The term ‘blistering’ is bandied about a lot these days, but Red House Glory’s Camden Rocks headline slot at The Hawley Arms, a venue they describe as “small, intimate and sweaty”, merits it.
From the piledriver riffage of opener ‘Painkiller’ to the syrupy hooks of closer ‘So Easy’, this is a band that thrives on the pursuit of perfection in everything they do. This is also the reason that they admit to me earlier in the day that their enjoyment of festival vibes will be limited in the build up to their evening show, especially when alcohol’s concerned. “We usually only have a couple of drinks before, because we’ve done gigs where we’ve been a bit pissed which might sound alright to us, but aren’t really a good thing,” explains huskily voiced frontman Lewis Knaggs, “But it does mean that after we can have a beer and join in, after we’ve done what’s effectively our job. A lot of people will take a load of drugs or booze and then go and perform and you see them and think ‘yeah, it’s pretty rock and roll’ but it probably sounds a bit shit. We work hard on how we sound live so we’ll try not to ruin it!”
Another result of this overriding pursuit of perfection is a hefty back catalogue of unrecorded material, the result of the quartet (which also contains the outspoken bassist Jonny Greenfield and the silent siblings Nathan and Theo Grace) writing together in much the same form since they were 13. This song surplus works as both a blessing and a curse for Jonny, “We’ve already got enough for around four albums, but it’s just picking the good ones. I know that’s the point where it gets really difficult: when you’ve got twenty songs that you want to put on the album or in a set and you can only choose nine to twelve.” But this does mean that the crème de la crème of Red House Glory’s output, the stuff that sees the cruel light of day, is top notch. The aforementioned ‘So Easy’ is also the band’s latest single, heralding the Heart Of Gold EP scheduled for release on the 29th June. “It’s gone down really well actually,” Lewis grins, “Our first single (the raucously overdriven ‘Living A Lie’) was more rocky, but here we’ve come down on our more melodic side.” An informed combination of rock and melody might be what inform the band’s glossy Screaming Trees-esque sound, just don’t ask the band to write their own Last FM profile. At least that’s what I found when I asked how the band would describe their own sound; “Like… rock? With… melody?” Lewis hesitantly suggests, “Melodic Rock and Roll” finishes Jonny in mock sanguinity.
Most of the songs present on Red House Glory’s setlist in The Hawley Arms will be present on the upcoming Heart Of Gold EP, including the euphoric ‘Heart Of Gold’ itself. The band’s song selection method is a tried and tested process, “I’ll always want to play whatever we’ve just written,” Lewis admits, “but it’s about striking that balance between making sure those songs that we have released are at their best and then throwing in a new one to mix it up. We’ve tried to find those songs that really establish our sound and we’re sticking to them.” “And if they’re good live then people who’ve seen you live will just go straight home and listen to them,” Jonny adds, “I’ve been to enough gigs by new bands where you then have to wait three years for a song that you’ve had in your head the whole time.” Nevertheless, the band still have a reported ‘fuckload’ of songs waiting to be picked up again when the time is right, meaning their debut album loosely scheduled for release after another EP could be a bit of a behemoth if they fancy it.
Camden Rocks isn’t particularly new territory for Red House Glory, as they all live in the vicinity. “You can see my flat from the Hawley Arms” admits Jonny, meaning that, when asked if they’ve strayed from their roots, the band can state quite categorically “no”. But having gigged most of the venues in North London, the band are looking to break out of their backyard. “We’ve played Dublin, we’re playing Barcelona in September, and we’re potentially playing Amsterdam,” Lewis informs me, “But we haven’t got an agent or anything yet. It’s early days but it’s all going well so far.” The lack of an agent is crucial to the band’s DIY ethic in the genesis of their career, even if their unsigned status is a temporary one.
As Lewis explains, “We don’t have to worry too much about what we should be doing, we’re just kind of doing what we want to do. We’re not against getting signed, but only if we’ve sufficiently satisfied our need to become the band we want to be.” Jonny’s thoughts on the matter are more comprehensive, “With booking shows and stuff it’s always easier to have other people doing things for you, but there’s no harm in doing things yourself until either you feel you’re ready or you feel you can’t cope. The most important thing is building up your fans on a grassroots level so you know they’ll always be there. Otherwise people just go, get signed and get a load of money then end up having one single and no fans. Or fans who’ll stick around until the next big buzz band. You’ve got to have your own fans, that’s what’s important to us.” And the fans are coming: The Hawley Arms is rammed for their set, even if the numbers are swelled by those turned off by the queue to Turbowolf’s set at the neighbouring Barfly. Red House Glory are not the perfect band, but they’re trying goddamn hard to be and it’s starting to pay off.