Interview: Lonely The Brave

Every so often a band comes along that seems to confuse people – it’s hard to work out exactly whereabouts they fit in the music scene. Lonely The Brave are a prime example of this, with genre-spanning records, an unorthodox stage presence and unique live sound which make the Cambridge quintet very tricky to classify. I caught up with guitarist Ross Smithwick ahead of their busy festival run to chat through the band’s ambiguity, his personal influences and the hectic times ahead this summer.

It’s clear from listening to you guys that you have a lot of influences. What’s your go-to genre for inspiration?
There isn’t really a genre that I would class as a “go-to” – the writing tends to come from nowhere usually. I tend to start off writing on the acoustic, and then build it up from there. I think anything can be an influence, but the fact that I listen to a lot of acoustic singer-songwriter stuff is probably why I write as I do.

A lot of the time you end up on festival bills alongside heavier artists, and there’s been a lot written about you in publications that tend to focus on the heavier side of music. Is this something that bothers you, or do you feel like it’s a good fit?
This is actually something that we talk about a lot. It’s weird because we don’t see ourselves as a heavy kind of band. Part of it seems positive because we open up ourselves to a crowd that wouldn’t necessarily become aware of us otherwise. That said, we’re hoping that with each release we can slightly move away from this image – I guess we’d class that as progress for the band.

Sheffield wasn’t initially on the tour poster that you released. Was it a last minute addition to the run of shows?
It isn’t particularly a part of the tour; we’re treating it more as a warm-up. It’s a city that we all enjoy, and playing here is always fun. On top of that, we’ve never played Plug before, and it’s always nice to get in a new venue – the last time we played here was in one of the student union venues and the vibe was great. We recorded our last album here too, so we can definitely say that we’ve got some ties to the city.

This is something that gets brought up a lot when it comes to you guys, but has David’s well-documented stage nerves ever created issues between you all? Is it something that gets easier?
It’s never really something that’s bothered us. Over time we’ve got used to it, and we’re at the point that we’d probably find it stranger if he was any different on stage now. Although it wasn’t intentional, it’s something that’s ended up setting us apart from a lot of other bands out there. We end up with the crowd having a lot more of a focus on the actual music, and the fact that David isn’t flailing himself about and jumping around means we can stay truer to the recordings.

This year is the first time in four years that you won’t be playing Leeds and Reading Festival. Are you likely to attend regardless?

It’s a festival that we’ve all grown up attending; I was there for the six years before we first played as a punter, and then as you said we’ve been there for the past three years. Playing the stage that I’ve seen so many incredible bands grace was so surreal, but amazing. I don’t think any of us are planning on going this year, just due to the fact that we’re so busy, but it’s not a definite no.

Catch Lonely the Brave at Plug on September 30th. Tickets and more info here.

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