to get right behind the scene and it’s fair to say we should probably touch on the fact that Rob is relatively new to the band.
We sort of got to a point where we were happy with it, and events conspired where James, our former guitarist – a really good friend of mine, a best friend… We had to come together and push on and we didn’t have the time as that group of five people, but now that we do we feel like Unfold as a single will be great because we can tie that section of our existence off. We’ve adapted what it is and we’re really happy with that.
Who are your musical influences and how do they influence your sound?
Peasey: You’ve opened up a can of worms there! No-one in this band can pick one influence, it’s just not possible.
Bryce: There’s grey areas between all of us where we overlap in what we like and there’s bands in those grey areas that we can all share appreciation of, that we all enjoy, but we wouldn’t necessarily say that is where we get our influence from. I think what makes us what we are is the individual influences of each person coming into it and making it work in a group format. Sam’s into his house music and to be fair, we all appreciate house music.
Sam: Massive hip hop influence, we’ve got post rock influence, we’ve got jingly jangly indie influence.
Peasey: Pop. Good pop music I adore. I love the initial innovators of pop music, whether it’s Bowie or whether it’s Gaga, it’s something where people go ‘Woah, that’s really different’ and it’s still the template of pop music but that’s what excites me about pop music.
Speaking of musical influences. If you could create your dream line-up for a gig. Who would you choose to be on the bill?
Peasey: Can I go out on a limb and say Radiohead is going to headline?
Sam: We’ve got to start with a venue first, haven’t we?
Peasey: We’re gonna be playing in an hour and half aren’t we? We can’t do that. Radiohead’s got to headline obviously.
Rob (guitar): Led Zepplin.
Peasey: We’re inspired by anyone who goes out and at least tries to carve their own path in some way, so it would be eclectic – that much we can say.
You are very active on social media, twitter and facebook in particularly. How important is to for you to connect with your fans that way?
Chris (bass/backing vocals): Some of us more than others [laughs].
Sam: One thing that we do is that we keep in contact with people that we really like, anyone that has actually taken the time out to appreciate what we do.
Bryce: Any platform where you can engage with somebody who is genuinely interested in what you do is never a negative thing. It should be utilised, but it should be utilised in the right way.
Peasey: To me, it should be in a personable way – not like an advert, you should talk to people. If you see something cool, you should show them that.
Sam: Even in discussions when we know we’re booking a gig, say in Manchester, we all know on twitter or on facebook, the guys or the girls who have shown some love for us and we think about them.
Peasey: We hope to see them; we get in touch with them. We let them know and if we can, we try and sort them out something or other. Point being; if you care about this band, then we care about you because it’s a hugely flattering and humbling moment when someone genuinely cares about something you’ve created.
Tonight will be the first time I’ve seen your band live, for me and other’s that may be new to an OtherPeoplesLives gig, what can we expect from your live set?
Bryce: The way the sets structured it brings you up and it brings you back down.
Peasey: It comes back to the dance music influence because I don’t really have enough time for people who want to make public service announcements between songs and I don’t want to stand there and list all the various social media’s that you can get us on.
Bryce: It has to have a flow to it, it’s not just like playing a cd, start stop, start stop, start stop. We spend a lot of time making sure that that happens because there’s nothing worse than going to see a band and it’s just literally like a three minutes song, two minutes of messing around trying to get ready for the next song, three minute song, two minutes of silence and messing around…
Do you ever find it hard sometimes to keep the crowd’s attention with people’s increasing obsessions with their phones at gigs?
Sam: No, not all. No. [Everyone laughs]. Only when they’re taking pictures of us because we’re pretty good looking. [laughs]
Rob: There’s always people talking at gigs, there’s always people that are disinterested because they’re there for the other bands.
Bryce: I see it as like you can generally judge an atmosphere in a room. People talking isn’t always a negative thing because you can feel a positive kind of energy from it where they’re going like ‘these guys sound a little bit different‘ or this or that. It’s only ever where it’ll be like ‘oh, for God’s sake will these guys just stop’ that’d have an impact.
But that’d never happen because we look happy to be on stage and we are, so if anybody was to come and see us and be disinterested and not care, fair enough but I guess we wouldn’t be something that they’d want to hear. I’d hope that they’d respect the fact that obviously we care greatly about what we do and it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Whether you like any genre of music or anything it should be an impressive fact about something, you should identify that and be like ‘wow, these guys actually give a crap about what they’re doing’.
Peasey: I think to summarise we definitely perform passionately, we enjoy what we do and there will be smiling, there will be serious faces. There will be some generic rock pose number 47 [laughs]. We’re just a bunch of guys playing some songs, we really enjoy that and if people aren’t into it then we’re not going to change that, we’re going to continue to be who we are and what we do.
Is image an important aspect to your band?
Peasey: It might surprise people or it might not, but we quite a straightforward bunch of guys and there’s no intent of having a specific look or image. I admire and I think it’s fair to say we all admire to some extent, Arcade Fire. They’re great at doing that, reinventing themselves musically and image wise every time, David Bowie too. That’s cool, that’s their bag, but for us we’re just happy going out there playing what we play and enjoying what we do.
We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?
Peasey: Post War Glamour Girls because that album they just put out is brilliant.
Bryce: We listened to it on the way up. They’ve absolutely nailed it, playing with them when we did at this venue (The Castle Hotel, Manchester), you saw something in it and it was just incredible, such an engaging, intense show and I thought you couldn’t really transpose that to an album, but they’ve just absolutely nailed it.
Peasey: Battle Lines, I really like what they do. These are all really Leeds based bands generally speaking but there’s so much happening. Hookworms put out a great album last year, which I’m still catching up with really.
What are your thoughts on the music scene in Leeds? From what I know myself and what I’ve heard, there is quite a buzz around the city surrounding the music scene. Are there any venues you’d recommend checking out?
Rob: If you think about all the bands in Leeds that are doing well, there’s such a diverse mix of bands. It’s not just one scene, like ‘oh, Leeds has a good punk scene’, there’s just so much going on, like they’re all our peers and mates and it’s good to see someone making something different.
Sam: Even down to producers like JohnBear, BRIA; there’s loads of different people making great music up in Leeds.
Bryce: I think it’s very respectful, there’s a lot of respect through the vast majority of the bands in Leeds. There’s not really any kind of categorised genre/scene, other than metal, a lot of the metal kids stay together and that’s it, but everything else is like a big melting pot of different styles that are all interested in different things but you all have a mutual respect and appreciation for what everyone’s doing.
Sam: Brunell Social Club does everything.
Peasey: He’s a really good guy and he’s been doing it for such a long time bringing in a wide range of excellent artists. It’s nice that there’s lots of different things happening, there’s lots of different smaller venues cropping up. You can’t really look past The Cockpit because it’s been there for a long time.
Bryce: You can’t last that long if you’re not doing something right.
Peasey: Belgrave music hall has just opened and I can only see that as a positive for the scene because that’s a 250 capacity and there wasn’t any competition really in the city centre for a venue of that size. There’s Trinity Church obviously also.
Rob: Missed out one of the other venues as well, The Library.
Bryce: You can’t overlook that, they’ve done more for us than most people.
Peasey: It’s pivotal, but Rich, that guy puts the hours in for helping you with respect to many promoters that are nice and they’ll say hello to you and they’ll offer you another gig, like Ben Lewis, is a lovely, lovely guy. But with Rich, his whole ethos is if I book you it’s because I believe in you and if you need help or advice I’m always there at the end of the phone. No matter if you haven’t played a gig for me in six months or a year, if you ‘re in trouble with recording contacts or you don’t really know what venue to play in London, I will help you as much as I possibly can and that is invaluable.
Bryce: I think Eiger as well, it’s like a rehearsals, practise space, studio, it’s everything. It’s a great venue, the gig we played there for their Christmas party, it was like an all day festival, it was one of the best gigs we’ve played.
What do you hope to achieve with the band in 2014?
Sam: Play some festivals.
Bryce: Gig, record, just have fun with it. Enjoy what we’re doing, try and progress ourselves a little bit.
Peasey: Push ourselves as musicians and make something that people can enjoy.
Bryce: It’s the little milestones that mean the most I think, like just being able to come to another city and play a gig is an incredible thing. Just having an interview right now is an incredible thing. For us that’s the way we feel about it, it’s those little things that are the little parts that is the sole reason why we do it.
Peasey: Whatever happens happens. But as long as we increase our potential as a band and we expand on what we can do as musicians, I think we’re all happy with that. To have more people appreciate that’s a plus and if it happens, it happens.
Chris: Just a few beers along the way.
A special thanks to OtherPeoplesLives for this interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.