Sheltering from a horrible Saturday afternoon wash-out, we caught up with Colin White of Joe Symes & The Loving Kind to talk albums, EPs and everything in between. The band, formulated of Joe Symes on guitar/lead vocals/harmonica, Colin White as drummer/percussion/backing vocals and Alan Welsh on bass, have been on the scene since 2015 (or, in Colin’s words, “Yeh around then, maybe earlier or later, sounds about right!”) and have since recorded an impressive back catalogue of songs for their ever-growing global fanbase.
More recently, and fresh off the back of their 2nd full album Phase II, they prepare to reassemble where they left off pre-lockdown in the midst of the release of their newest, and yet untitled, E.P. to continue their mission to bring their heavy pop rock blend to the masses.
Liverpool Noise: So for some of our readers, just quickly give us an idea of how the band started out and how you’re currently doing!
Colin White: Well as you know it’s a three-piece and I think, even right from the beginning, we just gelled. Obviously when Alan came on board he and Joe had been friends and worked in previous bands together, so it wasn’t like getting to know this person from the start because it was already there. I felt like I knew him anyway so, yeh, everything really gelled.
As for now, even during lockdown we still had radio play around the world, USA & Canada, along with some really nice reviews from the last album Phase II with loads of good feedback. We’ve been lucky aswell, in that we had a few celebrity endorsements of people saying check this band out. For example you had Andy Whittaker (Emmerdale), raving about how even during this lockdown period it was still upbeat music so that was good. The second one by a guy called Michael Shiflett (Killing Kennedy, Evan Almighty, Lincoln) who’s a musician too. I believe he wrote a song for Barbara Streisand. Also, we had great words from John McArdle who played Jimmy Corkhill’s brother, and has been in a load of Liverpool-related dramas. So it’s great to have that for the latest album, and in the future aswell for the upcoming EP which we started recording too.
Again, going back to before, we started the 4 track EP in March because we finished touring Phase II in the middle of last year as we’d had the second half of last year out because we were absolutely exhausted! We’d been on the road for basically non-stop, with a few exceptions here and there, for 2 and a half years. You know! We were burnt out.
The last gig we did was in the Shipping Forecast and obviously we’d sold tickets and loads of people came to it, and for the first time we all sat there after soundcheck and just reality hit. We were all done in. But we said, ‘Right, we’ve gotta do it. Come on let’s do the gig’. After that we took the rest of the year out to write and plan a release, ready to pick up the next year. So we started the new EP after that time off.
We started it in March, and there was going to be a few more sessions after that, first session went brilliantly everything going to plan we’ll get in and then lockdown happened! It was horrible timing. We’d planned all our initial gigs for April/May, so we had a load of posters done and printed, one in particular for IPO Festival organised by a guy called David Bash.
We’d designed the posters for it and it was all planned and ready to go and it obviously had to be cancelled! We weren’t going to be doing a load of gigs anyway, as we were really looking ahead to when the new EP was going to be out.
The good thing about lockdown is that we were all still in communication, and we were able to get all the promo and artwork boxed off and ready to go. So then it was just a case of waiting for the studio to open again. Now it’s all open again, or studios at least, we were able to get in last Thursday and track some drums and bass guitars. With another session in 4 weeks we’ll get the vocals, backing vocals and all the extra bits of top so already it’s starting to sound fantastic! Considering we take pride in doing catchy, uptempo songs that appeal to a wide audience, the last album was a very heavy album. Still catchy, but heavy. The thing is the new EP is taking shape, and it’s feeling like, against all this heaviness that it’s came from, it’s still got that pop element which adds something extra. It’s kind of like a companion piece to the previous album in a way.
2020’s been a mess! To quote comic book guy from The Simspons; “Worst year ever”.
Once it goes out I’m confident people are going to really enjoy it and we’ll use it as a springboard to start again!
Liverpool Noise: So with the new E.P, do you find having this extra time with the delay that lockdown has caused has given you time to listen back with fresh ears and change anything, or are you set and confident in the final package?
Colin White: To be honest, the songs we written the way that Joe writes them, he comes in with the song pretty much finished. Or at least 95% if not all. He’ll come in and play the song beginning to end, and if there’s any suggestions we’ll say something. But for the most part we’ve been like ‘This is brilliant, let’s get stuck in‘. Me and Alan will almost shade in the drawings that Joe brings in, so to speak, to create the full painting. That’s the way we work. We’ve all got full input even though Joe is the main songwriter, so if there’s anything we’re not happy with we’ll work it out and make a trade deal!
We’ve always been happy with the way we work. But going back to the main question, there’s always been things we’d want to try or add in maybe a bit of backing vocals, but if anything, it’s only very little things. A good 90% of the original way we had it is usually how it ends up. Very subtle things but pretty much it’s been there and so far it’s working out wonderfully!
Liverpool Noise: Again for our readers who might not be aware, I want to talk about your discography that you have got, you had your first self-titled album, two acoustic variations albums and your second full album.
Colin White: Yeh, there was also the double A-side single too. After we finished the first album which was all recorded in Crosstown Studios with Jon Lawton, we decided to release the single which was almost a precursor to the Phase II. That was Things Get Better/I’m Gonna Find Out Someday which for me, if Phase II was a book, that would be the prologue to it. We could have put those on the album but we like to do things a bit old school!
Some 60s/70s band would do a single and then not put that on the album because they didn’t want to cheat the audience. The Beatles and many other bands did it on numerous occasions! So we thought we’d do the single and that’s a thing in itself even if it’s related to the second album. But with our busy tour schedule we started to record the album and took some time around it to release the acoustic variations!
They’re just previously released songs that have been turned down to show that they don’t lose quality as alternate, and equally good, versions!
With the non-stop aspect of the tours, we needed to create space to finish the album!
For the second album, a friend of ours worked with Solid State Studio (Peter Gabriel) and invited us down to Oxford to track some parts, our friend Alex who co-engineered the album made some provisions to get us in there. Then up in Liverpool we worked in the Motor Museum, and also, we had to keep it under wraps at the time, but we managed to do a sneaky Abbey Road session for the album too! Out of hours wink wink. Get in, record and get out! Finally it was mixed in Parr Street!
Liverpool Noise: So going through all these channels for Phase II, I know your sound in general is very eclectic and has a great mix of sounds, would you say having been able to work with all these incredible studios with different sound engineers and equipment assisted in giving you that completely different feel and sound?
Colin White: You know what, that’s a good one that. I don’t think so. The ingredients were already there so it’s great the fact that we can say we did it, and you know, maybe some positive vibes rubbed off but i’d say that the framework for the music was already there. If anything, it might have maybe added a little bit of icing on the cake. Nothing was missing from what we were doing but perhaps it added a little extra so I suppose that was it in a way.
It was certainly the most ambitious recording schedule, very heavy duty going, but none of us regret it at all!
It’s an interesting story to tell putting the miles in a travelling around, but in the end you think, ‘Was it worth it? You bet your arse it was worth it!’
But i’m proud of everything we’ve done. For me, it’s like the first album was great, after that was great, second album great and it’s like this new one is that but better! This new EP is really something we’re proud of. Everything’s working and all in the right place, let’s carry on!
Joe Symes & The Loving Kind Summer’s Almost Coming – Official Video
Liverpool Noise: So I know the band has had a lot of radio play and success over the pond in Canada and USA, do you find it’s easy to ride the two horses at the same time or do you foresee the band leaning towards UK/North America based endeavours?
Colin White: You know, for me, I think it doesn’t matter where anyone’s from if it’s local, London, Birmingham, Ireland or South Africa whatever! I don’t care where anyone’s from. If they like the band that’s all that matters to us. I’d say we’re a Liverpool based band who has gained exposure globally. If that’s the right way to say it! Joe would probably have worded that better haha! But yeah, a Liverpool based band who appeal to people worldwide. Sometimes I think it depends who you are. I can see it happening to some people and it going to their heads a bit. I’ve witnessed that first-hand and you look at it and go…’hm let’s slow down and keep your feet on the ground!’ you know!
You can be confident in what you do and you can speak to someone like we’re doing now, and speak to you about what we’re doing, going to do, intending to do etc, with 100% conviction. But at the same time i’m not going to race ahead of myself and i’m not here trying to impress anybody, we’re just saying what we’re doing and what we’re about in the most natural way possible. We’ve been brought up to take pride in what we do, not to belittle people which some people would do, you know! It sickens me and all of us to see it, and it’s not nice.
If someone came up to me and said ‘I thought your last album was amazing’ I’d say oh thanks what’s your name, what do you do and that. I’d probably ask them more about themselves than about me! Chatting about them and what they’re doing you know what I mean!
It’s just nice to be liked, you know i’ve said with that, that’s the way it is. You can’t please everybody but whoever those people are everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we can get on with our things and make our music that appeals to people who do like us and make them feel good about themselves. I’d like to think that’s what our music is about anyway! In this current climate we need upbeat songs haha!
We’ve got our goal anyway. EP to finish off, there’s still things to do so focus on that and keep on track with the positives. Hopefully that’ll occupy us up until March.
Liverpool Noise: Amazing, thanks, Colin! So to leave on a high, what’s the vision of success for the following weeks and months for Joe Symes & The Loving Kind and your new EP?
Colin White: People enjoying it, buying it, telling their friends. Positive feedback off fans and reviewers and generally getting people talking about it would be amazing. When people discover us it’s great to see that they can have this amazing back catalogue of songs that they can listen to and get to know us and our music, along with getting excited about the new stuff too. Hopefully it all just grows!
We do things our way, and so far it’s worked so it’s just a case of ‘carry on!’
Even after the EP we’ve got plans for what we’re going to do next, I won’t give anything away too much just yet but we’ve got things in the pipeline.
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To keep up to date with the guys and get yourselves ready for their newest EP which will be out around January, head over to their website www.joesymesandthelovingkind.