English alternative outfit Nothing But Thieves are growing their fanbase with each passing year. Having released their debut album in 2015, the Essex boys come down under this January as part of Soundwave, also taking in their own headline shows. Killyourstereo.com caught up with frontman Conor Mason to chat about the upcoming visit, the past 12 months and performing in Paris recently.
What’s been happening for the band this week?
Well, we just finished tour. We’ve been away for a few months touring the UK and Europe so we’ve had an incredible time. Two days ago I went away for a couple of days to relax and now I’m back home, which is really cool.
What does the band like to do in their downtime?
We like to go home, see our mates, families and girlfriends, and get pissed. We just keep it real basic to come back to reality. We live together in London, well three of us do, but when we have been away for three months, we tend to go back to our families in Essex separately for a week or so to refresh ourselves, but we are best mates so we hang out all the time.
Who is the most annoying traveller in the band?
(James) Price, our drummer. He’s great but he doesn’t know when to shut up. We also have a sound guy who is young and brilliant, called Dave, and he is so loud when everyone tries to sleep.
What has changed about touring since you guys started?
In the UK we had a bus, which was incredible waking up at the venue, at 2pm if you wanted to and the gear is loaded in onstage and you can just go and play, which is amazing. In Europe however, you just go back to basics, in a van doing 15-hour drives and all.
How has the US received your album?
Really well. We have been on [the] Alt. Nation charts at like number 5, which is great. Things have picked up without us having to do much. We’ve only been out there once to meet the label, and we haven’t done any press. It’s picked up naturally. It’s kind of similar to Australia, which is really cool.
How were the crowds different in the US to Europe?
In the US we played like one or two industry based shows, which were received really well. Next time we play though it will be to all of our fans, and I’m expecting it to be a bit more vibrant. Best crowds in Europe would be a punch up between Italy and Poland. They are at the front gate for like 10 hours before every gig.
Are you feeling the pressure from going out on a headline tour?
Not at all! You just share your stuff and I like seeing that reaction of people who have never heard us live. I love feeling like we are in a new band again. It’s like when you start off, all dreamy and you don’t quite know what’s going to happen. That’s almost the best feeling. I’m excited.
When did you realise Nothing But Thieves was going to go further?
That just comes down to being older, and [being] more creative and smarter. When we started the band, when we were 17, we were not what we are today as writers or performers or as people, but we really believed something could happen. Our managers really believed in us and pushed us and said ‘give this a year or two and see what happens’, and we just wrote our asses off and became better and better and eventually released our first EP. That was the start of the band and we clicked and thought, ‘ok we can do something with this.’
Have you been writing more material on the road?
We’ve written like 15 tracks already for the next album – just for fun. We also do a lot of spare writing for fun, even with pop acts. For us it’s just part of life now and it’s really fun. Dom is right into producing and always writing, so we just keep going. Hopefully by the next album we will have like 60-80 ideas and we can just pick and choose.
What happens to all those ideas that get shelved?
It’s really important to re-write. Your brain might pick up something it didn’t 6 months ago, or develop something it couldn’t a year ago. Dom has all his ideas shelved on a laptop somewhere. Occasionally we flick back through and think ‘well that’s cool’, but we keep re-writing.
What kind of flavour do you bring to the song writing table?
I’m more emotional and intrinsic, but with Nothing But Thieves we have a clear sound and message, which is cool. We have this odd set-up that I love where we all have these elements that are not linked, but when we bring them in, we make something new in this melting pot. I wouldn’t want to change that; it’s something that I love.
You guys played Paris not long ago, what was the thought process going ahead with that show, and what was the feeling in the city?
It all devastated us, what went down there. For a good week there was just a different vibe in the band and on the tour bus. It felt like a scary time, but so many of our French fans wanted us to play it, and we wanted to keep them happy. It was brilliant. They were just so eager to enjoy the night. After the show they all came and said ‘thank you for coming.’ I think the people there just want to get on with their lives and be able to enjoy themselves.
Was it nerve-racking being there?
There was an air of ‘where the fire exits’ and everyone was slightly on edge. But at the same time, if you put it outside of [your] mind and just get on with it, you can’t be like that in life or you worry about everything, so we just got on with it and had a great time.
You guys are coming out for Soundwave in January. Soundwave is usually more of a heavy festival. How does it feel to be considered in that category down in Australia?
I’m ecstatic and can’t wait to play it. I hope we fit in with it, [but] I don’t know. It’s a different style. I don’t know what to expect to be honest.
Who are you going to try and see from the line-up?
I’m gonna see Deftones, because I used to listen to them so much. I haven’t looked deeply into the line-up. We played at some ridiculously heavy festival in summer and didn’t know what to expect, and the tent was overflowing, so it was surprisingly good. What we do is rock in a sense, and people seem to take to it. I was a bit worried about that one, because everyone walking around had tattoos on their face and stuff and I was like, ‘Oh shit’…but it was really fun! At Soundwave we will just play every rock element we can. It’s important to play your own sound and not worry about it, but this band does include a lot of rockiness. So we will play a pumping set.
Catch Nothing But Thieves touring as part of Soundwave this January, and performing on their own headline dates. Details via WWW.XIIITOURING.COM.