One of the advantages of social media is the opportunity to discover and connect with musicians from around the world, which feels particularly important when you live on the opposite side of the globe to the most vibrant and diverse music scenes. A while ago I was introduced, via the 140-character glory of Twitter, to British band, Reigning Days. As I like to listen to any new music I encounter I clicked on the link and quickly realised I’d landed squarely in the kind of sound I love most - a powerhouse rock band with shades of Muse and Royal Blood.
The Devon trio (no, not that Devon trio) released their debut album, Opera of Love, in 2014 under their former name “These Reigning Days”. The title track was featured during the BBC coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and the band has previously opened for Bon Jovi, as well as appearances at the iconic Glastonbury Festival in the UK. The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Dan Steer, bassist Jonny Finnis, and drummer Joe Sansome.
Currently on tour in the UK, (and despite sleep deprivation and dodgy internet access), Joe Sansome generously took time out to answer a few questions for Libel.
Can you give me a bit of background on where you guys are from, and how you came to be in a band together?
Well, we were all in different bands over the years but they've always been Devon-based, and with the Devon music scene being as small as it is, it was only a matter of time before we started forming this band. I'd heard that Dan had split from his old band and moved to my area in Torquay, so I just thought I'd drop him a line and see if he wanted to catch up and have a pint. Was pretty surprised that he responded so quickly but soon enough we were in a bar (27 Club) necking a few drinks and talking about what we wanted to do with the band, and what sort of music we wanted to play. To be honest, all the pretty important stuff regarding this new band was decided while drunk, (which probably explains a lot…). Anyway, one drink led to another and so on and before we knew it we were beyond capable of standing straight, both in police handcuffs (another long story) but STILL smiling like we'd sold a million records. We hadn't even rehearsed once. That is how this band formed, start as you mean to go on.
You seem to have previously had a “These” at the start of your name - did you lose that along the way somewhere?
Yeah, we'd decided on the name These Reigning Days really early on because we'd already had gigs booked and just needed a name. I think we were going to change it once we got ourselves up and running, but it just kinda stuck I guess. But over the years we'd always played with the idea of changing the name, or just shortening it. Skip four years and we'd just gone into an extended break, time out from touring etc and just working on this new album. We'd promised ourselves that - unlike the first album 'Opera of Love’ - we'd make this music about us, a perfect cocktail of the music we listen to and the music we want to play. Things started getting heavier, felt more honest, and was just starting to be how we'd always wanted it to be.
We realised that not only had we been out of the 'public eye' for a while, but we'd drastically changed our sound, not forcefully, but the result of natural progression over a few years so it was a better time than ever to change/shorten the name and 'rebrand' ourselves. It's not that we're trying to hide our past, far from it, but people like to draw similarities between the old album and our new stuff. It's so different we want people to view it almost as a new band/product. That way people can listen to us without the horse blinkers on, open minded, and not the classic "preferred their earlier stuff" state of mind without actually giving it a proper listen!
Our new album should be out in June/July depending upon how quickly we can turn around the production. We’ve already recorded a good 80% of the album, just a few more tracks to get down and we're done. We are also going to be releasing an EP in April, that'll have two singles on it and a few tracks from the album just to keep people's attentions up while we get this album wrapped up!
Given that we connected via social media, how important, as a modern band, do you think social media is to your success/exposure?
I'm still torn on this, I look after pretty much all aspects of our social media (which is so fucking time consuming!), and I'm still very much getting to grips with how best to use each platform. I'm by no means clued up on technology or all that stuff…I play drums for a reason! I have noticed a wealth of positives that bands can get from using the likes of Twitter/Instagram/Facebook etc, (like you said - this very interview!) but I think there is a really fine line. It's all well and good having a fiery social network presence, but you gotta have the balls to back it up. Too many bands now days are getting comfy writing songs at home, and spending hours and hours building a huge SM network, but never having to leave the house. Fuck that, get out on the road. People still like going to shows, they still like getting wasted watching their favourite bands, and they still like grabbing a selfie with band members to show their friends. At the end of the day, the music will always speak for itself. A good friend of mine Forest Blakk (check him out) is the opposite, he updates his social media everyday, and does all the right things but he's not a pest with it. He doesn't pride himself on statistics. He tours the world, writes every day, and is now signing major record deals and is about to BLOW UP. He is my constant reminder that you can ignore all the bullshit politics and social media hype and just rock it the old school way, talent, dedication, hard work, and positivity. Fair to say I love that guy!
What are the plans for the rest of 2016 as you know so far? Download Festival at Donnington, obviously, is a key feature.
Well, we're just in the early stages of our current tour with Wilson (heading to Newcastle as we speak). Once this is all wrapped up we regroup, count the broken bones, overdue bills, and the reality we've successfully ignored for a few weeks, then get straight back in the studio to finish this album. Obviously Download will be a highlight, but we've got a lot of festivals either already confirmed or in the process of being confirmed. I think our booking agent understands we’re better out on the road playing every night than staying back home causing trouble, so by the looks of things it's going to be a pretty hectic summer! Once the album drops we're going to be back out on the road again touring and touring. That said, we have no goal set, we just want to be playing every night, and preferably keep the band alive for another year, that usually helps!
Check these guys out - they’re officially on the cusp of “being huge” and you don’t want to miss out. Their sound is deep, rich, and powerful, and well worth checking out if you don’t already know them. Their brand new single, Renegade, was released a few days ago and you can grab that on iTunes. Have a look and listen to the video:
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