Narcs interview: Get on your soapbox and shout

Narcs talk music and social politics, festival wrestling, beating the floods and more while they currently navigate the UK.

Ben Smith

Date published: 16th Feb 2016

Image: Narcs

A four piece alternative rock band, Narcs are made up of a combination of North East and Leeds lads. Their music comes from a passion and desire to create a unique blend of guitar driven music with a message about the things that matter to them: social issues that also affect others.

Narcs had a successful 2015 having played Leeds & Reading festival and received airplay from BBC Radio 6's Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson. However 2016 didn’t go as originally planned as Narcs found themselves victims of the UK flooding over the Christmas period.

Their recording space Blueberry Hill was flooded and the band now find themselves with a lot of their equipment including amps and pedals, unfortunately, broken prior to their UK tour.

Yet the four piece are soldiering on and helped raise eight thousand pounds for the DIY recording space, which is also used by other bands including Forever Cult and Allusondrugs

Now back on track they released new single ‘Pig’ and are still planning the release of an album. Ahead of their gig at Stockton’s Ku Bar and later date at Gullivers in Manchester, Tyler Marriot spoke to bassist John Mclaughlan about the effects of the flooding disaster, record labels and politics. 

You guys are signed to Clue Records, how important are independent labels to a band like yourself?

Hugely important. If it wasn't for Clue Records, we'd barely manage to get out of our practice room and to gigs on time. Scott Lewis, the owner at Clue Records has the patience of a saint and we owe him whatever little money we make.

I think that even just being able to say you’re signed to a label can really help you when booking gigs. It shows that somebody out there cares enough about your music that they want to put their own hard work and effort into releasing it.

The logistics of planning something like an album release can be extremely complicated and tedious. Having somebody there to tackle the business side of things is a massive relief.

You guys had a great year in 2015, playing the likes of Leeds Introducing stage, what was your overall highlight from playing Leeds festival? 

It was a really good year for us. We've all been to the festival as punters and I've got up hungover on a bright Friday morning before to go and watch bands on the Introducing stage that I'd never heard of.

It's very surreal to be able to actually be up there playing and be backstage and stuff like that. We got a bit carried away with the excitement and ended up having a drunken wrestling match in the backstage area. It seemed to last the whole weekend. By the final night extreme paranoia had set in. You'd be constantly looking over your shoulder for a rugby tackle coming. 

We caught as many bands as we could; Azealia Banks and the Cribs were really good. Watching Metallica was like watching a bad Metallica cover band, all rock poses and lots of shouting “Yeahh dude!”

You guys will be playing Stockton's independent venue, Ku Bar, do you have any memories of Stockton or is this the first time for the band?

We've played Ku Bar before and it's great. It's a real hidden gem of a venue that you wouldn't necessarily expect to see in a small Teesside town.

The last time we played Ku Bar we did an in store gig the next day at Sound it Out Records. It’s a really good record shop and the combination of a tiny shop, extremely loud noise and sore heads from the night before made for an interesting spectacle.

How affected were the floods to the studio you guys were using for the album? And how was the response?

The floods were very affective in their destruction of our equipment. Unlike UKIP, we don't blame the floods on gay marriage or refugees, we blame it on good old mother nature and shoddy flood defence budgets.

It was a pretty shitty Boxing Day, we lost a lot of our equipment to the murky depths but it was our friend's business, Blueberry Hill that was destroyed. It’s essentially our headquarters.

We've rehearsed there since its early stages and it was terrible to see it in that state. Luckily we got involved with a bunch of musicians, business owners and the local community to organize a donation page, fundraiser gig and raffle to support it.

It was really successful and it raised a lot of money for the cause. We were really shocked by the kindness and support from everybody involved. It’s amazing what you can do when everybody mucks in.

As you start your tour in the North East, do you guys have any stories about the area or venues in the north east?

Half of the band are from the North East. I’m from Sunderland and Joe is from Middlesbrough. We’ve gigged quite a bit in the North East especially Middlesbrough and Stockton. The music scene there is thriving.

The venues and promoters seem to have a really strong DIY ethic and aren’t afraid to book the relatively unknown out of town bands to come and play. It’s always an excellent turn out and a great atmosphere.

It’s like in spite of all the crippling cuts to the councils, and job losses, people still want to go out on a weekend, watch some bands and have a good time. It’s understandable really. 

Your music is 'alternative guitar aimed at the Tories, how important do you feel free speech is when it comes to expressing opinions through music? 

We aim at the Tories because they are a deserving target. It is our way of airing our views and feelings on subjects that affect us. There are enough restrictions imposed on everyday life as it is, knocking you down, suppressing people that don’t follow a certain way of thinking.

If you have a platform then you should go for it, it’d be a waste not to. Get on your soapbox and shout. It’s your right to do so.

In the grand scheme of things, Narcs from Leeds singing about the Bullingdon Club, and how terrible it is, isn't going to topple the Tory government but if we are lucky it may just make somebody think about it a little more and question it.

Leading on from the last question, do you feel as if there is not enough voices in music or upcoming bands trying to make a statement with their music?

You can spot somebody a mile off who is in it for all the wrong reasons. I don’t understand it because they’ve put all of the time and money into their instruments just to make a diluted version of something that’s already been done.

There will be somebody out there who is saying something that chimes with what you believe in, you've just got to look for it. It takes a bit more work but it is worthwhile looking. Anything that is easy on the eyes and ears, musically and aesthetically is always going to be popular, but it has no substance to it and it takes no effort to partake in it. 100% vanilla.

Once you wade past the million or so bands that are still trying to make the Arctic Monkey's first album, you'll find some really unique stuff. Bands that are passionate about their music, genuine and hard-working. Personally I don't get it.

It’s like “That’ll do, let’s do that.” You can’t be the Arctic Monkeys because the Arctic Monkeys are the Arctic Monkeys! They are so good at it, in fact, that they are now The Arctic Monkeys that live in LA, so why bother?

If you look at your local independent venue, you can find bands that are less bothered by the acclamation and want to actually make a piece of art or a statement they believe in. A real diverse mixture of genres and styles. Yeah, some of it might not be to your taste but you’d never know unless you try it.

Remaining tour dates below: 

Brighton - Green Door Store, Wednesday 17th February

Scunthorpe - Café Indiependent, Thursday 18th February 

Leeds - Brudenell Social Club, Friday 19th February

Manchester - Gullivers, Saturday 27th February

Tickets for the Manchester date can be purchased via the box below

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