Ivory Wave: Making Birmingham Groovier
By Kabyashree Saikia
Last week, the FTS team took a train up to Birmingham to meet the emerging band, Ivory Wave. Talking about fashion, music and politics, we got to know the band a lot better than we had thought.
What happens when The 1975 meet Kasabian? What do you get when New Order and Jack White’s music styles have a child together? The product is called Ivory Wave, an electro-based, groovy rock band. As I travel to Birmingham to interview the boys from the band, I continue to listen to their song Club. With an electronic ambience and disco rock vibe, the band’s songs take you back to the age of Stone Roses with its electronic rock beats. On reaching their favorite pub, Sunflower Lounge, I saw the bassist and the lead singer – Luke and George – standing next to the bar with a pint of beer and a tall glass of cola in their hands, respectively.
As the formal introduction took place and we took a seat at a booth, I noticed that both the boys were dressed impressively. Luke with his slicked back hair wore a waterproof bottle-green parka and George sat in front of me in a light denim coloured shirt and brown beanie. “We grew up watching and listening to singers like Liam Gallagher. Plus George and I would often go to football matches when we were young. We saw people in Adidas and Nike trainers and joggers. They looked and comfortable at the same time.” Luke said, explaining their preference and taste in fashion. “We just dress up how we would dress on a casual Monday night or on a Friday night to the pub.”
Formed in January last year in 2016, the band consists of Luke Morris, the bassist, George Johnson on vocals, Connor McMinn, guitarist, Rob Clarke playing the synth and Seb Baldwin on drums. Ivory Wave describe their music as groove, with focus on guitar, mixed with electronic disco beats and hip-hop. “A lot of people say we sound a bit like Stone Roses.” Says Luke. “Yeah I suppose it is like an Oasis and Stone Roses kind of vibe. Very guitar based.” George replied, agreeing. The two emerging artists who grew up listening to bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Smiths and Pearl Jam mention that the 80s had a major influence on their musical upbringing. However, George prefers to listen to more of urban music now, such as Rap and Hip-Hop. “My dad used to listen to 80s rock music like Nirvana. Although now I think I like more of Rap. I mean when I was young I did listen to a lot Eminem and also a lot of heavy rock. I really don’t think I would listen to Nirvana anymore.” George confessed laughing. Speaking more about his musical interests and preference the singer mentioned how his Spotify playlist varied from Slipknot to Kasabian and then further onto more urban songs. “I am always listening to bits and bops.”
The five-piece band is yet to be signed to an agency. Although, there have been agents who have tried to get the boys under their wings, Ivory Wave haven’t really been impressed by any of the companies “It would be nice to get signed. We have had some people interested in us.” George explained. However, the two confessed that even though they are looking for professional financial help and advice along with some funding, they haven’t been satisfied with any of the agencies’ service. “We can’t really afford PR for our band. We had to pay for our last single ourselves. Spent roughly £400 on recording. We even paid for a music video!” When asked how much did they invest on the video, the tow boys let out an exasperated sigh together – “£500”. The video obviously didn’t come out to be as per their expectations. “It was like the worst video we ever did, but … it was a contracted thing.” The disappointment was evident on Luke’s face. “When you spend money on something you expect it to be good. But when it came out the way it did we were like ‘OH MY GOD!’
In an industry, where independent, solo and unsigned artists such as Chance the Rapper are winning Grammy awards, one would accept the multi-million industry to be more accepting and less corrupt. However, it continues to be difficult for emerging artists till date to make a name for them. The truth and fame continues to favour those with financial aids and known-contacts.
Ivory Wave is a band that celebrated one year anniversary this year January. Even though the boys are quite new in the English music industry, there is no denying that there is quite a bright future awaiting them. “We were featured on BBC recently. We were on a session on Tuesday forum.” Says George. Luke interjecting the lead singer excitedly mentioned the exact time – 8 PM – so that the From The Streets team could enjoy listening to it too. “We want to get to a certain kind of pedestal sort of thing with our music. We want more people to hear us and get to know us. Every time we perform in Birmingham, live, it tends to get bigger and better with each performance. I think seeing that is so satisfying for all of us.” George continued to explain. Observing from the way the boys answered their questions, you could see they weren’t new to the interview sessions. “We have been interviewed by a lot of fans and online magazines. Sometimes we are taken aback ourselves when people approach us for interviews but I guess, it’s also a lot of fun. Helps us with the promotion too, you know!”
Luke got up to get himself another pint of beer and I continued to have my musical conversations with George who seemed to be really interested in rock. With the recent political events occurring all across the world, it was only fair of us to ask them if there was any kind of political influence in their music. Surprisingly, one of their songs is in fact written about Trump. “I never say this but Club is about Donald Trump. Although we don’t prefer to mention this at our live gigs.” Replied George. When asked why so, they seemed to have a peculiar answer – “People sometimes get so tied upon the political meaning, they forget to appreciate the music. Like, sometimes when we read about certain bands on NME or magazines like that, we want more content about music. I suppose in a way its good that some bands want to convey a political message. I really liked how Sex Pistols stood for a political cause concerning the society back in the days. So yes, sometimes its okay but then we are like, ‘Man! Keep it less about politics and sometimes maybe more about music.’ Or try to disguise it so that it’s not that obvious.” George continues explaining how not many people actually knew that Club has a hidden political message behind the lyrics. The boys often try their best to keep it simple and more about the music.
Ivory Wave’s latest song Separate Beats relies quite heavily on synth and I was surprised for a groovy rock band their technical style for their new single seemed to be quite different. The synth trend, which became quite popular towards the end of 80s and early 90s in rock music, seems to have a major influence on the band’s music. We asked their opinion on rock becoming more synth based instead of just guitar and drums only. George, who personally thinks its great for the industry, says it allows more room for experimentation. “Sometimes with rock music, its like, flogging a dead horse. I mean, move on man! People are often like ‘Aw! There is no guitar! We need more guitar.’ C’mon! Move on and lets do something new. If you are still making music like Elvis now, people might actually think your music is bland. You will get bored because there isn’t any experimentation. It would just be the same thing over and over again.”
As our conversation came towards an end, we noticed that our interview was getting too serious. On a lighter note we decided to ask the boys, as musicians what music would they want played at their funeral. Even though the question seemed a little grim, it looked like they had already decided their songs. “Bob Marley, Redemption Song for mine.” Said Luke first.
“I think I would want The End by The Doors. 15 minute long song.”
We asked if it would be the extended version. With a sly smile the boy in the beanie said “Of course!”