The Islas are a 4-piece indie-rock band from Norwich, consisting of (left to right) Granger Wittering (bass, backing vocals), Nathan Baverstock (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Ed Chalu (drums), and Ross Allen (lead guitar). I first heard them last year when they released the track Close (which made the Best of 2020 Mixtape), but they’ve just released their debut EP, Oblivion, which is jam packed full of fabulous lyrics, melodies, and first class vocals, while everything has then been put together perfectly to create an infectious collection of songs. Ahead of its release I held this Q&A with frontman Nathan, so read on to find out more about the EP, bass players, Branston Pickle Mini Cheddars, and cheesy 80’s music!
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~ Hi Nathan; for everyone new to the band, tell us a bit about The Islas?
Hi Jim! We’re a four-piece indie rock / alternative band from Norwich. Myself and the lead guitarist Ross met at our local music college in the city centre and played together for about 3 years. We then met Ed who came out of another local band at the same time, and then after 2 bass players, Granger joined our band! So there’s been a few changes, but I promise, myself and Ross are not terrible people to work with!! It’s just that kids in their late teens and early 20’s go on to move on with their lives with Uni etc, but I wouldn’t change that, we’ve played with some excellent musicians and all of them have aided the way we became better musicians ourselves. We became a band in 2017 and worked for a couple years writing and recording before releasing our Debut Single ‘Aileen’ in 2019.
~ Congratulations on the Oblivion EP, so tell us about it?
The entire EP was written during the lockdowns during 2020 and 2021. We were releasing music that was written just before the Covid Pandemic (‘Close’ was released 2020) and it just became a habit to start getting demos down which I really enjoyed. I have been working from home this whole time so having the chance to sit with my guitar I have really enjoyed! The EP was then recorded at ‘Mill Studios’ in Diss with our producer Tom Joy. Tom is a bit of a local legend and is a top top producer that we’re lucky to have on our doorstep here in Norfolk.
~ How did you approach the EP and decide on the tracks to include?
Originally, I think we were opting for perhaps 5/6 songs but as the demos became more frequent it made a lot more sense to work on the tracks we loved writing. I remember writing the title track ‘Don’t Wait For Me’ and wanted to keep it guitar and vocals throughout and then bring everything in together. It felt like the perfect way to introduce the EP, as I personally feel the 6 songs show our depth and quality really well. Each song shows different elements of us as songwriters and come from different moods and feelings all grouped together from the isolation of the lockdown.
~ If you were appearing on ‘Later with Jools Holland’, which track from the EP would you pick to perform?
I’d say ‘Oblivion’. I like the lyrical element and I think the song is one of our strongest! Plus I absolute love the riff Ross plays at the end so it’d be a chance to lose it a little on stage… I mean I’m on Jools Holland you wouldn’t expect me to stand still, would you?!
~ Lockdowns have no doubt kept you off stage for too long, but how would you best describe your performances to people who will see you live for the first time in the coming months?
We definitely bring a lot of energy to our performances and we cannot wait to get back on the stage. We have a local headliner at a venue called ‘VooDoo Daddy’s’ which is a run up show to Norwich’s premier multi-venue festival, Wild Paths. We then plan on playing in as many major cities in the UK before year is out which will be amazing. We’re dead excited to get this EP out and see what happens from there!
~ When you’re back on the road, if you could have a famous person to drive the tour bus, who would you love it to be?
Probably someone like funny with a lot of character like Tyson Fury. I can’t imagine anyone having any issues with us on tour if he’s part of the crew either, right?! I’d love to listen to him waffle on as well and I think he would make us laugh daily and protect us haha.
~ Are there any other new bands or musicians local to you in Norwich that you recommend we check out?
There’s a ton I can recommend, I’d say you must check out Emily Parish for starters. She features on our EP and I fell in love with her album. I love The Lanes, The Extons, Sleemo, and Gladboy to name a few more too, and a great local solo act is Lucy Grubb who is an Americana-inspired country artist, and she is a truly excellent songwriter. You have to check out all the above!
~ What would you say is the best thing about working & performing with the other three band members… and what would they say is the worst bit about working with you? 😉
I love all three of them, very dearly. We’ve made some wonderful memories together and created a really good chemistry where we can walk into a room and leave it with a new track that sounds like us. I think a lot of them each as musicians, and whenever I am nervous about a performance, I like reminding myself how good they are and that it’ll be fine. They would 100% say I crack the whip haha, but when things need to get done I tend to fixate and bang on about it until it’s done, I am a bit of a perfectionist…
~ What did you eat too much of during the various lockdowns?
Branston Pickle Mini Cheddars. They are sold in my local and I love them, so when they closed down for the lockdown I ordered a boxful from Amazon, mainly for comfort, and demolished them!
~ What are your musical Guilty Pleasures? Don’t panic, no one will read this bit!
I love Gwen Stefani, particularly the song ‘Cool’ and I am definitely not ashamed of that. I also love cheesy 80’s music, and I’m a massive sucker for Christmas songs. ‘Last Christmas’ is probably one of the best songs written in my opinion… so those two, and to round off number three I don’t mind One Direction at all. I like Harry Styles and they had some absolute bangers!