So it’s no secret that our editor (me) has found her new favourite band and that we at Soundscape Magazine champion these guys. But we’re kind of aware that some of your guys might not yet have been introduced to The First, so allow me.
The First are from 5 lively lads from Cambridge/Norwich area and they play pop punk but without the cheese (or at least that’s the only way to describe this, because it’s too good for me to often form words). Their music is catchy, lively and heartfelt. It’s meaningful, exciting and if you don’t like it, as their PR once told me ‘you’re dead inside’.
We caught up with them on their recent tour.
So your second album ‘Take Courage’ has just been released and was doing really well on the itunes rock chart here in the UK, describe that day to us?
Adam: It was something of disbelief when we got the email through from management saying having a look at where you are in the itunes chart, on the rock chart and we were like ok we’ll have a look. So we have a look and it’s like 31 and we were just like this is incredible, this is absolutely ridiculous and then he said start telling people that’s where you are. And after that we start climbing the charts and we got to 22. We were all emailing back and forth and it was just awesome to know that people had bothered to buy the album, it’s just incredible. For these songs we’d written a year ago, in (Benny) Salter’s conservatory outhouse and being in the studio with the rest of the guys working on the tracks and knowing that all that hard work put in, was dignified and rectified with people actually caring about it.
Many of the songs on the album seem very personal. Is it harder to write and record more personal tracks and then especially to perform them live?
Benny: No other way of writing songs unless they’re really personal to you, otherwise you’re just writing stuff that everyone thinks is cool and it’s really not. It’s definitely personal, but at the same time you’ve got to think how can people relate to this, at the same time maybe these experiences everyone goes through the same thing at some point. Performing it is a different sort of thing.
Adam: You’ve got songs on there, like Take Courage which is actually about Ben’s mum, who sadly contracted cancer about a year ago. That is the only way I’ve ever seen him really express himself about anything.
Benny: We played it in sound check tonight and instantly I think so right that’s what that’s about. For that moment, my focus is completely on what that is about. Whereas other songs that are about ex-girlfriend’s who have screwed you over means nothing in the grand scheme of things really.
Adam: This is something that he’s still living now.
Your album cover features a guy in a mask holding a flaming torch, how did you come up with the concept and who’s behind the mask?
Benny: I was walking through Finsbury Park one day and it was a rainy day and things were going really bad. And I looked up and saw this magical sign that said ‘Take Courage’ and suddenly it was like, ‘that’s what our album is going to be called’. So that sort of moved on to various things and we started to talk the photography Tom Barnes about how we was going to portray this within an album. We started playing around with the term courage. Somebody came up with the lion from The Wizard of Oz.
Adam: Hence the first track being There’s No Place Like Home.
Benny: So that’s where it all came from.
Adam: The guy behind the mask is actually my sister’s boyfriend.
Benny: Initially we was going to show his face and the lion’s face together, the metaphor of the lion taking courage, but in the end it was what it was. It was the coldest day of the year, the 12th of the 12th of the 12th (12/12/12).
Adam: It was minus 3 in that quarry.
Benny: We were in a quarry and huddling roun that flame. Where that picture was took, we were so close to that just out of shot, trying to keep warm.
You’re playing Vans Warped tour here in the UK next month, what’s it like to be on the bill with artists such as Billy Talent and Rise Against?
Adam: We’re very lucky. We still look at the poster and all these bands we’ve looked at, and listened to in the past. It’s unbelievable. You’ve got like Coheed and Cambria. I used to listen to them when I was 14 years old and now I’m playing the same… its mind boggling.
What would be your dream festival to play?
Benny: Reading main stage.
Ben (he has been here the whole time, mostly eating a bag of chips): Waynestock.
(He is high-fived for this from me)
Benny: Reading or Leeds. Leeds was like the first festival I went to in like 2006. Leeds main stage would be amazing for me.
Adam: Pukkelpop in the Netherlands. Massive massive festival over there.
What band would you love to support next year if given the chance?
Adam: Don Broco
Benny: Taking Back Sunday
Benny: There’s so many bands we aspire to be like, but in a sense touring with a British rock band. It seems like we’ve grown up with bands like Don Broco and Mallory Knox. We’ve played with these guys in our hometown, I remember taking these guys to our hometown and they’ve just rocketed. So to play somewhere like Koko with them would be amazing.
Adam: Tour with Young Guns would be ridiculous. Or We are the Ocean. Or You Me At Six.
What are the bands plans for 2014?
Adam: Lots of gigging, lots of tours, lots of festivals
Benny: A lot more of everything.
Adam: It’s just the beginning
Benny: This week whilst we’re away, we’re demoing new songs on our laptops in our down time. Next year is going to be full of so much more.
Our review of the band’s latest album Take Courage can be seen here.