Today hails another music post, and another interview with up-and-coming Reading-based band, Candid Heist, who are quickly makin’ a name for themselves with their very first single, Claws. But before we get down to which gal the inspiration was behind the new single and before we hit the nitty gritty of workin’ hard to get that one riff that’s going to capture the listener’s attention- a lil note on the boys’ first single.
Claws will have you humming like a human guitar riff all damn afternoon. A song about the irritating situation I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in, when ya quite like someone but they’re playing just that lil bit too much hard-to-get. For a first-time release, this catchy track will become your classic indie-pop go-to if ya want a feelgood track with a good beat, riff and relatable lyrics to listen to. If this is the start-point from these Reading lads, I’m sure we’ve got a lot more to see from them!
I caught up with lead singer and guitarist, Dan Wootton, to discuss the boys’ first single, what it was like to have the track being played on none other than BBC Introducing, and just who Claws is about. I hope ya enjoy!
M: Your single has just premiered on BBC Introducing in Berkshire – how did it feel listening to your song on air, was it your biggest pinch-me moment so far for you guys and what was the process like getting the song noticed by the BBC?
D: It was such a surreal moment! It all happened so quickly too- only found out the day before which made it even madder! It was a bit of a whirlwind but we couldn’t have been happier about it. Shyam and I were on holiday in Amsterdam with our mate Alec and the three of us rushed back to our hostel room to tune in. We couldn’t have been happier to have got the airplay! The presenter, Bridgitte, said some really complimentary things about the song too, so it was definitely nice to know we’re doing something right!
The process of getting the track on the Beeb was pretty straightforward; we just uploaded it to the BBC Introducing Uploader and then two weeks later a notification that it’d been listened to came through. Then, not long after that an email came saying we were gunna be played on the show. We thought it was a hoax! Our biggest pinch-me moment, for sure.
Dan on tackling stage fright: “It’s always less daunting going things in a group than on your own”
M: It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there as a musician, especially when you’re penning each song. What aspects of being a musician have given you the most nerves, and how do you combat that nervy feeling?
D: When it comes to writing I’m not really nervous with showing the guys a riff I’ve got echoing around my head – it’s more the lyrics. I don’t like to think of people dwelling on what I’ve said too much, as it’s such as personal thing.
I guess I was nervous playing the track to people for the first time and wondering about what their reaction would be- obviously I wanted friends and family to like it, but you never know. In overcoming it, it’s definitely helpful to have a partner or partners in what you’re making to spur you on. It’s always less daunting doing things in a group than on your own.
You just have to do it, as unhelpful as that is as advice- but it’s pretty cathartic, too. In other aspects of the band I don’t get particularly nervous- our first gig I was, for sure, but being up there with the others helps deal with that. Playing live is great- I can’t get enough!
M: For anyone wanting to get into music themselves, what’s the best way to begin? How did you guys start getting gigs further afield, and finding professional studios to record in?
D: So the best way to start, from my limited experience, is to play a song or riff or show the lyrics you’ve got to a friend with a similar musical taste and develop the idea together. That’s what we did and we’re still enjoying it. It’s nice being up there with mates as a band. Then play something you’ve written and hear it all come together, play a couple of covers and then just go for a first gig. Message a small venue you know does live music and see if you can jump on the bill somewhere, and with further afield it’s the promoters that do it all!
With the studio, George Twydell, who produced Claws, approached us after our gig at Readipop Studios in July and said he’d like to work with us. We listened to his stuff, liked it, and we were away! It was super easy to work with George, and the mix we ended up with was great. It’s such a cool feeling having this song come to life!
Dan givin’ me the goss on the inspo behind Claws: “I’ve felt it before and I’ve felt it since, but when I wrote the lyrics I was totally thinking of someone specifically…”
M: Gimme the goss on what the lyrics are telling us in Claws… is this unrequited love we’re hearing about and whooo’s the song about?
Yeah the lyrics are about mixed signals, one minute on, one minute off, but you keep getting drawn back in. It’s quite a common feeling I think- I’ve felt it before and I’ve felt it since but when I wrote the lyrics I was totally thinking of someone specifically. I don’t really know how much I wanna say! I’ve never really spoken about it apart from to Shyam when I first wrote it.
I found the lyrics I wrote in a notebook recently, actually. It was written in August 2016, a month or so after it’d all ended for good if memory serves, and we’d just got the band together to write early versions of these songs – I guess this was clearly what had my attention to write about. A couple of lines are different now, but it’s pretty much as I felt in that moment. As the philosophers Noah and the Whale so aptly put: life goes on.
M: What made you choose Claws to be released as your first official single?
D: There’s a combination of factors, really. Firstly, it’s a song we all know like the back of our respective hands and we’d had it sorted before we even considered playing live. All our parts are pretty cool too I think: the guitar riff Shyam wrote, Joe’s bassline, George’s drumming – we felt it was a good introduction to who we are as a band and the kind of music we’re making and want to continue making.
On a purely sentimental level it was cool this being the first one because it’s the first song we ever wrote- we had an early version of this song musically from 2014 when we were at school together. It’s weird thinking back on that, and that now we’ve just recorded it and had it playing on the BBC!
Dan on writing a killer tune: “Writing just happens naturally … I just pick up my guitar when I’m home, play some tunes and see what I can come up with…”
M: Listening to your tunes, it’s clear that you’re a fan of a good old catchy guitar riff. What would you say from your music is the one thing that you want the listener to be hooked on from the off – is it the riffs, the lyrics or something else?
D: Whatever they want when they hear it! The riffs are pretty important on that first listen, you can’t really get away from that, so we spend a lot of time working on the instrumental stuff to make sure it sounds just how we want it. The lyrics too – if you like them then that’s great with me! If anything you write resonates with anyone, or if anybody likes something you’ve created, that’s a great feeling and is all you can ask for! I enjoy a good guitar riff personally.
M: How do you and did you find the time to fit writing, recording and performing into your university degrees, and now full-time work?
D: I’m the only one who’s graduated; the others still have degrees ongoing. It’s about balance- we play gigs to uni crowds and rotate where we play, so it’s not too taxing on each person’s work. Writing just happens naturally, though- I just pick up my guitar when I’m at home, play some tunes I like and then see what I can come up with. I’ll then send it to the guys and see what they think. Gigging is the only time-related issue we have, and I think we’ve got the balance right so far.
Dan on using social media to promote your music: “Everyone’s shouting, and so what you’re saying becomes indistinguishable from the rest. Even if you’ve got something good going on, it seems as hard to pull yourself out the parapet as it’s ever been”
M: What would your advice be to someone who has a few ideas flitting in their head for songs, yet struggles to actually feel confident enough to pen them down on paper and get things going?
D: Just do it and show it to someone and see what they think! Put it on BBC Introducing if it’s something you’ve written yourself and don’t want to show anyone you personally know. That could be a good start. Just go for it, basically! Once you write one you’ll write another and it’s like anything- the more you do of it the better you’ll get and you’ll find yourself becoming more confident about it, too.
M: How are you guys handling the commercial side of being in a band? Do you think the power of social media is definitely the way to go in promoting yourselves, and how do you aim to grow your following organically over the next few months?
Good question – wow. So in terms of commercial stuff and money, that’s not really an issue for us right now, as we’ve made a few quid from gigs, but nothing substantial. We just invest it back into the band and pay for recording time. In terms of social media, it’s great that you have a platform to promote yourself and you can have control over your band’s brand online for when people look you up, but the reverse side of that coin is that everyone else is doing the exact same. You’re shouting. They’re shouting.
Everyone’s shouting, and so what you’re saying becomes indistinguishable from the rest. Even if you’ve got something good going on it seems as hard to pull yourself out the parapet as it’s ever been. It’s luck at the end of the day as to whether you get noticed, I think. We don’t have a set plan which we probably should do, but hopefully the single should get some new people onto our music and down to gigs. Hopefully they’ll like our stuff and then some other tracks can come out formally, soon.
Dan on upcoming gigs: “We’ve got a second headline slot down at Readipop Studios in Reading on Saturday 1st December!”
M: Are there any hints to any upcoming gigs, the next single and where you want Candid Heist to go in the near future?
D: Yeah! We’ve got a second headline slot down at Readipop Studios in Reading on Saturday 1st December, and will have a couple others before Christmas, but we’re sorting those at the moment. Watch this space! I’d love to have our stuff played more on radio and have people include us on their playlists as well as playing to bigger rooms, but things are good right now. I’m just hoping people like the single when they hear it!
Our debut single ‘Claws’ is out everywhere now! We’re so excited to share this track with everyone. Hope you enjoy! Share it with a pal if you do ✌️
— Candid Heist (@CandidHeist) October 5, 2018