“There have been no good bands in Liverpool since The Coral,” announces THE LOUD’s bassist Matthew Freeman halfway through our interview, as he hangs out of the window of his band’s tiny rehearsal space, blowing smoke in to the air outside as seagulls wheel overhead. There is a beat while the three band members look at each other as if to confirm this statement, then turn to fix me with a steely gaze.
No big statement? No declaration to be the ‘next big thing’? No need. The Loud don’t prescribe to the myth that the more you eulogise about yourself the more successful you’ll be, as bands with lesser talent are wont to do. Instead they are happy to let their music do the talking, and theirs is certainly getting tongues wagging around the city at the moment, more so with the release of their first EP last month. “We’re definitely seeing more new faces showing up at our gigs,” says singer and guitarist Pennington Lee. “That shows that we’re going in the right direction.”
Like The Coral, all three band members hail from our country’s Leisure Peninsula, but that is where similarities with the Wirral-rockers start and end. I had seen Pennington Lee and Freeman play in their previous band, a more jazzily psychedelic affair. The Loud are far from that and represent them going back to basics, and, with drummer Leroy Oxton, their scuzzy garage rock style is really finding some resonance.
The dynamics of a three-piece are benefiting the songs too, letting them evolve naturally and preventing them from being pulled in too many different directions, with an emphasis on a stripped-back, simplistic playing style that creates one helluva racket (hence the name). Describing their sound as a “modern glam”, Lee draws a line through their influences that connects T Rex, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Black Angels, but it was their mutual admiration for two bands in particular that really brought them focus as a band: the fury of Knebworth-era Oasis is there in spades, and their shadowy soundscape lends heavily from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, giving them a darkly threatening sound that grooves and thrashes until your ears bleed.
Built on dirty, undulating bass-lines and the incessant thrash-crash of the drums, The Loud’s music twists and broils in a maelstrom of reverb, with Lee’s cutting guitars soaring in to the mix and ratcheting up the volume still further. Pity the bands who share their tiny attic-space rehearsal room then. “Ha! Yeh, we do pretty much blow them all out of the water with this noise,” jokes Lee, the band’s songwriter.
In this cramped space they have the look of a 90s American grunge band, stealing moments in between school and paper rounds to sneak in to the garage and bash out some tunes. It also lends well to their sound, providing the acoustics needed to create that distorted fuzz that makes them sound like they’re playing from behind a wall of shadow.
With the lights turned down low, the boys retreat behind their instruments ready to play, and this is where they look most at home: any discomfort they showed when answering questions seeps away when they start to play, and they have a tightness, communicating more by looks than by words. They obviously relish making music together, which is a refreshing characteristic in a band today; some are too busy blowing their own trumpets to worry about picking up a guitar.
As a live prospect, you might think they would struggle to fill a big venue when they are so used to being crammed in to their matchbox-sized studio. But it is a credit to their songs that they don’t look lost at all, instead swelling their size so that they almost resemble a greyscale version of The White Stripes, taking possession of the colours black and white and really bringing them to life with their music.
The bleak picture painted by It’s Nothing, and the apocalyptic Five Years, are testament to this, but the real highlights come in the glam rumble and roll of A Little Taste Of Home and Good Intentions, sounding like a sinister Beach Boys demanding that you dance to their tune. The howling lyrics are spat out by Pennington Lee as he moves through the gears, at times growling (‘You can do what you want, yeh/You can do what you please’), at times lamenting (‘every time I pick up a paper I see it’s bad news’), and even occasionally showing that he does have a generous heart too (‘Send a kiss out to every stranger who hears this sound’).
I Am A War rolls in on the wheels of the heavy artillery and explodes around you like a full-blown battle, with glam shells going off in your face, and the siren-aping guitar tearing at your eardrums. Make it through that to the relative safety of I’m Easy, where your only danger is being cut to ribbons by the razor-sharp guitar, and trampled to death by the galloping rhythm, and you should be fit to take on anything. The Loud may not be a name you’ve heard of before now, but you will not escape their sound in the coming months: it’s coming to get you, and you’ve got nowhere to hide…