SILKRATS (from l-r): Lewis Merrin (drums), Luna Valentine (lead vocals), Adam Kenney (guitar/vocals), Matt Nowak (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
An up-and-coming alternative rock band from Nottingham, Silkrats had a productive end to 2018, having released a first single, ‘Partners In Crime’, as well as making their live debut in the band’s home city, and they have a determination, in 2019, to keep up the momentum that has so far been generated.
Here’s what the quartet had to say to me when we chatted recently:
How did the band form?
MATT NOWAK (bass): The three dudes in the band have been friends for a very long time. We met when we were at school, and we were in a (terrible) band together back then too. We remain the very best of friends after all these years, and the band only gives us another reason to hang out together, other than just getting pissed.
Silkrats formed when Adam persuaded Lewis and myself to give being a band another try – and we did take some persuading, to be honest, as unlike Adam, we had both taken a step back from playing music publicly, having grown disillusioned after the breakdown of previous projects, but we’re very glad that he talked us round.
We met Luna online, and she gelled with us remarkably quickly and easily, both musically, and as a bandmate, but it can’t have been easy for her entering the old and tight friendship that the other three members of the band hold. She’s done an amazing job so far.
How did the name Silkrats come about?
MATT: Honestly, it doesn’t really mean anything. For some reason, we thought it would be cool to have something with an animal in the name, and our drummer eventually suggested the name Silkrats.
By that time, we were about ready to book gigs and start releasing some tunes, so we had reached a stage where we just needed a name, any name, and thought it would do. I wish we had a cooler story behind it, to be honest, but we don’t.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
MATT: So far, we’ve written as a group mostly, and I like it that way, as I think it works for us. Personally, I prefer working on something together, rather than one of us bringing a complete idea to the other guys and saying, “Here’s the song, learn it“, and collaborating this way means we all have more of a shared attachment to the songs.
My style is more “riff arrangement“, whereas Adam has a great ear for hooks and choruses. Together, I think we make a decent team, and are able to fill in the holes in each other’s ideas.
Up until now, Adam has written all of the vocals/lyrics, but the vocal melodies inevitably change a bit once Luna gets her hands on them – it’s always a very pleasant surprise to hear her take them on.
What inspires the band lyrically?
ADAM KENNEY (guitar): I’ve always hated writing lyrics, but bringing in Luna has been liberating – I don’t have to feel self-conscious about it, because I’m not the one singing them!
Lyrically, no song is about one particular thing, as there are multiple themes in most of the songs. I get very bored writing about one singular subject, so there’s usually a line about one thing, and then another about something completely different.
Recently, you brought out your debut single, ‘Partners In Crime’. How was the recording process for that?
MATT: We actually did it ourselves – hopefully, it’s not too obvious! We were on a bit of a budget, so we recorded the song at home using fairly entry level microphones, a MacBook Air, and Logic Pro X.
It’s been years since I recorded anything “properly“, the last time being when I did my music tech A-level about ten years ago, but it was fun shaking off the cobwebs and re-teaching myself how to use various plug-ins, etc.
We wanted to self-record, so that we could take our time, both tracking and mixing, so that we could be pickier about the artistic side of things without the time pressures of working in a “proper” studio, and given the circumstances, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve produced.
And how has the reaction been to the track so far?
LUNA VALENTINE (lead vocals): The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. I think there’s no better feeling in this world than seeing other people enjoy something that we’ve created.
The band hail from Nottingham. What is the state of the alternative rock scene in the city, in your opinion, currently?
LUNA: It depends on what lens you’re looking at it through. From a punter’s perspective, it’s pretty great, as we have several venues that put on touring bands (courtesy of the DHP group – Rock City, The Bodega, Rescue Rooms), as well as an arena for larger acts, and a couple of annual urban festivals (Dot To Dot, Hockley Hustle, Beat The Streets).
As a band though, it can be difficult to find a respectable venue (ie. not a pub with a bit of spare floor space) that will put on emerging local acts, there’s only a handful of those. Huge shout out to The Maze though – they gave us our first gig, and are always willing to give local artists a chance.
And you recently made your live debut in your home city. How was that as an experience?
It went really well! It was great to finally get out there, and show people what we’ve been working on all this time, and we think it was pretty well-received too. We can’t wait to do it again.
And finally, what are the band’s plans for the year ahead?
We’re just trying to get ourselves out there, and we would love to play more gigs! We have five other songs in production already, and the plan at the moment is to release them one at a time as singles, but we’ll see.
‘PARTNERS IN CRIME’, THE DEBUT SINGLE FROM SILKRATS, IS AVAILABLE NOW.
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: