On a sunny evening in Leeds, at the rooftop bar of Headrow House on the 2nd April, I had one of the best interviews I’ve had to date with Leeds band Northern Comfort. I’d been wanting to get this chat in with the band since seeing them rip the roof off the 360 Club back in February and they were as much a pleasure to speak to as they are to listen to. It was a natural conversation with thoughtful responses and genuinely brilliant musical discussion and the band have cemented themselves as H2N favourites after only discovering them two months ago. Here’s what the guys had to say.
Interview with Northern Comfort
So then, Northern Comfort, how has 2017 been so far?
Sam: Year good really, not done many gigs yet but done a fair amount of writing, definitely hoping to bring something out in the recording space this year. We’ve been starting working on that [new music], we’ve been having some growing pains which you expect but we’ll get there I think this year.
Luke: I’ve been writing a lot of demos really. Our process has been basically, when I write them I send them to Ciaran, Sam and Hannah. If it’s not shit they add stuff to it and we run with it so hopefully stuff will be out this year
Are you going to do singles, EP?
Luke: Were looking at an EP first then get a single from that I think.
Sam: We’ve got a good six songs to be honest so ready to go with an EP first
What gigs have you got on the horizon?
Luke: We’ve got Key Club which I’m excited for. It’s our first thing with Futuresound so we wanna impress them and everyone else there. So looking forward to that. Conflare in May, they’re one of my best mates, known them for about three years. I was working the Craig David gig last week so missed them playing Double Denim.
Lets jump back to 2016, how was that for Northern Comfort, what were the highlights?
Ciaran: Definitely the first time we played 360 Club. That was us crowning achievement for the band, that was the first time that we’d done that place and it was a mint night.
Luke: 360, the library as a venue, as a band we can say that’s our favourite place to play. The sound guy is ace, we fucking love it there. Richard is a great man and really we’ve never struggled to get people there either so it’s got a great atmosphere.
Ciaran: We normally outsell the headliners to be fair at 360 and we’re trying to get something sorted with Richard long term. We’re just trying to prove we’re not just another indie band coming out of Leeds.
What makes you guys different then?
Ciaran: Easily our britpop angle
Luke: I like being Britpop though. Before the band gets hold of the songs, I start them off in my bedroom and my influence is basically my brother. Every single band in the 90s Pulp, Suede, Blur and of course the Gallagher brothers just go straight into them
Ciaran: We’re trying to revive the Britpop scene but add in a load of different genres to that which is what makes us different. Bring in blues riff and hard beats to a britpop melody line. Hannah is funky, in time and the pulse we bring is what the 90s was missing. It’s nearly 30 years ago really isn’t it so we’re trying to bring it back. If someone says they really miss those days, then we fit that gap.
Luke: Oasis brought the not give a fuck beefy chords, but we have a combination of wild guitar solos too and me playing the power chords so it sounds so good.
Ciaran: That last gig at 360 I didn’t have my eyes open for the whole gig. I sliced my hands, I didn’t hear it I was just lost in it, so involved, it was a great night. For a band with only 300 likes on us social media page, the amount we bring down from word of mouth it’s so good. I was looking at our page the other day and we still outsell headliners with thousands of like and for me that’s one of our unique selling points.
Luke: What I like about us is we get a lot of people our age turning up, but we do get an older generation who might have been a fan of the 90s bands and I love that. They’re not all on Facebook checking all the time and I really like that aspect of us.
If you could give us a sentence each how would you describe your sound?
Sam: Erm, Jimmy Hendrix Wannabe, that’s my side. Our band…erm..I wanna say something with a Gallagher in it but i don’t wanna give us that label.
Ciaran: Sound of the future fathered by the 90s
Luke: I like what you said in our review, it was tight but relaxed and that, I like that.
Ciaran: Yeah like every gig we play, like we’ve played Milo with seven people, but we still played that and play every gig like it was a sell out Glasto crowd.
Luke: Funny thing with that gig, we were playing start of Good on the Dancefloor which is quite rowdy and me mam was just staring at me like “what a knob head” as nobody was doing anything and we were going nuts
Ciaran: My prerogative is to make every gig sound as big as it can be no matter who we’re playing to
Luke: I don’t care who we’re playing to, I love playing live. You’re playing your stuff and if your hearts not in it then what’s the fucking point
Sam: Yeah, mine then would be souped up 90s rip off.
Any lowlights yet?
Luke: We played a gig near Bradford and it was just awful. It was in a church, whoever were in charge had put chairs out. Can you imagine people sat down at 360 Club…instead of putting “cheers for that” I wrote “chairs for that” on Facebook after gig, was a bit tongue in cheek
Ciaran: That post summed up that gig. That’s another thing though, we have a sense of humour which is such a good thing as a selling point. We can take the piss out of ourselves which not many people can.
Sam: Our lowest point was you breaking up with Hannah which caused a lot of friction but we’ve got through that and the music dominates us now
Ciaran: Another low gig was the Double Denim one with Trampolene. We got the 11:30 slot after the headliners Trampolene. What it was was they finished their set early, he wanted to do some poetry outside, but then everyone left.
Luke: We weren’t even on the fucking poster for that gig, we ripped a poster off wrote Northern Comfort 11pm stuck it on the speaker and still nobody fucking turned up. I went outside on a table at Verve and I just went out and got on a chair and there’s this weedy kid with glasses just shouting everyone to come and watch us and nobody fucking came.
Ciaran: Still played it and still loved it though didn’t we.
What about the promoters in Leeds, are they good?
Luke: The best promoter I’ve worked with is Richard, he looks after you a lot and puts so much time in it
Ciaran: But at the same time he doesn’t take any shit, he keeps you on your toes every night which I love.
Sam: He looks after you, like he’s taken hours out of his days to meet with us and speak to us
Luke: He’s told me what to do in certain areas, how to go out and do things, he’s nurtured me which has nurtured the band. I’ve asked him for a lot of advice and his opinion on new things because he has a lot of experience and a lot of time for us
Ciaran: I hope we get that experience with other promoters. If it doesn’t at least we know there’ll be somebody who looks out for us. If we went national and we had a crap promoter, at least we know there’s this one guy in Leeds who always had time for us. He puts on such big gigs but always has such time for everybody. Wherever we go we’ll always remember Richard and if we can help him out we will. If we ever went national and got famous and broke the industry, we’d all go back to 360 Club to play it because of it.
Luke: Even like Bradford Brewery that was an early gig for us, we played this gig and I sort of helped put that on myself but even though I put a lot of work into it we got so much help from the venue and that so there are good people there.
Ciaran: Our main priority now we know some people is to establish ourselves as a name in Leeds, exhaust it, exhaust the venues, exhaust the name until it gets to the point where people basically kick us out. We then will break out and try do a mini county tour or something.
Have you each got something on a music bucket list?
Luke: For me, in Leeds, I wanna play Elland Road because that would be the dream.
Ciaran: Priority for me is to play five date O2 Academy tour, supporting I don’t care, Leeds, Liverpool Sheffield, doesn’t matter. If you can do five dates that’d be amazing. If we failed after that it doesn’t matter, we can say we’ve played academies and move on
Sam: On my bucket list it’s have an album, that’s it. Just have a vinyl in my collection that I’ve done.
And that next step this time next year what would you have liked to have done?
Ciaran: Played O2 Academy Leeds.
Luke: Definitely Brudenell, that place is legendary so I want to play that.
What’s it like in Leeds then in general?
Luke: I was having a chat with Toby from Conflare about this the other night and we were saying its so good that I’m just here in a band doing what I love with my mates, but then my other best mates are in bands too so we’re growing in the scene together. There’s no competition its great
Sam: Conflare are a completely different genre so there’s definitely no competition
Ciaran: We all came from different backgrounds, went to music college but kept our roots, were a Britpop band, they’re indie pop an all our mates are in different genres. If we ever need support acts its great we can put each other on and its great to be in this area together. My hope is, is they get big, they’ve been doing it longer and they deserve it
If you could change one thing about the industry then, what would it be?
Luke: As a songwriter it would be just how many shit popstars have their songs written for them. If someone else wrote my music, I wouldn’t feel it singing it. I’d feel nothing for it so what would be the point. The thing is, that stuff does so well and it infuriates me
Ciaran: More prominent promoters should give anyone a chance who they don’t know. If every promoter gave one band a chance at every gig it’d be so much easier to get big. If a promoter from anywhere said “yeah you can come on the gig” even if they’re shit they’ll love it and remember it. If they rocked it and then rocketed that’s amazing
Sam: It’s only come about recently, I tried to get tickets for J.Cole at the arena recently, and yeah that sounds crazy but I like so much music, I really wanted to go see him and before they’d gone on general sale they were on ticket tout sites. It happened again last week with Catfish; the tout sites are crazy, prices are too high and that infuriates me. If we ever get big I’d make sure that never happens with us. The bands never see any of the money either; like J.Cole was £50 but when they resell at £125 the band sees none of that extra money which is awful. #Deathtotickettouts
CATCH NORTHERN COMFORT ON 30TH APRIL AT WHARF CHAMBERS AND SUPPORTING CONFLARE ON MAY 30TH