Strong on vocal harmonies and with a broader and braver instrumental base, Keston Cobblers’ Club’s new album, Wildfire, sees the band build on the strengths of their 2012 debut, One For Words.
“My writing style has changed in places and so has Jules’, but it’s not completely different,” says songwriter Matthew Lowe, referring to his sister and fellow Cobbler Julia ‘Jules’ Lowe. “You write generally what you’re feeling at the time and my tastes obviously move, but you don’t really turn your back on old tastes either, so it’s just an evolution from the last album.
“When we wrote the last album we were working full time and fitting it into gaps, so the process was quite distorted, whereas this last year has been a dream writing for us and we can just wake up and take our time.
“We’re lucky that we have no restrictions when it comes to what we write. We write and if the band loves it; it goes in the album. There’s no red tape and it makes the whole process so much fun.”
Picking up great reviews and solid radio play, the infectious and raucous Wildfire looks set to soundtrack the summer – a period which sees the five-piece appear at over a dozen festivals, including their own Camp Wildfire (19-21 June), before finishing off at Oxfordshire’s Towersey* (on Monday 31 August 2015).
Discussing how they plan a festival-friendly show, Matthew says: “We often pick out tracks when we’re playing, and don’t write a set list – I call them out as we go! Generally the set will end up with a big old dance and that’s generally the hope at summer festivals if people are in the mood, foot stomping, swinging, singing … it’s all encouraged. Obviously we have some more mellow/ darker tracks as well, so we always try and throw in a bit for everybody – variety is the spice of life and we just love to play as much as we can and get the audience as involved as possible.”
The band – Matthew, Jules, Tom Sweet, Bethan Ecclestone and Harry Stasinopoulos – originally came together in 2009, inspired by British power pop and Scottish indie bands, though their musical education was a little more ‘classical’.
“Tom, Harry, Jules and I all went to the wonderful Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT) orchestras and wind/ brass bands from the age of 8-18,” Matthew says. “Tom, Harry and I were all in the same year at school so attended together. Tom, Jules and I played trumpet, whilst Harry played percussion. Bethan is from ‘Staffordshirte’ [sic] and moved to London at 18 to study tuba at The Royal College of Music.”
After Towersey, the band will be on their own headline tour before heading out with Bellowhead on the big-band’s farewell jaunt.
“It’s very sad, but we’re very happy to be able to play with them before they call it a day,” says Matthew referring to Bellowhead, who recently announced their split after a decade of success. “We haven’t ever played with them before actually – but running in the same folk circuit as them we’ve crossed paths at festivals before and had contact. we’ve also all seen them play live – which of course is amazing to watch/listen to. It’s a dream to support such giants in the folk world and we’ll make the most of every one of the 16 nights we’re playing with them.”
In between dates, Matthew hopes to start work on album number three, and a few yet-to-be-announced treats.
“We always try and include a few surprises and random announcements each year,” he says, cryptically. “We’re going to be sneaking in some sessions here and there and start writing new material between every gig we play.
“The main thing is being busy with Cobblers. We like being busy with Cobblers – it means we’re doing something right,” he smiles.
Interview by: Dave Freak
Keston Cobblers’ Club’s festival UK tour begins on 4 July at Abbotsbury and concludes on 31 August 2015 at Towersey Festival. The band will be playing headline dates in October prior to the Bellowhead tour in November. For full dates, see: kestoncobblers.club/live/
* Towersey Festival runs from Friday 28 to Monday 31 August 2015, at Thame Showground, Thame, Oxfordshire. Acts appearing include Bellowhead, Joan Armatrading, Stornoway, Show Of Hands, Sally Barker, Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr, Treacherous Orchestra, Keston Cobblers’ Club, John Smith, and more. Tickets from £135/£110 for the full festival, Day Tickets from £30. Details: www.towerseyfestival.com