Meet the four boys from a small town named Glossop who are shaking up the music industry. Forming a group called Larkins, the alternative/indie group have already sold out shows in Manchester’s Albert Hall without even releasing a full album yet! Larkins are a band with a difference as they not only take huge pride in their music but also in interacting with fans, and being socially and environmentally conscious, with innovative ideas such as their sustainable clothing line, Animals in Costume. They’ve gained support from the likes of BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Annie Mac and Beats Radio 1’s Zane Lowe. After releasing their latest single ‘Are We Having Any Fun Yet?’, Larkins followed up with amazing cinematic visuals, which already have over 120 thousand views on YouTube. So, we had to catch up with Larkins’ vocalist Josh Noble, to see how life in lockdown has been for the Larkins and how they’re managing to stay creative and productive during such a crazy time.
Who are the Larkins, for those who may not know?
Larkins is made up of me, Josh Noble (Vocalist), Dom Want (guitarist), Henry Beach (bassist) and Joe Gaskell (Drummer). We’re all from this little town called Glossop, which is about half an hour outside of Manchester. We grew up together. I’ve known Dom since I was 11 years old. We were the only two kids in school that did music. We were the proper weirdos that, when everyone else wanted to play football, we were just into music. Then a couple of years later when we went to college and we wanted to start our band, we went back to our old school and asked, is there anyone else here that does music? And there was Henry. Glossop is a white conservative town and there was Henry, this black dude with dreads who played bass. He said, yeah! And we said come and join the band man, it’s going to be sick! From there on, we played our first gig in this tiny little pub in Manchester. We then moved into Manchester and grew up playing music here and there and it all kind of just spread. It’s kind of like that typical weirdos in a small-town cliché story.
How has life for the Larkins changed since we’ve been in lockdown?
When lockdown hit, we were touring America. We had just got to New York and then we were asked to come home by our label. They basically said, you really need to go home now otherwise you’re going to get stuck in New York and it was already getting crazy out there. So that changed a lot, because we were due to be out in the United States for another four weeks. Then, our April tour got postponed till December, which is pretty crazy. So, from a live events point of view, it’s just gone really quiet and we have obviously had to move out of our studio. We moved everything into my bedroom, so our studios in my bedroom right now. I’m bedroom producing everything. And there’s a lot of bedroom, low-fi beats going on.
How have you guys managed to stay creative during this lockdown?
As a band and on a personal level, it’s very, very strange because we’re not together. We’re used to being together every single day. So, on that level, it has been hard. It’s also been pretty tricky mentally. I feel like we’re becoming very starved of what we enjoy. Music has been the one thing where we’ve always felt confident. Music is what brings the best out of us. So not being allowed to do it right now feels very, very strange. It’s crazy from a financial perspective for people in Entertainment as well. Because a lot of our years in terms of finance are based around touring.
We use a lot of WeTransfer because we’re always transferring each other stuff. Whether it’s Logic sessions or doing Zoom sessions where we share computer audio. It feels like other than waking up and writing, I feel like I have to wake up and try and find a bit of inspiration to keep me going. Whether that’s reading, listening to stuff or watching documentaries. I feel like it kicks me into gear a little bit more. Aside from that I feel like we’re still doing some pretty cool shit, especially on socials. We’ve been dropping stuff on socials really rapidly and we dropped a website last night, which was cool. So, we’re just trying to stay creative in different ways.
So, let’s talk “Are we having fun yet?”, what was the inspiration behind this song?
When I was writing, it was the week of the Brexit vote, which was crazy. I was spending a lot of time in London and one night I got on the tube, the Victoria line from Euston to Finsbury park. I was on my way to the studio. I had my headphones on and sat opposite this couple that were just bitterly arguing with each other, they were really going at it. It was so loud, it was taking over the carriage but then as the train pulled off, there was this huge noise as train screeched against the rails. The screech was so loud that they just couldn’t hear each other anymore. So, they just had to sit and wait. This is what inspired the opening line of the song “He waits for the sound of the train to stop.”
From then it was like this beautiful pause and perspective, and it was kind of just me wandering around London, wondering around the rich parts, the poor parts, the working-class parts, the nightlife, and just thinking to myself, are we having any fun here? Is this fun? Is this what fun is supposed to be? Is this what life’s about? Initially it started with inspiration from London, and then when I got to LA it transformed into this LA sound that felt really cool. So yeah, it was kind of a hybrid between those places, which was nice, but I guess lyrically it was about London.
The video is AMAZING. What was it like filming such a video and who came up with the concept?
The concept started with me and Stella, who is part our creative team. I wanted it to be cinematic. I didn’t want it to be a performance video. I wanted it to be all film. So, we sent the song to Grandmas, the directing duo from Manchester. They came back with this idea and I was like, fuck, this is so good! That’s what we want to do. That’s the vibe. It was good shooting it, but it was like a sixteen-hour shoot. We started at three in the afternoon and didn’t wrap up until six in the morning. So, it was pretty fucking intense, but it feels good to have a video like that and to show that we can do a video like that, because I think that aesthetic and vibe is really important. That video is crazy though. It went onto MTV this week and we can’t have the crash scene in it or the swear words. It’s crazy man.
Can we expect an EP/Album from Larkins anytime soon?
Well, we’ve still not done our debut album yet and it feels like the pressure is on to get it right. So, it felt like AWHAFY was a nice signpost to show the kind of band we are, where we’re at and what we want to do. I don’t know how we’re going to do it. I mean, there were so many songs kind of ready to go, but it feels like it needs to be a bit more conceptual and it just feels like this is the start of that. It’s crazy because when the lockdown happened at first, I thought we wouldn’t be able to release AWHAFY let alone an album. But now we’ve done it in lockdown and it’s probably gone the best it’s ever gone. So, it seems like people are crying out for new music, new stuff and new art. So maybe it’s a good time. I don’t know.
We Love how interactive you guys are with your fans! What has been the most memorable fan encounter you’ve had?
Oh my God, there’s so many! It has always been so important for us to interact with fans but I always find it weird when we talk fans because I’m the fan of music. It’s so strange to me still. I remember once, we did this lyric video called Make You Better. It was all about this idea of summertime and what summertime meant to me. It was super personal and I never really wanted to talk about it but in the lyric video there was 0.5 seconds where it pops up and just says “Summertime” in brackets. It was something I added really late. Just as a creative thing, something for me, and a fan came up to me and asked, what does summertime mean? I remember just breaking down and thinking, oh my God, what the fuck? It was so weird how someone had noticed just that little creative touch that meant so much to me. I remember that being like crazy for me as a writer. Also, people bring us stuff all the time, which is weird, I remember there was a stage when people used to bring us cakes. There would be this whole debate afterwards, like should we eat this or is it really weird.
How does it feel to have your music noticed by big names like Annie Mac (BBC 1Xtra) / Zane Lowe (Beats Radio 1)?
It’s weird! I remember setting a life goal that I need to meet Zane Lowe one day because as a kid I just remember listening to him religiously. Henry our Bassist is obsessed with him as well, so it’s crazy. It’s the same with Annie Mac. It’s just one of those people that you kind of have on this God-like tier of people that are like this like Omniscient and all- knowing radio beings. I still don’t know how to feel about it. I remember when I was face-timing Travis Mills from Beats Radio 1 and I was just thinking, what the fuck? How am I in a position where I get to speak to Travis mills? But I mean, we’ve worked hard, and we’ve always wanted to be this kind of band and so for it now to be kind of happening. I’m not that surprised as this is what we wanted. So, it’s really cool.
What advice would you give to any young musicians who aspire to gain your levels of success?
When we were growing up, Dom and I were best mates and we used to go to shows from the age of fourteen or fifteen. I know it’s really hard, but we’d go to four or five shows a week. We’d just go to little shows all over the city and try to squeeze in the back or pretend we were one of the bands so that we’d get in because it was always 18+ nights. All I would do is make notes. I’d just analyse every aspect of the show. Bands sometimes go to watch other bands and just say, yeah, they sound pretty good. I’m like, no, you’re not getting it! You’ve got to watch everything, from the way the amp is set up, the way their merch stand looks, to the way that the sound guys are working with them. Even the way they interact on stage, you’ve got to take note of everything. It’s not good enough to just have great music now. So, I’d just encourage bands to go to as many shows as they can, enjoy them, but also really think about what it is that’s good about it, because you can learn so much from a live band.
If you could collaborate with any other musician, who would it be?
For me as a writer, it’s always been a goal to learn from Bon Iver. I’d also love for us to collaborate with Haim. I feel like we’d create such a bop. It would be such a vibe to get in the studio with the Haim girls.
What have Larkins got planned for life after lockdown?
Hopefully, we will get to still do our tour in December. Then I imagine we’re going to spend a lot of 2021 in the United States because I feel like that’s where we need to be right now. I want to be writing in LA. I want to finish off the record. But the thing for us as well as that, and for me personally, as a designer is trying to get Animals in Costume to a place where we feel really confident about the new clothing line and just and are able to make it even more sustainable. We’re trying to work out how to make our touring more sustainable as well. I think we’re at a place now where we’ve got the power to do it. We also want to start encouraging other bands to do it because we can all do better. So yeah, I feel like that’s, what’s coming, with more songs and more hopefully beautiful videos.