After the end of the lockdowns and the return of live gigs there has been a number of new bands making waves in the alternative rock scene, and Manchester’s own Pyncher are among those leading the charge. With a debut EP seeing the light in July, following a serious of successful shows in their home city and with a UK tour scheduled for the Summer, they have now descended on London to play an electrifying set at the Windmill in Brixton, one of the most iconic venues for the grassroots punk and rock scene in the capital.
There is something of the rite of passage in playing the Windmill, a venue where many well-established and well-loved bands have taken their first steps, but Pyncher have risen to the challenge with ease and charm. Those who have listened to their first two single releases will have been familiar already with their energetic, multi-layered, and somewhat surreal sound, but judging by the response of the crowd, even for those just then making their first acquaintance with the band, the impression they made was a strong one. This is certainly due in part to a charismatic stage presence not just from the front man, but rather remarkably from the whole band; it is increasingly rare to see the weight of live performance so equally distributed between band members, but Pyncher most certainly delivered in that respect. Throughout the whole set there was always something happening in whichever corner of the stage you might be looking at, perfectly complimenting the rhythmic, bopping nature of the tracks.
The sound is a multifaceted one too, with a broad range of influences coming together to produce a voice that feels remarkably mature for a band just now facing the release of their debut record. This is certainly one of those bands that must be seen live, as it is really only in the live rendition of these tracks that one can fully appreciate their depth of sound and the many different strands, drawn from different genres, coming together to build it up. The base is a heady mixture of Brit-rock, garage rock, and just a bit of punk, with the occasional ripple of bluesy guitars and even some riffs that were almost prog in nature. An excellent rhythm section is one of the standout features of Pyncher’s live sound; pretty much every single bass riff is outstanding, and the drums are doing a lot of heavy lifting too. There is some slick guitar distortion to look forward to as well, and the vocals are somewhat reminiscent of a young Pete Doherty – but rougher, and at the same time, more playful.
Right before the gig, we got to sit down with the band and discuss everything from writing music over the lockdown to the future plans and their dream gig.
So, how did it all start? What is Pyncher’s origin story?
Jack (drums) and Brit (bass) first met at a party, and were planning to start out with another band, but that really never materialised in the end. While Sam (vocals) and Harvey (guitar) met at a vinyl society at Manchester Uni, initially bonding over an argument with someone who hated the Beatles… For Sam, Brit, and Harvey, it’s our first band, so it’s all very new to us. Then we ended up getting all together and we had only started writing some tracks when Covid and the lockdowns happened.
How was that for you, writing music over lockdown when you were just getting started?
We really started rehearsing in October of 2020, so everything was locked down and we actually had some nine months before we played our first gig. It kind of worked for us because it gave us a lot of time to work on our sound, figure out what we really wanted it to be like. For a lot of bands who were already playing before, it was really bad, but for us, it was an opportunity to work on the tracks. At first we recorded individual sections and shared them with each other, and then when we finally got back to Manchester we already had something to build on. It was by January of 2021 that we started getting into our sound – the things we had at first were a little more indie, which was cool in its own way but not as distinctive as it is now.
So you didn’t miss the experience of trying things out live first thing?
It was actually lucky for us to have a chance to hide away for a while and work on our voice. Especially when it’s your first band you often need a lot of gigging to refine it before you can put anything out. First impressions are so important too, if you come out as a new band and don’t yet have that distinctive voice, you might get kind of lost in the crowd.
Speaking of sound, how would you describe your sound as it is now?
One interesting thing that we’ve been told is that there’s a little bit of Western there, like a little bit of Spaghetti Western. Which we were glad to hear because we like that kind of thing. Then a bit of surf rock – and we also like heavy riffs, White Stripes, anything quite raw and with a lot of soul to it. The Cramps and Modern Lovers are big influences too.
And what about the lyrics – you’ve got some very interesting ones.
Sam writes the lyrics and he likes to write about random stuff – really, anything that comes to mind. We get asked often what the lyrics mean, but it’s actually really nice when people come up to us and tell us what they think they mean, what they’ve heard in it. We try to go for this vein of almost absurd at times. But mostly it’s what goes well with the music, we’ll have the music first and see what comes out of that. It’s really fun to see what comes up.
Manchester is also a really lively scene, what’s your experience of that?
It’s a really supportive scene, we were actually surprised by how easy it was to meet other artists and build actual friendships. It’s a very warm environment, artists just support each other. Also with bands that are already well established, they are usually really approachable – it’s funny because sometimes we felt a little starstruck at first and everyone was just so friendly. When we played that first gig in Manchester we didn’t expect too much, but we met a lot of people we’re still friends with now, like DEAFDEAFDEAF for instance.
Do you have a favourite club in Manchester?
We have been playing Fuel a lot, which is where we first played. We also played the White Hotel once and that was really cool – something of a similar vibe to here at the Windmill.
And what’s the weirdest or funniest thing that’s happened to you while playing a gig?
We were playing at a venue called the Deaf Institute in Manchester, and right between songs someone shouted “Daniel Radcliffe!” at us. We couldn’t figure out who they meant, whether Harvey or Sam – we think it was Sam in the end. And everyone laughed – the laughter was louder than any of the cheers we got. Maybe I [Sam] should start shouting “Expelliarmus!” or something.
You have a tour planned for the Summer, where will you be playing?
We’re going to do Brighton, then Liverpool, Exeter, and Bristol, which we have never done before… We really are trying to expand beyond Manchester now – if we had a map of all the places we played, it would be a ton of pins in Manchester and then a couple in London and we’re really looking to change that. We’re hoping to do some festivals next year, as well.
And finally, if you could play anywhere, with anyone, what would it be?
Maybe here at the Windmill, actually, perhaps with Shame. Or Wembley! If we’re going to do anywhere maybe we should be ambitious and say Wembley. With Bambara. Bambara are good. Although, jokes aside, we really like smaller stages. It works better with our sound and there’s also a better connection with the audience, and with each other, too.
Photo Credit: Beck Cooley