What happened to you…
Originally from Guernsey, but now a 4-piece rock ‘n’ roll band based in Brighton, Of Empires consist of George Le Page (drums), Matthew Berry (guitar), Jack Fletcher (vocals), and Liam Bewey (bass). They first appeared on Alternative Friday 2-years ago in New Tunes #33, and most recently in a Showreel, but now they face a ‘grilling’ in our Q&A, so what do detecting socks, telekinesis, and Noel Fielding’s driving skills have to do with being in a band?! Read on to find out…
~ You all met at university, but what was the background to Of Empires?
Jack: We’d pretty much all met through the music scene playing in different bands. But it all started when we were drunk at a festival in Guernsey and Matt asked me if I would like to start a rock n roll band. I said fuck yeah! Before the band, I only ever played in metal bands, so I was really crying out to do something that really allowed me delve into my catalogue of musical influences.
Matt: Jack and I had forged a good relationship when he’d come back from university in Brighton and I’d been toying with the idea of getting a group together but I was never quite sure how it would look. I knew he’d get it though, whatever direction it took.
George: Jack and Matt actually poached me from another band I was in after they came to see one of my gigs. We locked eyes while I was playing and haven’t looked back since. It was a magical moment. Then we all decided to move over to Brighton after I left Guernsey for uni. They couldn’t stand to have the channel between us.
Liam: I was the last one to join. The original bassist left a week before the first gig so the guys asked me to stand in. Four years later they still haven’t got rid of me.
~ You’ve just released the excellent Baby Darlin’ Sugar, but how is the new EP coming along, and what have you been up to since the first one came out?
Jack: The new EP is pretty much done, just a bit of mastering to do. We’ve played a lot of shows since the first EP, and have had some amazing experiences off the back of that record! We supported the legend that is Adam Ant on a few of his tour dates last year, played The Great Escape Festival, which is still certainly one of my highlights, and we also won MTV Brand New Unsigned 2015. As well as that, a couple of spins on Radio 1, and most importantly we got to record at the legendary Metropolis Studios with Ian Davenport. We’re also writing again right now for the next EP and it’s the best stuff we’ve ever written. We feel this band is in a constant state of flux, it’s evolving into something that we never possibly imagined it would be, that’s the best thing about being in a band, the evolution of it all is beautiful to be in.
Matt: The EP has been a long time coming but it’s good to finally have its release on the horizon. We’ve had a really knowledgeable and encouraging team around us and we’ve taken away heaps of experience from this record which is feeding into our latest material.
Liam: A lot has happened since the first EP but recording a live session at MTV studios in London was some real dream come true type stuff!
George: It’s been all of the above but we basically spend all our time together hanging out, writing and partying. It’s a symbiotic relationship we all have.
~ The impressive video for Baby Darlin’ Sugar was directed by Jack’s brother Josh Fletcher, but did you give him free rein, or did you have an idea of how you wanted it to look yourselves?
Jack: Josh always has complete free rein – he is the 5th member of the band. Sure, he runs things by us, but ultimately we trust him to do what he wants and he always delivers. The video was filmed over the course of a year, the journey of us writing in rehearsals to us recording in the studio, hence the busyness of the video, it’s because we were busy!
Liam: As far as I’m concerned Josh gets free rein on the visuals, that’s his thing. He’s constantly following us around capturing moments and memories.
George: We just let him run free through the great fields of his imagination. He recorded tons of footage from all the recording sessions so the editing is the time consumer… cheers for that, Joshy pops.
~ If you could borrow a (famous) musician from another band for a day, who would it be?
Jack: It’s got to be Josh Homme for me, because of his recent work with Iggy Pop and the last QOTSA record is an incredible piece of work.
Liam: Not necessarily any particular band member but I’d love to do something with a huge orchestra.
Matt: If we’re taking famous, Kevin Parker from Tame Impala would probably get the nod. Would love to talk beats and baselines.
George: Yeah, Kevin Parker. He seems chill.
~ If you could play live at any venue in the UK, where would it be?
Jack: Brixton Academy would be nice one day, I definitely aim to play there. I guess just because I’ve seen so many of my favourite bands there, there’s something about the venue that does it for me, I don’t know why.
George: Definitely Brixton Academy… because it’s Brixton Academy.
Matt: I’ve always wanted to play Koko, Camden. It’s got bags of character and it’s a perfect size.
Liam: Wembley Arena, been to some amazing gigs there, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play at that level.
~ Do you have any band rules / touring rules?
Jack: There’s only one unwritten rule and it applies to Liam! Haha
~ Are there any other new bands or musicians local to you in Brighton (or even back in Guernsey) that you recommend we check out?
Jack: In Brighton there are some awesome bands around at the moment that we would recommend checking out… Mantras, Tigercub, and White Room. From Guernsey it has to be Joe Corbin, (best blues singer in world right now!).
Liam: The Rocking Horse Club, also from Brighton, really impressed me recently. Back home in Guernsey I’m a fan of To The Woods (or as they’re now known – Bobby Battle) and Lifejacket, both deserve a crack at bigger audiences.
Matt: Mantras, White Room, Normanton Street
George: Broadbay, Birdskulls, Demob Happy, Tigercub, Mantras.
~ If you could curate a festival stage, what five bands/artists would you invite to perform?
This is tough to call, only 5! But the general consensus is the following:
The Black Angels
Father John Misty
~ If you could get a famous person to drive the tour bus, who would it be?
Matt: Noel Fielding. I get the feeling he would be great mediator in the mist of a heated moment.
Jack: For me it’s Bill Murray, no question.
Liam: Peter Kay would be hilarious.
George: Louis CK. He just gets me and I’ve never even met him. We’d be best friends and buy road snacks and stuff.
~ Who are your musical Guilty Pleasures?
Jack: All Saints and TLC.
Liam: Phil Collins / Genesis. I like a lot of 80’s pop, must be a nostalgia thing.
Matt: All Saints – and I wouldn’t, strictly speaking, call that a guilty pleasure.
George: ABBA. I shouldn’t even be ashamed to say it because they’re sublime.
~ If you could each have a superpower for a day, what would it be?
Jack: Mind Control, I would use it purely for humanitarian purposes and positive social changes only 🙂
Liam: Turning water into wine
George: The power to detect the one sock you lost even though you’re CERTAIN you put both in the washing machine and tumble dryer.