It was another rainy day in March when two members of the soon to be signed, four piece indie band The Larkins, Josh Noble and Matt Williams, popped into Loreto College for a quick chat. These guys are going places, quite literally (they had a label meeting in Manchester later that morning) so the interview really had to be swift. “We have another management meeting too”, says Josh, the chattier of the two, “we’ve held off appointing a manager until now, but stuff has really blown up recently, so it’s time to get someone in… and people are approaching us.”
Whoa there! Management?! I start to get a bit anxious for them. I’m thinking, what happens if they get ripped off? I put it to them, in what I hope is a more journalistic, less motherly, fashion: “How are you protecting yourself from that nightmarish first manager appointment?”
I don’t think I totally succeeded, but I soon realise my worry is misplaced; these former Loreto students have good heads on their young shoulders. “We have financial advisors,” Josh informs me, “and you know straight away as soon as you meet someone, you go with your instinct. You get to the stage when you need representation because it’s getting so busy now, what with the BBC (they recently appeared on the Dermot O’Leary Show on Radio 2) and labels… we’ve stopped concentrating on the music and started concentrating on organising, which is the way it shouldn’t be. We definitely need presentation.” Matt nods in agreement.
So who are The Larkins? Not wanting to appear like a total square, I prepped beforehand (thanks Google!) and found out that The Larkins are: front man Josh Noble, drummer Matt Williams, Dom Want on lead guitar, with Jamie Spencer on bass. They left Loreto back in 2014 and are pursuing their rock and roll dream while continuing their studies at university. “So is it true that you guys met at Loreto?” I know, dumb question, but they’re sweet and humour me.
“Yeah, I met the guys on the [music] course at college”, says Matt; “I knew Dom beforehand,” adds Josh. The band’s name is inspired by arguably Coventry’s greatest export, the poet Philip Larkin, who they both read whilst at Loreto studying English Literature. They consider Larkin a brilliant writer; “him and John Cooper Clarke,” says Josh. I think I’m being a bit clever when I ask if they’ve ever been tempted to quote Larkin in their lyrics. “He does use quite a lot of expletives,” Josh rightly points out. I quickly recover and go for the fail safe question about musical influences. At last I ask a good question, as Matt is quick off the mark to respond: “We have a very wide listening spectrum. Our bassist is very jazzy [and likes] Snarky Puppy.” Who!? Unfortunately, I say this out loud and my street cred plummets. Luckily Matt mentions a group I have heard of: “Dom likes the Rolling Stones.” Josh reveals himself as a big fan of the Blues and BB King. So how goes it, that this young pup digs the King of the Blues? “I used to listen to John Mayer and when you look at who influences him, you go back to Clapton and then to BB King. I really like BB King.” Fair enough, that’s me told.
The Larkins write their own songs and it’s a collective process; “Generally we just start with an idea of any sort,” explains Matt, “whether it’s a lyric or a riff. There’s no set way.” Josh chips in,
“There’s no algorithm.”
“Unfortunately,” says Matt.
Their latest track is being produced by Sugar House in St Helens, who they describe as a “bunch of very talented guys”. The track is now being mastered, so it’s exciting times for the band, “unlike the state of the charts at the moment,” I quip. Matt gently puts me in my place:
“It’s alright. It serves a purpose. It’s a product and they do it well.”
“We’re not one of those groups that say they don’t listen to pop music, it’s popular for a reason. At the same time there’s a lot of structure in it,” says Josh. Matt surprises me when he says:
“I can get on with a few Justin Bieber songs. They’re alright.” Josh is quick to expand the theory: “You know like when you asked how we write songs, and I said there’s no algorithms? I think that’s completely different for the charts. They go through a process of writing songs that they churn out week in week out. I listened to a Little Mix track the other day, and I couldn’t work out who was singing which bit, they all sound the same. It was horrible.”
Articulate, bright, witty and extremely focused, The Larkins are very likeable guys who are managing to juggle their studies with making music. Although Josh confesses, “It’s tricky at the minute. Whether we stay on next year is a different matter. It’s getting to the stage where it’s make or break.” My motherly instincts kick in again:
“Surely you’ll want to finish your studies?” I ask.
“Yeah”, says Josh, “but it’s getting to the stage that if we don’t do it now we’ll never do it. We’re now playing with bands made up of 18 year olds, and we’re 20 now. I know, it’s ridiculous that we’re feeling old, but at the same time people want you at 16 so it makes you feel old already.”
As I suddenly feel geriatric and my bones begin to ache, it’s time to wrap up our chat. I save the best question until last: “Would you recommend Loreto’s music course?” A resounding “definitely” fills the room.
“I did both Music and Music Tech,” says Matt, “Music is great for the musical side, learning about the theory and everything. Music Tech is great for learning about the terms you need to know when you’re in a band and when you need to speak to people properly and understand what they are saying to you, rather than just nodding along.” Josh did Music Tech, which proved to be the catalyst for the band, “The way production has gone recently, especially home studios, you can get like a decent three minute track of yourself, that you can show people as a demo. You can learn that on the course and then it becomes a whole different ball game. Our first ever demo was done at Loreto, which got us our first few gigs and then on to the ladder.” The boys are really going up and Loreto College was there to help them take that first step.