Brighton boys, Of Empires, perform with raw energy and perfected showmanship, with frontman Jack leading the band through a seamlessly sharp set of soft-edged rock and roll.
An intrinsically cool collective of very in-sync musicians, this new-age rock band are set on ruffling up a few chart-pop feathers with their contemporary take on the genre. Silky smooth guitars blended with hypnotic drum beats and baselines, with a real Arctic Monkeys-meet-Stone Roses vocal lead that slinked up and down with charismatic confidence and a hint of classic Americana twang.
Kicking off with new single, See You With The Angels Kid, the foursome were captivating, with Jack striding into the audience, jumping up on speakers and falling to his knees in moments of pure melodic passion. Of Empires are refreshing and bold, and with a killer monochrome aesthetic and on-trend 80's fashion style, they're sure to follow former Brighton icons into the spotlight.
The guys chatted with us before their headline show at The Monarch.
Congrats on headlining at The Monarch! How did you all come together to form Of Empires?
JACK: Matt suggested to me, when quite intoxicated at a local music festival, that we form a rock n roll band reminiscent of how rock use to be, I cordially accepted. We nabbed drummer George from another band when we saw him play in his 1st band and Liam joined us after our 1st bassist quit a week before our 1st show, Liam did such a great job of learning all the songs in a few days that he had to stay! And we've been been together ever since.
LIAM: Ah yes, that fateful call.
JACK: And we've been been together ever since!
Did you all know which artistic direction you wanted to head in immediately, or was it a progression into rock and roll after some time?
JACK: It was immediately rock n roll from the off, Matt and I are massive The Doors fans which has always given us a solid foundation and influence over where we begin with songwriting. However, our sound has evolved over the years and continues to do so now.
MATT: I think most artists have a pretty clear idea of what it is they want to achieve but knowing what direction to take, that’s completely open for me. I think you have to allow time and space to head in any number of directions because ultimately you can get to some pretty special places. Right now we’re in the place we were meant to be and that’s sitting fine with me.
Your latest single, See You With The Angels Kid, is a fantastic tune that’s already been championed by Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1. How did you kickstart the creative process for that track and when did you know it was going to be a single?
JACK: The song really wrote itself in the rehearsal room born out of a jam, the song is essentially a kind of a genesis of the direction we are heading in now, it solidifies the EP and where we are heading to next, it's also the last song we wrote for the record and naturally we felt it had to be the single.
GEORGE: We just bounced ideas off one another, and along with our individual styles on each instrument, it just came out.
LIAM: It was a truly collaborative effort and we all just felt it once we wrote it.
MATT: I think it wrote itself in the space of something like half an hour? It came without warning and naturally found its legs. Most of the time those are the records that hold themselves up - the ones that were just there already, waiting.
What’s the best experience you’ve had as a band so far on your journey?
JACK: Recording with Ian Davenport at the legendary Metropolis Studios or supporting Adam Ant!
MATT: Yeah, working at Metropolis Studios was something I’d never truly contemplated but to get that kind of opportunity really stands out. There’s a lot of magic stored in that place and it jumps into you.
GEORGE: What Jack said, recording at Metropolis with Ian Davenport… that was pretty kick radical.
LIAM: The guys have all said Metropolis already, so I’ll say Winning MTV Brand New Unsigned and recording a live session at their studios. Loved it!
You guys have been likened to the likes of Arctic Monkeys/The Kooks/Editors. Who directly influences you and how do you harness that inspiration?
JACK: Our inspirations vary, but it's all rock and we've got the benefit of like 60 years of rock music to draw from but mainly I'd say 60's stuff ... Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, 13th Floor Elevators and then more recent bands like Stone Roses and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club creep in there too.
MATT: Too many but for me, I've got to mention the likes of The Doors, The Black Angels, The UFO Club, The Black Keys, Allah-Las. Anything with a groove, reverb and 60’s tone.
LIAM: We all come from eclectic music backgrounds and growing up with Nirvana had a huge influence on me. Playing wise, I take inspiration from bass players like John Entwistle (The Who) & Andy Fraser (Cream), guys who play the bass like a proper instrument that’s not just in the background.
GEORGE: I just cherry pick from all music I listen to. The Germs, Pearl Jam, The Clash, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones ... there are so many I could list off. The way I write my parts really depends on what I'm listening to at the time as well.
What’s been the biggest challenge you guys have had to face in the industry?
JACK: To begin with, I think it was sending hundreds of emails and never getting a reply, but we just kept chipping away, played a lot of live shows, stuck to our guns and it's beginning to pay off.
GEORGE: Agreed. We are keeping true to who we are and making music that reflects that.
JACK: I also think right now the biggest challenge for any rock n roll band is that, generally speaking, the industry prefers other styles of music because they are easier to market from a business point of view, hence labels don't seem to be signing bands or the bands they do sign are very safe, packaged as 'rock 'n' roll' but really they are anything but. We don't give a fuck though, we will keep doing what we're doing.
LIAM: We’ve had to be very patient over the past year, getting everything in place to release the record. It’s tough but rewarding.
You’re Brighton-based, a home of great rock and roll legends and new icons. But what do you love about playing in London?
JACK: Just the thought of being back in Camden is buzzing. We've played Camden loads of times now and it really does feel like a second home. We've made some great friends through playing in London, we love it because it's just so much bigger than Brighton ... small town boys in big city lights and all that!
MATT: London has an appetite and attitude that you can get down with - it makes you want to whip up a storm.
LIAM: Legends have been born out of the London scene. It's as big a deal as playing NYC or LA, it’s a major music capital of the world.
GEORGE: My girlfriend lives there!
London is considered a music capital. Do you have any other favourite things to do or places to go when you’re in town?
JACK: Absolutely, I love drinking down next to the Thames and love Borough Market, there's an amazing little Whiskey Bar down there called Whiskey Ginger, we got absolutely hammered there once, adopted an Australian guy and took him drinking, good times.
LIAM: London is a bit of a treat for us … I do love Camden and its many venues. Or looking up old haunts, places I used to live.
MATT: Same - it's always nice to head to the pubs in Camden. I’m fond of the River too.
GEORGE: For me it's having a stroll through Victoria park and sipping on a delicious pint in People's Park Tavern.
Who would you most like to collaborate with if you could choose anyone in the business?
JACK: Josh Homme!
LIAM: Richards, Jagger … the guys who were there in the beginning, that’s the dream.
MATT: Right now, it's Mac Demarco.
GEORGE: Yep, Mac Demarco for me too.
Describe your off-stage style in 3 words.
JACK: Friendly ( I'll make friends with anyone), opinionated (mouthy), Rock n Roll Funeral Chic, basically anything but colour, always black. (That can be the pretentious answer).
MATT: Petulant, temperamental and cheeky.
LIAM: Easy, like a suntag morgan
GEORGE: Poor Man's Brando.
Pick your celebrity crush.
JACK: Cillian Murphy
MATT: David Duchovny
LIAM: Jennifer Aniston … still, no one comes close.
Have you got any summer festival gigs lined up that you can dish on that we can look forward to?
JACK: We will have some pretty tasty announcements soon but got to keep hush for now!
GEORGE: All in good time...
Missed our last blog story? Catch up with our 'Interview with IMAN'.