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A Short Conversation with Leadboots

6 July 2021

Let’s start with a bit of background. How did Leadboots come together and what paths have the various musicians travelled along to get here?

Nathan (Pickett): I think the genesis of Leadboots goes back to the first day I met Kirk in an industrial kitchen. I walked past his pastry section; he had a speaker anything from 00’s punk-pop to 30’s Delta blues. I knew we’d probably get on. I think we talked about forming a band within the first or second week.

Kirk (Slater): Yeah it was quite romantic really.

Jack (Whitham): Speaking of romance, Nathan propositioned me at my own wedding in Lithuania to be the drummer for the band. When I got back I jammed with the band and we gelled really well.

Nathan: Myself and Leon have been in bands for nearly half of our lives so I knew he’d be the right fit.

Leon: I got asked by Nathan if I would be up for recording some bass for the last EP which I agreed to do. Over the last 12 months of the pandemic, I have done a lot of session work with other artists as an outlet for my creativity. Since being with Leadboots, I’ve not been allowed to leave them!!

Kirk: My story starts a bit before all that stuff though. I moved to Liverpool years ago with the intention of becoming a full-time musician. It’s a city that birthed to Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Lightning Seeds, Billy Fury and of course The Beatles, I knew I had to knuckle down and take it seriously, so I went to Liverpool college to learn how to write music, and LIPA to get singing lessons. I started doing gigs here and there, slowly getting the attention of record execs around the city, mainly through friends of friends. Then circumstances changed which meant I had to move back to Norwich. I thought my dream had faded, ‘til I met Nathan. I owe that guy a lot y’ know.

Nathan: As soon as you played “Ten Years Time” and “Wolves” I was definitely invested, mate.

There is a clear old-school rock and blues influence at the heart of the latest EP’s “Call of The Void” and “Water Under Bridges,” maybe you can tell me a bit about the influences and musical reference points which perhaps informs and drives the sound?

Nathan: I think blues is essentially the bedrock of rock and roll. That revival of the early 60s, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters” etc sort of paved the way for bands like *The Rolling Stones, The Jam, etc.

Jack: What gives Leadboots quite an interesting sound is that we all have different musical influences, each song emphasizes a different aspect of this. We have 2 songwriters, Kirk and Nathan. Nathan’s much more Delta Blues and Kirk is more 80’s alt-rock/Indie.

Nathan: Yeah but I think that’s a really good thing, left to my own devices I get stuck in that rut of everything sounding like a blues riff.

Kirk: Me too, all my stuff would probably have a similar edge

Nathan: It’s really nice to have a songwriter that bases a lot of verse and choruses on chords and melody which is a really good launchpad for me to riff over and come up with intricate patterns. Like Kirk is great at writing hooks…

Kirk: … and you’re great at writing riffs

Jack: So they have a great structure

Leon: My bass style and sound is heavily influenced by Geezer Butler (of Black Sabbath) and Roger Glover (Deep Purple) two pioneers of early heavy rock.

As well as great riffs, some great lyrics are running across the top of the music, not always something that rock music excels at. How important are the lyrics and are there any important messages that you are trying to promote through the music?

Nathan: Lyrics are important, but to me, it’s the flow and feel of something that sounds great which I think is more important than something with a deeper meaning. Y’know something that sounds cool that you can latch on to…

Kirk: For me, it’s slightly different. Something I learnt a long time ago is the relationship between the music you listen to and the lyrics within. So to begin with you want to create an interesting intro line, in The Outfields ‘Your Love’ the singer says “Janey’s on a vacation far away…” straight away, your ears kind of prick up. Then you need to make sure you layer the rest with an interesting catchy melody with a few surprises thrown in, when you fall in love with the song you’re going to naturally look into the lyrics, I just try to make sure they are worth someones time whilst still staying slightly ambiguous. I think Damien Rice is great at that kind of vagueness…

Jack: I think it might be a surprise that a lot of the lyrics are quite bleak but tonally are quite chirpy

Nathan: That’s actually a great point, I don’t think you should get mired in your problems I think music gives you the opportunity to overcome them, it becomes a mark of strength.

Kirk: Exactly, even though the lyrics might have a sinister edge it’s really all about overcoming the bullshit of everyday life.

The last year or so has been a tough time for musicians, cut off from live stages, studios and even their bandmates. How have you remained creative during these isolated times?

Nathan: Well…uh…drugs?!

Kirk: Bloody Nora! I’m not sure you can say that…

Nathan: Haha why not? The right combination of drugs is hugely important to the process for me. Joking aside though, I think it was a great chance for people to take stock of their lives and find something that brings joy to their life. For me personally, it gave me the opportunity to write about something different and to get out of the rut I’d been stuck in for some time.

Kirk: In the past, we’ve been accused of not really having a definitive sound. So during the downtime that the pandemic created, we tried to hone in on harmonies and creating our own sound. I have to say as well, I did struggle throughout the pandemic a bit, I lost my job but with the help of these great bandmates, I had something to look forward to which kept me going.

Nathan: We’ve come back to our catalogue with fresh ears and a new idea of how we want to be seen and heard.

Kirk: I think the 2 new songs, “Monsters” and “Dumbstruck,” we’ve just recorded are a testament to that as well. Both equally incredible tunes that we can’t wait to show people, in my humblest of opinions.

Nathan: Haha edit that, I think we’ve definitely evolved.

Leon: As previously mentioned I have spent a lot of time recording remotely with different artists. This has been a great way to keep on top of my skill level and I have really enjoyed creating and recording bass lines for songs on the fly. It’s nice not having the stress of remembering each piece to play live as I will likely never play them again.

And taking that question a stage further, was “Water Under Bridges” a product of lockdown and if so, how tough was that process?

Kirk: It was less so a product of lockdown as the themes aren’t really intertwined with the horrors of a pandemic, “Falling Down” deals with love, addiction and confusion whereas “Water Under Bridges” is a story of someone who wants to give up but still holds out hope.

Nathan: That’s where being less specific comes into play as the themes can blend quite well if you’re slightly vague.

Staying with lockdown, is there anything that you have learned about yourselves during these strange times and has any of it changed the way that you might approach the making and playing of music going forward?

Leon: I have really enjoyed the process of writing bass lines and getting them recorded without overthinking it and just going with what felt for the vibe at the time. Hopefully, Leadboots can do some recordings in a similar vein. For example, I think it would be really cool if Kirk brings a song into the studio which none of us has heard before and then spend the next 2 or 3 hours working out our parts and get it recorded in one session. I think music produced that way can have a really nice feeling and a vibe to it which you might lose when overworking the song for too long.

Jack: Finally being able to embrace the world as a four-piece and show the world our new sound which is now coming into its own.

Nathan: I’m hoping that people have lamented the plight of the unsigned industry so that places that were struggling pre-pandemic will get a new batch of customers who will hopefully nurture the scene.

Now that some normality is beginning to return and venues are opening up, what are you looking forward to most about the near future and beyond?

Leon: Playing gigs again! Especially festivals where we get to hang out as a band together for a few days and meet other like-minded people.

Jack: Exactly, I think what makes us stick together is that we’re all good friends and we look out for each other. Just hanging out is one of the best things about this band for me

Nathan: I agree, I think the fact that we would still hang out together even we weren’t in a band is hugely important.

Jack: We’ve got a few festival slots coming up and the chance to camp and go drinking together is great.

Kirk: What I’m currently looking forward to with Leadboots is gigging fresh material and giving our fans to hear the chance to see us live. Not only that but since Leon hasn’t even been in a gig with us, which is crazy, people will get to hear the full experience, not just my acoustic with a low bass frequency. I really hope we can all learn from this past year and try our best to rebuild the arts into something magnificent. I’m really excited to see what’s over the horizon.

Leon: Would be amazing to get a deal with a label and get an album recorded

Kirk: Entirely possible, the future is looking good for Leadboots. Let us drag you down with us, you’ll have a great time.

thank you for your time a best of luck with everything for the future.