Interview with James Howlett of STELLIFY

I recently found out about a brilliant new rock band from London. So far, Stellify have released an awesome EP “Hide”, and a single “Sin City”, both of which are available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hide-ep/id875351892

You can stream their music on Soundcloud

Their single, “Sin City” was a Kerrang! Radio “Record Of The Week”.

 

The band are about to release their new single, “Shun”. I’ve been lucky enough to hear a pre-release copy. The track is a moody, gritty, blues-rock song, with some anthemic lyrics; it’s sure to get some fists pumping and heads banging when played live :). To celebrate the release of “Shun”, Stellify will be headlining The Barfly in Camden this Friday.

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Check out the Facebook event page for all the details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1503889109906376/

After listening to some of their music, I was keen to interview the band and find out more about them. I invited them here for a chat about their music and current plans.

Interview with James Howlett of STELLIFY

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Introduce us to the band members and tell us a bit about your musical backgrounds.

James Howlett – Lead vocals and guitar.  I’ve been in bands since I can remember. My old man was in a touring band, so I’ve been brought up in that environment. He tried his best to get me to play some kind of brass instrument as he was really into his big band/swing music. I Just wanted to play guitar like my dad.

Richard Costello – Vocals and Lead guitar.  I would listen to my parents’ vinyl collections for hours as a kid. Played my first chord when I was 11. My mum taught me ‘Streets of Laredo’ and I’ve played almost every day since then. Had some lessons at school, got to know my big influences in blues and rock music. Was in a couple of ‘garage’ bands. Played guitar in professional theatre shows that I was acting in.

Daniel Perez –  Drums.  Inspired by several different styles including Latin, Blues, Rock, Fuck, Jazz, amongst others. I’ve survived as a studio and live lesson musician in Colombia, Spain and London, encountering fantastic experiences that will hopefully continue through a long and prosperous career.

Carlos Dittborn – Bass. After being in the live rock scene for over 10 years in South America and being involved in making music videos, I decided to move to London to get involved in the ever growing scene over there. Since then I have been involved in Stellify and brought my ruthless, fuzzy bass lines to the ever expanding Stellify sound.

Who were your musical heroes when you were growing up?

I was a massive fan of The Doors. They were probably the first guitar band I ever loved. I had everything they every released. I bought every book and film/documentary they we’re in. I even tried buying a pair of leather pants like Jim Morrison but my old man talked me out of it. I’m glad he did.

Other than that I was into Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Led Zep, The Beatles. Usual teenage stuff, I suppose? Later I started getting into Jazz. Coltraine blew me away. I would of loved to of been around during that era. I go to Ronnie Scotts and Jazz festivals quite a bit. There’s something quite open and bare about Jazz.

Are there any musicians that you would say have influenced your style?

As a teenager it was Noel Gallagher. He was the reason I really starting playing and writing. Before then I used to play a lot of grunge. Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana. It went with the teenage territory. But later on I started looking at the acoustic guitar and writers like Noel and Paul Weller. That’s who really got me into playing and writing.

The song structures and emotions you could get through just an acoustic guitar were as powerful as the fastest/loudest grunge track.

When did Stellify form, and who came up with the name?

Stellify formed in early 2013 after I met Richard Costello through a career move I made with the London Fire Brigade. That job soon ended due to the LFB’s disliking of us being in a rock’n’roll band. But that’s another story.

The name Stellify came from a writing session Rich and I was having in our studio in Catford. We were auditioning bassists and drummers at the time and needed a name for the project. During a break in auditions we had tunes playing from the laptop and Ian Brown’s track “Stellify” came on. From that moment we called the project Stellify and it just stuck.

What music do you have available for fans to buy at the moment?

Everything we’ve released so far is spread out across iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud. Later this year we’ll have our whole back catalog available on iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon.

What have been some of the band’s highlights so far?

Other than the string of festivals we played last year, I think the big turning point for us was the headline show we played at the 100 Club at the end of 2014. That’s when we really started to get noticed and had offers from management and labels.

If you could tour with any other band, who would you choose and why?

Probably Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They’re a huge band but still keep the DIY ethic and play for the people. They’ve kept their integrity and keep releasing huge albums. They could fill stadiums, but still choose to play intimate venues. That’s where the scene is at its best.
They’re also a big influence on our sound.

What would you say are the best things fans can do to help support their favourite bands these days?

Go to gigs and buy their music. Without that a band just can’t survive.

Which social media sites would you say are best for musicians to use when promoting/selling their music?

Probably Twitter and music sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Twitter has a better reach and Soundcloud and Bandcamp are musician friendly. They don’t rip you off if you want to use their sites. Facebook has become a massive rip off. Anything you post as a band has very little chance of being seen by your fans unless you pay to “boost” your post. It’s a huge money making machine.

Who writes the songs for Stellify?

It’s usually Richard and I. But the whole process is a group effort. We can bring lyrics to the studio and compose around it or we’ll experiment with an idea, be it a bass line, drum groove or a guitar hook. We just run with what sounds best and build it from the ground up. We like to exhaust every avenue before settling on what works best for the track.

What usually comes first for you, the lyrics or the music?

Whatever comes first. We can work on a song idea and then write to the music or bring lyrics in and write around that. If I’m writing at home It’ll usually start with a chord progression that’s come out of just playing around and I’ll work a vocal melody in. That’s the good thing about writing. There’s no formula. You can just run with something and see where it goes.

Are you working on any new music?

Always. We’ve got a whole back catalog of material ready to go. It’s just a case of recording and releasing it. We’re currently recording a new concept EP which will be out later this year.

We’re also releasing our new single “Shun” on the 12th of Feb.

shun artwork
Are you planning any gigs/tours?

We’re playing the Barfly in Camden on the 12th of Feb in support of the new single release. After that we’ve got a load of festivals throughout the summer and a very special gig that we’re playing for Time Out magazine. You can check out all our upcoming shows on our website.

Any other news for your fans?

Well, first we’d just like to say a massive thanks to each and everyone of them. They’re crazy supportive and really keep us going. We’ve got a new single release on the 12th of Feb and we’re also recording a concept EP as we speak!  Other than that, Just to keep checking out our website for new music and summer festival dates.

Thank you, James and Stellify! Wishing you continued success. I’m looking forward to hearing the new music 🙂

Band links:

Website: http://www.stellifyband.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StellifyBand

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_STELLIFY

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