Introducing: The Barristers
On Sunday the 6th of May 2012, the Leopard pub in Doncaster was busier than it probably had been for months. People were squeezing and filing through the doors and filling up the bar area with an air of anticipation, waiting to see a band named Gringo Starr, who have built up quite a following on the other side of the Atlantic. The quartet from Atlanta, Georgia were visiting Doncaster for the first time as headliners – and were supported by a much younger, much newer band called The Barristers. Despite Gringo Starr’s American reputation, I think it would be fair to say that the crowd assembled in the unassuming brewery weren’t here for the headliners, but rather their supporting act, who sold 160 out of the 200 available tickets for the gig. This is made even more impressive by the fact that it’s only been around three weeks since The Barristers released their first EP, Nothing but the Truth. After the EP was given a solid first review, and had been heard by a few important people, the band was given multiple invitations to different venues within hours.
The upstairs level of the recently refurbished Leopard has seen many an influential band play there through the years, including The Arctic Monkeys, Enter Shikari and Kasabian. The first support act, True Love Believers, were enthusiastic despite only luring a small crowd upstairs with their syncopated rhythms and unpredictable bouts of screaming. As soon as The Barristers took to the stage, however, the room packed out to full capacity with people of all ages rooting for the boys, and the aura of excitement was tense as they took to the stage, halted only by the fashionable lateness of rhythm guitarist Sam Kennedy. Spurred on by the cheers of the crowd, they went on to deliver a near faultless set, comprising of their EP material with a few unheard tracks thrown in for good measure.
I caught up with the band after the show, and their mutual feeling of achievement was obvious as they swaggered downstairs to somewhere where we could hear ourselves talk. The bar still being full, we were left with no choice but to go outside. It was a cold night, and the only available space was a beer-stained couch surrounded by carelessly discarded cigarette ends and empty peanut packets – the location screamed rock n’ roll. We were off to a good start.
The boys, squashed together on the cushions and each entertaining an alcoholic beverage looked comfortable, and so the conversation began. And an interesting conversation it was… From diva demands to why Noel Gallagher’s a dickhead.
How did you find it tonight? Did you enjoy it?
Sam Kennedy: BUZZING!
Robbie Thompson: Spot on! Very good gig!
SK: Yeah, we played pretty average, but the fact that we had a lot of good fans there made us tank it.
Did it intimidate you, having your friends there?
SK: No, no no no.
RT: No, we’d rather have them there!
Ashley Platts: There was a lot more of an atmosphere.
SK: I looked into the crowd, and saw about twenty faces that I knew, and I thought, ‘Get in, let’s have them!’
RT: It was brilliant.
SK: Yeah, you feed off it, don’t you?
RT: We fed OFF IT.
SK: Martin (Curry, bassist) fed off it. Martin fed off every little bit of it!
Martin Curry: Haha, yeah!
Do you think anything could come from tonight’s gig?
RT: We got onto Gringo Starr, and talked a little bit. That’s all I’m saying.
SK: Well, it’s not so much the fact that anything’s going to come from it big time, it’s the fact that people might go away thinking “Yeah, The Barristers were alright, that was an average gig. I might listen to them soon enough.” Apart from that, we just had a good time.
Did you get any unexpected perks?
SK: Unexpected perks…
RT: Free beer! Which we didn’t expect from Stu boy, and we’re getting paid at the end of it.
SK: We’re getting paid! We’re getting cash, free beer and a dressing room. I mean, good pay! Thirty five, forty quid each.
MC: Show me the money!
RT: For turning up on a night, and playing a gig.
SK: Call it two hundred quid between the band.
Wow, not bad for half an hour’s work!
RT: I’d do it for free.
SK: I hope you haven’t seen my shoes, listen to me, they’ve just come apart on me. I had to bring up the shoes. They should have their own little captions at the side.
RT: The shoes. Slip-ons, it’s almost like (in a French accent) “Slip’on!” it sounds like Lee-on. That’s your name isn’t it, Alexandra Lee-on.
At this point, the conversation lapses into a debate about how to pronounce my surname. I think the effects of the numerous pints are starting to show.
But you don’t pronounce it like that, so…
RT: I know, but…
RT: No, listen, there’s a team called Lyon and it’s pronounced ‘lee-on’. And it’s spelt exactly the same.
SK: Basically, my shoes are absolutely mint.
RT: Lion is spelt l-i-o-n.
SK: It’s simple. My shoes are mint, and her name is spelt differently.
RT: Look, you can print this. We’re the best band in Doncaster. We’re the best band in South Yorkshire. We’re the best band in the f*cking world.
I will print that…
RT: Print it! Print it on every page. We’re the best band, so come and see us.
Okay, so assuming you get as big as you’d like to be, can you see yourselves making any outrageous demands?
SK: A crate of Lucozade, a crate of beer, a football net and a premiership football. Get in. BEEEEER.
At this point, the band is approached by a group of slightly intoxicated men, who are praising their efforts loudly and enthusiastically. The band may have been somewhat biased towards themselves in calling The Barristers ‘the best band in the world’, but several other people expressed the same sentiment that night, both immediately after the gig and during the interview. I happened to overhear one man say that they would be “superstars”, and that if they don’t get a record deal it would be a travesty. Already, The Barristers have made their impact on Doncaster and its music-savvy citizens, a feat that many bands try and fail to achieve.
It gets thrown around a lot, but what does the phrase ‘rock and roll’ mean to you?
SK: Rock and roll means playing the best music that you can, and ‘avin it.
RT: Rock and roll means fucking, Elvis Presley. The King.
I couldn’t agree more with you about Elvis, Robbie.
AP: It means having the time of your life, playing your instrument.
SK: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, ‘avin it, and playing a good gig!
RT: Playing a very good, solid gig. Ripping it up, and getting it done. Getting it done, that’s it.
Who are your main influences and why? Ash, you speak first!
AP: Ugh, why me?
RT: Ash, just name your influences, now.
SK: Theory of a Dead Man!
AP: You can’t stop playing that song.
RT: Say what you want.
SK: (sings loudly) “SHE LIKES TO SHAKE HER ASS, SHE GRINDS IT TO THE BEAT!”
AP: Well, I’m into metal music and stuff like that, and it’s just like a completely different thing.
RT: We’ve got a metal influenced drummer, who brings that into our music and makes us better.
Okay, like what?
SK: Like, in the new stuff we’ve played it’s a lot more harsh.
No, I mean which bands in particular?
AP: Like, While She Sleeps and stuff like that.
RT: Oh my god, While She Sleeps. I, however, am into The Smiths, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, all that lot.
Random spectating man: Led Zeppelin!
RT: Yes, Led Zeppelin!
Random spectating man: Black Sabbath!
RT: BLACK SABBATH! Yes.
SK: I’ll go for Interpol, The Smiths, Elvis Presley. We’ll throw a few in like, um, The Arctic Monkeys before they turned pathetic. The Libertines, very good band. A few oldies, The Who, The Ramones. I’ve got a lot of influences.
MC: I’ve got a few, mainly Deep Purple, and I like Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden. I’ll leave it at that.
SK: I’m influenced by The Barristers. We are The Barristers.
Random spectating man: You lot are the original!
SK: The original mint-ness.
Best dressed musician?
SK: Sam Kennedy!
RT: Daniel Kessler from Interpol.
MC: Julian Casablancas, definitely.
RT: Daniel Kessler!
SK: SAM KENNEDY! Print Sam Kennedy.
AP: The Lonely Island.
Haha, Lonely Island!
SK: I want Sam Kennedy printed.
RT: John Lennon is also very well dressed.
SK: Oh my god, I can see the question. Robbie, are you ready for this next question? Say it!
Liam Gallagher or Noel Gallagher?
MC: Noel! Noel, Noel, Noel.
RT: Gotta be Liam.
RT: From recent events, Liam Gallagher. Because people just don’t see past his outlandish behaviour, people just see the nobhead. People don’t tend to see the man that’s inside him, the singer. They don’t see him as a singer, they just see the nobhead. Noel Gallagher’s worse!
SK: Liam Gallagher is a nob, but he knows that he is. Noel’s a nob, but tries to hide behind some kind of knowledgeable façade. I don’t like that. Ooh look, more fans. *gets up* (sings) SHE LIKES TO SHAKE HER ASSSS!
Where did ‘The Barristers’ come from? What is ‘The Barristers’?
SK: The Barristers is a band, and we wanted a name that’s smart, something that’s quite intuitive instead of something throw-away like “Oh, look at us, we’re lads and we play.” You know.
RT: We didn’t want to sound like the fucking Kooks. We didn’t want to sound like the Arctic Monkeys, or the Kings of Leon. We wanted to just turn up, we wanted to be smart and just do it, to the point.
MC: We wanted to be The Barristers.
RT: We didn’t want to be all over the place, you know like those lads that are just “wwaaaarrgghhh!”. We wanted to play our music and get off. That’s it. The Barristers is us.
Can we expect an album from you?
SK: You can expect a beaut album! You can expect a record producer bending over his arse to give us a record deal. Then we’re in.
RT: Is the next question the last one? This one’s Ash’s.
Last question, what are you hoping to get out of being in the Barristers?
AP: A lot of money! Haha, that’s a big question.
MC: I want to inspire a lot of people, that’s true music.
RT: Go on, say whatever you want. What do you want to get out of this band?
AP: I don’t know. I just want to have a good time, and meet new people. I want to see stuff and do stuff!
Immediately after declaring their love for me, for Sound Revolution and people on the whole, the general band consensus was that the rest of the night would be spent getting as intoxicated as possible, and receiving well-earned praise from the throng of people still waiting inside. Family members, friends and colleagues as well as strangers had turned out to see the band, and as well as the feeling of happiness in the air, there was also a feeling of pride.
There are things waiting round the corner, and The Barristers will waste no time in walking forwards to find them. And who knows? They might turn out to be the biggest band in Doncaster, or South Yorkshire. Or even the world.