For $20 and change, you can see one of the top bands in the UK when The Lathums make their stateside debut this week with shows at Milkboy in Philadelphia and Elsewhere in Brooklyn. The young band from Wigan, Greater Manchester, last fall released its debut album, “How Beautiful Life Can Be,” and the title proved immediately prophetic when it debuted atop the UK Albums Chart — taking over for Drake.
With comparisons to Mancunian icons The Smiths and modern stalwarts Arctic Monkeys, the British press have sung their praises while the band’s audience has grown from small pubs to major arenas and coveted festival slots. You can get a feel for their vibrant live show below with their recently released video of Alex Moore (singer/songwriter, guitar), Scott Concepcion (guitar), Johnny Cunliffe (bass) and Ryan Durrans (drums) performing “Fight On” at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.
We recently chatted with Durrans over email about the band’s quick rise in the UK, its first trip to the US and what Wigan is all about.
When you released your debut album, what were your expectations as far as charts and sales? How did you react when it went to #1 in the UK?
We didn’t have very high expectations sales wise, but that wasn’t what we were focusing on. We were just happy to be sharing our art with the world, so to get a number 1 was mind-blowing for us all, especially considering the big names we were up against.
What is your writing process? Do you write separately? Together?
Alex is the main songwriter in the band. He will normally bring the songs into the rehearsal room and we build them from there, but there is also songs that have come from other members and Alex will do lyrics, so it’s a bit of a mix.
Your live shows are very energetic. What did you try to do with that energy in the studio? Harness it? Tame it down a bit?
We always give 100% no matter the location, but the studio is a different environment where you can focus more on getting your parts absolutely perfect and performing to your best technical ability, whereas live you’re there to put on a show and engage with everyone there, so the energy is always there but in different ways.
Heading into the release, you had already had some big moments, like your set at Kendal Calling and playing on Jools Holland. How would you describe those two experiences? What impact did they have on your career?
Those two things made things way more real for us, a first festival appearance and a first TV appearance are monumental milestones for anyone’s career, so I think it really set us up for what to expect out of the professional industry. There’s no feeling like seeing a venue at a festival the most packed it’s been all weekend for our first festival appearance. It’s something we will never forget.
A lot of Americans know about Manchester and the bands that came from there, but not Wigan, specifically. How would you describe Wigan?
Wigan is our lovely, small, old town in between Manchester and Liverpool famous for pie barms (a pie in a bun). A true Wiganer will have an accent so thick you’d need a Wiganeese dictionary to decipher what they’re saying.
What type of music scene was happening in Wigan when you were getting started?
When we started out there wasn’t too much going on. A few of our mates had bands but nothing big had come from Wigan for a while, but now there is a big buzz around Wigan with a load of amazing bands doing amazing things.
When the band first got together, who were some of your common influences?
There is a huge variety of musical influences within the band I (Ryan) like heavier music like Nirvana, Led Zeppelin; Johnny likes The Ramones, The Police; Scott likes The Smiths, The Beatles and Alex likes older music like Elvis and Roy Orbison, and we’re all always taking new inspiration.
Every few years, there’s talk that rock music and guitar music is dead. As a band that’s out there playing guitar rock, do you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle?
I feel like the scene isn’t as big as it used to be, but as many of the greats have said, Rock and Roll will never die. As long as people keep playing and listening then that’s all we need, we’re here for the long run.
Have you been to the United States before?
None of us have ever been before so we’re going all out on our first trip.
What goals does the band have for the U.S. shows?
We want to share our music with the world and make even more people happy, hopefully we can gain some new fans and have some fun.
You have some major festival gigs this summer. How do you approach playing to massive crowds like that?
Festival season this year will be amazing for us, we’ve got some really good slots. Crowds don’t really bother us anymore, the bigger the better, we’re all about seeing those happy faces, so we’re pretty confident for those gigs.
Are you working on new material?
We’re always working on new material and adding to our catalog.
Photo by Ewan Ogden