Spring is in full bloom, you can feel it in the air; it’s possible to venture outside for the first time in months without that third jumper, the day lasts longer than four hours and something in the air makes it feel different. It’s a perfect day then to meet up with those effervescent new kids on the block GLOSSOM, in the prime first-date territory of Leaf. It’s been a while since Glossom’s first date, when Anthony Kastelanides (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard) hunted down Gareth Dawson (Drums) in town to muck about with some instruments and watch Fugazi documentary Instrument. Despite having been together only a matter of months, and played only a precious clutch of shows since these precocious beginnings, the band have accrued a lot of love and hype from around the city. And rightly so, we feel.
Having initially come together as a funk/soul group, Glossom’s brassy, outré stylings have seen them become the go-to band as support on some of the jazzier gigs in Liverpool of late. As such this has seen them share bills with some of the city’s more forward-thinking instrumentalists and forge an alliance with them. One question this prompts is whether or not there really is a collection of home-grown, like-minded bands in Liverpool right now, or if ‘scenes’ are now a thing of the past due to the long-reaching tentacles of the internet. “I mean, there’s not much of a scene in terms of actual sound or conventions to get pigeonholed by, but there does seem to be a few of us with a similar ethos, a big collaborative element,” Alex Cottrell (Guitar, Vocals) explains. “Other groups like Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band use brass too and sound like there’s no real band leader but other than that there’s not much in the way of a ‘classic’ scene, not like 90s Seattle or anything. It’s just that there are now a few groups whose musical ideas marry up even if their sounds don’t.”
Blending in superbly with math rock legends Joan Of Arc and Tera Melos, as well as finding their niche alongside Southern and VEYU at everisland’s Aquaria behemoth, shows the flexibility that Glossom’s sound affords them. “It’s been really hard to find shows to fit in with,” admits Gareth Elliot (Bass), “but at the ones we have, we’ve seen some gems we’d never have come across otherwise. Bands like Cleft, for example.” Whatever size crowd they have played to hasn’t mattered, as praise has followed them around at every juncture. And with such a billowing, spacious and damn captivating sound, it’s not hard to see why. Taking classic goth-era 4AD stable’s cavernous sound, Can’s funk-laden drive and Fridge’s jazzy looseness, whilst sounding nothing like any of these, Glossom mine their own path entirely – especially when it comes to You Did It Yourself, their reimagining of an unreleased Arthur Russell track. “It is something we just caught snatches of in a documentary [Wild Combination], we just sort of expanded it and messed with it over the past few months so all that’s left really are some of the lyrics,” explains Anthony. “We’re all represented in the sound, we all bring our own thing to it: like folk and world has been a big thing for me; Alex brings in some of his classical arrangements; Gaz [Dawson] brings in a bit of jazz. We’re more than the amorphous sum of our influences.”
Glossom’s brass section of tenor sax (James Orrin), trumpet (Benedict Ewan Sisulu Tweedie) and alto sax (Josh Philip) is, in Anthony’s opinion, what gives the band that extra edge. “I was reading Thom Yorke’s biography a while ago and they used horns in his first band as extra ammo, and that gives us that added incentive.” Later on, Alex expounds on this point further: “it makes it so much more fun to arrange when there is that added element [of brass]; there is more texture and melody to play with.” It’s a gamble that many bands wouldn’t make, but the more obviously jazzy textures it lends the music give both the audience and the band more incentive to just have fun. Fun is a thing many bands forget to have, especially when they concentrate so hard on getting their small collection of songs out to the audience with technical perfection. As gifted as Glossom undoubtedly are – there are few groups out there in Liverpool with the chops they have – it’s the soul of their small collection of songs that really comes across as the most important thing.
“It takes a while to write a song, especially now we’ve been concentrating on practising for gigs instead of locking ourselves away to get stuff written. We’d quite like to explore vocal delivery a bit more but we can’t just slap random lyrics in; that’s why most of our material is instrumental,” Anthony muses. They’re cautious not to go down the Pavement route of delivering piles of non-sequiturs, most simply because they know it’s not their forte. But still, Gareth E reckons that more has to come from them soon, to make the most of their recent exposure. “Playing live has given us a bit of a kick. We’ve never sounded as good as when we’ve played The Kazimier but we need to take a step back, capitalise on our press.” Nonetheless, it’s so refreshing to see a band that would rather have a clutch of genuinely top-dollar songs rather than flood us with a bunch of half-baked ideas. And if Glossom’s formative steps are anything to go by this may take some time, but you sense it would be worth the wait. Just don’t go into hibernation for too long lads; gigs in Liverpool won’t be the same without you.