The Americas – Something is happening
There is definitely something really exciting happening in rock and roll at the moment. Bands such as The Blinders, Idles or The Velvet Hands are like a breath of fresh air. Let’s not forget The Himalayas, Shame, The Strawberries or Bang Bang Romeo. Then, there are The Americas – Worcester based trio quickly joining their ranks. We sat down with the band to discuss wide range of topics: appreciation of their music, travelling with This Feeling circuit, performing at the BBC Music Introducing Amplify conference in London, their admiration for Big Moon and the troubles in the US of A.
Harry Payne (guitar/vocals/harmonica)
Aaron Whittaker (guitar/keys/vocals)
Alexander Bradshaw (drums)
Don’t you find it a little bit ironic that band considered being the hope of British rock is called The Americas?
The Americas: We are not sure who exactly considers us the hope of British rock music but we guess a British band being called The Americas is always going to be a bit of a talking point! (laughter)
The band was formed at the end of 2015 and quickly developed a large fan following. Tell us more about your beginnings.
The Americas: It was a pretty natural thing for us. Aaron Whittaker and Harry Payne were always writing and singing songs, listening to the same records and going out to the same shows. Somewhere along the way, we decided to take it a little bit more seriously and started to jam with other musicians. We poached drummer Alex from a psych band that was doing the rounds in Birmingham at the time and immediately shut ourselves away for a year. We played a handful of one off gigs through the first half of ’16 trying to work out what on earth we were and what sort of sounds we made, but most of those early days were spent throwing ideas around and just hanging out in our little practice room.
You are the only band from Worcestershire (except for RISCAS) that has been included in the famous This Feeling circuit, a music company that includes band management, a record label, and a series of national live shows. It is run by Mikey Jonns and hosts the biggest names in rock: Kasabian, The Rifles, Noel Fielding, and Noel Gallagher. What does a local band just starting out have to do to be added to their roster?
The Americas: This Feeling have been very kind to us and have offered us a lot of great opportunities this year. We are not sure if there’s a simple tick list when it comes to building relationships and working with promotions companies/record labels or whatever. We just love to play our music for people and we really mean every one of our songs. I think the key is being honest and transparent. There’s a lot of confused music around.
You are often described as “music to ride your motorcycle to” but we do not find this accurate. We rather see you as a very intriguing combination of classic southern rock (think The Black Crowes in their Amorica era) with eloquence of the college rock (think Collective Soul or LIVE), a bit of post grunge but with a lot of back ground in modern independent British music: The Libertines, The Sherlocks, Razorlight, Primal Scream. Best of both worlds really.
The Americas: (laughing) You can listen to us while you ride a motorcycle if that’s what you want to do, but yeah, trying to label/categorise music is always a weird one. We are glad you hear lots of different things in our sound. We listen to anything and everything from Gospel Rock to Motown, Punk, Trip-Hop or whatever… You’ve got to keep your ears on their toes so to speak.
The Americas regularly share stages with well established acts. You have supported The Twang at a sold out show at 02 Academy Birmingham, you played along The Bluetones, Blaenavon and Trampolene among others. Is there anyone else on the contemporary music scene you would like to play with?
The Americas: Tons and tons of artists. Our dream show would be to play with Courtney Barnett. She’s a poet and a badass player and she’s just got that magnetism you know? A really, really fantastic song writer. If we’re bringing it a little closer to home, we really dig what those Big Moon girls are doing. We think that would be a sweet show.
Popular online music magazine Gigslutz stated that 2017 belongs to the Americas and awarded you the title of the Best Newcomer 2016. You have beaten several bands heavily championed by national radio stations such as Cabbage or Hinds, a Spanish all female rock sensation with an album on the official UK top 40. How do you feel about it?
The Americas: Yeah that was nice of them. We’d only officially been a band for a couple of months at that point. It’s nice to see publications back completely independent bands.
Gigslutz praise is not the only one. You have won backing from some of the industry heavyweights: Mikey Jonns of This Feeling, Hall or Nothing music promoter Caffy St. Luce, New Musical Express magazine. Everyone agrees that you stand out of the crowd. Right next to Soeur and The Assist, you are the face of West Midlands music scene. It must come with some pressure. Did you expect such fantastic response to what you do?
The Americas: We don’t feel pressure when it comes to our music. Only the pressure that the songs themselves demand. The pressure to do each of them justice in our own minds when we go out and play live. We’ve always done what comes naturally to us. If everyone hated the music we write, we’d still be writing it. It’s a personal thing and we get a real kick out of seeing these songs take form. Obviously it’s a great feeling when other people have a good reaction to the material too, and we love it when we look out and people are singing the words back to us. We really love and appreciate our fans for sure.
On October 7th you performed at the BBC Amplify conference in London in front of a huge crowd. Were you excited? Did you prepare anything special to sweep The Beeb bosses off their feet?
The Americas: We’re always excited to go out and play music together and we’re really happy to have been invited along to perform. The BBC has a really great thing going on in terms of it’s Introducing program. Unfortunately we haven’t prepared any dance routines or indoor firework displays this time (laughing).
In all, Amplify was a great experience for us despite the face that we got told last minute that the slot would be acoustic one so we were a little gutted not to have been able to put on a full show. Saying that though, it was still good to have a few beers and mingle with so many fellow musicians and music industry types. No tricks to sweep anyone off their feet no. We think it’s much more important to let the music and performance do the talking in those scenarios.
Your live performances are usually described as perfectly choreographed and prepared in the tiniest detail, yet they contain a great deal of spontaneity and wildness. It’s the good old rock and roll, freedom and creativity.
The Americas: We absolutely love live performances. Putting on a good show is very important to us. It’s a modern world and there’s not a lot of patience out there and you can see it reflected in the nature of the social landscape these days. Throw-away Instagram/Facebook stories that last for 24 hours and then are lost forever. People scrolling through news feeds, and watching the first 5 seconds of 100 different viral videos and not taking any of it in. It’s hard to get noticed in a world of quantity over quality, but we believe in our material and we play it with passion whether we’re performing to 5 people or 5000 people. We want our audience to feel that passion. We want to help them to feel free, even for a short while.
Several online websites mentioned that you are about to enter the studio to record an album. Is there any truth in these claims? If so, is it going to be an independent release or issued through a record label?
The Americas: We’ve been in and out of the studio throughout September getting down some new material. We’re really excited with how things are sounding and can’t wait to get the music out there. We haven’t figured out what shape our next release is going to take just yet though. Watch this space.
We are very tempted to ask you. Razorlight put it nicely in their song – “All my life, there’s trouble in America”. What does The Americas think of the recent troubles over the Pond: the orange individual, the travel bans and the wall?
The Americas: It’s fair to say none of us would have voted for Trump if we were US citizens. The times are turbulent and confusing and we have problems of our own in this country also. It’s really sad. We’re supporters of basic human freedoms. It’s enough to keep you up at night, isn’t it? It’s important to do the smaller things. Do right to others. Show compassion. Be human.
The last but not least – what are your plans for the nearest future? Are we going to see you playing local gigs anytime soon?
The Americas: Our plan for the near future is to put out another single by March and then continue to write, release and perform our music as much as possible. Maybe a few tours up our sleeve and hopefully another great festival season. Keep your eyes on the Facebook for announcements. Our next gig is at The Lexington in London with The Blinders on 21st of February, we are also trying to confirm few more dates as well. Otherwise, we just plan to keep on living the impossible dream and hoping not to die in the process! (laughter)
You can follow The Americas using the links below:
Band on the run (or few weeks in the life of a band of the year)
We don`t know how to describe the last few months but you simply cannot follow The Americas fast enough. They are like Tasmanian Devil or The Roadrunner. You think you got them covered, but they are ahead of you by two miles by the time you say “Something`s Gonna Happen”. The speed in which the band makes ripples on national level is shocking. That`s a correct word – we hardly see bands progressing at such rate. Just few examples – hold on tight.
The band recorded a session for BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester at the Phoenix Theatre in Ross-on-Wye in October 2017. This live session has been broadcasted on Saturday November 18th (right before Thanksgiving Day – nice one Beeb!) to rave reviews from listeners.
Images from the live session can be seen here:
And then all hell broke loose. On December 23rd 2017 The Americas have been featured on national radio – BBC 6 Music as part of Tom Robinson Show. If you don’t know Tom from his musical career that spans four decades (“2-4-6-8 Motorway“), you may know him from his career as DJ and his own portal that champions new music (Fresh on the Net). Tom is one of the biggest taste makers in United Kingdom and one of the most cherished DJs on BBC 6 Music. Having a spin on his show – is not a small feat. Being featured on Christmas show is like winning a lottery. No wonder that The Americas response was very emotional.
Obviously, we made audio. You can listen to the short clip of the program here: https://vocaroo.com/i/s0Jg7AfOZk3Y
Early January seen The Americas being featured in influential Some Might Say Zine – as one of the bands that will shape 2018. We ordered a copy for our archives and this is how it looks. Sahera Walker – the founder of Some Might Say keeps a hand on the pulse when it comes to new musical icons and believe us – she hardly gets it wrong.
This is not the first time, Some Might Say mention The Americas. Back in August 2017, Sahera wrote about the band:
“The Americas, man, what a band. A group I bang on about a lot on here, they’re an undeniably brilliant force of pure classy rock’n’roll. Despite the name, The Americas are quintessentially British, with their riffs and the way they play epitomizing perfectly classic old school British rock’n’roll. They use a keyboard in their music, accompanied by this raw feel good guitar rock sound, which is a unique and refreshing set up for a band”.
We agree wholeheartedly.
On 6th January 2018 BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester unveiled their own top ten of best bands for 2017 and guess who was ranked at #2? Yep, The Americas. At this stage, we were not surprised to hear Andrew Marston praise the band for their melodic songs and incredible energy. The show featured “Something`s Gonna Happen” being aired, followed by a short interview with the artists.
And yes, we also made some audio – you can listen to it here: https://vocaroo.com/i/s1LXwsxd08Jd
What caught us off guard is that on January 8th – “Something`s Gonna Happen” was made a Track of The Week on BBC Hereford & Worcester.
On January 10th, another influential zine – Northern Exposure also featured The Americas as one of the bands of 2018.
You can see the article below:
This is what Northern Exposure had to say about The Americas:
“They are a sensational hard rock ‘n’ blues get up with a blow-the-house-down set that could translate into a debut album perfectly.”
Northern Exposure is overseen by two lead women – Rachel Brown and Kate O`Brien who beside running the magazine, also manage and promote local artists, book gigs and mentor young acts. Similarly to Sahera Walker of Some Might Say, ladies of Northern Exposure are very active and know their craft well.
Same day (January 10th 2018), two gigs were announced. On January 24th The Americas would play a gig in London at The Rock Steady sharing the stage with Sleaze, Black Orchids and Willow Robinson as part of Independent Venue Week.
The other show would take place on 21st February, also in London, but at The Lexicon. Here The Americas are to support The Blinders – one of the most influential bands that come of the UK in the last 30 years. We are not kidding. If you haven’t familiarized yourself yet with The Blinders, you got to tackle this unforgivable faux pas right now. Before people start regarding you as an uncultured savage.
The Americas/The Blinders combo is unreal and we think this is going to be equivalent of all those legendary gigs that people talk about for years. We are actually thinking of attending. Though it may prove tricky.
Of course not a day goes by without another announcement. On January 11th, The Northern Exposure in association with EUFest and Musicians Against Homelessness unveiled semi finals for InMusic Festival. 20 upcoming bands fight for a slot at the main stage at InMusic Festival in Croatia to support such legends as Nick Cave and Queens of the Stone Age. Guess who got their place among best acts? The Americas will have to go though two more stages (music industry insight and live performance) to win this opportunity of a life time – but they already proved to be more than your average indie outfit.
Right. That would be just about last four -five weeks in the life of a band that is tipped for one of the best acts of 2018. You see now why.
We will keep reporting.
Few days passed and we have to make an update as so many things have happened. Where to begin? Let`s start with the show in London on 21st February at the Lexington where The Americas will support mighty The Blinders. Well that gig is now sold out (two tickets left as we write so technically no chances to get in). The Blinders so far have two other shows on their upcoming tour being sold out and one of them is on their home turf in Manchester.
Not only will The Americas play with one of the most exciting bands on the planet, it will also be a full house. If that doesn’t make you want to bounce off the walls in joy, then you must be (no rock and roll) fun at parties! A shout out to fellow A&Rs in London Town. Get yourself on the guest list. This show will be epic.
Another good news is that “Something`s Gonna Happen” is currently being a Tune of the Week at BBC Hereford & Worcester. The Americas are Artists of the Week as well on the BBC Intro and they got a spin on the show of a popular BBC DJ Georgey Spanswick.
Proof is on Twitter:
And the best news of all is of curse update on In Music Festival. Six bands have been chosen to the live stage of the competition and West Midlands are proudly presented by The Assist and The Americas. The Assist are incredible, we have seen them last year and love them since. Like The Americas, they are This Feeling alumni and a kick ass band.
It will be a hard fight in the live stage but we will keep our fingers crossed for The Americas! Yeah!
We took a step back from the ever changing world of The Americas for two months to concentrate on other acts on Indieterria, while the band continued to leave their mark across the country like a hurricane in Arkansas. They played sold out show in London on February 21st at The Lexington with The Blinders (and Blinders described The Americas as the best act on entire tour!) and followed up with another full house gig at legendary Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham with The Cosmics on March 17th.
Here`s a video to live version of “Susanna” from The Lexington, if you missed the show:
If that wasn’t enough, The Americas returned to London to play at iconic Nambucca for Some Might Say zine on March 27th. Just a little trip here and there and everywhere. We told you those boys are keeping themselves occupied. They actually do more in a month than most bands we know – but this is how you recognize serious business. The band will play and tour and record and publish.
Tight schedule paid off. There was a bit of March Madness at local BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester last week. On March 24th The Americas were recommended for BBC 1, then on March 25th they have been put forward to BBC Big Weekend Festival in Swansea alongside with RISCAS and on March 26th “Something`s Gonna Happen” was in rotation and was again a song of the week on the station.
The Americas were also interviewed and you can hear what they had to say here:
Are you catching your breath? Good. Cause over the Easter Weekend, the band will return to their home ground at the Marrs Bar to play a gig with Junior Weeb and Happy Bones as special guests on March 30th. If you are not hyperventilating and drooling at the same time at the bill, you ain`t local. We are absolutely loco for each of the acts here and believe us Woo-Town will come out in great numbers for the show. You can join us, we have got trains, and buses and there is nothing to prevent you from visiting. Tickets are still available:
If you are not familiar with the special guests for the night, here are our interviews with Junior Weeb and Happy Bones respectively for your reading and listening pleasures.
The show will most likely sell out and we have secured our tickets weeks ago. We will try to post some images or videos from the night.
That`s all for us for for now.
Before we publish our review of the band`s home coming gig, we would like to update you on what The Americas has been up to. It`s been few days which in the world of Aaron, Harry and Alex is a lot.
The band has just been announced as one of the acts to play Wychwood Festival on The Big Top stage. The Americas will play alongside another WorcesterWave band – Soeur. Add this to the impressive list of achievements in barely 4 months this year.
And we can finally see a video from The Americas` performance at The Pirate Studios in Manchester in January. Ugly is a regular song in the live performances, but so far has not been released as a single. It’s worth watching as this is a classic track for the band – driven, funky and with a wonderful melody line.
The Americas are perfectionists. They plan their acts in the smaller details, play like there is no tomorrow and hit the stage even if the world is falling around them. It could not be any different for their home coming gig in Worcester. The house was full, support acts (Junior Weeb and Happy Bones) delivered splendid sets and the crowd was waiting in anticipation.
The band don’t play home that often anymore so it was time for a real celebration. Harry, Aaron and Alex came on stage wearing identical red suits, looking like British Invasion act out of the 70s. For the next hour they did not let anyone rest even for a second. Ugly, Rosanna, Hot Minute, Tenth of May and a new song Come On Down were delivered with passion and determination. Within two tracks, Harry let go of both his jacket and shirt and continued to play, dance and swing. Audience picked up pace and formed the biggest mosh pit Marrs Bar seen on an indie gig. There was crowd surfing, pogo dancing and dozens of people screaming the lyrics with their eyes closed.
Once the music ended, fans and friends alike stormed merch stand and even posters were taken off the walls and taken home as souvenirs.
We have been attending gigs at Marrs Bar (Worcester`s only independent venue and a home to all WorcesterWave bands) for over two years and not often we see this sort of adoration. No, truly there is no other word for how revered The Americas were on that night.
The band will soon play bigger venues and this could be end of a certain period in their careers.
Like Peace before them, The Americas will put Worcester on a music map…
No wait, let us rephrase that. The Americas have already put Woo-Town on map and other bands from the scene are looking up to them and following.
It makes us proud to call this cathedral town in West Midlands home.
Much power to you The Americas!
Some videos from the night:
And some images from the night:
We so wish you could be with us.