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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The S4L Interview: Reelin' and a Rockin' with The 45's

(The 45's are: Left to Right - Joe Wyatt (Bass and Vocals), James Green (Lead Vocals, Harmonica and Sax), Bailey Claringbold (Drums) and Tom Hamilton-Hughes (Lead Guitar and Vocals)

I can't thank the lads from The 45's enough for taking some time out of studying for their exams to this interview. Big thanks as well to Karl Parsons for setting it all up. All photos are courtesy of The 45's Facebook Page and their Website.

S4L: So, you have been together for just over a year now, how did the band come together?

Tom: There is a great band scene at our school, Nelson Thomlinson in Wigton near Carlisle. In fact that is the reason I went there. Having been in different bands we got together as The 45s over a few months with the aim of being an R 'n' B band – the only one at the school and as far as we knew the only on in the County.

S4L: Are you all at the same school by the way? Back when I was in school (so many years ago now!) there were a few bands formed and they got to play at the school assembly, have you guys had the honour of doing that yet?

James: Yes, we are all in the same year at school and have been sitting our GCSEs. Joe and Tom are leaving to go to college in Kendal in September where they will study music performance. Bailey and I are staying on to do our A levels. We haven’t played at the assembly but we did play at the school prom this year which was great with everyone dancing along and girls screaming! 

S4L: I've been looking at your website and noticed that you have a lot of shows booked for the coming months, mainly at the weekends, have you intentionally done that so you can focus on school work during the week? I take it that you obviously get some band practise in as well during the week? Are you doing at that at one of your houses or do you have a studio or hall you get to use?

How do you find getting the balance right between your school work and wanting to get out and play?

Joe: We have had to turn down lots of gigs in order to free up time for studying. Also, many of our gigs have been late night events where we start at 10.30 and play through to well after midnight. We would be shattered the next day. We are open to all offers of gigs over the summer. It’s just that it’s easier to find gigs at the weekend. We practice in the attic at Tom’s house every week and it is the ’Number 34’ of the song we play. We also arrange a few more formal practice sessions at the Brickyard, a great little live music venue in Carlisle. 

S4L: It seems quite unusual for a group of kids to be playing music that in essence is so "old", what drew you to the blues, rock and roll and r'n'b?

Bailey: Tom arrived at our school a couple of years ago playing and listening to all these old tunes. I was immediately turned on to the Beatles and Tom kept going on about Wilko Johnson and Doctor Feelgood. We started playing all the stuff that the Beatles played in the early days – Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Barrett Strong. Then we got into the Feelgood’s music and played their own stuff and the great songs they covered such as Route 66.

S4L: When was the first time you played live together? How exciting was it getting up on the stage and unleashing your sound for a crowd? After so many shows do you still get the buzz? The music you play is full on energy have you been surprised at the response to the band?

Tom: Our first proper live gig was at a club in Workington called Bar 32 in May last year. It was part of a 2 day festival and we were the support act doing a couple of sets. We went down so well that the owner asked us to come back on after the headline act had finished. We have played so many gigs now that I don’t get nervous but we all have different reactions to it. James has a bit of a ritual to do with toilets before every gig! The buzz when you go onstage and the audience reacts positively is just fantastic. It ends up being a virtuous circle with the audience feeding off our energy and us picking up on that and giving it back to them.

The audience response has been getting better and better. Every place we have played has wanted us back and we really enjoy playing to bigger crowds. Personally, I have always been convinced that the sort of music we play, and the way we play it, would resonate with a wide audience, I think they call it our demographic in the business. Young people just love dancing to our music. They don’t know the difference between a Chuck Berry classic and one of our own songs. They just love the beat.

S4L: Did you enjoy the process of making your video 'Around and Around'? It's not even been up a month and you've had over 3,000 views are you keen to do some more videos?

James: I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was really easy and a lot of fun – just us goofing around really, having a laugh. It’s the sort of thing we do even when there isn’t a camera there! We will definitely be doing more videos as lots of people told us that the images really bring the music alive. Sean, who made it was brilliant.

S4L: What about recording? You've got such a great sound that I'm sure is going to propel you to some success. How aware are you of a band like The Strypes who are playing a similar style of music to The 45's and they are around a similar age to you? Are you excited that there are two young bands out there introducing this great music to a younger generation?

Bailey: It was a little strange when we came across the Strypes around the end of last year. It was if we had a shadowy reflection of ourselves in another dimension. We’ve seen and heard their stuff on You Tube but our paths have yet to cross. It would be interesting to meet up with them to share notes. They are ahead of us in the music business right now but there is plenty room for two great R 'n' B bands and we certainly intend to be one of them!

S4L: One of the questions I'd thought of asking you is how many of your Dad's CD's or albums are currently living in your own rooms? Who's responsible for what cover tunes you play or is it a full band decision? What about writing your own material, have you done much of that yet?

James: It started with Tom getting us all to listen to CDs and LPs of his own or his dad’s, but we would also watch these legendary acts on You Tube where you could get a feel for what they were actually like. We sit around in the attic at Number 34 listening to loads of stuff and we’ll think, “that’s one we could make our own” and just pick up our instruments and play it. Once we’ve got the song down we will play around with it to give it a ‘45s’ feel. We have got eight of our own songs in our set at the moment and have loads more in the pipeline. Tom comes up with the melodies and he and I will work on the lyrics. Joe has written one great song – Little Black Shorts, and we are expecting some more good things from him.

S4L: I looked at your list of influences on your website and was blown away. Real quality guitarists, bluesmen, bands, do you enjoy discovering more and more of this quality music? What are your sources for discovery?

Tom: We are always exploring new music, mostly from the past. Films and TV documentaries have played an important role in helping us understand not just about the music but the social conditions that gave rise to this music. ‘Backbeat’ tells the story of the Beatles in Hamburg and ‘Cadillac Records’ is all about the rise of Chess in Chicago. Wilko is fantastic in ‘Oil City Confidential’ which shows what a great band Dr Feelgood were. I was lucky enough to visit Memphis and Mississippi last year when I went on a Blues harmonica course, staying on an old cotton plantation. I got to play at the Ground Zero blues club in Clarksdale and listened to the blues being played in some of the last juke joints.

S4L: We live in a very technological age these days and so how vital to spreading the word of The 45s are things like Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube?

Joe: It’s absolutely essential these days. Its one of the first things people ask. How many likes do you have on Facebook? We have now had over 3,000 views of our video and most of that has been the result of our Facebook presence with nearly 14,000 likes. It’s also important these days to understand how all these forms of social media are connected and how one drives the other.

S4L: Soundtrack4Life always likes to find out the music that moves you and is part of your own musical journey. So if you could pick three songs each that you think sum up a little of who you are as band that would be great and I'll put together a you tube playlist of those twelve songs for our readers to enjoy.

• Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan
• You Need Lovin’ by The Small Faces
•  Sugar Sweet by Muddy Waters

•  The Last Time by The Rolling Stones
•  My Girl by Otis Redding
•    My Babe by Little Walter

• Sweet Home Chicago by Robert Johnson
• Junkie Doll by Mark Knopfler
• Think it Over by Buddy Holly

• Shake by Sam Cooke
• Tin Soldier by The Small Faces
• Can’t Explain by The Who

S4L: One last question, just stumbled on videos from Wilko J gig in Glasgow with The 45s supporting, wow, how good was that getting to play with one of your influences (I believe you ended up using Wilko's telecaster?)?

Tom: I met Wilko after a gig he played in Kendal a couple of years ago. I went backstage and ended up jamming with him and receiving a master class in how to play his licks. We kept up contact and were due to support him at a gig in Carlisle which was unfortunately cancelled when his illness was announced. We were all going to see Wilko’s farewell gig in Glasgow when his manager got in touch and invited us to open the show. This was the best news we had ever heard. On the night we went down really well and Wilko was watching from the wings. But then I broke a string and when I went to pick up my spare guitar, Wilko’s manager stepped forward with his iconic red Telecaster. The crowd cheered when they saw what I was playing! I now have Wilko’s autograph on the headstock of my own Tele. It was a magical night and we’ve got some great memories and mementoes.

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