Nothing But Thieves exploded onto the alt. rock scene in 2014, following their signing to RCA Records, racking up hundreds of thousands of views on their music videos, playing festivals around the country and having their single ‘Itch’ featured on the ‘FIFA 16’ soundtrack. Following the recent release of their debut self-titled album, they embarked on the sold-out ‘Ban All the Music’ UK tour, including a date in Newcastle at the O2. It was here I caught up with guitarist Dom Craik and drummer James Price before the show, to discuss music, touring, moshing, GTA and the band’s minor involvement in the third ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie.
What would you say your biggest influences musically are?
Dom: We all started off listening to rock music didn’t we? James: Yeah, older rock music really. Dom: Bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, that sort of thing, but them more recently there’s a lot of other bands which put a new spin on what music inspires us, bands like Arcade Fire, Kasabian, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley to an extent. It’s quite a big spectrum, also it’s not just rock that inspires us. James: Yeah lots of pop, punk, electronic music, it’s very diverse what we listen to.
How do you find playing at festivals compares to playing headline shows like the one tonight?
James: I think it’s a good balance to have both, I think you need both. Dom: Festivals for me… I love the whole vibe of it, I love going to see other bands and it’s an opportunity for people who have never heard your band before to come and listen, so I love that about them. And we were always festival guys. James: Festivals are just a great day out, *laughs* they’re literally just the best day out and if you’re on early the best thing about it is you play and then the day is yours to do whatever you what. Dom: Get drunk and watch some other bands, literally exactly what we did last Reading and Leeds!
Can you describe your song writing process?
Dom: It changes every time, there’s not like a formulaic way that we set about writing songs, which I think is important for us. It means that each song that we write is different, it comes from a different place. It might start with Joe, he writes a lot of lyrics, he might have like a lyrical idea or I might have a drum loop or bass riff or something, so yeah there’s not one way it goes about and it builds up very naturally. We do all our demos at home so we sit in the garage or in my bedroom and just record it like that.
You’ve released your new album quite recently, how has the reception of that been so far?
Dom: You enjoyed it [James] Price? James: I’ve enjoyed the reception so much lately, everyone’s been shouting about it! Dom: Yeah it’s been good! You see the response online quite a lot, and a lot of people come to the shows and have said how much they love it, it’s been really nice and we’re glad people are into it because it’s been a long wait for us. A lot of the fans have been waiting for it for ages so it’s nice that they’re not disappointed.
While we’re on the subject, can you explain the artwork of your album? It seems fairly straightforward [a horse] but is there any sort of deeper meaning behind it?
Dom: Price used to be an equestrian rider didn’t you? James: I used to ride horses a lot yeah, so did Phil [bassist]. Phil was actually in Lord Of The Rings, the third one when they would literally take anyone who could ride a horse, and then they CGI’d it obviously, so they had like 200 official horseriders with horses, and then the rest is just CGI. So Phil is actually in that 200. Dom: So the horse has always been like a theme through the band.
You seem to have become established as a band relatively quickly, any insight into how this came about?
Dom: I think in the public eye it seems quick, but if you’ve actually following us from the start it’s been years. Like we started doing this over 4 years ago now, and it’s only been until last year or so that we’ve been put on bigger platforms like Radio 1, and our videos have been getting more popular. So it hasn’t actually been too quick for us but, like I say, in some peoples’ perspective it’s happened overnight, which isn’t true.
Got any advice for bands just starting out and trying to become established?
Dom: I think it’s really important to have good songs. A lot of bands have rubbish songs to start with and we did too, so we made a point of not playing live for the best part of 2 years just to make sure we could learn how to write a good song. We wrote loads and loads of rubbish tracks but with each one we became better writers. No one wants to hear rubbish songs live, so get that process right!
How’s the tour been so far?
Dom: Have you enjoyed it Price? James: I’ve had a great time so far! We’ve got a bus, I’ve brought my PlayStation 4 on, we’ve been playing a lot of FIFA and a lot of GTA… Dom: and we’ve been doing gigs as well! James: Was literally just about to say that, but the gigs have been… alright as well *laughs* no, the gigs have been amazing! Dom: But we do love a bit of GTA, we’ve only just managed to steal the jet out of the army base, it’s taken so long… (Goes on bit of a tangent about Grand Theft Auto).
What can we expect from tonight’s show?
Dom: Songs… and chips… and drinks *laughs* basically we’ve started putting new songs into the set, and I was quite nervous about playing them for the first few shows but we’ve got better at them now, so there’s a few new songs we’re looking forward to playing. James: You should also expect to see two bands before us. Dom: And they should be checked out because Witterquick and Pretty Vicious have good things going on for them, and they’re very young but very talented for their age.
What are your thoughts on moshing?
James: To tell you the truth, I’ve gone off it lately because I’ve found myself to be a bit of a princess, but when I was younger, I absolutely loved it. A little story from this previous Reading festival: I was watching The Bronx with my tour manager Ryan Smallwood, and at one point he turned to me and said ‘I’m going in, take everything’, and then he handed me the van keys, his phone, his wallet, and some other stuff which was in his pocket. Come the end of the night, our other tour manager is like ‘right, where’s Ryan, I’ve been trying to call him for ages’. He was a goner. I still have his phone, his wallet, we still haven’t seen him tonight, still don’t know where he went. Ryan, if you’re out there, tweet us or something *laughs*. I’m very pro-moshing, gets rid of people you don’t want to be around!
One final question: What are your plans for the future?
Dom: We’ve got more shows to do in Europe as well as the UK, then next year we’re planning on going to America, Australia, Japan, do a lot of international stuff, and then just tour and tour and write and write, get more and more drunk, and just do what bands do. That’s the plan!