Before their stunning performance supporting The Twang, Ivory Wave invited us back stage to talk the joys of bottled beer, spiced rum and coke (or maybe that was just me) the comradery between Birmingham bands and their adventures this year as one of Brum’s most up and coming bands.
How would you describe your music to anyone who hasn’t seen you before?
George: We’re more concentrated on the beat and the rhythm in the song than like the people getting their spotlight. We’re all like interested in how it sounds a whole band. So like Connor only ever plays a guitar solo when we’re due for a guitar solo. When it needs to be there.
You’ve got one guitar solo though right?
Connor: Yeah – at the end of CLUB which we sacked off for this tour!
George: But we’ve never been ones to put something in for the sake of it and the band started out just me and Luke. We own a warehouse in Birmingham so what we basically did was we would just get drunk and make loads of music – we’d just play lots of beats, house music, mixed in with funk or hip hop and it sort of developed when we needed a guitar player. Connor likes bands like The Smiths and The Cure and things like that. Connor’s always the one who’ll always say, ‘let’s write a single hit’ if it was down to me and Luke we’d just have a ten minute fucking ‘I am the Resurrection’ kind of thing. Connor’s the one who always says we’ve got to make a fucking song here like! So, we’d describe our sounds as the beat with the rhythm with a bit of pop on the top. Does that answer your question?
Kate: Kinda …
Connor: I was going to chuck a bit of dancy groove in
Ben: That was a bit of a tangent that answer … but we got there.
Connor: We like people to get involved so rather than just watching a band I want them to have a dance, so I like a bit of a dancy groove music.
Rachel: Do your lyrics reflect that?
Seb: George writes the lyrics.
George: They’re normally quite hip hop as I listen to a lot of hip hop. I write my lyrics not thinking ‘Would someone write this? I know what it means to me. People ask me ‘but what does that mean?’ And I always think, ‘Well, I know what it means to me, but I don’t want to tell you – I want you to think of your own meaning.’
Kate: So, you’re not telling a story then?
George: I’ve never been one who writes ‘we walked down a road and then this happened’ and I remember for ages saying to the boys I don’t write like that – I used to always ask them about our first single ‘ Feel the Beat’ and I’d ask them to tell me the meaning of every line! They’d tell me and I’d think but it means this to me. I’ve always hidden the meaning in my lyrics.
Kate: But it’s kind of nice that the meaning’s hidden away isn’t it? Then people can interpret it themselves …
Rob: People can have their own take on it. It’s nice to be a little vague.
Kate: What music did you listen to growing up?
Rob: I was more a 1980s kid – I listened to a lot of synthesiser music that my parents had like Human League and Erasure and stuff like that. I just liked that music and so my part in the band is bringing that euphoric sound.
Luke: I was brought up on Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Northside – Manchester bands on the scene. Grew up then got in to hip hop sort of stuff– anything with a groove –
Connor: Oh god …
Luke: Here we go …
Kate: If you’d all like to take a seat …
Connor: Yeah well – I grew up listening to a lot of Bowie and although the lads‘ll kill me for saying this – but I grew up listening to a lot of Duran Duran –
Kate: Well someone had to …
Connor: Cut that!
Rob: I think that’s where his backing vocals come from (OO-oo-OO-oo)
Luke: Early 1990s stuff – I loved Oasis and that kind of vibe. I loved Pulp, but then I also really liked
some disco like Earth Wind and Fire. Loved that, loved Kool and the Gang, man, loved all that
Kate: Gosh – an eclectic mix then
Luke: And I think that’s where the dance element comes from –
Seb: For me it was a really weird mix of stuff. When I was really young my Dad played lots of The Police and stuff like that – what he was listening to growing up – but then I got really in to rock and American Rock – I hit all the stereotypes really – and then as I progressed through this music, I got in to hip hop, jazz, blues, anything that caught my ear at that time. I’ve never had a specific thing that I’ve listened to. It’s a constantly evolving thing.
George: My first memory of music was going downstairs in my Dad’s house and he was listening to Classic Albums = a tv show where they used to break down an album and talk about what it was – and it was a Sex Pistols album and it was Steve Jones, the guitar player, playing Pretty Vacant and I thought it was wicked as before that I’d been listening to Steps and stuff like that!
Kate: That is a leap!
George: My Dad was like – I’ll give you my copy of ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ and from that point on whenever I was at my Dad’s house, ‘cause he had a huge wall of CDs – I’d just go A to Z! So he’s always been in to Oasis, The Strokes, bands like that and in the car we’d hear things like Buck Rogers by Feeder but then every now and again he’d be like, ‘Have you heard this Ice Cube track?’
Rachel: Who do you listen to now?
Seb: We like a lot of current stuff that hasn’t made it in to the public eye
George: With our music, we don’t try to write something different, its just that we bring different things to the track and because of how different our influences are the music we play and are listening to – well it brings different elements to the track. We’re not saying we’re the most unique sound around but we all bring something different. We’ve never listened to a band and thought we want to sound like that, we just cultivate our sound from what we’ve listened to over time.
Rachel: What is happening for you now?
Luke: ‘Separate Beats’ is out now and we’ve got a new single out in February which we think is the best thing we’ve ever done. We think each song progresses us on and we’ve ended up like this
George: Everything else has been a practice but now this is what Ivory Wave really sounds like.
We’re not pretending to sound like anyone – we’ve got a saxophone in the new song and lead lines like a Rizzle Kicks line and then saxophone!
Rachel: Amazing! Thinking about chart music today – how do IW plan to combat the state of the chart music we encounter today? What makes you stand out from other bands?
Connor: I think we can bridge the gap between indie and dance music as we have people who might not listen to indie music who would listen to ours as it’s got the dance beat and hopefully we have that. There are bands that have brought guitar back in to pop and that so there is a pop heavy sound. Now we don’t sound like that at all but what they have done is merge two streams – indie and pop. Some bands can’t always find that middle ground.
George: Some people will say Rock and Roll is dead and I’d say yes, it is – so move on. If everyone sounded like Elvis forever, there’d be no progression
Connor: There are many platforms for people to go and enjoy that sort of music – I don’t think guitar music is dead it’s still there but with social media, people can go and find that kind of music.People listen to music in some any different ways these days but there is just a stalemate at the moment for new sounds.
George: We just need to flip it.
Kate: What is it like supporting the Twang?
Rob: Amazing – for us the Twang are IT. In Birmingham there are three bands: The Editors, Peace and The Twang.
Seb: Ocean Colour Scene in the 1990s …
Luke: And Duran Duran
George: While The Twang had been sorting a tour, they brought up and coming unsigned bands with them from Birmingham to expose the Birmingham scene and we really respect them for that. There’s a real ‘We’re all in it together’ kind of thing going on.
George: It’s weird because we walk in to a venue and it’s like ‘You alright mate?’ We know them In Birmingham it’s really close knit. I’ve heard of scenes in other places and they all hate each other and that and in Birmingham I can’t think of a band that doesn’t get on everyone is ok. About six months ago we started a chat on Facebook just all the bands in Birmingham lie ‘who’s playing tonight? ‘and someone would put ‘Oh Ivory Wave is playing at this venue’ and we’d all go along.
Rachel: Supporting each other…
Seb: We’re all in it together.
George: Like The Assist – we know them before and now we’ve met up a few times – on the side of the stage at Tramlines in June last year.
Kate: It’s lovely there’s a real sense of solidarity for you all then…
Seb: You hear of some places where bands will try and control things, so you don’t get to play, or you’ll play but they’ll keep you down, but what you really you need to bounce off each other
Rachel: Everyone needs to work together. That’s how we work…
George: It’s not about egos it shouldn’t be. Coz at the end of the day you’re all just going back to your mum’s house
Rachel: I much prefer the bands who have made it but they’re still down to earth…
George: When we met the Twang, they were like ‘We can’t thank you enough for playing n we’re like ‘It’s the Twang!’ But that’s how sound those guys are.
Kate: What’s next for you?
Our new single – we’ve put so much energy in to that so once that’s out we’ll think about next year.
Kate: Anything else you want to share?
We just want to say check out Social State and Violet – two Birmingham bands – and give a shout out to Arianne Jessop – love you Bab.