Interview by Christine Thompson
Liverpool band Joe Symes And The Loving Kind have been receiving rave reviews both locally and internationally and were described by the late Beatles manager and Merseybeat promoter, Sam Leach, as being one of the most exciting bands to come out of Liverpool. Here we speak with Joe Symes, vocalist and drummer Colin White about the inception of the band and it’s retro psych sound.
AMFM Magazine: Joe, the Pandemic started when you were coming off a two- and half-year tour, and you’ve been in lockdown along with everyone else for most of last year. How’s the scene right now in England? Is there a vibe of preparing for life to return to normal, with more gigs?
Joe Symes &The Loving Kind: It’s been a very strange year; never seen anything like this before. Right now, most acts are in the same predicament where we’re unable to play gigs, which can be soul destroying. It’s basically a case of keeping updated on when certain restrictions are being lifted, and when venues can open up again. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. That we truly believe.
AMFM Live music is the lifeblood of the music industry, whether it’s a large stadium gig or in a pub. How have you been able to keep your sanity this past year?
JS&TLK: Even though gigs haven’t been able to happen, and studio time has been delayed a little, all online activity has been in full flow. International radio play, magazine interviews and reviews, album sales on the website, even some celebrity endorsement videos have made, which we’re very, very proud of.
AMFM: Tell us about your second album PHASE 2 – how did the lockdown affect your writing?
JS&TLK: Phase II is our second album. It was recorded during probably our heaviest touring schedule, and in several studios across the UK including Peter Gabriel’s Solid State Logic in Oxfordshire, the Motor Museum in Liverpool, a couple of sneaky sessions in Abbey Road Studios, London, and finally the mixing and mastering at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool. For anyone who hasn’t heard it, we could only describe it as an album consisting of 10 heavy, catchy rock/pop songs (or Heavy Pop, as we would refer it to). We’re extremely proud it, and the feedback globally has been incredible. The celebrity endorsements we’ve just mentioned have definitely proved that. I don’t think the lockdown has affected the writing as such. It has given us time to write more new material, which will be part of some future releases, so I guess good things can happen out of bad situations.
AMFM: When did you first fall in love with the idea of making music?
JS&TLK: Speaking on behalf of us all, it was definitely when we were teenagers. We’ve all been surrounded by different types of music our whole lives. The Beatles, The Doors, The Who, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, Genesis, Motown, Frank Sinatra, Movie composers like John Barry, Lalo Schifrin, Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herrmann, it all just got soaked in, and the bug bit us all in a very intense where we just couldn’t shake it off. And now it’s lead us to where we are now.
AMFM: What was the impetus for forming Joe Symes and The Loving Kind? How did you meet your bandmates?
JS&TLK: – Me (Colin White – Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals), and Joe (Vocals/Lead Guitar/Harmonica) have known each other many years, but were in different bands. When the band I was in folded, he’d been going on acoustic gigs on his own for a short time, and I asked if he needed any percussion live and some drums in the studio. Deep down we’d wanted to work together for a long time, and things gelled very easily. Eventually we decided to expand to a full band, and added Alan Welsh on bass. He and Joe had worked together the past, and he fitted in nicely. Plus, one of the best things about us is – unlike some bands you hear about – we all get on. I don’t understand how people who hate each other can work together. It doesn’t make sense to me.
AMFM: One of the songs on the album “Summer’s Almost Coming” definitely gives the vibe of 60’s psychedelia. What was your influence on this one?
JS&TLK: You’ve pretty much said it. Not a specific song as such, but little things here and there from that whole psychedelic subgenre. We love all that stuff. Bits of Hendrix, early Pink Floyd, The Beatles’ mid period, The Bunnymen, it’s all in there. Actually, there’s an interesting story about the recording of it.
When we were finishing the instrumental tracks, we decided to synth part in the middle 8 that kinda goes up and down. The influence came from a piece that was on the first Rocky soundtrack by Bill Conti. That’s one of the things about us as a band. We could be working on a song which has a certain feel or influence, then add an idea to it from something completely different.
AMFM: What is your favorite type of gig…would you rather be playing to a small intimate audience, or a large stadium audience and why?
JS&TLK – Well, because we’ve done both, we’d say both. Big gigs have that intense atmosphere with so many people there, and you have a big stage to move around on. Being a three piece, you have A LOT of space too. It’s hard to explain. It’s just…..big!
Small intimate gigs can intense too, but they definitely have that more raw, dirty, sweaty thing about them. Very punk/grunge vibes. Plus, acoustic gigs at small intimate venues are just perfect.
AMFM: What, in your opinion, are the characteristics that define a truly great piece of music, and what are some of your favorite examples of this?
JS&TLK: They hit you instantly. Catchy and memorable pieces that you can’t get out your head, and bring so many emotions to the surface. Don’t get me wrong, there can be pieces that grow on you over time. But they still plant that seed that makes you want to go back and soak it in more. The best examples are any Beatles song, Motown song, Burt Bacharach song, so many to name, and they all speak for themselves.
AMFM: How much of an influence has your home town of Liverpool been in your music?
JS&TLK: Well, the big band to come from Liverpool is The Beatles. There have been other great bands to come out of the city, but of course, they’re the top ones. How could a band like that not inspire anyone? They had it all, and so much of them is in us. It’s not because we’re from the same city that we like them, but it’s great to know that we do come from the same city, and no matter who you talk to around the world, if you mention you’re from Liverpool, they think The Beatles.
AMFM: What’s been your favorite gig so far?
JS&TLK: Oh, we couldn’t just name one. There have been so many. Headlining Noel Gallagher’s Aftershow Party twice on the main stage of the 02 Academy 1 in Liverpool, supporting The Christians at the Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury, Supporting Republica at the Rock and Roll Marathon in Liverpool, headlining the Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon, Wales, Headlining the Folk on the Dock Festival in Liverpool (showing off our acoustic abilities), all the gigs we played at The Box in Crewe, our album launch at the Arts Club in Liverpool, the RS Bar in Sheffield, The Soundhouse in Leicester, they were all amazing, and definitely stick out as some of our favourites.
AMFM: Any funny stories from the road?
JS&TLK: Ha! Well, let’s just say after the gig at The Soundhouse in Leicester a large quantity of champagne was consumed, which lead to several random shenanigans. That’s all we can say about that.
AMFM: What’s coming up next for Joe Symes and The Loving Kind?
JS&TLK: We’ve been working on a new four track EP, which will be out later this year. It would’ve been by now, but has been delayed due to what’s been going on in the world. We have one more session to do before it’s finished and ready to mix, so that should be in the spring once certain restrictions ease again. We’re all itching for everyone to hear it, as it sounds amazing already. Lots of Rickenbackers and Fender Strats. You’ll love it.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://joesymesandthelovingkind.co.uk