[Interview originally posted on UK Arts Directory 8th November 2015]
I recently came across a talented new band from Northern Ireland who have just released their debut single, “Let It Burn”. It’s a brilliant track; grungy rock at its finest. Great melodies and powerful lyrics as well as a driving guitar sound. You can purchase it at iTunes and Google Play as well as streaming it for free on Soundcloud and Spotify.
After hearing their excellent new single, I invited the band here for a chat about their music and current plans.
INTERVIEW with THIEVES OF ENNUI
How did the band get together? Tell us a bit about each of the band members and their musical backgrounds.
Neil is the only founding member of the band still in place and was also the driving force between getting The Thieves off the ground. It took almost a year and a few member changes in between, but the line up as it is now finally came together. Each of us has our own musical tastes and backgrounds but what joins us all is the process of writing and performing music we really enjoy.
We all picked up our instruments for vastly different reasons but what is amazing is that each of us has improved a lot since playing in the Thieves. It’s good to feel pushed to improve for ourselves and the fans of our music. We just want to keep producing the goods which bring people to our shows.
Neil Poole – Guitar
“I am 33 years old. I currently live in Newtownards, Northern Ireland with my wife Susie and two young children, Charlie and Harry and not forgetting our two little dogs Marley & Dozer.
“My earliest memory of becoming aware of how much I enjoyed music was when I listened to my Dad’s vinyl when we lived in Scotland. My Dad was in the RAF so we moved around every few years. The two LPs that stood out to me were by The Beach Boys and the Moody Blues’ ‘A Question of Balance’. I never had the inclination to pick up an instrument until I was around 13/14 years old. My older brother John played some guitar and there was a guitar club starting in my school. My best friend and I joined this after-school club and it quickly took hold of me and my spare time. The teacher who took the club made a point of meeting my parents at the usual Parent/Teacher meeting to point out how he thought I certainly had a future in music and I should not let that go. When I left school at 16 I got a job in a factory, but VERY quickly realised this was the wrong choice for me and quickly enrolled in a music course in College. I stayed here for 3 years and unfortunately I joined the rat race to become a slave to the computer.
“While music remained a love of mine, life itself took over. I met my now wife and had our two children, but I found myself missing the creative side of music more and more. I began to think about getting some guys together to start up a rock band once we were through the sleepless nights, etc. This was a LONG and SLOW process to get the RIGHT people on board.
“Once I played my first gig with the band I had worked so hard to put together, it was a terrific feeling and it gave me even more drive to push hard and make this band a success! I have poured my heart and soul into it and worked so hard on many fronts to keep the wheels turning and the gigs coming. Our first year of gigging from March 2014 was tough in that it was so hard getting anyone to give us a break. This year we find ourselves in the position of actually having to decline some gigs because we are already booked up! This gives me immense satisfaction. To me its a sign that we are onto something very special and that all the hard work has certainly started to pay off. I really could not be happier with the guys in the band and I’m glad I held out for the best players with the right attitude.
“The Thieves have become a family and I’m excited to see what happens next!”
Aaron Reeve – Guitar & Vocals
“I am 30 years old. I currently live in Belfast with my long-suffering partner Bianca, after living in England, Germany and South Africa at other points in my life.
“Music has always been a part of my life in some way or other. From my parents who, although they did not play any instruments themselves, always had music playing in the house, to my brother, who spent many a night locked away learning to play the guitar, music has always been there. I was about 14 when I decided to learn to play the guitar and whether I just thought it was cool or had some other drive I’m not sure, but I enjoyed it none the less.
“I quickly found that I wasn’t the quickest or most creative lead player but what I lacked in skill I could make up for in feel, rhythm and lyrical content. Thus was born the only way I really know how to express things, in raw musical form. Through years of ups and downs, I have written, played and performed my music, sometimes as work, sometimes just for fun, but always the music played on.
“After losing my father a few years ago I realised that there was no point in waiting around for someone else to fix your life for you, it is much better to just get your head down and go for what you want from life. In short this resulted in a move across the globe and finally to sitting one night at a computer and thinking ‘I need to join a band’ and started trawling the local ad sites. I met Neil shortly after and nothing has been the same since.
“Not only have I learned more in terms of my playing and singing in the last two years than I ever did in the 13 years previously, but I found a new family, one filled with some of the best friends a person could ask for. To the Thieves I will be forever grateful.”
Paul Greenwood – Drums
“I am 25 years old and live in a small town called Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. After suffering a heart attack at the age of 23 I needed to regain my strength. After nine long months of recuperation I said to myself enough is enough! Depression had set in and I couldn’t bare not having the strength to play with my two young children anymore. I needed to be happy again, so I turned to the one thing that makes me feel free and alive! ‘Music’. After more than a year of not playing at all, I started to play drums again and slowly regained my strength. I came across a band called ‘Thieves of Ennui’ who were advertising on Gumtree for a drummer. I sent the wonderful Mr Neil Poole an email and three days after my audition, we had our first gig together. My childhood was… well let’s just say it wasn’t great, so playing and making music was my passion and my only outlet. It’s the only thing I was ever good at. These days I have a beautiful fiancée and two amazing children to love and take care of, which I am good at. In the band I have some of the best friends a guy could ask for!
“What I’m trying to say is life is short! Live life to the full, get out there and try new things. Meet new and wonderful people like I did and you know what they say, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ 🙂 To sum me up I would say I’m an emotional kind of guy who is determined to learn, get stronger and succeed in life.”
Josh Bickerstaff – Bass
“I am 20 years old. I come from a town called Bangor in Northern Ireland. Since a very young age I have loved music thanks to my Mum and Dad, who would have all kinds of music playing in the house. This influence had me listening to different styles of music including Rock, Folk, Electronic and even Classical music. When I was around 14 years old I had the ambition to learn to play the guitar and so decided to give it a try. Shortly after starting to learn, my friend in school was telling me that he had a band and they needed a bass player.
“Straight away I said I would do it. The rhythm and groove of music has always appealed to me so this is why I jumped at the opportunity of playing the bass guitar in this band. From that point until now I have been constantly trying to improve and I always enjoy learning new things. For the past few years I have played in different bands with different styles, including Punk Rock and Blues. As soon as Thieves of Ennui contacted me about needing a bass player, I listened to their music and instantly loved it. I truly believe we could be onto something big and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.”
The name “Thieves of Ennui” is interesting. Who came up with that?
Once Neil had the band formed and practicing on a regular it was decided that a new name was needed to fit the new direction we were taking. To be honest, we had a fairly large list of possible options and in the end this was the one that stuck out the most. In the end we are, as a group, the thieves of our own ennui.
Which bands/musicians would you say have influenced you musically?
Given our diverse tastes in music it really would take a lot of space to list all of our influences but when you boil it down, we all enjoy well-constructed music. A song where every piece has a purpose, every lyric has some meaning; that’s a song that gives you goose bumps and stays with you. Some of the great bands at doing just that are the Foo Fighters, Coheed and Cambria, Dream Theatre and Muse to name but a few.
What have been some of the highlights of your time as Thieves of Ennui, so far?
The best part of being in the Thieves is getting to hang out with great friends and all contribute to something that we love. The fact that we get to go out on the road and meet such amazing people and other bands is also a bonus. We now get to listen to new music all the time, and it was our joint love of music that got us up and doing what we do.
To date there have also been a couple of local radio interviews which are always appreciate. We also took part in a two week tour around Northern Ireland with 3 other local bands which was quite the entertaining event!
You released your debut single recently “Let It Burn”, who wrote that and what was the inspiration behind the lyrics?
Musically it was a contribution from the whole band, as our songs often are. It was born out of jamming away late at night up at Thieves HQ. From the lyrical side, we had a verse written down in a little notebook that Aaron carries around with him. The two pieces fit both in feel, and in style, so we developed it from there.
The inspiration behind the song was just a look at the modern world. It is a commentary really, on the way that we slowly have our rights eroded by those in power, but also the fact that people are becoming aware that they can stand together and fight it. The main hook is a stab at the fact that often what we are shown on the TV and Internet, is not what is really happening out there in the world.
You’ve been touring as a band. Do you have any favourite venues that you play?
There are so many great venues in and around Northern Ireland but the two that really stick out are the Ivy Bar in Newtownards, which is this really small pub that feels like our home turf, and then the Empire on Botanic Avenue in Belfast which is a fantastic venue for the audience and the artists who perform.
If you could play any venue in the world, which would you choose, and why?
The Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado is an amazing venue that many of our heroes have played in, so that would be great! If you have never seen it before it’s this amphitheatre built in a natural rock formation and is well worth looking into. Other than that it is always nice to just play new venues, especially when you get to work with sound engineers that are in tune with the rooms.
I’d never heard of that amphitheatre. It definitely looks amazing! Would love to go there! 🙂
Are you working on new music at the moment, any plans to release an album?
The Thieves are currently working hard to get at least another 2 tracks recorded before the end of 2015. These will likely be an early Thieves fan favourite, and one which we finished writing a month or two ago. We are currently going through a really productive time with regards to writing new material, which is terrific.
When buying music what format do you prefer?
It’s a mixed bag really. We would mainly stick to the digital side of things. iTunes/Google Play, etc., but some of us would defiantly prefer to stick to CD format. Both formats have their place, though.
What do you think are some of the challenges facing bands that are just starting out at the moment?
The biggest problem most bands face at the moment is simply being heard and gathering attention. The days of being spotted and landing a record deal have gone. Bands trying to get off the ground are responsible for their own recording, marketing, touring, etc. now. We need to be a jack of all trades I guess!
That’s also very much the case with independent writing and publishing.
What do you think of social media, and do you have any favourite sites?
Social media is both a friend and an enemy. It’s great in the sense that you can get your videos/music/pictures to your fans at the click of a button but it can also be your enemy. So many bands across the country have the ability to post all the content they want, and the side effect of this is that the online community can become awash with so much from so many that it can be hard to be heard/seen. That said, social media has certainly put us in touch with many, many helpful contacts along the way so far.
Our preferred sites would be Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. Twitter has been a key part of us gathering airplay around the globe. So far we have had airplay in UK, Australia, Canada, USA, Greece…We also tend to use the hash tag #wearethethieves across all of these to help fans find all our content across all platforms!
If you could tour with any other band who would you choose?
We are often compared to the Foo Fighters/Biffy Clyro – If we had the choice it would be the Foo Fighters, no question!
What music are you listening to these days? Have you heard any new music that you’d recommend?
We all have varied tastes in music actually. Between us we would listen to Classic Rock, Prog Rock, Americana, and Reggae, etc.
Any other news for your fans?
As mentioned previously, we are working on recording 2 more tracks and we will also be shooting a video in the very near future. We have 2 magazine articles coming up along with several reviews of our recent single ‘Let it Burn’ expected in any day now. In addition, we have a Skype interview for an American radio station and plan to travel early next year, so lots on the horizon.
The Thieves of Ennui are a busy bunch!
Thank you for your time and we hope to see you at a gig near you soon!!
Thank you for answering my questions 🙂 I’m looking forward to the new music! Wishing you continued success.
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[Interview originally posted on UK Arts Directory 8th November 2015]