JUDAS (from l-r): Todd Blackmore (guitar), John Clancy (vocals/guitar), James Phillips (bass), Sam Horvath (drums)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Hailing from across the UK, but now based in London, emerging indie-rock quartet Judas have achieved a lot in the two-and-a-half years they’ve been together, including a well-received self-titled debut EP, playing at such prestigious music festivals as Isle of Wight and Reading and Leeds, and being championed by the likes of BBC Introducing, Radio X, and Clash magazine.
Recently, the band released a new single, ‘Big Mouth’, which was recorded at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, and they sat down and spoke to me all about it and much more when the four-piece came to Hanley, as part of their recent UK tour supporting Mallory Knox.
How did the band form?
JOHN CLANCY (vocals/guitar): We all met online.
SAM HORVATH (drums): Yeah, I think that was about two-and-a-half years ago now.
JOHN: I had been in another band before. When that ended, I moved down to London, and I found these boys on a website, I think it was called Band Finder, something like that, and they were all studying at the same music college.
TODD BLACKMORE (guitar): We didn’t really know each other at the time, though.
JOHN: Once we had all met online, we decided to meet up and have a rehearsal in Camden, at the Roundhouse, actually, then after that, we all decided to form a band, and we’ve been together ever since.
From where did the name Judas originate?
JOHN: We were originally called The Disciples, because with our original line-up, before Todd joined, we all had disciples names.
TODD: Yeah, so when I came in, I was the only one that didn’t have a disciples name, so soon after that, they started calling me Judas, and then all of us realised that would make a great band name.
What would you say was your songwriting approach?
JOHN: It varies all the time. We write some songs acoustically, then everyone adds their own little bit to it, other times, we’ll write onto a computer programme, and a musical idea will develop from there. Actually, two of the songs we’ll be playing tonight were written on an iPhone.
SAM: We used to all go into a room, John would then come up with an idea for a song, and then, we would contribute with our own little parts, but now, our approach changes often, and is more collaborative.
What inspires the band lyrically?
JOHN: Stories of what we’ve been up to, going out, girls.
TODD: Most of them come from what we get up to on tour.
JOHN: It’s basically our lives in a songbook.
TODD: I don’t think there are many of our songs that aren’t about something that we’ve been up to.
JOHN: Yeah, because if you’re making up the lyrics that you are writing, it does come across as fake, so a lot of them do deal with real experiences.
TODD: It’s literally anything, positive, negative, feelings, jokes, whatever.
JOHN: So the lyrics are about us, really.
Your self-titled debut EP was released to rave reviews. Was that something all of you were expecting whilst recording it?
SAM: Not at all, because it was the first four songs that we ever wrote together, so at the time, we were just looking to get into the studio and record some content, so we could convince people to give us some live shows, and fortunately for us, it went down pretty well.
JAMES PHILLIPS (bass): Our last single has so far had a million hits on Spotify.
SAM: So now, we’re pushing everything that we do, to try and build ourselves up further.
Speaking of the last single, ‘Big Mouth’, how was the recording process for that?
JOHN: We actually recorded that at Abbey Road Studios.
That must have been quite an experience for you all.
SAM: Yeah, it was an incredible experience.
TODD: I don’t think you could ever prepare for something like that.
SAM: For us, it was like a kid going to Disneyland.
JAMES: When we got there, one of the guys we were going to be working with gave us a tour, showing us around Studio 1, where The Beatles recorded, so yeah, it was amazing.
Did you get to record in Studio 1, then?
JOHN: No, we recorded at a place called The Gatehouse, which is an extension of the studios.
TODD: All the gear in there was top-of-the-range, and the recording process was a really smooth one, everything came together really easily, because up until then, when we’d be recording tracks, there was always a little problem with something.
JOHN: We basically re-recorded all of the demos that we had done at home in that Abbey Road session.
TODD: And the people there, knew what it was that we wanted before we even got to the studios, so it enabled us to really focus on getting the emotional aspects of the songs right, and improve the overall recording quality.
The band are currently supporting Mallory Knox on their UK tour. How has it been going for everyone so far?
SAM: It’s been so good.
JOHN: Our fan base has grown so much, even in the limited run of dates we’ve played so far, and it’s awesome to support such a big band as Mallory Knox.
TODD: When we’ve been supporting bands in the past, it’s only been for about two or three dates, here and there, but this time, we get to support Mallory Knox for the entirety of their tour, and it’s the first time we’ve done something like that.
JAMES: It’s awesome to get validation from a band with such a big reputation, and the good thing with that is that people actually now know who the fuck we are.
In the last couple of years, you have played some of the UK’s top music festivals, including Isle of Wight, which you’ll be playing again this summer, and last year, you played the main stages at Reading and Leeds. How were they as experiences?
JOHN: It was amazing. When we put the band together, our plan was to eventually get to playing big festivals and compete with the big bands, so I think it was good for us to be allowed to actually play there, because we felt that we deserved it.
SAM: For someone to say to us that we deserved to be up on the main stages at Reading and Leeds, it was an unbelievable feeling for us.
JOHN: It was the result of all of the hard work that we had put in, grafting our bollocks off, to get to that point.
Once the current tour has been completed, what are the band’s plans?
SAM: We’ve got a week off after the Mallory Knox tour, then we’ll be embarking on a headline tour of our own, then more festivals, then back into the studio.
JOHN: We’re going to work at putting a debut album together, then look at getting a label to back us.
TODD: And play as many shows as we possibly can, for the rest of this year.
JOHN: And more supports. If there’s anyone from any other bands reading this, then please sign us up.
JAMES: I think that’s what we’re looking for, mainly.
And finally, what is your long-term aim?
JAMES: World domination.
SAM: We just want to keep on doing what we’re doing, but play bigger shows, and get a bigger fan base.
JOHN: More girls.
TODD (laughs): Yeah, more girls. That’s why we’re in this game.
SAM: Bigger van, nicer food, nicer hotels, more sunshine.
JAMES: Everything that we’re doing at the moment, we’re having so much fun doing it.
JOHN: We never want all this to stop.
SAM: And I do believe that we can make it to the next level.
JUDAS WILL SOON BE EMBARKING ON A UK HEADLINE TOUR, AND WILL BE PLAYING AT A FEW FESTIVALS AS WELL. FURTHER DETAILS ON THESE CAN BE FOUND BELOW:
MORE INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES:
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.wearejudas.com