This City

By paul

Andy had a chat with Chris (vocals) and Grant (guitar) from This City earlier in the week. Here’s what they had to say…

PT: Hi guys! Firstly, give us a background of This City. When did you all meet and how did you all come to playing music together?

Chris: We met in 2005 when I was going to a tattoo convention with my tattooist, and his Mate Arran came along with him. We were just talking about our music and our general common ground; we were both into the same bands and just talked crap for ages. We were just having banter and then threw the idea out in the open that maybe we should start a band. He was a bit reluctant at first but I persuaded him! He knew a drummer as well so we had a practise about two weeks later, wrote a few songs and it just sort of went from there.

PT: I understand Nick Miller’s not your original drummer – you’ve had quite a few in fact…

Grant: [laughs] He’s our sixth – I think we’ve had six. We’ve had pretty bad luck with drummers. Our first drummer Ken – he was set on going to uni anyway, so we knew that was temporary, then we got another drummer in. Then we got another guy in which was Sam Carter from Architects, then we had another guy who didn’t really work out, then another temporary one and then found with Nick.

PT: Are you going to stick with this one then?

Chris: Yeah definitely! It’s just really unfortunate the way things worked out, but you know – shit happens.

PT: For someone who hasn’t heard you guys before, how would you describe the This City sound?

Grant: Uhm…

Chris: It’s always a hard one. Well there’s definitely a massive post-hardcore influence, especially in the guitars, vocals are obviously slightly different to…

PT: …anything else.

Chris: Yeah, [laughs]. It’s really hard to pigeonhole that! It’s my own fault I think. I suppose it’s like punky dacey goodness. We wanted to get that kind of happy medium between the two, just open up the genre to more people – people who wouldn’t necessarily be into the harder stuff. There are some quite hard elements to some of the songs so hopefully it’ll help people branch out into heavier bands and so on.

PT: Have you ever come across criticism for your vocal style?

Chris: Yeah. It’s different so people tend to notice it a bit more. I’m fine with that – I’ve been compared to a car alarm at one point, which is probably the harshest one! There was one – ‘I’m listening to my four year old have a tantrum, or the next Morrissey’, – that was Alex whatshisfuckingname from Blur. My vocals have changed from what they used to be though. They used to be really high up, but that’s just evolving as a singer over time, you start changing and you get a comfortable level. It’s come down and it’s getting more varied – especially on the album – there are melodic vocals on there. It’s not just balls out all the way, it’s varied!

PT: You’re all Brighton boys, is ‘This City’ a reference to the Brighton scene?

Chris: No, not at all actually. My favourite band used to be a band called Northstar, and it was just a line in one of their songs that stuck out. We were trying to think of band names anyway and it just stuck out – short, sweet, memorable. We didn’t want to go for some pretentious, crazy long name – it seems to be the cool thing at the moment.

PT: There is a lot of good music coming out of Brighton at the moment – The Xcerts, GOAT, Architects – the list is endless. What do you think that makes Brighton such a hotspot for good music?

Grant: Just the whole lifestyle really. There’s always parties on and it’s all about having a good time. Everyone knows each other – it attracts musicians.

Chris: It’s just a nice play to be. It’s instantly creative. There’s always a show on – every night of the week you can just go and see bands. There’s BIMM there as well which doesn’t hurt! There’s no shortage of awesome musicians.

PT: At the moment you’re touring with The Xcerts. How have the shows been?

Grant: Awesome, it’s been a really great tour. We’ve toured with the Xcerts before so it’s like touring with friends.

Chris: We just have fun every night; it’s not a chore. Even if some shows are a bit shitty, you still have fun, we’re in good company and doing what we love!

PT: I heard you’ve got a band phone with you that fans can call you on at any time. Is that an idea you’re regretting yet?

Grant: [laughs] No, it’s really fun. Yu do get some strange things…

Chris: There have been some strange calls. We’ve had girls calling us when they’re in bed saying ‘Hey, I’m in bed, what you up to?’ It’s not been fun when I’m driving and everyone’s shouting at the phone and I’m trying to concentrate! The number’s on our Myspace and Twitter so we’re giving it out to everyone!

PT: You’re big on the whole twitter and internet self-promotion you lot, aren’t you!

Chris: Yeah, you can’t not be anymore.

Grant: You won’t get anywhere without it now.

Chris: The day of bands just touring is dead. It’s all self-promotion now, the tools are all there on Myspace, Facebook, Spotify now as well – it does so much for you. We wouldn’t be where we are with it.

PT: You’re new album – It’s out October 19th. It’s called ‘We Were Like Sharks’. Why were you like sharks?

Grant: [laughs] It was a quote in a magazine that we were reading a few years back now about a show we did in Exeter. It just said ‘We Were like Sharks’. We always thought it was cool and joked about making a side project called that for years. When it came to naming the album we were going through all these lists and there it was!

PT: There’s no deep meaning there then?

Grant: We felt that you can kind of make your own thing from it. For me it’s a really good reference to us – we were like sharks – we never stop moving. It applies to most bands, if you stop moving, don’t evolve then you die. You’ve got to change, you’ve got to accept it, push new boundaries in music, so in that respect it’s good.

PT: You’re pretty solidly on the road at the moment. What do you like to get up to on days off or when you have any downtime?

Grant: Pub!

PT: Are you all big drinkers?

Grant: A few of us are.

PT: Who’s the biggest drinker in the band?

Grant: Probably Nick!

Chris: I’m just a massive geek – watch films, play games and stuff.

Grant: We’re all big on films.

Chris: I’m heavily into Japanese cars so I geek out quite a lot. I like to sit at home and tweak with my car!

Grant: For me – PS3, films, food – done!

PT: Have any of you guys got any really bad touring habits? Who’s the worst?

Grant: Nick!

Chris: Fucking hell dude, seriously.

Grant: He’ll gladly go without shower for a few days.

Chris: The last week or so he thought it’d be a good idea to bring one pair of socks with him. I noticed the other day that his heels were bleeding. Being a drummer, when he sweats profusely he’ll leave his t-shirts hanging in the van and just forget about them. Last time we cleaned out the van I found like five pairs of underwear as well – all Nick’s. You don’t have to guess whose it is.

Grant: You have to clean that van out with rubber gloves and tongs.

PT: Tell us about the Epitaph deal. How did that come about?

Chris: It started off about two years ago when we did our first tour. It was a DIY tour – we arranged it all ourselves and it was pretty disastrous. We did play this one show though in Chorley up North, and it was an awesome show – loads of people came out and it was totally unexpected. We heard from our managers that we’d just signed with that some people from Epitaph were coming down. You’re pretty naïve at that stage in your career and you think ‘shit we’re gonna get signed straight away’. You learn the hard truth over a certain period of time and we forgot about them for a bit.

Grant: They basically just kept an eye on us, secretly. One day they were like ‘hey!’

Chris: We were on tour with Kids In Glass Houses last October and we got an offer.

Grant: We were driving in the van and we got a phone call. It didn’t sink in; we didn’t really know what to say. We were completely blown away by it.

PT: Are you still in shock?

Grant: Yeah, I grew up on Epitaph bands, I think most of us did. I sit at home and think about it and I’m still like ‘woah’.

PT: What’s their deal? It seems like they’ve just suddenly snapped up all the good UK bands…

Chris: I think the way it’s come out at the moment, it looks like they’ve signed everyone at once but it’s not like that. I know for a fact that The Ghost Of A Thousand deal was two years in the making. The Blackout and Gallows….

Grant: I think there’s just loads of good music in the UK at the moment! It’s got to be said really.

PT: How did the recording for the album go?

Chris: We went to Seattle with Matt Bayles – that was amazing – he used to be one of the main songwriters in Minus The Bear. We’re all massive Minus The Bear fans. That guy’s done Mastodon, Blood Brothers, Norma Jean, so many awesome bands.

PT: Why did you choose to go to Seattle?

Chris: We wanted to get away. We didn’t want to record it in London where you’ve got temptation to go home and be distracted by things – we just wanted to go away and we were so lucky to have that chance – to just knuckle down and make music.

Grant: it was pretty solid work!

Chris: He wanted us there for ten weeks initially but we only got sick. We did fifteen tracks, which was a squeeze. It was just incredible though – waking up with the sole purpose of recording.

Grant: Have a shower then straight into the studio until the middle of the following night!

Chris: The first studio we used was owned by Eddie Vedder. That was pretty crazy. You walk in there and just feel good vibes. You could sit in the toilet and read all the names on the wall of people who’ve been there.

Grant: I was like ‘shit, Deftones recorded here!’

Chris: Eminem recorded there as well! We were there for two weeks for pre-production and drums and then we moved to a studio called Laundry Rooms owned by a guy called Barrett Jones – he recorded Foo Fights and Set Your Goals, I Am The Avalanche – I’m a massive Movielife fan!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]