THE LAPELLES - THE NEXT BIG THING

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If you haven’t heard of The Lapelles, you will soon. 

Just four years ago, lead singer Gary Watson was a normal teenager busking on the streets of East Kilbride, taking whatever money the passing shoppers by could spare. Now though, in 2016, Watson and his accompanying band have just supported The Last Shadow Puppets as part of their nationwide tour, and are beginning to build a loyal, passionate fan base of their own.  

Following their biggest show to date at T in the Park - and a homecoming gig at King Tut’s in Scotland - we caught up with them to find out how they’re dealing with the meteoric rise. 

NLTS: Thanks for doing this guys. Firstly, how was T in the Park and King Tuts?

TL: Both were incredible shows. T in The Park is the first music festival we've played, so it was great to be playing under a tent to a big crowd! King Tut's was a really good homecoming gig, too. We hadn't played Glasgow in a while so it was really nice to come back to play a gig and see a lot of our friends in the crowd.  

NLTS: Talk us through what it was like being asked to perform on the same stage as Alex Turner & Miles Kane? It's been a very, very quick rise for you guys...

TL: We were all pretty excited when we were confirmed for the shows. I was in work at the time, so I was stuck between containing the excitement and getting shouted at for being on my phone behind the bar! The shows were really different from what we're normally used to as well. We had never played any theatre sized venues beforehand so it was a really strange experience to be walking out to 2000 people that didn't really know who we were.

NLTS: What's that like being so young? You're a brand new band moving very quickly in a notoriously tough industry...

TL:  Young…?! It has moved very fast, very quickly, but we've been playing together since we were 16. Throughout those years we've had a lot of time to sit and think about how we want to sound and work on where we want to go as a band. I'm the oldest (Gary - 21) so I doubt I get that much of a say in being young. On the plus side, if we ever play America the rest of the band are screwed if they want to buy a drink.

NLTS: Gary - why music? What gave you the initiative to start the band? 

TL (Gary): Playing music is something that I've always wanted to do. When I was 16 I used to go busking to make money. I'd sometimes skip classes to go busk for a while, then head back into school. By the time I was 18 I had already been in a few bands that weren't great and was stuck playing solo gigs a lot of the time, so I wanted to start completely from scratch on a blank canvas. It was pretty fortunate that I met Leon around that time. Eventually Jack & Jamie would join before Chris became a member in 2014.

NLTS: So how did the name come about? 

TL (Gary): I had the name Lapelles for a while before I met Leon. It's from a scene in "We'll Take Manhattan." I had pitched the name to my old band but they didn't like it, so I kept it until I started a band of my own. 

NLTS: And how did you eventually begin to get noticed?

TL (Gary): We had been playing a lot of shows throughout 2013/14, but I think it was when Baby Strange asked us to support them last October that people in Glasgow started to take a lot more notice and things really got going. 

NLTS: We know that Jesus And The Mary Chain (JAMC) are from East Kilbride too, so you'll inevitably have them mentioned to you a lot. Has this got annoying, yet? How much are they an inspiration, and how much are they a hindrance?

TL: Jesus & Mary Chain are definitely a huge influence on us. I think when you’re growing up in the same town as a band you really admire, you can really relate to the songs a lot more (which is why Darklands is one of my favourite albums). We're playing with them next month which we couldn't be more excited about! It would be really interesting to see if they share the same opinions about East Kilbride as we do. 

To many people, East Kilbride is only known for two reasons, and JAMC are one of them. The other, is the murder of Anne Kneiland in 1956 at the hands of Peter Manuel. Manuel was an America-born Scottish serial killer who was convicted of murdering seven people between 1956 and his arrest in 1958, with Kneiland his first victim on an East Kilbride golf course. 

NLTS: So your song ’Seventeen' references Anne Kneiland's death in 1956. Obviously, being so young, that was a long time ago for you guys, but you still felt compelled to write about it. Why was that? 

TL: I think East Kilbride can be quite a sugar-coated town at times; quite suburban, some parts of it are very reminiscent of Stepford. What interests me the most is the darker side; the parts people don't want you to know about. A lot of people tend to write about how they love/hate their hometown, which is fine. But I thought it would be more interesting to write about something that doesn't affect me personally, but has quite an altering effect on the place I live. It surprises me that not many people know that East Kilbride is the place of Manuel's first murder, especially when you consider how notorious a criminal he is in Scottish history. 

NTLS: In terms of your sound…How was it established, and how would you describe it? 

TL: We all have our different influences, but we meet down the middle (I like a lot of surf music, Chris is into hip-hop etc) so it's quite hard to pidgeon-hole ourselves into one category. We're planning on releasing a few more tracks by the end of the year, then hopefully by next year we'll be playing a lot more gigs and have a lot more new songs under our belt.

NLTS: Rock ’n’ Roll is definitely an influence that can be heard in your sound currently. What does ‘Rock n roll’ mean to you? So many people have so many different takes on it...

TL: I think Rock n' Roll is something that will always be evolutionary. Over the past 60 years it's been through so many different phases and morphed in so many different ways…it's something so visceral and striking that it's almost hard-wired in our cultural bloodstream. To me, it's so hard hitting and raw that it follows you around wherever you go, and there's so much new music to find that it's hard to see what's lying round the corner next.

NLTS: So, just before you go. Some quick fire questions…What are you listening to at the moment? 

TL:  "I Melt With You" by Modern English has been stuck in my head all week. I'm slowly rekindling my love for new wave ballads. I've been listening to Willie J Healey a lot lately as well. I saw him supporting Beach Baby a few months ago and have been a fan since. 

NLTS: What about the opposite? Who can’t you STAND?

TL: Melania Trump! I really can't stand Melania Trump, but at the same time I really want to see her plagiarise another speech to see how far she gets away with it.

NLTS: And what genre of music deserves more mainstream credit? What deserves less?

TL: Electronic music has always had a fair amount of hype (especially in the last 5 years) which always leads to that argument of whether or not guitar music is dead. It's definitely not, but I think it could use a little more mainstream recognition than it's due. It would be nice to see surf make a comeback. 

Despite lead singer Gary’s protests, as a whole The Lapelles are a young, fresh-faced band. Despite this, though, they are also a band full of confidence, swagger, and talent. The group are signed to heavyweight management company ‘Wildlife Entertainment’ in London, and the extensive nationwide tour over the coming weeks and months will only enhance the band’s growing reputation. 

Catfish And The Bottlemen, Vaccines, The View…The usual names are all there, but the honest truth is that any direct comparisons do Lapelle’s a disservice. Their sound, stage presence, energy and craft of indie, Rock ’n’ Roll melodies is there for all to see, and quite unlike anything else before them. 

If you haven’t heard of The Lapelles, you will soon. You heard it here first.