Brighton loves live music. In our fair city, it’s difficult to find a night that an unsigned artist isn’t filling the upstairs room in a pub. Seven days a week, 365 days a year, we take to the town to fill our ears with melody, feel bass ripple through our stomachs, and tap our toes to the beat. We support our BIMM grads, our start-ups and our dreamers with an underground scene that spans endless genres and easily outdoes the rest of the country for variety.
Of course, all of this fares incredibly well for Brighton acts, including the up-and-coming Half Crown – a Brighton-based five-piece who are currently in the midst of crowdfunding their official debut single, [Started Up] (see what they did there?). Having hit 129% of their target in under three weeks with the help from their fans, or “pledgends” as they put it, the band have also managed to score Jez Coad (member of The Surfing Brides, and worked with Simple Minds) amongst their production team; to say they’re doing well might be a bit of an understatement. We sat down for a chat with the boys to get to the bottom of their influences, motivation, and their advice on just how to make it as an independent band in Brighton.
While it may appear easy to lump all the independent bands in together (especially in Brighton), Half Crown like to do things a little differently. With a rapper (Louie), two lead vocalists/lead guitarists (David and Frankie), trumpeter/bassist (Charles) and a drummer (Josh), Half Crown already go against your standard rock ‘n’ roll lineup. Though individually influenced, their sound culminates effortlessly into a sound they like to describe as “nouvelle rock” – a self-titled sub-genre of funk-fused blues rock ‘n’ roll, with a French kiss of hip-hop. It’s a little like The Black Keys, if they’d grown up in New York’s Bronx neighbourhood in the 70s, which makes sense considering their inspirations: “anything that’s had Dizraeli or Dan Auerbach’s greasy mitts on it. Plus anything one can wriggle to.”
Self-described in layman’s terms as “Roger Johnson backed by the Bee Gees, featuring Outkast”, Half Crown seem incredibly confident with their musical identity – a paramount trait in Brighton’s dime-a-dozen independent scene. However, they disagree that bands can sometimes get “lost” in the music underground, suggesting instead that Brighton offers the ideal platform upon which to showcase their “sex, change and tragedy” – influenced tracks, and that they’ve actually been quite fortunate geographically. “Yeah, the local live music scene in Brighton is over-saturating, but there’s also a lot of opportunity in its small community environment”.
With the release of three EPs over the past three years, opportunity is something the band has grasped onto, taking advantage of every chance they’ve had. Not that they’ve stepped on anyone’s toes – it’s something they recommend to other bands looking to break the big time too: “You have to live your music, integrate it into everything you do. Get involved in a scene and bring something to the table.” And it seems they really have lived, as they talk animatedly about their tour shenanigans, “We pirated a semi-commercial vessel, naked on a lake in Leicestershire, narrowly escaping the crooked clutches of the festival security. They loved our backflips.” While we’re not usually convinced by such stories without pictures, it regardless makes for some fabulous imagery.
Half Crown’s debut single, Started Up can be pre-ordered here through PledgeMusic (due for release Weds 13 April). All proceeds will be used to support the production of the music video, and towards Hove-based charity, ManKind UK. “Pledgends” can choose from a number of extras depending on the amount they pledge, including hand-written lyrics and signed gig posters (but there’s behind-the-scenes footage and brownie points available for all!).
With a number of shows already under their belts (already being recognised for their “contagious energy, infectious melodies, strong range of vocals and their ability to effortlessly capture any audience”), Half Crown is set to hit our stages yet again, supporting Lazy Habits at The Haunt on Fri 22 April. We’ll see you there!