“Can you make our random facts sound better?,” Will Taylor (Flyte’s lead singer/guitairst) jests, after our interview ended last Sunday night. For a band that seemingly sprung up overnight in the summer of 2013 and have since gone on to score support slots with Bombay Bicycle Club and Stevie Wonder, you would think they’d already have the perfect answer lined up for every question in the book but no, that’s the not case as it would come to be.
Flyte may be perfectly formed in their musical output, but when stood right in front of you, each member still bares a rough around the edges, untainted purity to themselves. Although, they are bubbling with an eagerness to impress and impress they do.
But what strikes me is their honesty, their strength of character. At the heart of it, they’re four lads from London that are living the dream: making music, touring the country, playing show after show in small rooms. Trying to carve out a pathway for themselves for future longevity, and with songs like ‘Light Me Up’ and ‘Over and Out’, it’s clear that they have the goods to make that happen.
Charlotte, Bitter Sweet Symphonies: To introduce yourselves can you each give us a random fact about yourselves?
Nick: “My name’s Nick and I play bass in Flyte. My favourite cheese is Camembert.”
Will: “My name is Will and I play the guitar and sing. I’ve never eaten crab.”
Sam: “Should we make them all food related?”
Jon: “Hi I’m Jon and I play the drums and I sing backing vocals. My hair is actually very, very dark brown not black.”
Sam: “Hello I’m Sam, I play keyboards and guitar and I do singing as well…backing singing. I have webbed feet…webbed toes. That’s my random fact.”
Welcome back to Manchester! The last time you were here you were on tour with Bombay Bicycle Club – a big moment I’m sure. How did that come about? How was the tour?
Will: “Well it came about quite organically really. I think they like to choose the acts they go on tour with and they collaborate with Rae Morris and before it was Lucy Rose. They’re basically quite meticulous about everything really. But that was an amazing tour and the Manchester show was wonderful, it was at The Albert Hall for the last two nights [of the tour]. Treacherous stage though, incredibly tall, an enormous fall could be had by one rocking out on that stage.”
Sam: “It was an amazing tour though.”
Will: “It was amazing. I think we were really lucky that early on to get on such a large platform. When we were at Brixton Academy that was 5000 people and it’s like ‘How did we get here?’. You feel like you haven’t quite earned it yet but it’s great. I think a lot of people on this tour that we’ve been doing now, it’s our first headline tour, have been the people from that tour that saw us in those crowds.”
So, you played at The Albert Hall in Manchester – a fairly iconic venue. I’m a big lover of the venues architecture. What was it like playing there?
Will: “Again the very tall stage. It was beautiful yeah, you could look the people on the balcony straight in the eye, they were amazingly positioned.”
Sam: “It was the last two days of the tour as well so it was emotional.”
Nick: “Yeah we definitely had a big party backstage.”
Will: “Jon cried.”
Sam: “He cried during the set.”
Will: “Or in the last song, he cried. Wailed, it was really embarrassing.”
Going from those days in a comfortable bedroom set up to the dizzying heights of playing in Hyde Park and at this year’s Reading & Leeds festival. It must feel quite surreal that things have taken off so quickly for you?
Will: “It is very surreal. In another way, the way we’ve sort of always played it, leading up to the point where Flyte was formed and it was evident that it was something we wanted to push, take forward. Leading up to that point, we really had been very submerged and reclusive, never releasing anything and never putting anything up online, we didn’t even have a facebook account.
Let’s say for about 6 years after school, Jon and I, before Sam and Nick joined us. We were just [spending] every single day, all day long working and working the music. So when the time came, Sam joined last year and the whole thing was formed. It was actually quite a finished product, there and then, so I think it was almost like ‘Well we’ve got the band now, it works. We’ve got the songs, and all that work had been put in the preliminary stage’.”
Jon: “It feels like its quick but it’s actually taken a lot of work. So for us it doesn’t feel quick as well because we do it every day.”
Will: “But it feels like at this stage a case of just ticking those boxes and playing those shows. Getting those fans.”
The music videos have become quite the statement for your band because they are so charming and low-key, they almost feel homely. Do you feel that you’ve found your niche?
Will: “I think yes, accidentally that may have become our niche. It certainly makes it easy in a way when coming at the video, when it hasn’t been made it yet and you haven’t thought what it’s going to be. There is that structure of our aesthetic that we like to maintain. Certain sort of trademark things I guess, like those particular colours that are occurring.”
Sam: “Because the general trend for videos seems to be quite posh, glossy stuff at the moment. I think we try and avoid that.”
Will: “Yeah I think when you don’t have any money and you try and make an expensive looking video, it’s often not, do you know what I mean? It’s just about an idea at that stage, the early stage, you just have to have a good idea and it has to have a general look to it and then you can kind of get away with murder. Do a video with £50. So yeah, maybe we’ll totally betray our staple thing the minute we get a bit of money, you know have dancing girls and have everything in pink. You know, photoshopping ourselves. Do a collab with Jessie J. That’s our ambition.”
I feel that it’s inevitable that “We Are The Rain” will become a disco hit played at all the school discos and birthday parties. How do you feel about that?
Will: “Yes, well we hope so. We very much hope so.”
Jon: “That’s exactly what we had in mind. Pure school disco, touching girls bums for the first time.”
Will: “Do you remember in the school discos when you’re slow dancing with each other and then ultimately at the end you both have your hands on each other’s bums? Do you know what I mean? Well you know the moment that happens that’s maybe when that track comes on and hands on bums, ‘We Are the Rain’ snaps on to the P.A.”
What does pop music mean to you?
Will: “Well it means everything. I think it has a lot more weight in terms of like an art form than people think. I think also we’ve slightly started to formulate this theory that basic melody, simplistic pop melody is sort of out of fashion at the moment, things need to be a bit subtler. The same with films the way that structure is less clear and films stretch out for longer, they’re more flattened out and I think we’re like reigning against that in a way.
Having that almost nursery rhyme like thing about the songs, that you can draw that melody in the air almost, you can whistle it, you wouldn’t need to hear the rest of the music to hear what that song was. So that’s how we consider pop in a way, it’s music for absolutely everyone, it’s supposed to override tastes.”
Jon: “It should be immediate, it should be clear, it should be pure. It should be just getting the song, the sentiment.”
Will: “Yeah clarity is crucial. I think that now pop is kind of a dirty word to certain people. You’ve either got pop or you’ve got the underground alternative, and the way that the underground alternative is like its for clever muso people that are really into music and it can be quite difficult and a little bit alienating, and then pop is like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj and horrible shit. So I think there seems to be a void in the middle where those things can actually meet, so you can actually have the simplicity and the catchiness and the accessibility of pop but also with the depth of alternative music.”
The question that was screaming at me to ask you. What’s your favourite power ballad?
Sam: “We were listening to ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ the other day – that was very divisive as a song actually – I was going for that one, that’s a good one. Well actually it would be something like ‘November Rain’.”
Will: “That’s controversial. I think ‘November Rain’ is really a horrible choice and I like that.”
Sam: “A power ballad is fundamentally is a genre that you enjoy ironically, yeah you can’t really take it that seriously. I’d go for ‘November Rain’ being a perfect example of that.”
Will: “Lady in Red.”
Jon: “The one that Ricky Gervais does. ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’.”
Will: “Yeah lets go with that one.”
Your songs are about storytelling. Who were the songwriters that you looked up to when you were younger? The one’s that inspired you and sparked something inside you to possibly write your own songs…
Will: “Paul Simon was an enormous influence. The Beatles, Joni Mitchell. Leonard Cohen, lyrically for me was a big influence. The Kinks was also a big influence. The Smiths. I think Paul Simon ‘Graceland’ and Beatles compilations in the car when you’re six years old driving to the South of France or something, those are those formative early memories, that’s the stuff. Spice Girls.”
Jon: “That’s genuine as well, the Spice Girls, that’s for real.”
Nick: “‘Wannabe’ I think was the first tape I ever bought.”
Will: “‘Spice World’, I had that on tape as well.”
What’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written so far?
Will: “Oh I don’t know about that, it’s a horrible question because I just sound like a dick quoting my own lyrics.”
Sam: “I love the second verse to ‘Words Come Easily’, that’s my favourite thing. I love that verse.
Will: “Yeah I like the second verse to ‘Words Come Easily’. Go with that.”
Quick fire questions:
If you had to change your band name but could only change it to a TV show or movie, what would you call yourself?
Jon: “Saved by the Bell”
Will: “Yeah, Roadhouse”
Sam: “League of Gentlemen”
All: “That’s genuinely good.”
If you could play a show at any world monument, where would you play?
Jon: “Monument in London.”
Will: “We like to be really obvious and proudly British, maybe something like Big Ben. What about behind the clock face of Big Ben with all the cogs and stuff.”
Sam: “Or the Statue of Liberty. Play in the torch.”
The best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Will: “Always write every day. That’s all that matters.”
Nick: “Drink lots of water”
Sam: “To quit smoking. To not smoke. I never really was a smoker. Just don’t smoke cigarettes because they’re bad for you.”
A lyric or phrase that means a lot to you?
All: “ I don’t want to close my eyes / I don’t want to fall asleep because I miss you babe and I don’t want to miss a thing.” [laughs]
Will: “No, I like: “Songs are like tattoos” from the song ‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell.”