Sunday, 29 June 2014

HITS THE SKY: An interview with The Theme!

Below is an exclusive interview with The Theme just after the release of their brand new 'Hits The Sky' EP!
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What is your earliest musical memory and what pushed you towards pursuing a career in the music business?
Paul: "Music has always been a part of my life. One of my earliest memories of music is going to working men’s clubs as a child and watching covers bands, but it wasn't until the early 1990s that I decided to play the guitar with the emergence of the britpop era and bands like Ocean Colour Scene that not only sounded like the bands of the sixties that I loved but also looked the part."
Pete: "My earliest musical memory was my dad coming home from the pub, getting his Hofner acoustic guitar out and singing Elvis songs. There was always a guitar and music in the house so it was always something I was interested in, not necessarily as a career but as something to enjoy."
What kind of records were on around the house when you were younger and would you say that these records still influence your music today?
Paul: "My dad is into music just as much as me and his collection of 45s were always being played as I was growing up. Mainly bands from the 1960s like the Beatles but also The Who, Status Quo, skiffle and soul music. Hopefully all of those sounds influenced my song writing."
Pete: "Lots of early rock and roll, blues, country music. I was brought up on a council estate in Finsbury Park so I had lots of mates and neighbours playing reggae, ska, soul, funk so I had a bit of everything fortunately, and I definitely bring all of those to my playing whether it works and the other lads like it or not!"
Had you been involved in any other bands or musical ventures before The Theme?
Paul: "Yes from picking up the guitar in the nineties I’ve always been in bands from The Chase to Heybulldog. As soon as I learnt my first three chords I was writing songs – ‘Everything’s Fine’ on the latest EP was written around this time but never recorded until I could get the sound right which I think we did on the recording."
Pete: "I'd played in a blues/rock band for a while and started out in a punk/grunge type band a long time ago but I didn't play at all for a few years, so when the opportunity came along to play again I jumped at it."
How did The Theme begin?
Pete: "Paul and Gary got together to play a few songs, just to see how it sounded. By all accounts it was pretty good (it's lies, I’ve seen the video!) so they decided to get a band together with Mart 'The Mod' Gamby on drums, Reece Wiggett on guitar and Antony Morgan on bass. I was friends with Gary for a number of years and used to go to watch their early gigs which were phenomenal, and because I played guitar and harmonica I was lucky enough to join them for a few gigs before Antony left and I stepped in on the bass, initially just to fill in but they couldn’t get rid of me so I stayed! Selina Lumber joined and plays live occasionally and records, but unfortunately Reece had to leave with Darren Cade stepping in on guitar at the start of this year. The core of the band has been settled for a couple of years so with the introduction of Darren this is how we'll remain for the foreseeable future and we're sounding better than ever."
Can you introduce us to the band and tell us what you play?
"Paul Bassom - guitar/songwriter, Gary Davis - vocals, Pete Sim - bass, harmonica, guitar, Martin Gamby – drums, percussion, ukulele, Darren Cade - guitar and Selina Lumber - saxophone, keys, backing vocals."
Where did the name The Theme come from?
Pete: "You know what, no one actually knows? It’s just always been there, but we love it."
How would you describe the sound of The Theme?
Pete: "The first album was definitely more full on and in your face (we still play gigs that way) and there are a lot of different sounds on the album from quite heavy rock songs, a bit of ska, an acoustic song and some lighter moments. Definitely sixties/seventies influenced! The EP is a bit more melodic and soulful but as Paul mentions later the follow up EP will be quite different - I think as a band we'll always explore different styles and sounds which will make things interesting for us and hopefully our listeners."
You recently released the ‘Hits the Sky’ EP. The EP is extremely high quality with plenty of catchy tunes. Why did you choose ‘Hits the Sky’ as the title track?
Paul: "Well personally I saw this EP as a traditional ‘a-b’ side with 'Hits the Sky' being the lead track and the other four songs being the b-sides, as it was when bands released one a-side backed up by three or more b-sides. But it was only when we started the process of recording that I found all five songs were as strong as each other. The EP name had already stuck by then but I’m still glad we chose it because we have had really good reviews and it works great with the artwork."
The artwork for the EP stands out. Who designed it and what is the concept behind it?
Pete: "I’ve worked in graphic design for a long time and through a colleague came across a great local painter, Peter Reeds, who’s artwork really seemed to fit with the sound and feel of the songs. The first line of the song is ‘She gets frustrated when she hits the sky, and can’t come down again’ – the painting really captured that image and we were delighted Peter let us use his work. As a band we’ve met some really talented people so expect some more collaborations in the future. Music, art and imagery go hand in hand."
‘Twisted Little Soul’ is one of the highlights on the EP. What is this song about and what influenced it?
Paul: "The song is about having ambition and drive to achieve what’s important to you in life and to not let people knock you down or try and stop you from doing the things you love. The ‘twisted souls’ are the jealous people you come across in life who try and stop you from success and happiness."
You recently played an in-store at Pretty Green. How did this go?
Pete: "Where were you?! It was an incredible experience as it was an acoustic gig, and it made us a better, tighter band, we really had to nail it and put on a show - there was no hiding place as it was so intimate. We absolutely smashed it fortunately, and that's kind of our motto, we always give 100% no matter what. It was absolutely packed with fans and friends, and outside people were 5 deep, a really great day."
Do you have any 'rituals' before you go on stage?
Pete: "Not particularly a ritual but I check my equipment, cables, batteries, amp, strings, pedals, pretty much everything, over and over and over again until just before we start, then usually something stops working! Everyone normally has a drink or two to settle any nerves, but we can’t tell you what our drummer Mart does!"
Any live dates coming up?
Paul: "Our next shows are in Belfast on 29th June and Norwich on 19th July. Just come, we guarantee you'll want to see us again, and even if for some reason you don't you'll have the best time afterwards with us..."
Any new songs in the pipeline?
Paul: "As we speak I’m just in the process of putting some demos together for our next EP or single. They’re sounding very different to anything we’ve done previously and we’re really looking forward to getting the recording started around August time this year with Ollie Thomas, the producer of ‘Hits The Sky’."
When can fans expect the next official release?
Paul: "With recording starting in August, depending on the amount of songs and budget, we are looking at October for the next release and we will also need to find the right record label to release the tracks for us."
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Paul: "Small Faces."
Pete: "The Clash."
Who would be in your dream super group?
Paul: "Keith Moon on drums, Ronnie Lane on bass and songwriting, Jimmy Page lead guitar, Pete Townshend rhythm guitar, Booker T Jones on hammond and Steve Winwood on vocals."
Pete: "Mitch Mitchell drums, Joe Strummer on vocals, Peter Green, Jimi Hendrix and Rory Gallagher on guitar, Little Walter on harmonica, John Entwistle on bass, Neil Young on acoustic guitar, Gregg Allman on keys and the Sweet Inspirations on backing vocals."
Favourite Beatle?
Paul: "George."
Pete: "George."
Favourite band?
Paul: "Small Faces."
Pete: "Anything with Johnny Thunders in."
Favourite new band?
Paul: "Miles Kane."
Pete: "Erm..."
Favourite song?
Paul: "All Or Nothing by the Small Faces."
Pete: "He Ain't Heavy by The Hollies, makes me cry every time I hear it. I blame Cilla Black."
Favourite album?
Paul: "Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces."
Pete: "Kid A by Radiohead, I listened to it everyday for a year."
Vinyl, CD or download?
Paul: "Vinyl."
Pete: "Vinyl."
When you press shuffle on your iPod, what is this first song that comes on?
Paul: "First Time I Saw You by The Theme!"
Pete: "I just tried it and it was Night Of 1,000 Beards by the London Sewage Company."
Style icon?
Paul: "Steve Marriott."
Pete: "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers."
Favourite film?
Paul: "Saving Private Ryan."
Pete: "American Werewolf In London."
Favourite TV show?
Paul: "Only Fools And Horses."
Pete: "Oz Aerobics."
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Paul: "Michael Caine."
Pete: "Ross Noble."
Favourite food?
Paul: "Indian."
Pete: "Indian."
Football team?
Paul: "Crystal Palace."
Pete: "The mighty Tottenham Hotspur."

Hope you enjoyed this feature on The Theme!
Be sure to check out our previous feature on The Royal Hangmen!
You can check out The Theme here -
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