The elusive BICYCLE THIEVES are hard to track down. Perhaps they’re running away from the law, bicycles in tow, as the name suggests. After several weeks of trying, Bido Lito! eventually sits down with three of their five members in the back yard of Santa Chupitos on Parr Street, a few hours before their second annual Sound City appearance, this time at The Masque.
In fact, it’s their third if you rossount being flown out to the United Arab Emirates for Dubai Sound City late last year: “That was quite mad in our first year as a band being flown out to play it,” says guitarist Ash Hopkins. “But it was exciting of course. Dubai was a bit strange but it was good.”
Back in Liverpool, it’s a warm, sunny evening and there is a real buzz about the city. Bars and venues are swarming with bands, artists, music lovers and casual Wednesday night drinkers befuzzled by all this excitement.
“Living in Liverpool inspires the music you make,” says front man Tom Hammersley, whose baritone voice gives the Thieves – as they’re affectionately known – a certain edge in the overcrowded Indie music scene.
The band dislike the comparisons to The Editors that they reckon have been dreamt up by “a bunch of marketing people” but don’t deny that the largely positive, albeit pigeonholing press has been good for them.
Despite not being from the city, it has become their base, their home and there’s a reason for that, according to Hopkins: “With everyone who plays music in Liverpool and people going to watch it there’s definitely a good community building at the moment.”
It’s a community of music makers and music lovers. The Thieves fall into the first category of course and they’ve been busy making music in recent months, shying away from the buzz of playing gigs, instead preferring to perfect their sound.
Hopkins continues: “When we got to last Christmas we’d been playing loads of gigs and we hadn’t really had enough time to get back to the practice room and just enjoy making some new tunes.
“There’d always be loads of gigs ahead of us which we’d spend all our time playing. So we sort of deliberately stopped playing them for a while at the start of this year and kept our heads low so we could concentrate on recording.”
The result is a collection of six tracks produced entirely by themselves, something they are fiercely proud of: “We did it by ourselves with our own gear which was quite nice because it was hands on. You go to the studio sometimes and your control over what you are doing gets a bit lost,” adds Hopkins.
Working with Loog records they’ve released the single Galavant and have also just signed up to release a second single on the imprint. Things are slowly coming together for a band who have a real urgency to go full time.
With that in mind perhaps, the temptation would be to hit the festival circuit this summer and get as much exposure as possible but instead they are headed back into the studio.
“I just think it would be better to bring out just the single and then get the songs that we want to play sounding amazing,” says Hammersley on that decision. “We want to get that perfect set to go out with and then we can properly tour it.”
“It’s nearly there but the problem we’ve had, which is in a way a good thing, is that we keep writing new tunes.”
They reckon they have a collection of thirty to forty songs which prompts an inevitable question about the possibility of an album. There’s no shortage of confidence in James Feltham’s answer: “The songs are there [for an album]. We’d probably all say different about what the track listing would be but there’s definitely a great album in there. Definitely. Probably two.”
This could easily be perceived as an unnecessary and charmless amount of cockiness from a band without a significant catalogue behind them but, as the Bicycle Thieves see it, they’re just a bunch of down to earth lads trying to make their way in a difficult business.
Whatever about cockiness, these guys certainly know where they want to go and how to get there, as Hammersley concludes: “People have just got to be better. I mean if you’re good, if you’re really good then there’s no reason who you can’t get what you want.”