THE RAINBAND (from l-r): Sam Wilson (bass), Phil Rainey (guitar), Martin Finnigan (vocals), Joe Wilson (guitar), James Cowell (drums)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Since forming back in 2011, Manchester five-piece The Rainband have firmly established themselves on the British indie scene with a highly-polished sound full of powerful rhythms and epic melodies.
This, along with energetic live performances that are simply unmissable, has generated wide acclaim from fans, critics, and such well-known bands and artists as Liam Gallagher, Paolo Nutini and Simple Minds, which led to them supporting the latter two on tour, as well as sets at the Glastonbury and Isle of Wight festivals.
Ending their current UK and European tour, in support of their already well-received recent album, ‘The Shape of Things to Come’, this evening with a sell-out homecoming gig at the Deaf Institute, the band’s frontman, Martin Finnigan, spoke to me about the incredible journey they have been on so far.
How did the band get together?
Myself and Phil had known each other for a few years, and had always talked music.
I knew him as “The Rain Man” (not because of his likeness to Dustin Hoffman, but as a nickname…) We jammed some Doves and Stones one Monday night, and The Rain Man became The Rainband.
Were there any other reasons as to how the name The Rainband came about?
People in Europe always seem to think it’s because of Manchester weather.
I met Marc Riley (BBC Radio 6 Music DJ) two years ago, and after 20 minutes of conversation, he confessed that he had never listened to anything by us that we had sent as he thought we must have been “Oasis wannabes” (Their former name was The Rain.)
What would you say was your songwriting approach?
I write the words and vocal melodies, the band bring the fire of the music. We all get in on the harmonies.
What inspires the band lyrically?
Life, loss, love, laughter – It’s all about the “L’s”
Last month, you brought out your second album, ‘The Shape of Things to Come’. How was the recording process for that?
It felt special from the off. We’d had lead track ‘Gimme Love’ since the previous tour.
When we played King Tut’s in Glasgow on that tour, nobody had ever heard that song. Halfway through, I offered the crowd to sing the chorus back, and they took the roof off…
After the gig, Paolo Nutini said, “You have something right there. If that’s not the single, then you’ve got yer head in a bin“…
So that was the start!!!
And how has the reaction been to the album up to now?
Across the UK and Europe, it’s been something else. So many people have been getting hooked in on so many different songs on the album, sending so many messages. It makes that time where you are cut off in recording it worthwhile. There can be dark days, though, where you second guess yourself again and again.
You’ve supported the likes of Paolo Nutini, the Kaiser Chiefs, and Simple Minds, as well as playing at the Glastonbury and Isle of Wight festivals. How were they as experiences for you all?
Glastonbury was headlined by the Stones, and at IOW, we were on the main stage, where five bands later, Fleetwood Mac played.
There was a drunken conversation between all of the band, saying, “That’s it…How can we top this?…Shall we end it here?…“. The next day, everyone got up, went home, and 24 hours later, we’d written ‘Gimme Love’…
No-one’s mentioned that conversation since! (laughs)
And in regards to supporting Simple Minds, their frontman Jim Kerr contacted the band himself to ask if you wanted to support them on their tour. That must have been rather surreal.
We were on the same radio show, where they had done a pre-record, and they listened in and heard the track. I got the phone call the producer of the show passed my number on.
Jim called, and asked us to open their Delamere Forest gig. I’ve got a mate who is unbelievable at impressions, and when the voice initially said, “Hi Martin, it’s Jim Kerr“, I was halfway to saying, “Yeah, fucking right it is…“, but for once, I remained quiet…I’m pretty glad I heard him out.
That turned out to be one of my favourite gigs ever, and from there, they asked us to tour Italy with them…Now, that was truly special.
The band has been endorsed by Kerr, Nutini, Liam Gallagher, as well as a lot of the music press. I can imagine you’ve found all of that rather flattering.
We played the opening of Liam’s Pretty Green store in Covent Garden, and I’d met him a couple of times before, and many times since. I am made up for him what he is doing now. It’s him on his own, two feet in with his name above the door. No walking in a musical shadow…his sound is his, and hats off to him for that.
Paolo, I am lucky enough to call a friend. As you say, we are lucky in the sense that we’ve played with a lot of really talented musicians, but his talent, for me, is a “God-given” one. I could never imagine him as doing anything else.
Watching him play night after night on tour, he had the ability that I could only describe as like “calling down from the skies” at certain points when he sings, like no other singer I’ve seen.
Beyond that, his intuition musically, for me, is second to none. He knows who he is, and never sails close to compromise. I remember he told me, despite the pressure to release an album, the mantra has to be, and always is, “It’s ready when it’s ready“. Never a truer word.
Watching Simple Minds each night we toured with them fast-tracked me to understand so many things quickly. Jim and Charlie Burchill are a dynamic duo, and the band are a true force.
All in all, yes, it has been rather flattering to hear their words about what we do. It’s something I count “up there” for so many reasons, and it gives you confidence that you’re finding “your path“.
Now the album has come out, what are the band’s plans for the near future?
Tour, festivals, have the time of your life, make memories….and repeat.
You’ve already achieved a great deal, so what would you all like to tick off the bucket list next?
There was never a plan, as such, up to here, so in the most beautiful sense, I’m not going to start now. I’m going to keep living in the present, as I think these days, that’s the hardest thing to do, but it’s the best thing we can all try and do.
What advice would you give to any aspiring bands/artists out there?
Don’t chase today’s fad or genre. Guitar bands will always be told that synth-based pop is where it’s at, and vice versa, so find your sound and have fun with that, as it’s those smiles that will remind you why you got into this business in the first place, and it’s where you go to when you get given hollow promises or take a knock.
‘THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME’, THE SECOND ALBUM FROM THE RAINBAND, RELEASED THROUGH STRAWBERRY MOON RECORDS, IS NOW AVAILABLE TO STREAM, DOWNLOAD & PURCHASE FROM SPOTIFY, iTunes, APPLE MUSIC, GOOGLE PLAY, AMAZON MUSIC & SOUNDCLOUD.
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: