LIINES play three headline shows this week in London, Nottingham and Manchester in support of their new single On And On, their first release since their debut album Stop - Start, as they finish a thirty-two date tour across the UK with Sleaford Mods. We caught up with Zoe, Leila and Tamsin to talk about the tour, the response to the new single and their future plans.
You've just been on tour with Sleaford Mods. How did that come about?
Zoe : We played a gig at Rough Trade in Nottingham on a Wednesday night and unbeknown to us, Sleaford Mods' manager was in the crowd. We got a message on twitter a few weeks later.
Leila : He said he liked us already and had heard of us and he'd been speaking to Rough Trade about a few things so he made the effort to come down to see the gig which was amazing on its own. It was a massive thing for him to get for us.
Zoe : When you get a message like that, you think that's not real, because that sort of thing doesn't happen any more.
Leila : The first thing he said was that it was going to be about thirty odd shows from March and would that be alright. At that point, we'd never been offered anything like that and we've all got jobs so the first thought was 'shit, how do we manage that?' For that period of time, it's a life-changing thing to do. We thought it was a cursory question, but of course we said yes and then in the background were like 'how do we do it?'
Zoe : They made it doable really. There was the odd Wednesday, but it was mostly weekends, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. It's such a good idea. We were doing gigs at the weekend, going to work on Monday and then were 'we're going on tour again on Thursday'
Leila : It made work different for a few months
Zoe : You don't get a rider at work though.
How was it when you first went out, the first night?
Zoe : Newcastle was the first night (The Boiler Room) and it was a sell-out.
Tamsin : It was a really cool venue.
Leila : It was one of the coolest rooms, let alone venues, that I've ever been in.
Zoe : We're used to playing small venues and we walked in and the size of it, for the first gig of the tour, was a bit overwhelming, but also we were 'yeah, this is what we want'
Leila : It was more like a Victoria Warehouse space, very industrial, stripped back beams, but a hundred metres in the air, a huge space. We didn't know what to expect. We were meeting the Sleaford Mods team for the first time, from the tour manager, to the sound guy and the merch guy. The backstage area was really beautiful. A few of my family were there and I went out to see them about fifteen minutes before we went on stage and it was really empty and I thought 'maybe this is how it'll be like' but by the time we walked out on stage, it was like a wall of people.
Zoe : After each gig we were getting talked about online so people would come early to see you so the momentum grew and grew. Most of the gigs we had a crowd waiting to see what the fuss was about.
Leila : Sleaford Mods have a nice reputation for putting interesting supports on. They put some thought into it rather it just being a promoter thing. And Steve Underwood, their (ex)manager, had said good things about us and it was an interesting contrast. Although, having listened to them a lot over the last few months, there's much more crossover than I thought. And we loved them.
You went to a lot of places you'd never played before too.
Zoe : I loved it, really loved it
Tamsin : That was Zoe's favourite thing to say 'we've never been here before'
Leila : I think we'd played about five of the places.
Zoe : Part of the fun of the tour was going to lots of different places. We had a lot of fun in Margate. We went to the fair and queued for a long time for a ride that I insisted was going to be fun. It was lovely to go to places that we'd never been before.
Leila : And not expecting much from the crowd every night, despite what had happened the night before. And some of the venues too, Margate was a massive industrial space, the sort we would never expect to play and then the Institute in Birmingham was a beautiful room, an old theatre that we didn't expect from an O2 venue. It was great to play so many different rooms.
Zoe : A lot of fun was because Andrew (from Sleaford Mods) came out with us sometimes so we had some really nice nights out as well.
How did Sleaford Mods' fans react to you?
Leila : We met so many people from the first night onwards, some who had heard us and had come down early to check us out and some who hadn't, who came to talk to us afterwards. So many came to speak to us for ages, sometimes it felt like a wedding shaking hands with so many.
Zoe : I don't think I've had as many selfies in my whole life with my friends.
Leila : And autographs. Which is bonkers to think that happens for us. It was amazing to meet so many people and great to see some online saying they're going to come to the shows this week as well.
What did you learn about yourselves as a band during the tour?
Tamsin : That we like each other. It was so much fun.
Zoe : I'm quite an anxious person, especially with new things and Tamsin and Leila were lovely with that. You learn that you're adaptable, but I surprised myself as I went with it more and I found I'm more capable than I thought I was with change.
Tamsin : It grows other time, knowing that we can get the job done and have lots of fun doing it and having more confidence. You can get there sometimes and be a bit apologetic about asking for things that you need, but after a while you know you're there to do a job and you need that to do it.
Leila : And it was being more confident in knowing what we needed as well. At first it was like 'is it alright if we have that?' and we were working with sound people who were really experienced, who do big tours or have big bands coming through their venues and it felt like we were respected at the end of the nights. And that made us know we are a band that can be respected at that level and that's quite a big thing. The way we worked together, day to day off the gigs, organising all the logistics and driving was lovely, a unique experience.
Zoe : As three people we're very balanced and helpful and kind and nice. And we all look after each other in our ways, it's just been the best experience ever.
Leila : With it being over three months, you go through all sorts of emotions. After a hard week at work, you're really tired on the first night of a four night run and we all got each other through it, gave each other space when we needed it and came together when we needed to. There'd be times when we were dead on our feet, lying on the floor thirty seconds before we went on stage, and then when we walked on stage we were alive and thirty minutes later we didn't want to get off there. There was only a couple of nights where I felt like I needed to get off.
And you've got your own shows coming up. Are you looking forward to being the headliner again and having your own crowd?
Leila : Yeah, I think it'll be nice to play longer sets.
Zoe : I don't think we're a band where we go 'this is our headline gig'; I'm not massively keen on that because I think all bands are equal.
Tamsin : One thing about being a support band though is that there's less pressure. On the Sleaford Mods tour we could just get on stage and really enjoy it, even if we were really nervous.
Zoe : Headline shows are definitely more pressure
Leila : And the rooms are obviously half the size of the smallest venues on the Sleaford Mods tour and the pressure is more on you, but ultimately if we've learnt anything from the last few months is that we should go and enjoy ourselves. We're really happy with our set, we've got new stuff that we've written and we'll be playing one of them on the tour.
Is that 'new new' as you've been playing quite a bit of new stuff on the tour and beforehand?
Zoe : Yeah, it's a brand new one that we wrote last Tuesday.
Leila : And we know that the songs we've written in the last six months have gone down really well so that's a nice feeling to have to play that to more people. It's a thing that it's marking the release of On And On as well as the end of those three months.
Does it feel like this tour and playing new material is the final chapter on Stop - Start now?
Zoe : Definitely
Leila : If you think of any band that do an album campaign and can end it on a thirty-odd date tour with Sleaford Mods then that's a great way to do it. We'd repressed the vinyl and we have about sixty left after the first lot sold out. We played six songs from that album on the tour and four new ones on the tour.
How much new material have you got written?
Zoe : Six songs written. We've got one more single recorded
Leila : It's quite well known in the set, because we tend to play songs for eighteen months before releasing them.
Zoe : It's a huge live favourite so we can't wait for people to hear it.
Leila : Quite often I think we've recorded stuff quickly and I've been disappointed after a while with the speed of it or various thing.
I think there's a balance though. You want to capture it when it's fresh, otherwise you could have this really great song that you're sick and tired of.
Zoe : I'd much rather settle it into the set then record it.
Leila : It'd be really amazing to write and release a song that no one has heard of though. It's really hard, and every band has it and many rehearse more than us, and this year we've basically rehearsed to record in January and then rehearsed to go on tour.
Zoe : We have written a song in one rehearsal last week so it'll be interesting to see how that song goes down.
Leila : On And On we recorded before the tour and opened the sets with it before it was released last week. So it's been really nice to see a lot of the comments since it's been out.
Was that a deliberate choice to start with that?
Leila : We have this awkward tuning thing we do when we get on stage, so we've often started a song with a kick drum.
Zoe : It makes people sit up and realise something's started and they need to listen.
Leila : It's a nice step up song, there's the drum, then Zoe's guitar, then she sings and then Tamsin comes in. I'm tempted to say we shouldn't open with it at these gigs and get them in somewhere more prominent. We've got a longer set anyway, we need to work out a set.
Zoe : I'm starting with a goth rap.
The single came out last week and it's had a great response so far. Chris Hawkins premiered it and John Kennedy has played it on Radio X. Were you surprised by that reaction? John has played you a lot before, but it seems like this has connected with a lot more people.
Leila : It's amazing. Sarah from our label has been working quite a bit with 33 Oldham St in Manchester and it's nice we're doing this thing with him there before the gig. So that was a nice way to announce. He still has to like the song too, which he did fortunately. The response when we announced he was going to premiere it was massive. It came out on Friday so it's been really nice, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to release music. When we released the album, we did three singles and then the record and I think most people knew most of the songs from our live sets. So it was nice to release something again, to be out there. Even during the tour, we wanted to have something released and it was a pretty quick turnaround from Reckless Yes. It was only three weeks from us giving them the master tape and it coming out so kudos to them for sorting it out so quickly.
Did you record with Paul Tipler (who recorded and produced Stop - Start) again?
Leila : Yeah, we did it back in January with another song which is sounding amazing as well. I'm really excited by the response to On And On so can't wait to see what people make of the other one. It was amazing to be back with him. (To Tamsin) It was the first time you'd worked with him, wasn't it? The last time we'd worked with him, because we see him at London gigs quite a lot, was back in June 2017 when we were finishing the album. That's eighteen months, so it was nice to be back with him.
Tamsin : And he was so good to work with.
What are the plans next then?
Leila : Well we've got one more song in our pocket, but it's a case of building up more recordings.
Zoe : It's a case of juggling too. Jobs, gigs.
Leila : It's hard to know what the best thing to do now is. Whether to trickle things out or wait until we're ready with an album or an EP.
Zoe : I'd like to do another album next year. I think two years is a good pace for album releases. We can't release it with six songs though, we need four more.
And then there's the finance, the jobs etc to think about
Leila : It's just good to be back out there approaching people like Chris Hawkins, John Kennedy and you at Even The Stars who've been there from the start. When we did the album we had a PR company who did a great job but this time it's Sarah and I so it's a lot more personal.
What else have you got after the tour?
Leila : We've got some festivals. We're doing Kendal Calling, Cotton Clouds and Confessional Festival and some things we can't talk about yet. It's nice to be doing some established festivals, and to be doing Tim Peaks Diner at Kendal and Cotton Clouds. We should thank Bands FC as they picked up on us a couple of months ago and did a badge for us which was so cool.
Zoe : And we've got a really great slot at Kendal
Leila : To go from not being anywhere near Kendal Calling to what we've got, second to top on the Friday night on a stage that people rave about.
Zoe : And Tim had a hand in that by all accounts, which is amazing that he's put us in for that.
LIINES' official website can be found here. They are also on Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud.
They play London Thousand Island (May 30), Nottingham Bodega (31) and Manchester Yes (June 1) which is preceded by an in-conversation with Chris Hawkins at 33 Oldham Street. They play festival slots at Kendal Calling (July 26), Cotton Clouds Festival (August 17) and Blackburn Confessional Festival (September 6) with more dates to be announced soon.
The single is available to purchase from their Bandcamp.
Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates