The floorboards of The Old Blue Last rattle tonight as Shoreditch is treated to the sound of one of Britain’s most exciting and fastest rising bands. Of Empires ensure that everyone leaves remembering their names as the echoing vocals of front man Jack Fletcher and the wailing guitar work of Matthew Berry create a soundscape that bounces off the walls and melts in your ears, whilst Bassist Liam Bewey and Drummer George Le Page add a groove that’s infectious enough to awaken the dead for a dance. As the Brighton rockers throw themselves around stage it’s hard to comprehend that these were the same composed individuals I was speaking to just under an hour ago.
“We play reverb drenched rock ‘n’ roll”. It’s a self-description that couldn’t be more suited to this four-piece band. Sitting in a corner of the East End pub, beers in hand and all clad in black, they look like the archetypal image of a classic rock band. Their unique sound is like a crafting of The Black Keys’ mid-western grooves with The Rolling Stones’ rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics. In fact it’s been heard that Rolling Stones veteran Ronnie Wood is a fan of their debut E.P. “We’re influenced by all those classic rock bands like The Stones, so knowing that Ronnie Wood has heard our E.P and liked it is wicked.” Legendary British artist Adam Ant has also revealed himself to be a fan and the band have supported him on several occasions, giving them the chance to meet him. “He came down to our show at the Hawley Arms in Camden and we talked about fashion and rock ‘n’ roll and how it belongs together in live performance.”
For many bands it’s rare to pick up so much attention after releasing just one E.P, but that’s exactly what’s happened for Of Empires. Just over a year after the release of their first E.P Stranger Sensations they won the MTV award for Brand New Unsigned Artists which vocalist Jack admits has given their young careers a huge boost. “Winning the MTV Unsigned award was a great way to start 2015” he says, leaning forward to place his pint on the table between us. “It gave us loads of new opportunities. We got to do a live session for MTV and they featured our music video on MTV Rocks for a whole month, so we’re really thankful of MTV for picking us”.
After a hectic 2015, the beginning of this year sees Of Empires back in the studio to record the Follow up to 2014’s Stranger Sensations E.P. The band reveals that they are looking at a complete record very soon. “We’ve just finished recording five songs for the E.P, so now we’re just on to mixing.” The Brighton boys believe that the new material feels more complete than their debut E.P. “It’s got more of a groove and it feels more fluent” admits guitarist for the band Matthew, “We’ve still got that reverb drenched sound, but it just feels more natural, like most of the songs wrote themselves, especially on the last track we recorded which is called ‘See You With The Angels Kid’.”
Most of the recording for the new album was carried out in the legendary Metropolis Studios in London. The state of the art recording facilities have seen many iconic names pass through its doors such as, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Queen, and Michael Jackson, just to name a few. “My drums were in the actual spot where Michael Jackson had been standing recording vocals” says George, seemingly still in disbelief. The producer for the E.P is Ian Davenport who has worked with Band of Skulls and Supergrass. The band describes Ian as a brilliant producer, also complimenting him on his sideburns. “Ian’s all about the feel, sometimes he’ll say something like you’re in a desert and there’s a rattlesnake in front of you, just to capture a mood,” they laugh. “The good thing about Ian is that you know if it’s going well because he’ll be dancing around in the studio. We’ve actually been recording between Metropolis Studios and Courtyard Studios, which is Ian’s studio”.
There’s certainly not a lack of ambition in the band as they say they are already thinking about getting back into the studio. “We’ve learnt so much from recording this E.P that we’re already thinking about the next one. We might be looking to record a full album soon too”. It doesn’t stop their either; “I’m not ashamed to say that I want to be part of the biggest rock band in the world” Jack says, leaning back into the cracked red leather chairs. “Whether that will happen or not, I don’t know.” He jokes about one day playing premier festivals such as Glastonbury and Burning Man, before George reveals that Burning man is his idea of hell “I’m a completely anxiety ridden person.” Which is surprising coming from a drummer/model.
Even after a year that’s given them a stream of publicity they admit that they are still unsigned. “We’re not signed to a label yet, but we are signed to Metropolis for publishing” says Jack. “You never know, speak to us in a few months and we might be”. Getting the E.P out as soon as possible is key to their plans this year, especially if they want to be booked at festivals in the summer. One of the prime targets on their festival hit list is Brighton’s Great Escape Festival which showcases up and coming musical talent every year. Of Empires were lucky enough to play at the festival last year. “We played a great gig there last year, there was like 600 people crammed into the Komedia, we’d love to do it again this year, but we can neither confirm nor deny it at the moment”. The guys also have a desire to tour Europe at some point in the near future “We’d love to play in Paris, we’re planning a tour of Europe at some point.”
Despite generally claiming they are from Brighton, the band reveals that they had actually moved there from Guernsey and didn’t form until they were at University in Brighton. “I Remember Matt said quit the band you’re in and let’s start a no thrills, no bullshit, proper rock band,” Says Jack. Bassist for the band, Liam, doesn’t have fond memories of their earliest days as a group. “When this band played its first gig it played it without a rehearsed Bassist” he says. “The original bassist quit just a week before the first gig, so I had to learn a whole set of original material in just under that”.
The fresh-faced band has certainly come a long way from their rookie years and carry the chemistry and stage presence of a band well into their years on the beer soaked stage tonight. If their first E.P is anything to go by then the follow up could be an excellent record and 2016 could prove to be an even busier year than the last for Of Empires.
By Liam Williams