INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
From the town of Alsager, right on the border of Staffordshire and Cheshire, three-piece The Red Kites (formerly known as The Noise), are an outfit that pride themselves on producing, in their own words, “A continuous evolution of soulful sounds!”
Since forming in 2013, the trio, comprising of vocalist/guitarist James Biddulph, bassist Aidan Willis, and drummer Nathan Lally, have received much positive feedback for their work, both live and recorded.
I caught up with the band just before their set supporting fellow locals Malthouse at The Exchange in Hanley, and this is what they had to say:
How did the band get together initially?
JAMES BIDDULPH (vocals/guitar): Me and Nathan were in a three-piece band called The Noise, but then the bass player left, so we just put an advert out, and that’s how Aidan joined us.
At the moment, we’re currently going through some changes to our line-up, Jim Richards will be joining us, so we’ll be becoming a four-piece in the near future.
How did the name The Red Kites come about?
JAMES: There’s quite a serious explanation for this, to be honest. My wife’s an artist, and unfortunately, we lost the father-in-law. On his last birthday, she drew for him a picture of a red kite, and it was quite a nice drawing.
I also did a song called ‘Red Kite Blues’, and I thought The Red Kites sounded like a good band name.
In your own words, how would you describe your sound?
JAMES: It’s kind of retro, sort of folky, heartfelt, soulful singer-songwriter stuff.
What are the band’s musical influences?
JAMES: Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, folk stuff, Sixties bands such as The Beatles and The Kinks, also a bit of Motown.
NATHAN LALLY (drums): I’ve always thought that some of our songs sound a bit Fleetwood Mac-ish, early Fleetwood Mac.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
JAMES: It’s just usually on acoustic, really. An idea for some lyrics will come in, then a melody, and I build it up from there. Then, I’ll take what I’ve done to the lads, and they will then put an arrangement to it.
To be honest, there’s a lot of trial and error, some arrangements work, others don’t.
The band regularly feature on the Stoke-on-Trent music scene. What’s your opinion of the state of it currently?
JAMES: It’s alright. There’s a lot of good people about, but like anywhere, there’s always room for improvement. A lot of local bands seem to know each other, which is nice, for example, I know Tom Lockett, who’s playing with us tonight, and there also seems to be a real community spirit around here, but it would be nice to get a few more people into a few more places, so we can build up the ranks a little.
How has the reaction been to your music so far?
JAMES: Yeah, it’s been good. We released a four-track EP last year, ‘The Game Changer’, which we sold out of copies of quite quickly, but it’s also available on Soundcloud, and a lot of people on social media and that have said good things about it, so at the moment, we’re just trying to build on that.
How is it for the band playing live?
JAMES: It’s good, isn’t it?
NATHAN: We played the Lymelight Festival in Newcastle-under-Lyme a few years ago, and that was a good. Playing on a stage outside, you get a different sound, so we’re looking forward to playing there again in May.
JAMES: We played The Glebe in Stoke recently, and that was our old guitarist’s last gig with us, that was good as well, we’ve also played here at The Exchange a couple of times, The Underground too.
What’s planned for the near future then?
JAMES: At the moment, we’re actually recording a single, it’s going to be a bit different, heavier, and we’re also hoping to do a video to accompany the single, so we’re looking forward to all that.
We’re also playing a gig in Alsager on March 25th with Nixon Tate and The Honey Club, they’re doing well at the moment, the Lymelight Festival in May, and there’s something else, I can’t say anything on that right now, but there will be an announcement from us soon.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
JAMES: To keep going, to just play as much as possible, to get to a point where crowds come to see us, and to try and get as much recording done as we can.
We’ve done a lot of songwriting, it’s just getting it out there, to be honest. It’s been tougher than any of us first imagined, but it’s important just to keep going.