Cosied up in a pub garden, under an electric heater, we chatted to Half Crown’s vocalists David and Louie ahead of their big homecoming gig at Green Door Store.
The band started when they were just eleven years old, they tell me, having all met at school and bonding over music as they grew up. To Half Crown, the next logical step was to begin writing music together. Initially starting out with David, drummer Josh, bassist Charles and guitarist Frankie, the band really found their feet with the addition of Louie, after stumbling across him at a house party. “I’ve got a mate who beatboxes and we were just rapping to a crowd. I knew all the boys from school but we weren’t necessarily friends. This was when we were about 15 and Charles invited me to a practice and I just never left” says Louie, describing how the band came together in their current formation.
Upon listening to their music, it is hard to pinpoint a single influence on what they write. There’s an eclectic mix of artists and it shows. They list their influences as Alex Turner, David Bowie, The Bee Gees and Andre 3000. How do they all tie together, you may ask? Louie tells me that “it was Bowie for the performance, Turner’s approach to songwriting” to which David interjects “he knows how to tell a story, social commentary in a way” Louie continues “and Andre 3000 for the slow, the rhythm, the way he mixes rapping and singing and just bounces over the rhythm. Both David and I do that in our own separate ways. When we write, we think ‘What would Andre do? What would Kendrick do?’” “We have such a massive pool of influences. We’ve been through Ska, Funk, Rock. We really draw on our influences, the artists we listen to.”
Their latest effort ’32 Teeth’ differs greatly from their 2014 debut album. They’re a lot stricter now when writing. “We absolutely loved those times, but now we’re concentrating on songwriting and the structure of the songs, finding what we like about that sound and refining it and emphasising the atmosphere we create live in the studio.” David says. “We would get a vibe going at a gig and the next song would be a totally different genre, like it was two different bands. It became impossible to write a setlist. Our style has developed along with our chemistry as a band since then.” They took a long time out refining their sound, almost two years to be precise between the album and their latest single, but now they are reaping the rewards. They’re about to fly out to LA courtesy of Virgin Entertainment after Richard Branson cancelled an appearance he had booked them for at his Oxfordshire mansion.
Despite the places they’ve been to as a band, Brighton will always feel like home. They tell me their favourite places in the city include Snoopers Paradise, where David gained his nickname Magpie, Sukhothai Palace, a Thai restaurant and the beach (cliché, they’re aware). The boys love the beach and the sea so much that one day last summer, they paddled out to West Pier in some inflatable kayaks they had acquired, despite the fact it was a stormy day.
Speaking of home, Half Crown return to Brighton on the 15th December for their first show here since April and it promises to be a big one. They’re reluctant to give any of their plans away, instead ensuring me that I must attend to find out. It looks set to sell out and it’s no surprise.
They’ve done countless amounts of shows, but one that stands out to them is actually their most recent. They played at Kensington’s Roof Gardens. Luckily for us, we’ll soon all be able to enjoy the show as a music video is being made out of some of the footage taken there. The music video will accompany their latest single ’32 Teeth’. They’ve been working on plenty of new material, so much so that its becoming a task to pick which to put out next. They assure me that new singles will be out in the new year, though.
In the theme of gigs, I ask the band who would be on their dream lineup. Paul Simon, Anderson .Paak, Cage The Elephant, The Black Keys, Michael Kiwanuka, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, Last Shadow Puppets and Warpaint perhaps makes up the weirdest gig lineup I’ve ever seen. “That’d be a pretty good festival We’d rake in ticket sales for that.” Maybe you’re in the wrong business boys? Of course not. They’re on the right path and you should expect a lot to come from Half Crown in the next year or so.
Pop along to their headline show on 15th December at Green Door Store, tickets are available at musicglue.com
Tracks ’32 Teeth’ and ‘Start It Up’ are also available on iTunes.