We’ve all seen bands where the band are too cool to say anything, or too cool to give a shit about anything, and I hate that. I just want to be a band that shows that we fucking want to do this.
It’s Friday evening and the street heaves and sways with anticipation. Loosely formed groups of friends and co-workers coagulate around the benches, conversation and laughter rising above the constant growl of background traffic as alcohol acts as a release valve to inhibition.
About a month ago, a stranger in a bar recommended a song called One Born Every Minute by The Family Chain, their only song it seemed, and we liked it, a lot. Intrigued, we asked if they’d be willing to chat to us over a friendly beverage.
The band were formed last year by 3 close friends – George (Vocals/Guitar), Andrew (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Sam (Guitar) – an old idea finally coming to fruition, but only finalised their line-up in February when they met Ollie (Drums), through a mixture of good luck and hard work. With the band being so new, we start by discussing how they find writing songs together and whether this leads to conflict. Does George who “writes the essence of the songs” feel put out?
George: At first, I was like this is my baby what are you doing to it? But, actually, I’ve found the best songs come through accepting others ideas and giving it a go. Because at the end of it, if it doesn’t work you’ll drop it. You wouldn’t persevere with something if it sounds shit.
Ollie: Like, it’s almost as if we’ve hit a different approach collaborating together, a different energy, I suppose.
It’s this creativity that has been the impetus for the songs The Family Chain are currently recording and plan to release alongside “some secret stuff” in early autumn. They openly admit that their set has changed dramatically and that their sound has broadened so that, while they maintain the same fundamental style, One Born Every Minute “seems like a million years ago”.
For newer fans, like us here at Quiff, this leads to a question about what you can expect when you see The Family Chain, live. While the band see clear progress in their studio work it’s when they speak about performing that they really come to life:
George: Live is where it’s more intense and there’s more feeling. I’m still learning how to put feeling and intensity into recordings, as well. Live is more vulnerable and we don’t always know what is going to happen.
Ollie: Live, when you see and hear it for what it actually organically is, it becomes 3D. We’ve definitely got a more intense approach to playing live than when we’re recording.
The band’s passion for live music is clear. On stage, it’s revealed through the intensity of their performance, which is reflected in the audience’s reaction.
George: When we’re playing, when you look at people’s faces the median reaction is confusion. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s me. I basically perform like I’m about to piss myself… After every set I’m convinced I’m gonna have some sort of breakdown because I’ve just gone too overboard. But I wouldn’t do it any other way, whether they’re freaked out or not… I want people to know that I mean it.
Ollie: I think energy does that, though. The more energy we put into it, the more energy the audience feel. You have more chance of someone coming out of that gig and wanting to discuss that with other people.
The importance of this intensity is to make a connection with the audience, to make them feel a part of The Family Chain and it means leaving nothing on the stage. This intensity, though, doesn’t transfer into ambition. That’s not to say that The Family Chain aren’t driven. Like most musicians they’d love to do what they love, full-time, for money – this is not shocking. It’s just that they want any success to be organic. It’s about focusing on their music and audience:
Ollie: A decent, strong fanbase that actually appreciates the music and then whatever that leads to from there, then great… as long as we’ve got that fanbase, and people come and see the concerts and enjoy the music.
George: My dream situation would be that we’ve got a really dedicated group of people who have gone past the confusion and actually really like the band. I’ve been doing bands for 10 years and it’s all I’m gonna do. I’m gonna be 70 and making little, shitty albums in my shed whilst my grandkids slam on the door for more biscuits. Even if in 2 years we had no deal, no management, no anything, but we had people who really loved our music, then I’d be happy.
In an age, where bands are only a few 100 likes away from stardom or 30 mediocre seconds away from being shuffled out of rotation, The Family Chain are a surprisingly old-fashioned band. They believe in not being too cool to say what you mean, in giving a shit, in spilling sweat to make a connection with people and that, through organic growth, success can be achieved. Perhaps, they’re naïve, perhaps they just measure success differently.
George: When we did that show… there was these 3 kids who came up afterwards who were from the same route as me. ‘Man we see you get on the 270 bus, every day.’ Likes and stuff, it does have a big impact but, at the same time, I’d much rather make a human connection with someone.