INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
The currently thriving Stoke-on-Trent music scene was dealt a blow recently when popular local four-piece The Carriers announced that after playing the Underground in Hanley on June 16, they were going to go their separate ways, in order to pursue other projects.
The band may have only been together for two years, but in that time, they made quite an impact in their home city with a mainly punk sound, full of high energy, distorted riffs and rapid drum beats, supplemented with elements of funk and ska.
However, despite the sad news, the quartet are set to go out on a high, with one final album planned for release to accompany their farewell gig.
The band’s frontman Ben Murray spoke to me recently, in what will be one of their last interviews.
How did The Carriers come into being?
Our guitarist Jack Duggan and drummer Ryan Dawkins have been mates since school. They put an ad out on the Stoke Music Scene Facebook page for a singer / rhythm guitarist. I’d only just moved to Stoke and was looking for a band, so I answered the ad, met up with the guys, and we seemed to gel really well from the get go. Our bassist Sam Johnson, who knew Ryan from college, joined after we’d kicked the first one out a couple of months after I joined.
How did you come up with the band name?
It was something either Ryan or Jack had already thought of, it was a working title for a while and we tried to think of something else, just spit balling ideas for a bit, but none of them stuck as much as The Carriers.
What are the key influences on your sound?
All of us bring loads of different influences to the table. Ryan is a big punk/pop punk/metal and ska fan, Jack has similar tastes, but also enjoys funk and more old school punk like NOFX, Sam listens to literally anything and everything from like Bossonova to Primeus, and I’m more into emotional post-punk, so bands like Joyce Manor and Bloc Party, but also for fun and games, MSI and others like them influence me.
How does the band put their songs together?
Usually, we arrive at practice and someone will have a riff or progression they have been working on. We’ll then work on it and jam with it for a bit, make it a song, sort out the structure and composition of it and then at the next practice, I will bring some lyrics that I’ve worked on and by then, the track is pretty much finished. We’ll then just practice the hell out of it, and if there was anything we got bored of while playing, it gets cut.
What subjects do you like to explore with the lyrical content?
A few are stories of people getting drunk or finding inspiration, some are more politically charged making comments on immigration, Brexit and the education system. There’s also a song about celebrity culture, one with Pokémon references, and I tend to talk a lot about money, work, mental health, relationships, music and my dad.
How well do you think your music has been received?
It’s been good, we’re definitely a live band over a studio band, so it’s a much different experience listening to our tracks to seeing us in the flesh, so the immediate reaction to our sets has always been very positive and anyone who likes us will then usually buy one of our CD’s or find us on Spotify.
Stoke-on-Trent, where you are all based currently, has a thriving music scene at the moment. Would you agree?
Yeah, the scene is great right now. Every weekend, there’s a local band playing somewhere in Hanley and the venues do a great job of making these people sound and look awesome.
Also, with stuff like Your City being free to come and watch for the public just showcases how awesome the talent is in Stoke currently, and what’s more is that it doesn’t just focus on one style of music, there’s plenty of diversity in the types of acts you can go and see.
The band announced recently that they were calling it a day. Can you tell me what the reasons behind this decision are?
I’m moving away in July or August to Liverpool, so we thought it would be better to end on a massive high rather than to just fizzle out into obscurity and not play again. Each of us is such an integral part of the sound and presence of The Carriers as a live band, so we couldn’t really draft anyone else in to play the live shows.
We’ve all put a lot of work into this band over the past year and a half, and we’re proud and happy with what we’ve all got out of it. Also, we’re all going off to do our own projects now, Sam is fronting Misovia, Ryan is drumming in Undercurrent, Jack is looking to put together a funk band and once I move to Liverpool, I’m going to put together a band called Just.
Could The Carriers return one day in some form or another?
Unlikely. We’ve all learned a lot writing and performing with each other, and we’ve all improved in songwriting and stage presence and production, but now, I think we just want to take what we’ve learned and put it to use in our own projects.
Finally, are you looking forward to putting on a big finale then on June 16?