The Stands

We first saw The Stands back in March supporting Stephen Fretwell at the Band On The Wall. There was something immediate, something simplistic and helpfully a set full of great songs which made us rise above the fact that Noel Gallagher had championed them. Part of the Liverpool sect the bands big break came supporting the Coral on tour before Noel Gallagher turned his ears to The Stands and it's been a whirlwind trip ever since which saw them signing to Echo Records, the same label as Feeder. Designer Magazine caught up with founder member Howie Payne to find out about the important things in life - songs and sweetly sung music.

Q: There's just been a buzz about you guys for the past 6 months and it isn't until next week the singles out. You must feel like there's expectations on you which were never planned this early.
A: We've been working and gigging pretty much for the last year.  I think it was August or September when we first went out with the Coral and after that we got the Oasis shows and met Noel. A fella from Nottingham had passed over our demo to Noel and he was listening to it on the way to the Old Trafford gigs. When they got their they asked a lad from Liverpool called Martin Campbell, who was playing bass with Richard Ashcroft, if he knew us and Martin had played bass on the demos cos we didn't have a bass player at the time. He got my number, rang me up and we had a chat and they're sound guys.

Q: Now the pendulum has swung back from Manchester there's a real buzz around the Liverpool at the moment. And there's two types of bands coming out of there - bands like yourself and The Basement (even though they're 3/4's Irish) and then bands like the Coral and The Zutons who are a bit more experimental.
A: I think we experiment more than the Coral (laughs), they know what they're doing. We tend not to. It's really really good in Liverpool at the moment and what's especially good for us is were not the end of it all. There's an awful lot of groups in Liverpool that no-one knows, or only a select amount of people know, who are on the fringes trying to break through.

To be honest with you, I don't know why it does swing from Manchester to Liverpool every 2 or 3 years. I just don't see why you can't have good bands from everywhere all the time. Why people have got to pinpoint one place and say that's where all the good bands are coming from I don't know? It's just not true. You've got the Thrills from Ireland, The Vines from Australia and then bands like The Strokes and Kings Of Leon from America. I'm sure that in every city and every country there's things happening and you know the way things are - if one band from one town has success then the record companies home on it.

Q: Before the focus shifted to Liverpool you found it difficult to get the band off the ground. Weren't you busking for years?
A: You could call it busking a little bit, but I never made any money from it. I used to do folk and acoustic nights, but at the same time I was in another band who was doing a country soul kind of thing...that was a great band called The Big Kids and that was around about 2 years ago. I was always drawn back into playing acoustically because if you don't have a band that's what you do, innit - you still want to play your songs.

I like singing the songs on my own, but it seems to be a different and more natural with the band. A lot of the songs I have can be melancholic at times, but when you stick a band behind them they seem proper nice and happy.

Q: It is all about the songs with The Stands. It's not necessarily about pushing forward an image or an ideology?
A: You can only be what you are really. There's lots of reasons to be in a band, but most people in bands genuinely love singing and playing. It might not be hip to say that, but I think Bob Marley always used to love singing and playing and Louie Armstrong did.

What you look like it probably of some importance in some areas, but there are plenty of great bands you think how did they get a record deal looking like that. But they and they're amazingly welcome. If an old blues guy has one ear, no eye and no teeth and he's singing some kick ass blues song you're not going to not like him cos' he's 85. Leadbelly don't look like a popstar, but without him music would be very different.

Q: I get the feeling, especially when you see the fans queuing outside the venues ticketless, that you're going to be more of a fans band than a critics choice. Would you agree?
A: You never know how those things are going to happen. I don't know what journalists set out when they have meetings, but these decisions have to be made because everything's a business I suppose. If people go for it, I don't care who likes it. I think that the press, we've had great press and we've had other people saying things, but the people are into it.

Q: We've just had the single out, the albums following soon then?
A: It's been put back to January, because someone's told me that at Xmas time everyone brings out Xmas records and they bring em out in August apparently. We've finished the album, but we ain't mixed it yet and there's going to be a month of deciding tracks. There's gonna be a big spin the bottle contest with all the tracks on big ball. And also if things happen naturally it's much better than trying to force it... it just seemed the natural thing to get out a 2nd and maybe a 3rd single before the album.

"When This River Rolls Over You" is out now on Echo
A second single "I Need You" is released October 6th
The band support Shack throughout October
For more info

Post your Stands reviews / comments on the Message Board