BECKON LANE (from l-r): Samer Bata (lead guitar), Lewis Phillis (vocals/guitar), Dan Brown (drums/backing vocals), Mike Nightingale (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
PHOTO by ROBERT BALMER
Beckon Lane are a hard rock/heavy metal four-piece from Nottingham.
They have made an impact on their local rock scene since forming in 2014 with an adernaline-fuelled sound full of complex riffs, vocal melodies, hooks and huge, stadium-friendly choruses.
The band have also started to have success further afield, with their recent two track EP, ‘The Long Road’, receiving much positive feedback.
With the quartet heading back into the studio next month to start work on their eagerly-anticipated debut album, they chatted with me about this and other things, just after playing an electrically charged set at their home city’s Macmillan Fest.
How did you all get together initially?
SAMER BATA (lead guitar): Basically, somebody that we know, I won’t say who it is, but they used to do a lot of band promotions, and they shared the status of somebody online who was looking to start up a band. That somebody was Lewis.
I contacted him, and we started discussing which bands we liked most of all, and I saw that we were meeting somewhere down the middle.
So then, I met up with him, and decided that we were both on the right track.
Our drummer Dan, he had been in a band in London, he came up to chat with us, because Lewis had known him for a few years before. We played him some of the stuff that me and Lewis had done, and he came on board pretty much there and then.
It wasn’t up until last year when Mike, our bassist, joined us. I’d known him from other bands, and he came in to replace our last bass player, who had left to concentrate on the other band they were playing in.
So yeah, that was all over a three year span.
How did the name Beckon Lane come about?
LEWIS PHILLIS (vocals/guitar): It was something…I went through quite a low point at one stage, and I was just thinking that nowadays, everyone seems to be expected to follow this certain path, you know, get married, settle down, start a family, and I was thinking every time somebody is at a low point, you find they take on a side path, whether it’s through drinking or other things.
My side path has always been music, it’s like the road less travelled, so for me, it was the lane that was beckoning me, and it was the name that popped into my head.
Also, I wanted something that didn’t necessarily say what particular style we are, because the name doesn’t really give you an idea, so it’s always a nice surprise for people when they come along.
There’s a bit of everything in there, because sometimes, you can pick a name that just sounds like heavy metal, and if you’re doing other things, it throws people.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
SAMER: That’s a tough one, because I’m in a band with three other very talented musicians. In terms of songwriting, sometimes, Dan will bring in a complete idea and we all just sort of work on that, breaking it down and adding our own influences.
Lyric-wise, even though I studied creative writing at university, I keep that to myself, letting Dan and Lewis write the majority of the lyrics, because I would much prefer for the guys in the band who sing, Lewis on lead vocals and Dan on backing vocals, to do that.
In terms of guitar work, I will tend to do my own thing. Sometimes, Dan will have an idea and so will Lewis, who will sing some lyrics to me, and I will try and work around that.
It’s really varied, we don’t have a set thing. At the end of the day, we always insist on all of our decisions being made between the four of us.
What inspires the band lyrically?
DAN BROWN (drums/backing vocals): I dunno. It’s just kind of our own lives, I suppose, just choices we’ve made, stuff we’ve been through.
One of our new songs, ‘Breathe’, is about someone who was dead once, but then they were brought back to life. The song’s basically about that, so it’s just, all of our songs come together as and when, I suppose it comes up in an emotional state.
LEWIS: Sometimes as well, it’s like if there is a particular context to a song, sometimes the lyrics will get passed to me, I’ll add bits, and then, I will add my perspective, because we like trying to write lyrics that have got multiple meanings, so when you’re listening, you’re not necessarily seeing it from our point of view, you can put your own meanings to them, and take your own things away from it.
SAMER: Also, sometimes, if there’s a great riff idea, there was one for our song ‘Fire’. I played the riff, called it ‘Fire’, and it inspired Dan and Lewis to write lyrics around the subject of that.
LEWIS: Throwing things in a pot, and seeing what comes out. That’s what it is a lot of the time! (laughs)
You released your second EP, ‘The Long Road’, earlier this year. How well do you think it was received?
LEWIS: I think it went really well, we’ve had some awesome reviews of it. The initial intention of doing it was that we’d done our first EP, and then obviously, it had been a year or so, and we knew that we wanted to get back into the studio at some point and start working on a full album.
We all thought: “Well, we’ve got these songs that have a bit more of a commercial edge to them, with better production values, so we’ll do an EP as a stop-gap.”
We put them out, and a lot of the time, when we’ve played them as part of our live set, our fans seem to highlight them as their particular favourites.
SAMER: Any reviews that we have had of the EP up to now, we’ve been lucky, because it’s such a chance moment when you send something to a magazine for them to do a review of.
We’re really humbled and grateful to all of the magazines who have reviewed the EP, as they have been very vocal about how good it is.
For a band, as you and a lot of people know out there, to be just starting out, have invested a lot of money into the costs of recording, printing and all of the other stuff, it’s great just to get that level of positive feedback.
LEWIS: It makes the time and energy spent worth it. We’ve always worked in a way in which there are no B-tracks, which normally, a lot of bands write a lot of. We make sure that if a song is not 100%, we put it to one side if it’s got potential, and then we’ll work on it, making sure that it’s the strongest it can be.
SAMER: That’s what happened with ‘Long Way Round’. The initial idea was thought up right at the beginning of the band. I played a riff on the guitar, but it didn’t work out for whatever reason.
A few years later, I started to play it again, Dan got inspired by it, the chorus became the pre-chorus, and then Dan wrote the chorus on top of that. It’s just an ever-evolving process for us, and it’s brilliant that it happens that way.
Towards the end of this year, the band will be recording their debut album.
LEWIS: Yes, we’ll be heading back into the studio at the end of October, start of November.
We’re obviously going to be starting with the drums this year, and then do everything else at the beginning of next year, so we’re hoping to get it released in the middle of next year.
SAMER: We’re not going to say much about it for now, but there will be some news on when and how it will be released.
LEWIS: Check out our social media for updates!
SAMER: We will be releasing more information as we get nearer to the release date. People have already heard a lot of the songs that will be on there, and we reckon it’s going to be something that will propel us to the next stage of our career.
Anything else you have lined up for the near future at all?
LEWIS: Yes, we’re going to be playing a few gigs. The No-Hate Festival in Nottingham on November 11, that’s going to be at the Rescue Rooms, and on December 2, we’ve also got the Beckon Lane Christmas Shindig. That’s our own thing that we’ve got, and that will also be in Nottingham, at the Tap n’ Tumbler.
SAMER: For that one, we have a secret headliner.
LEWIS: Yes, and we reckon it will be one of the last chances people are going to be able to see them for free at such a small venue. We’re not going to say who they are just yet, even the other bands we’ve booked have no idea.
It’s an awesome day, we did it last year, and we’re going to try and do it every year. It’s just us celebrating with a load of other bands that we’ve played with and admire.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
LEWIS: The long-term aim is that we just want to create music that a lot of people will like, something which I have always said.
Even for people who aren’t really into rock and metal, they do have that one CD of your Bon Jovi, your Nickelback or your Guns N’ Roses, we’re aiming to get into that thing, and with our style of music, we can go from lighter to heavier stuff easily, there’s something for everyone, and you find that some people will go: “I don’t like this song, but I like that song“, and it’s what we want to kind of continue doing.
Obviously, when we’ve done the album, we want to start touring to support that, and it’s then just onwards and upwards from there, I think. The sky’s the limit, but I don’t think there will ever be a time where we will become complacent about it, because you can always go bigger.
I think Dan said at one point that he will know it’s going to be good when we play Wembley! (laughs)
There’s nothing like setting your aims high, but I think it’s making sure not to give yourself certain expectations when there is potential to be much bigger.
It will be a case of getting our music out there, try and keep playing, doing what we’re doing, and hoping that the stars will align and we can get to the point where we can make a living out it at some point, just so we can put all of our time into it, and I think it’s the same goal for a lot of bands.
‘THE LONG ROAD’, THE LATEST EP FROM BECKON LANE, IS AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE FROM THE BAND’S BANDCAMP PAGE beckonlane.bandcamp.com
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OFFICIAL WEBSITE: beckonlane.com