This week sees the release of debut EP ‘Welcome to the Family’ from Sheffield rockers, The Family. Having formed after hardcore band Dead Harts had run its course, vocalist/guitarist Matthew Baxendale decided to start something new, going in search of a more melodic, alternative approach to music.
What followed was the creation of one of the stand out EPs of the year so far. With their debut single ‘Radio Headphones’ being premiered by Daniel P Carter on the Radio One Rock Show the band has gone from strength to strength. Having recently completed a string of shows with fellow Sheffield band of the moment, While She Sleeps and with their EP release imminent,we caught up with the Baxendale to find out just what makes The Family tick, and what they have in store for us.
When a band reaches the end of its lifespan and another forms from its ashes, there’s always a huge opportunity to take a step in a different direction. So what does Baxendale think are the main differences between his last project and this one? “Well, obviously Dead Harts were a lot heavier,” he says. “Dom Bass and I started this band looking to go in a different musical direction. We’ve always been huge fans of grunge music and alternative rock so we decided that when Dead Harts was coming to an end we wanted to start playing a genre that’s always been close to our hearts. We’re also in different places in our lives so it just seemed right.”
It seems like a natural progression in the musical careers of Baxendale and Bass, so just how much did they enjoy taking this new found direction? “It was a project that we’d started before Dead Harts had come to its end,” he says. “We’ve been working on it for about a year now and we’ve come up with many different songs. It was super fun to write the EP, the genre itself is just a lot more relaxed to write compared to metal or hardcore. We can actually concentrate on melody and it’s not just shouting and stuff all the time. We actually get to have people singing our songs back to us which is nice.”
Writing music is a beautiful thing, especially when you’re having as much fun as The Family obviously are. But does Baxendale have any rituals or habits when it comes to writing? “Well that’s a good question!,” he laughs. “With other bands I’ve worked on it’s been quite regimented and you have to stick to the schedule. But for us we literally just get in a room and jam, we’ll just jam a riff for 10 minutes and before you know it that’s turned into loads of different parts and then we’ll just sit back and piece them together.”
Baxendale and co were lucky enough to work with a great producer whilst recording the EP, as he tells us “There’s this great producer that we work with called Pete Hutchings and he’s the best guy I’ve ever worked with in regards to song writing. It’s great to just have a good set of guys in the band and we all jel so well and all of us are literally all about having fun.”
The Family have obviously found a renewed enthusiasm for music with this new project, but what bands inspired this new sound? “Well we obviously take a lot of influence from the grunge aspect,” he says. “So bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains and with their newer stuff bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. We’re just trying to have as much fun as possible with it,” And fun is exactly what they’re having. But what does Baxendale think of the scene they’re leaving behind and where they are going? “I think the hardcore scene is a very, almost arrogant scene if you will,” he tells us. “Everyone’s got to be sought of macho whereas we just want to have some fun and enjoy ourselves as much as possible,”
With their EP due imminently, the band have been touring heavily with some pretty big bands. “We’ve got a support slot with Gnarwolves coming up,” he informs us. “That’s in Sheffield which is pretty much our home town being from just outside of the city,” Speaking of Sheffield, it’s hard to ignore the musical talent that currently calls the steel city home. Bands such as Bring Me the Horizon and more recently While She Sleeps have found huge success. Baxendale talks of their friendship “We’ve known the Sleeps boys are really good lads. I’ve known them for years and we’ve always had a really good relationship with them,” which is great to hear.
When friends support friends great things happen and Baxendale tells us just how they got added to the While She Sleeps tour. “Matt Welsh is just an absolute diamond,” he says. “We put out a little teaser and he sent us a message telling us he was really fucking enjoying it and he’d only heard 10 seconds. And we obviously jumped at the chance, and we’re quite overwhelmed to be playing shows that good at this early stage.”
Speaking of While She Sleeps, the band have enjoyed huge success with the self release of their newest album ‘You Are We’ and Baxendale couldn’t be happier for his pals. “I’m proud as fuck of those boys man,” he tells us with huge pride. “They’ve torn the scene a new one and they’re that good that they don’t need a record label. They’re just an amazing band and amazing guys.”
It’s not just Sheffield that’s creating great bands, though. There’s a number of bands across the north of England and Baxendale tells us a few he’s got a soft spot for. “There’s some good bands out of Leeds like Allusondrugs, those are the sort of bands we’d love to play with, they’re our kind of vibe. Brawlers as well. Harry Johns is a really good mate of mine so we’re looking to do some shows with them later in the year. Nothings confirmed yet but we get on really well so we’re trying to sort that out.”
But what does Baxendale think the reasons are behind this emergence of bands from the north? “We all live in England,” he says “so it’s not that much different. But London and the south are a bit different to up north in many ways, sometimes better sometimes worse. But I remember when I was younger it used to all be bands form the Brighton scene like Architects and bands like that but that seems to have taken a bit of role reversal these days and bands from the north are smashing it.”
With The Family receiving a great welcome from fans of heavy music, what does Baxendale see for their immediate future? “We’ve actually recorded more tracks than there is on the EP,” he tells us. “Our aim at the moment is to try and get a decent label backing and then try and get a full album out for the beginning of next year. But before that we’re just gonna keep rolling on and do as much as we can. We’ve got a lot of cool things in the pipeline that we can’t say too much about right now but certainly look out for those.”
Bringing the interview to a close, we asked Baxendale what people checking out The Family for the first time can expect, to which he had this to say, “Basically let your hair down, get your dancing boots on and come get down to some funky beats. We’ve also got the punk edge to it and the grunge edge to it. So I think we’re trying to accommodate and merge two cool as fuck genres together really but the main thing we want to do is have fun and be there for other people to have fun with.”
The Family’s debut EP ‘Welcome to The Family’ is out 19 May and they play The Globe, Cardiff 1 June in support of While She Sleeps. You can keep up to date with all things The Family through their website here