There’s no better feeling than watching a band sing their heart out, play like it’s the last night of their lives and just completely loose themselves with their audience in the music and that’s exactly what it’s like going to a One Night Only gig. From the moment they opened with new track ‘Get Around To It’ to the final riff of ‘Just For Tonight’, they gave us a night we’ll never forget. Intensely passionate and overwhelmingly visceral. Oh how good it is to have them back in our lives.
Coming back to touring after being off the road for so long, how has it been? Have you found it easy to settle back into the routine of it?
George: “Yeah coming back after so long it’s been really fun. It’s so good to see so many old fans again that came 4 years ago for the last shows. I think a lot has changed since then as well, our eyes have opened a lot more. We’re a lot less naive to the business side of things and the industry. We just feel fortunate to be doing it again because we probably didn’t think it was going to happen. We’re having more fun and taking everything in a lot more than we did, which is nice.”
Any interesting tour stories so far?
Johnny: “Yeah yesterday at the hotel we met a guy. He wrote my name and Jimmy’s name down as Johnny with the hat…”
George: “Jimmy with the smile.”
Johnny: “It was just a bit creepy.”
You’ve come back with a new sound but you’ve lost a member of the band, so has your songwriting process changed at all?
George: “To be honest, no, it’s not really changed. We kind of had the record written in the same way we’ve always done it. Johnny joined the band after the record, which is always a tough one but actually in our situation it hasn’t been that difficult because we’re fortunate enough that Johnny’s one of the best guitarists we know and he just kind of jumped straight in. I think we’re just looking forward to writing another batch of new music and having someone new involved that brings a new dimension again to the band, so we can evolve again.”
Does it feel in any way like you’re starting over again with this new era of the band?
George: “Yes, absolutely. In every sense I think. We let our management go. We now run our own label, we self-release. We tour manage pretty much ourselves. We carry all our equipment, we’re our own roadies. We cut back on crew. We cut back on our set up, everything. It almost feels like we’re learning how to be a band now because I think back then when we were that young, you kind of just like get shoved out there and you have no idea of who you want to be or how you want to be perceived. You just have a bunch of songs that are really buzzy at the time. Now we know what it takes. We slowed right down, it was at its peak and it died down but now we’ve just realised that we actually want to build it up again.”
Your previous records, I’m sure, all have certain memories and feelings attached to them when you think back to that time. What does your new material signify to you?
George: “I think the new record was the biggest struggle, to be honest. It doesn’t necessarily sound like that. It was probably the hardest record to make. The one record that maybe for a point we thought that we weren’t going to tour again and we weren’t going to be a band but we wanted to see it through. But I think coming out the other side of it, we’re stronger than ever, especially this tour has opened our eyes up to how amazing our fans are. What they can do for you and like tonight in Manchester, we‘ll probably go out there and there’ll be 250 people cheering us on and that’s what it’s all about.”
What bands were you listening to while working on the new record?
George: “We were definitely listening to a lot more left-field stuff than our old influences. Listening to a lot of Prince, bands like Talking Heads, current bands like Bombay Bicycle Club stuff like that. What I’ve always liked to say about our band you can’t pin us to sounding like a certain band, we’ve kind of got elements of certain bands but we write, we just write pop songs but kind of have our own mix on it. But the new material is just a lot more rhythmical, it’s just got a lot more skip to it, a lot more groove.”
How has the fan reaction been to the band coming back?
George: “It’s been really good. It’s been great. Especially when people say after the gigs the new songs sound amazing, that’s what you want to hear. They don’t necessarily know it but that makes it amazing and people are saying that’s it’s the best we’ve ever sounded and that’s how we feel. So it’s good that people are relating to what we think. We’re definitely the tightest and most experienced players we’ve ever been, and we’ve got Johnny as well. These new songs have got so much space rhythmically. They’re simple but very very intricate, the parts you play live and when you get that tight, it really comes across live and it’s really quite cool that people are digging it. It’s nice to see people singing along to the new songs.”
Going back to the early days, what were your impressions of each other when you first met?
George: “I think we all had a lot in common. We were all at the same school, we were all very young. I was the youngest. Everyone probably thought I was really annoying and really hyperactive, because I was probably 12 years old when we first met so that’s like 12 years ago or something. We got on well and that’s why we’re almost still the original band, we’ve got 3 original members which is pretty solid. You know things change in bands as they develop it’s quite normal really.”
If you could create a supergroup with any musicians of your choosing, who would that be and what would you call yourselves?
George: “I don’t know, I’m sure you could name a few musicians you would want in a group, a supergroup, Johnny? Michael Jackson would have to be in there wouldn’t he?”
George: “Johnny loves playing Michael Jackson ‘Rock With You’ on the guitar every day, it’s brilliant.”
Johnny: “Prince to MD it. Nile Rodgers on guitar and David Williams on guitar as well as Nile because he’s incredible, he played on all Michael Jackson’s stuff. So who would be on lead guitar?”
George: “Dave Grohl just for fun.”
Johnny: “He’d be chugging out rock rhythm, maybe get Slash as well. Who would play bass?”
George: “You could get POB on the bass. POB’s got the best legs in rock n roll so.”
Johnny: “Who would play drums?”
George: “What would we call it?”
Johnny: “I don’t know. It’s an impossible dream. The impossible dream.”
George: “Yeah the impossible dream, good one.”
Your videos are always memorable, particularly your latest for ‘Plasticine’ with a microphone that’s on fire and a house that’s being taken apart piece by piece. I was a little worried that your face was getting a little bit too close to the mic.
George: “There was a lot of concern, but I thought you just have to go for it if you’re gonna be next to a mic on fire. It’s gonna look good, so I’m just gonna go for it.”
Johnny: “Did you feel the heat coming off it?”
George: “I felt the heat, yeah and literally when we were in that dark room, it was completely pitch black and that microphone was only thing lighting us up. A lot of people thought it was special effects, or it was other lights. That whole video shoot was done on a shoestring budget, everybody was really hands on. It was probably the lowest budget video I’ve ever done but the best video I’ve ever made. It’s amazing what you can do with a bit of creativity isn’t it?”
How was it like getting back and filming a music video?
George: “Yeah actually it was really fun. I think this whole past couple of months doing a gig, doing a video, it’s felt a bit surreal for us because we’ve all not really been playing music every day for about 3 years. We’ve all been up to other things, having to do things not necessarily that we don’t want to do but stuff that pays the bills, other work in other areas. Honest work. It’s amazing really. It’s what we should always do, when we get on stage we always feel this is what we wanna be doing. I think as a musician you’ll always have that feeling, whether it’s taken away from you or not. When you do get on stage you’ll always feel at home and we sort of seem to own it every night, it’s good. We’re enjoying it.”
Now you can look back at the early days of One Night Only with clarity, what were those initial years like? Touring the globe, the fame, working with Emma Watson and everything else?
George: “I think it was pretty electric really. It’s quite mad to think that we did that at such a young age and quite naively as well. You kind of let a lot of it go over your head and you don’t realise what really goes on behind the scenes to make things happen and how much other people are working on it. It was an amazing experience and to be honest, I don’t know how we dealt with it at such a young age but I don’t know how you would deal with it if it just started now, out of nowhere. It’s a very weird experience to be honest. It can kind of disrupt people’s lives in a lot of ways when you have that and then it’s taken away and it dies down.”
Johnny: “Certainly if you’re touring extensively for a long time. To all of sudden not be, it’s a strange withdrawal process. You get so used to the routine but it’s also quite a disruptive routine as well because you’re going from one place to another but particularly for an evening’s work and the day is travelling so you’re very much into night time mode. To then get back into the routine of a daytime routine it’s really hard to do. Also it’s hard to get into it at the beginning of the tour, to get into the swing of things.”