The music from Walsall band The Assist has quite rightly been described as having “sing along anthems and infectious guitar riffs”. The quartet formed in 2014, and are comprised of brothers Mikey (vocals) and Ryan Stanton (guitar), along with Jak Baker (bass) and Ben Faulkner (drums). They’ve already been featured here, in Emerging #40, as well as in the January & April 2016 Mixtapes, but ahead of their debut EP release they face an Alternative Friday Q&A, so what do The Wurzels, the top of Blackpool Tower, and Graham Norton have to do with rock ‘n’ roll? Read on to find out…
~ Aside from two of you being brothers, how did you all meet?
We all met through friends of friends. During our school years our different friendship groups merged regularly at festivals and local gigs through the love of cool music.
~ How would you describe your music for those who may not have come across it yet?
An adventure; we say it’s unpredictable and try to bring a dance element to an indie sound, with funky bass lines and punchy drums.
~ Your debut EP comes out at the end of April. That must be hugely exciting, so what’s been the best part of it so far and what have you got planned for the launch?
Would have to be the magic of the studio, there were so many random moments of inspiration that shaped the EP, for example the operatics in ‘Love’ came from nowhere and created a real buzz. For the EP launch we’re playing two special shows; Surya in London on April 21st, and Wharf Bar in Walsall on April 23rd.
~ Mighty Atom Smasher Records (MAS Records) do a lot to support the development of new bands in the Midlands, so what have they done to help you?
M.A.S have been amazing to us, we were on the artist development label for 2 years and had over 200 hours of free rehearsal. We also learnt a lot from other bands who had previously been on the label such as Peace and Swim Deep.
~ Are there any other new bands or musicians local to you in the Walsall area that you recommend we check out?
There seems to be a fresh wave of bands in and around Walsall at the moment after a quiet few years, we’d recommend checking out FAITH and Pollen.
~ You’ve played live at numerous venues up and down the UK, but what’s been your favourite gig and why?
Tough one to call because there’s rarely a gig we don’t enjoy and make the most of. We played the top of Blackpool tower for HMV’s Christmas party which was a special night. However our biggest gig to date headlining a sold out Wolverhampton Slade Rooms will take some beating!
~ If you could curate a festival stage, what four bands would you invite to perform?
Mikey – Gorillaz
Ryan – Cage The Elephant
Jak – Pearl Jam
Ben – Happy Mondays
~ If you could borrow a musician from another band for a day who would it be and why?
Would probably say either ‘Myles Kellock’ from Blossoms or ‘Alexis Taylor’ of Hot Chip. Myles would add loads to our live performance, he’s a magician on the keys. We’d love to take Alexis into the studio for a day to make use of his genius creativity.
~ What do you have planned for the next few months following the EP’s release?
We’re just going to play more and more shows to further promote the EP, and we’ve got some great festivals lined up such as Lodestar.
We will also be in the studio in May recording some exciting new stuff. The EP is just the beginning!
~ Aside from music, do any of you have any other creative skills? (or obscure talents!)
Mikey is a fitness freak and the rest of us all have a unique talent of making pints disappear.
~ What song would you sing at a karaoke if no one you knew was watching?
It’s no secret Ry loves a karaoke, there isn’t a pub in Walsall where he hasn’t yet performed his rendition of ‘The Wurzels’ – Cider Drinker. Jak fills in for the encore with his classic, ‘ABBA’ – Dancing Queen.
~ And finally… what would it take for you to do Eurovision!
We’d do anything to meet Graham Norton!