As we take small steps back to normality and our diaries start to fill up with social engagements, we also welcome the return of live music and entertainment. On September 4th The Wedgewood Rooms and the Edge of the Wedge will be hosting the Golden Touch Festival. The festival first took place in 2019 and had to be cancelled last year for obvious reasons. As we build up to the event, I have had the pleasure of speaking to Billy of joint headliners and local band Crystal Tides.
Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
Funnily enough, I wasn’t initially inspired by any famous artists to start music. My dad has always been really into his music and bands so I’d say it started with him. He encouraged my little brother to start guitar lessons first. I was a bit more into my sports (football mainly). It wasn’t until I started just sitting in on a few guitar lessons and trying to join in with my little brother did I realize how much I wanted to play. Playing at home blossomed into playing at school with a few of my friends and we formed a band at just 13. Both my parents really pushed me to do music and they still to this day support me like nobody ever has. I am still inspired and influenced by them now, I think if it wasn’t for them I would’ve given up a long time ago!
Could you tell me about how the band came to be formed?
We have multiple stories for this question… only because we’ve had a fair few lineups over our time! Initially, it stemmed from me (Billy, Singer) and Harry (Lead Guitar). We were best friends at university. We clicked pretty instantly, having the same weird sense of humour. We started to write songs during breaks from lectures and Harry’s housemates joined and we formed a band as university ended.
We started as a bit of fun practised a lot and wrote loads. It wasn’t till we recorded a track and showed some close friends and family did we develop into a band. Everyone was telling us we should be taking this further so we did! Harry’s housemates that had initially joined left after a while as other commitments took over. I asked George (Bass) to join as I knew he was a talented player and he seemed dead up for it. We worked as three piece for a while using session drummers. Then young Joe (Drums) came to light. He was super keen to join and brought the average age of the band down so how could we say no?
For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
Courtney Love – It’s just a really cool track. Something that I can listen back to and still be really proud of. The message in the song is important to the band and the music is energetic, fun and exciting.
Backbiting – It was the first song me and Harry ever wrote. I still get the same buzz playing this live as I did when we first played it. Whenever we play this at gigs it always seems to get the best response!
On & Off – This one is a bit different to the other two. It’s got a lot more emotion within the chord sequence and melody. It starts soft then builds into a mammoth ending. It’s a journey.
Could you tell me a little bit about your approach to writing songs? Are you someone who is always making notes or will you lock yourself away for a period of time to focus?
My songwriting has drastically changed over the years. I used to sit with an acoustic, write chords and a melody followed by lyrics. That was the only way my brain could seem to work when writing. I’d say now I still follow that method but rather than do everything acoustically, I try and put together a full composition on Logic (recording software) before working out melodies and lyrics.
As a band, usually an idea is presented from someone and we either sit down on acoustics and work out where we wanna take it, or we get into a rehearsal space and jam it out. Each member seems to write music in a different way so we try and incorporate each member’s little quirks to produce the identifiable sound that is Crystal Tides.
Over the years has your approach to performing live changed and if so how?
When I was younger everything was played at 1000mph. Now we always play to click track to maintain timing and make sure everything is executed perfectly when playing. We still have hiccups but that’s the beauty of live music! We try and make everything live as well. So no track. I don’t enjoy seeing bands that just sound the same as the recordings. We wanna put on a show. We wanna give people a reason to want to see us live and keep coming back!
What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
I listen to a lot of Country Music. Strange playing in an indie band I know. However, I find country melodies recognizable and I try and incorporate that into our music as possible. I still love my indie music too, one band I can’t stop listening to at the moment is Paris Youth Foundation.
How has the last twelve months COVID and lockdowns affect the band personally and professionally?
It’s been really difficult. Something that I personally have been writing a lot about lately is the struggles of being in a band. It’s something that outsiders don’t necessarily see because of the way we portray ourselves across social media. But it is really hard when you don’t have the release of playing live. It’s been stress and pressure on relationships inside and outside of the band and a lot of the time it can feel like we are at breaking point. However, we’ve had some huge success during lockdown which has kept us going and now it seems that the return of live music is getting us all back to where we were.
Is Golden Touch likely to be the biggest crowd that you’ve performed in front of since COVID began?
100%. We cannot wait to play this show. It will be amazing.
What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
Lots of energy. Music that you’ll be singing along to even if you haven’t heard it before!
Can we expect new music and maybe a tour over the next twelve months?
Most definitely. One thing COVID has allowed us to do is write, write and write a little bit more. Tour is going to be in November and hopefully we lock in some more dates for 2022!