Walking into Nottingham’s Glee Club I am surprised at the warm ambience of the room.
With fairy lights draping the ceilings and a disco ball speckling the floor there is something theatrical about the atmosphere, a far-cry from the often scarce and desolate landscapes of Eyre Llew’s music videos.
They greet me warmly as we move to a small room above the venue, casually relaxed in face of the sold-out show which could be their most significant performance yet. “It was never not going to be in our hometown,” explains vocalist Sam Heaton, “it’s where so many of our close friends and family are but also where we started out.” Mixing amongst their relatives are fans from as far out as Korea who have fallen in love with the powerfully haunting melodies the three-piece deliver.
When asked whether the album, Atelo, has felt like a long time coming there is a resounding “definitely!” It’s been almost three years since they began writing it and their enthusiasm for it is clearly matched with the crowds’. Having released a single alongside a music video at the start of every month the band has a strong connection to the visual side of creating music. “When we write a song I kind of have an internal idea of what it looks like visually. Some of our stuff can be quite melancholic… so that brings to mind more sparsity in shots and visuals. It works with the environmental landscapes we’ve used in ‘Havoc’ and ‘Atelo,’” offers guitarist Jack Bennett. Sam agrees, adding that “the best way we could reach people was if there was visual content.”
Having already shot videos in the desert of Gran Canaria and the mountains of Norway the conversation moves to where next. “I’d love to do stuff in space,” Sam enthuses, backed up by drummer and pianist Jack Clark, “something like gravity, interstellar, we like sci-fi.” Jack B adds, “We’re actually scoring for a sci-fi film hopefully soon too.” This fascination with space suits the ambience of their work, the melancholic melodies full of echoes. “I love reverb,” explains Sam, “it really suits being in space though space scares the shit out of me. The idea of floating off that’s horrible, like if you were working on a spaceship and were knocked off that’d be horrific.” They laugh and Jack injects “when I die I actually want to be sent into space and just be pumped out in a coffin.”
Moving back to safer territory we discuss the writing process and what seems like a perfectionist overtone. “The way our song writing goes is we jam it out in band practice and the full structure of the song is pretty much there within like 2-3 hours. If we haven’t worked that song out and it’s not gig-able in like two band practices it’s something we put on the back burner and we generally don’t return to.” Sam explains. “I find it quite easy to write the things we do as we each have individual voices that when it all comes together it creates what Eyre Llew does… it feels just really natural.”
Jack B isn’t so sure it comes as easily, remarking “when you’ve spent the hours trying to do what you want it does get easier… but I wouldn’t say it is easy.” It’s all not going to be easy listening either as Jack continues, “we started writing stuff on the piano and I’m trying to do so much dissonant stuff and diminished chords. It’s ridiculous but it sounds really tense, I don’t think it’s going to be easy listening at all but I can’t wait.”
For a three-piece Eyre Llew’s sound is massive yet they manage to keep an emotional intimacy in their work, stemming from a desire to leave the songs open to interpretation. “When people hear any music, not just ours, they kind of have their own opinions on what it’s about and what they see and what they feel,” Jack B tells me, “We don’t like getting in the middle of that too much, it’s up to the audience how they interpret it.”
They remain as modest as the small sparsely decorated room we sit in as they tell me about the experience of playing in Korea. After performing at Focus Wales to what Sam describes as “an audience of about 15 people” the band were approached by a Korean promoter. After jumping at the chance he explains, “We looked into funding opportunities with PRS, applied, we got it, and then it was like ‘oh my God’ this is actually happening and then that festival then turned into a tour. It’s one of those examples of right person, right place, right time.”
“It didn’t really dawn on us until we were out there for like four days,” Jack B continues, “it was only on like the fourth day I was like ‘we’re in Korea, how did this happen?’ It was a weird experience but an amazing one.
“We went out for a meal one night and there’s no legal closing time in Korea. They just stay open until there are not enough people to make money so the first night we stayed up until 7am just drinking and then I fell asleep on the beach and got horribly sunburnt. I had four or five days of being heat stroked and feeling sick and tired and then my leg swelled up twice and the and I couldn’t walk on it.” Arriving back in England, they went straight to A&E, and as the band laugh it’s clear that there was no lasting damage. “We’d love to return though. I’ll just stay away from beaches,” Jack smiles.
Whilst there are many exciting things in the band’s future we discuss their other passions. “If for any reason music didn’t work out I think I would go and do scuba diving stuff in Fiji,” Sam tells me whilst Jack B enthuses a career in archeology, his idea is to tour with Eyre Llew for ten months of the year and then do two months of archaeology. “Anything after the Romans, there’s no mystery there. I’m going to get a metal detector actually. I’m 30 years old and I’ve already resided myself into having an old man hobby.”
The band laugh and I can only hope he can manage that with the busy schedule of touring that’s looming in the not-so-far-away future. They’re about to properly “dip their toes into Europe” as Jack describes it, teasing a Swedish tour.
With plans to return to Korea by the end of 2018, a potential sci-fi film score to work on and a European tour fast-approaching I’m under no illusion that the next year won’t be a busy one now their debut is finally here.
Words by Amy Albinson
Words by Amy Albinson