Originally posted September 2009
The Promises interview
Written by Dan Collacott
A lot of bands come and go without ever really registering properly on the fickle British music radar, one minute they are the darlings of the NME the next they have been swallowed into the void. Step forward intrepid new indie band - The Promises, four guys with talent and determination in equal measures. The quarter all hail from a small part of Wales. 'We're from Briton Ferry which is part of Neath in South Wales, 8 miles from Swansea, 40 from Cardiff. Briton Ferry is a fairly small place and we have all known each other a few years.'
The band's beginnings were almost completely scuppered when one of the members decided to swop live music for a life on the high seas. 'Myself, Alex and Calum started around a year ago with one of our other mates but he left us to join the Navy. We adjusted our set to work it as a 3 piece but then asked Ben to join us. Ben was previously in a band with Alex and is one of our mates. He's written and recorded a lot of solo stuff and it was natural really for him to join us. I guess it was at that point that The Promises were born.'
Listening to The Promises you do feel that you have stumbled on something a bit special, as much to be embraced for their imperfections as their catchy brand of raw low-fi indie. It's their sort of honest music - that sits well with comparisons to Peter Doherty and the Libertines. But the band's own list of inspirations is far longer. 'Our influences range from a wide mixture of things as we're all individually into different music. Im really into The Band, Fleet Foxes, and even Coheed and Cambria, Funeral For A Friend etc. Calum loves The Dodo's, Black Angels, Black Keys and Bob Dylan etc. Alex is really into The Strokes, Libertines, White Stripes and Kasabian. Ben is more influenced by Arctic Monkeys, Rolling Stones, Noah & The Whale. Collectively, we come together with a joint love for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Beatles, The Warlocks, Rolling Stones and The Raconteurs. We're all influenced by these bands, but I think we're inspired more by wanting to write great songs.'
The track 'Take Me Down' is a triumphant piece of 60s tinged pop indie and definitely a candidate to be a hit single. We did our first gig as The Promises in May this year and quickly went straight into the studio to record our first e.p. We recorded 'Take Me Down' and 'The Game' in Musicbox studios in Cardiff with a friend of ours Pixy Jones from the band El Goodo. We also recorded a third track called 'Its OK', but this is currently stuck on a tape machine that we're waiting to be fixed before we finish it off! Since then we have played all sorts of shows around Neath, Swansea, Cardiff and also a show in the Dublin Castle in London supporting Sinead and the Dawnbreakers. We've also been lucky enough to gain the support of Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales and also had our songs played on local stations Afan FM and Nation Radio.'
I asked Mark what he and the band were up to presently and what their plans are for the future. 'At the moment we're in the process of setting up our own studio in our practice room and writing some new songs, and also preparing for a show we're really excited about, supporting The Bishops in our local Briton Ferry RFC on Saturday 14th November. Our aim is simply to write music that we enjoy playing and listening to. I have no shame in saying that when we had our first e.p. finished, it was on repeat in my car. Some bands dont like that sort of thing, but I never got that. Why would you record songs that you wouldnt want to listen to? We really want to write a few new songs and start chipping away ready for the album, which we're aiming to complete by middle of next year.'
The band have the talent and the song writing, they just need a bit of luck. Whatever the case if The Promises do gig near you be sure to check them out, you won't regret it! If you're a record company - get 'em signed!