Interview: Scarlet

Scarlet

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Gaz Jones

Picture the scene: you are in an up-and-coming rock band preparing to release your EP with a big gig in your hometown (ish) the next night. Do you:
1. Chill out with friends and family and relax?
2. Get the band into the studio and run through tomorrow’s performance?
3. Accept an offer of a photo shoot and your first ever full band interview?

Thankfully for Popped Music, the five-headed beast that is Scarlet said yes to the interview and photographs which is how I found myself lucky enough to spend an hour in the company of these guys. For those who do not know, Scarlet are a female-fronted rock back with an ear for the kind of songs that you want to jump around sweaty venues singing along to. Despite frontwoman, Jessie, being the engine pushing the band down the road to rock stardom, she is not Scarlet with four session musicians behind her. Scarlet is a band and I mean that in the best possible way. Despite the obvious different personalities in the group, and we will come to those individualities shortly,
there is a bit of the old school about them. Scarlet are a gang thriving off the synergy which comes from talented musicians playing together and pushing each other to new heights on a daily basis as well as offering a bit of something extra.

Jessie: Singer, sometime-guitarist and the band member happiest at doing the difficult, professional work like shaking hands with strangers after gigs (the rest of the band prefer to get off stage and cocoon themselves with friends until their hearts have stopped pounding); arranging shows, shoots and press releases; and generally being the friendly face of rock n roll.

Ryan: Seemingly shy guitarist who only speaks when he feels there is a need to speak. But if you ever meet him fill the silences until he does start to speak as when he starts it really does feel like he is worth listening to. And not because he likes to see how controversial he can be, but rather he is just so interesting and friendly.

Gianluca: The cartoon rockstar with eye-catching looks and attention seeking personality at first glance. When the subject moves away from general chit-chat to discussion of music and gigging, it is like someone flicks a switch and the cliched disguise quickly melts away to unveil a passionate musician desperate to not have to spend another moment not talking about music.

Conor: Drummer and one of the most relaxed and coolest people you will ever meet. A natural complement to Gianluca, seeing them together away from the stage quickly explains why Scarlet’s rhythm section thrives so easily.

Adam: Guitarist and easily the quietest member of the quintet, happy to get on with the promotional aspects of the day, but obviously counting down the seconds until the strangers were out of the room and the band could get back to being themselves.

scarletThe EP, Fishes, was recorded in Static recording studio in Liverpool and was originally planned as a standalone single but misfortune struck the band as the only copy in the world was on the hard drive of their producer’s computer which was stolen in Munich airport shortly after recording in December. So it was a case of new year, new plan for the band as they went back into the studio and recorded the five track EP over two weeks in January with each member taking two or three days to record their pieces. Conor and Gianluca claimed that their work was done in days and an hour respectively but there is no way they would settle for such little musical time. Even if they were able to record in one take, they would always want more.

When the subject got on to the next night’s gig the band all agreed with how they were feeling… “Excited!!”, “So excited I’m going to bounce round town like a bunny rabbit afterwards”, “don’t give a shit, no I’m really excited” and “I’m excited for this bit to all be over and the stress to be done” were the responses which spilled out in seconds into the microphone. It was like asking a primary school class if they were excited for summer on the last day of term. Even Adam spoke up to admit that he was looking forward to playing in front of an audience rather than the musicians who are usually watching when performing on his university course, “playing in front of random people, you can just enjoy it more”.

Playing live is something that all the band love to do. When asked about their ambitions there was no grandiose statement of global domination but an honest desire to get their own tour going, to travel the country together building on their friendship and performing their songs to anybody who wishes to listen to them. They are not just confined to dreams of a transit van and sleeping in a service station though. For Jessie, she also hopes to be able to expand into other artistic areas and spend time in Japan. Ryan on the other hand
had dreamed of having something he had played on and written published on vinyl, a dream which will be achieved with the release of this EP. The key to the ambitions of Scarlet comes from the touring though as all of them through their experiences of playing Secret Garden Party last summer to a recent gig in London believe that time spent together only improves the on stage performance. In aquite refreshing understanding of life as a music fan, “you want to give them a show”, “they’ve paid money for you, so you’ve got to go out and earn it”.

We got on to the subject of personal interaction within the band. “Whilst you’re never going to get every one of us agreeing every time in a situation as tense as this, you’re all going to have a different opinion, but it is all for the same reason to look after and improve things for each other”. All of the band were happy to accept that they have egos, but they know it needs to be balanced. When Gianluca spoke about how he came into the band, it would be impossible to view him as an egotist. He left a slot playing alongside a well respected local artist who is also a close friend of his to join the band who he felt right for him and rehearsed like they were playing on stage.

scarletWe finished the interview on the subject Jessie feels most comfortable about… Guinea pigs. Although she was uncertain that six years old was the right age for a child to get a first guinea pig after hearing the rest of the band talk about their mistakes with childhood pets, but ultimately like when she is propelling the boys through the rock business she had complete belief in herself, if not quite the bombastic body language to show it. Then we said our goodbyes to let Scarlet get on with what they really wanted to do and I promised to turn up at the next night’s show.

Before the gig I spent five minutes with Jessie and Ryan chatting away without recording. The difference in them from the day before was mountainous. Ryan had metamorphosed from shy guitarist with preference for honesty and simplicity in his words to a musical Pacquiao.  Over an hour before showtime he was bristling with confidence and desperation to get out and perform. Jessie was so excited I thought someone had given her a Japanese guinea pig. Bouncing up and down with enjoyment like a child who knows they have got the new bike they craved when seeing the shape of the package next to the tree on Christmas morning. Apparently she had had a beer (just one mind you), but I think the effects of that would be blown away in a second’s motion.

The gig itself was a cracker. Full of the pop hooks and rock chords that make Scarlet definitely a band to watch. They definitely earned my money. And over the next twelve months and beyond prepare to watch them earn yours too

Since the interview Scarlet have been announced as a buzz band for Liverpool Sound City’s Conference and secured a place at Tramlines Festival in Sheffield in July alongside some smaller one off gigs. They have also just won a bunch of pretty awesome competitions including the chance to work on a recording session with ex-Factory Records engineer Michael Johnson – who has worked with Joy Division, the Stone Roses, New Order and Pink Floyd. They were picked by Liverpool’s Bido Lito and Farm Feast Festival to play the festival this June AND as if that wasn’t enough they also won a huge Sound City competition to work with PledgeMusic and JUXDIT to raise funding for debut album.

Find Scarlet on Facebook.

Listen to Anyway by Scarlet here:

 

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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