Casting back to a few weekends ago, the sun was shining brightly at this years Neighbourhood and although it was early, and many were nursing a hangover from the night before, the crowds were out in full force for South Yorkshire’s The Reytons.
As the band took to the stage, frontman Jonny Yerrell pointed to his guitarist and Bass player, who are wearing home-made T-shirts with ‘Covid replacement Lee and Joe’ sharpie’d across the front. “I’ll explain all this in a minute” he shouted before bursting into their first song. Just 24 hours before, in the routine Covid testing which allows the artists to play the festival, both Joe and Lee tested positive meaning the band had a huge decision to make. Pull out of the festival, disappointing fans and giving up a coveted mains stage slot, or find replacements and give it a go. Who needs a guitarist and a bassist when you have a guitar tech and photographer?
Not The Reytons that for sure, as their good friends and team members Ross and Nathan heroically stepped up to the plate.
I caught up with the band after their set, the wonders of modern technology allowing Joe and Lee to join us via Zoom.
Were you more nervous about today’s performance due to the last-minute changes?
Jonny: Yeah, cause we only found out 24 hours before, we obviously we all had to do a Covid test and these two had symptoms so they tested first and came back positive. You see other bands pulling out and think what should we do? Joe and Lee were just like “We’ve just gotta to do it.” These guys Nathan and Ross, they’ve been with us since the beginning, doing photography. I mean, they are musicians and they’ve been with us the past 4 years so they should know the songs, let’s see what they can do. So we went to our practice room yesterday just slogged it out all night. We’re a bit tired this morning but I think it went well!.
Did it go as well as you had hoped?
Jonny: I mean, they’re amazing, the people that support us and turn up to our gigs are just unbelievable. We’re nearly two hours from home, but they still turn up. We’re all just a massive family and we’re all Reytons’. Like I said when we went out there, we needed them to carry us today and they did. Credit to these guys, (Ross and Nathan). First, you’re thinking, is this going to work? We’ve practiced it on our own, but, you know, in front of thousands of people is it gonna work? I think it probably went better than we thought. You can’t escape that feeling of heartache that Joe and Lee are feeling as well. This is everything to us, we’ve worked so hard to get where we are. We were supposed to play the small stage and we’ve been moved up to the main stage this year. It’s a moment that we all wanted to enjoy together and you can’t help you can’t escape that little bit of heartbreak while you’re on there. We miss them and we want them to be here with us. But equally, they need us to go out there, because we’ve got an album coming out.
Your debut album comes out on 24th September (now 12th November due to factory delays) what should we expect from that?
Jonny: Yeah, I think a lot more honesty, a lot of transparency, our style is social commentary. So we write about what we see and what we what we’ve grown up looking at and I feel like that really reflects in this album. It’s been a long time coming for us, you know, just getting to this point and finally being able to put out a debut album. And not just putting out an album, but something that we’re that proud of, because there’s a lot of honesty in the album. It’s not just a case of we’ve wrote 14 tracks. There’s a message in there, it’s our stories and stuff that we’ve seen. Hopefully it’s something a lot of people can relate to.
Do you find it easier to write about stuff that you witness in real life, rather than anything abstract?
Jonny: Yeah, writing about something more abstract or trying to write something fictional just because love songs sell, or a certain topic is tending, it just doesn’t interest us as a band, it’s not what we’re about. You know, we don’t sit down and go, right, we need to write this for this reason. Lee will come bouncing into the studio with a funny story like “you’ll never guess what I’ve just seen” and we’ll be like “That’s a right concept let’s write about that.”
Lee (via Zoom) : Yeah, I think some of the songs obviously reflect who we are as people, because we write about day to day lives and stuff like that. Some of the songs are more observational, about things we’ve seen or heard from other people that people from our area can relate to.
You have made a few music videos for your tracks now and seem to take them quite seriously. Do you think it is important to have something visual to go with the song?
Jonny: Yeah, for us it’s not just about the song. It’s the full package. We’re involved in the videos as well. Everything from writing the song, to directing the videos, to developing the concepts to producing, we’re there. We’ve got Rich as our manager, he’s just as hands on as us, you know, a fifth member if you like. I think we would struggle if we found ourselves in a position where, say we were on a major label, and they were like, “oh, we want to do this video and we want to do this production to it” because it’s like the whole package for us. We want to get the message across visually rather than just the audio.
I saw you recently played your single ‘Slice of lime’ in Rotherham Tesco, what was that about?
Jamie: I used to work there, and it was just a stupid idea like “I wonder if they’ll just let us set up on the fruit isle.” So I got in touch with them and they said “Yeah, why not”
Jonny: That was his last shift. (laughing) Jamie worked at Tesco but now we’ve been lucky enough to get to that position where we’re able to go full time with the band.
You guys were the first unsigned band to sell out the Sheffield O2 Academy, now you have two sold out nights there on your upcoming tour. Where is next on your venue bucket list? Where are you selling out next year?
Lee (Via Zoom): I dunno, can we rent Clifton Park out for the weekend or something like that? I reckon we should put on a big festival somewhere like that.
Jonny: I think we’ve done every venue in Sheffield almost, I’d like to do the arena. That’d be amazing wouldn’t it. And obviously, festival wise, Glastonbury, for me that’s the dream. Pyramid stage at Glastonbury.
Joe (Via Zoom): Wembley!
Who are you looking forward to seeing the most this weekend now your set is finished and you can relax?
Jonny: My bed (Laughing). You know, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Miles Kane, and just anyone. I feel like we’ve done our job now. We like watching other bands that you’ve not heard of, that’s the beauty of a festival innit. You can go around the other stages and just experience other people’s moments. Just because moments like that, I think you will cherish the rest of your life. You know, we’ve done this today- not in a way that we would have wanted to do, obviously (without Joe and Lee). But you still never know when it’s going to be your last time. We like seeing bands grow and develop, and just being a part of their journey as well. We’re all on a big journey as musicians and artists, you never know what you’re going to find.
The Reyton’s tour starts this Friday. The Reyton’s debut album ‘We are The Reytons, The Kids Off The Estate’ will be released 24/09/21 and is available to pre-order from their website below.
PHOTOS: THE REYTONS