The Nankeens interview

We've been following Salford four piece The Nankeens for a while now. Since forming less than two years ago, they've been developing a distinct and smart twist on indie guitar shapes. We brought them to your attention late last year and now, as they prepare to play their biggest gig to date and release new single 'Scenester', Gary Kaill caught up with singer Adam Darby to talk influences, ambition and why they're smarter than your average 'Manchester Band'.

Remind us who you are, guys.

Well, we're The Nankeens - Adam Darby on lead vocals and guitar, Simon Darby on drums and backing vocals, Adam Tattersall on lead guitar and Mark Barlow on bass. We were all in bands prior to The Nankeens and knew each other from the music scene. Things didn't work out with our other bands and we just got together for a beer and a jam. We wrote a few tunes and thought we could do something good with them so decided to have a go at recording our own EP on some basic equipment we had lying around. Since then, things progressed and we’ve been gigging and writing new material for just over a year and a half, and we’re loving it.

You're a band from Manchester but you're not 'A Manchester Band' are you?

Well, actually, we are all from Salford, and have tried to be true to our roots by including a bee in our new logo – on the Salford coat of arms there are 5 bees representing different boroughs of Salford, so we wanted to use one to show we’re proud of our Salford roots. As for being a Manchester band, well we aren’t really about acting up to stereotypes; we just play our music and let the audience decide. So far we’re getting good feedback…

Tell us about the creative process. Who writes the songs? How do they take shape?

I write all the lyrics; I usually bring a basic song into the mill where we rehearse and we see what kind of beat works best and then get the bass mated into it. The lead guitar, most of the time, evolves over a few months of playing it and fine tuning. A lot of the time, vocals come last. I just usually make funny noises along to the music until we’re happy with the sound – and then I have to sit down with the writing pad to get the lyrics!

What did you listen to growing up? Who's influenced The Nankeens?

Current bands we’ve been to see are Foals, Peace, Band of Skulls, Joy Formidable…but we all have our own individual favourites. I’m into The Clash and The Libertines, Si’s into Led Zeppelin and Queens Of The Stone Age, Tatt’s a big fan of Nirvana and The Beatles, and Mark’s really into The Stone Roses and Paul Simon. I think you can hear influences from most of them come through in our music.

Seems to us the current indie scene is a tad crowded, with any old gang of two bit strummers getting on. How do you see yourselves fitting into the current scene?

Well, it’s really frustrating sometimes; there really is a lot of rubbish out there and just on the Manchester scene alone there are loads of unsigned bands that deserve to get their music out there. Our songs are written as stories and hopefully people can relate to us that way, but in the end good music is good music.

Hopefully people can see there is a space for The Nankeens amongst the crowd. I mean, we’ve met and played with some absolutely awesome bands this year, and the great thing is, we are all still in contact, we all support each other and promote each other’s gigs; it’s like a little community. It really helps to build a buzz about each other’s music, so we can’t really complain about the Manchester scene. We’re able to gig in some great venues with other top bands regularly and you can’t ask for more than that when you are trying to get yourself heard.

You've just signed a new deal for your upcoming single. Tell us about that.

It's a single deal with Manchester label Scruff Of The Neck Records. We worked with them in 2012 on another single and they are good lads who put as much effort and work into the end product as we do, so when they asked us if we wanted to work with them again, there was no hesitation. We all feel that we have taken a big step forward in the recording process compared to our first EP and we’re really pleased with how the single sounds.

The single is called ‘Scenester’ and we are launching it at Manchester’s Deaf Institute on 21st September. We are mega excited to play the venue as we all love it in there, and hopefully the atmosphere will be as electric as some of our other gigs this year!

You seem to be gradually building an audience locally. How are future plans shaping up?

Yeah, our fan base has built up quite quickly and hopefully it will keep growing. We have had a lot of support from community and student radio stations which has been great, and more recently we have had mentions and airplay on XFM and Imagine fm, so it’s good to see our hard work is having some effect! We have some exciting plans for next year but we are looking to play some festivals and get on some good support slots to help build the fan base even more. We have played out of the area a few times, so we’ll do more of that and try and build the fan base outside of the Manchester area. Basically we’re just gonna get our heads down and keep working at it; it’s all you can do, isn't it?

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