Saturday, March 09, 2024

Interview: Trip Westerns

For fans of The Black Keys, The Growlers, and Night Beats, Brighton’s very own Trip Westerns are back on the scene with their new single ‘False Start’

Frontman Harrison Baird-Whitman took the time to delve deep with Music Is To Blame, giving us an insight into the band’s origins, inspirations, and hopes for the future.

For people who are unfamiliar with Trip Westerns, please can you give us a brief history of how the five of you met and how the band was formed?

The band was formed by myself and our ex-guitarist, Dee. I’d seen Ellis play a bunch of times and wanted him on drums. Luci and I had been friends for a couple of years and been in and out of each other’s projects. Graham had become a good friend and after a revolving door of bassists, we decided to get him in. Then Rhys joined just over a year ago when Dee decided to take a step back.

Otis Hayes of ‘Hard of Hearing Magazine’ recently described your sound as "comfortably buried in the soil of mid-20th century rock and R&B, intertwined with lashings of surf and psychedelia – revelling in the twangy notes of spaghetti western". Tell me, how did you come to fuse such a concoction of genres? Was this fusion always your chosen direction, or did it develop over time?

It was always the chosen direction. That’s the music we were listening to a lot when writing the first handful of songs for Trips. Obviously, the rest of the guys have their influences bleed into the music but the songs were always written with these genres in the subconscious. The spaghetti western soundtrack pulls a lot tonally from surf music when you listen to the guitar. It’s the same with older R&B and country that eventually became rock n roll. They’re all connected.

Your latest single ‘False Start’ really bolsters this spaghetti-western direction, influenced by the likes of Otis Redding, Howlin Wolf and Morricone. Are you looking to stay in this vein with future releases too?

I don’t think those influences will ever truly leave as musically it’s our foundation. Who knows though, maybe a couple of years from now we’ll be making trip-hop beats with accordion solos.

And ‘False Start’ was very much a DIY project - recorded in Graham’s studio, with Graham also taking the reigns on engineering and production. Are all your projects largely kept in-house or do you have any plans to collaborate outside of the band?

They certainly have been so far, mainly because we’ve never had any money to go record in a fancy studio. I love having the process close to the band but I’m starting to warm to the idea of working with someone and having them carry the burden of decision making. It’s definitely something we’re looking at when we come to record our album.

You’ve had a few lineup changes in the past, as is common with many up-and-coming bands. Would you say you’re in a more secure, established space now? Has this solidity affected the way the 5 of you gel and collaborate?

For sure. The lineup we have now, I hope, is the final one. We’ve had a bunch of tours together to gel and I feel we’re all pretty comfortable saying our piece when it comes to creating but collaboration is always a work in progress. 

You released your well-received self-titled EP back in September 2023, and now you’ve released your latest single ‘False Start’. Are there any plans for a full-length album anytime soon?

We’re currently writing the songs that will be a part of our debut album but I can’t say it’ll be out anytime soon. But once we have the funds we’ll head into a studio and get that sucker recorded.

I can see you have a strong history of live gigs up and down the country, recently supporting America’s The Nude Party. Are there any dream collaborations for Trip Westerns, either on the road or in the studio?

Dang, there’s a lot. Touring with The Nude Party was a bit of a dream for me. I’d love to work in Auerbach’s studio, ‘Easy Eye Sound’. The records he’s made for Shannon and the Clams, Dr. John, Night Beats, and so many more sound incredible. Plus his studio is gorgeous and in Nashville, and I adore Nashville.

And, as something that is often overlooked as a physically exhausting part of being a musician, what is it that drives you to tour so much? Do you have a favourite part about performing?

Well, you’ve gotta tour if you’re going to do this. Most tours you’re not doing for the money so behind every tour is a love for the performance. It’s hard to choose a favourite part, I truly love it all. The interactions between yourself and the crowd are always fun, but it’s all generally just so much fun - and that’s what it should be. There really isn’t any point doing this if you’re not happy while you’re doing it. 

With such a solid history of live shows and stellar reviews of your latest EP, it feels fair to say that the band might be in its most exciting position yet. Can you tell our readers what the rest of 2024 looks like, and where they can find you?

Well, you can certainly expect more music from us down the line. We’re heading on the road in May with Night Beats for a two-week tour around Europe and the UK, so that’ll be fun as hell. We’ll be back out on tour around the UK come the autumn time, and then I guess it’s time to get into a studio and get recording.

Rachel Feehan

@rachel_feehan @rachiefee

Image: ‘False Start’ Official Single Cover

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