Following in from their recent sold out tour in December, Nothing But Thieves are returning later this month for their biggest tour to date. It has been a massive twelve months of the band as they continue their meteoric rise with their chart busting album Broken Machine. It was a rather upbeat Dom Craik who spoke with Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the journey to date and their upcoming Australian tour.
How are you going?
Yeah, I’m good mate. Actually, I’m not doing great. I was trying to be vegan today and I’ve just put honey in my tea, forgetting that’s an animal product. I’m actually self-loathing quite hard right now but apart from that, I’m great.
For Nothing But Thieves the last twelve months have been, absolutely, super massive. Do you feel like pinching yourself considering how well it’s going?
Yeah. We’re quite a typically British band, in the fact, we are quite self-deprecating. Considering the whole situation we feel the floor’s about to fall beneath us at any point. We still see ourselves as a band from a small town in Essex, in England. The fact that we can travel to these places is amazing, but mainly confusing for us.
Do you get much of a chance to stop and reflect on what you actually achieve?
Yes and no. I think to the outside world, people are still discovering us each week since we are a new band to a lot of people. For us boys that have been in it for seven or eight years now, it’s been so gradual. Things like our London shows would start at one hundred capacity, then two hundred, then four hundred, and then eight hundred. It was so gradual that we haven’t been thrown in the deep end of anything, which has been really nice. I think the same thing internationally, we started off in Europe really early. We did a load of US tours quite early too and even tried to get to Australia. I guess because it’s been so gradual, it hasn’t felt like shock. What’s the word? Whirlwind. It hasn’t been too difficult to manage. There is that moment when you step back when it’s like when you catch up with your old school friends and they go, “oh, you just got back from Russia, something that’s a little bit alien to them. That’s when you realise you’re doing something that’s a bit weird.
Were you stoked when you came out with Muse, with the reception you got? I’d imagine it would be pretty tough for any band playing to someone else’s crowd, let alone, Muse’s crowd.
Yeah. Before we toured with Muse in Australia, we’d done a London, maybe twenty dates in Europe. That prepped us mentally so we knew what to expect. Obviously, the crowds change from country to country, but we had that experience of their crowds, the type of venue that they play. I think also, their fans, generally speaking, are quite open minded. As bands go, people see us in the same sort of world. We would never compare ourselves to Muse, but we’re a rock band with a male singer of a high range. Hopefully, with that in mind, you’d think the reception and response to us would be quite positive, which I thought it was. We had people moving, clapping, and singing along, which being a support it’s quite difficult to do because we’ve done enough of them to know that some people just take the opportunity to go to the bar and get a few extra pints in before the main act is on. I’d say it was a pleasant surprise.
It must be great though at this time to be coming back and playing your own tour?
This tour is the biggest I’ve ever been on. We kind of under sold ourselves intentionally in Australia. We wanted to put on a tour that we thought would sell out. To our surprise, it actually sold out way quicker than expected that we had to add extra dates. The first time we played in Brisbane was maybe three hundred and fifty and now it’s gone to two thousand. Things like that makes us so excited to go back there, because the rate it’s growing in Australia is crazy. That show in particular, Brisbane was nuts, because I just remember a couple of us ended up getting in the crowd and I had sweaty people screaming in my face. It was like an absolute classic rock club show. It had so much energy in it. It’s been selling at a crazy rate, so we need to get back out there ASAP really.
Is this Australian tour focused mostly on the new-ish album plus a few of the old favourites?
We always struggle with headline shows on the first album, because you put an album out that’s got forty five minutes of music on it and then as a headline you have to play for an hour. Now we play for like an hour and twenty, we get a good balance of the first and second record. It leans slightly heavier on the second album. Sometimes we throw in a couple so we can mix it up a bit. There’s even talk about playing a couple songs that we haven’t actually played before. So we’re trying to expand a little bit. We’re not fond of going to gigs that just sound like they’re just playing the songs they’ve just done. We like to do extensions and get the crowd involved, do instrumentals, all that sort of thing. It is like your live show is its own entity away from just listening to the tracks on the album, if that makes sense.
Do you feel the pressure with coming out with album number three given how huge the two albums have been so far?
If I’m being honest with you, I’m a bit of a workaholic. I’ve got a studio I take on the road with me. I can write pretty much wherever I am. I write a lot of music. For the last year or two, even before Broken Machine was out, I’ve been just banking up musical ideas whether it’s just riffs or drum beats. I can basically pitch the other two boys and go look, I’ve got this. What do you want to do? We’ve made sure that we’re in a position where we’re not going to sit down in a room with a blank canvas and shit our pants not having no material prepared. It’s quite the opposite, where we’ve got too much and we need to actually focus and hone in what we want to do in terms of sound and what direction we want to go in.
We wrote two songs yesterday and I think one is pretty single worthy, which is exciting. I know that’s a horrible way to describe the song, but that’s my way of saying it’s a good song. It’s strong. I can show my mum, my nann, or my best mates, and hopefully, they go, yeah, that’s alright, that one.
Do you think sonically you’ll change much on the next album?
I think knowing us and knowing how bored we can get with our own band, yeah, probably. I think it’s something intrinsically ingrained in us. We love that. We like to change what we do. We like to evolve and adapt, but at the same time, that’s one of the selling points to the fans. I love meeting fans. No one has the same favourite song of ours, which is really exciting. There’s people that like the rock stuff, the ambience, softer stuff, people like the more electronic tunes. With that in mind, this vast life that is variety is at our disposal. So we just try and that’s a benefit, because that’s how we love to write music. The fact that other people like it is great. I think the next sound is going to be different. I don’t know what, but it’s going to be different.
Before, you spoke about being a workaholic. Does that make it hard for you to take a break and refocus before touring again, or even starting writing, or recording the next album?
The boys have to tell me to stop. Conor, specifically will ring me and say have a day off. I like to do some stuff for other bands. So I’ll get back from a tour and I’ll go straight to the studio to record a band. I haven’t even had time to adjust from the jet lag or anything. We all look out for each other. If we don’t have a few days off, we get a bit bored. I think some of us are better at switching off than others. I feel like Conor goes home and he’s in home mode for a bit. He is fresh faced and almost forgotten what the last tour was like in terms of how it felt after if he was tired or anything. I feel like I’ve just been on a roller coaster that I haven’t got off of for the last five or six years, which is not a bad thing, but I wonder if eventually I should get off and go take five. We’ll take a few months off between album two and three, I’m sure. Not just to write, but like you say, to recover and just get away from it all for a bit. I’m sure that’s healthier.
Have you got anything planned for your down time when you get to Australia?
Last time I did Sydney at sea. I got to go down to Bondi beach and have a day out down there. That’s one of these place you see on Instagram or you see on a TV show. I love to go down there. I got to explore that a bit. Then in Melbourne I think we are trying to get out when we can, but the time we have is so limited. We sometimes barely can get off the plane into the hotel and actually chill. Sometimes it’s just straight to the venue. I’ll try to explore. I just like going out. Melbourne’s my favourite. That’s a good laugh and there’s a few good bars around there that we go to. Any recommendations? Just let me know because we’re always looking for good spots to go to and explore.
Melbourne has plenty of great bars such as The Cherry Bar…
Yeah, we went to Cherry bar last time.
Hopefully, next time when you come back for an even bigger tour, you can come to Adelaide and Perth.
Definitely, Adelaide is one of those places we’ve been trying to get into but the promoter is saying you got to start off in the biggest cities. Hopefully, we’ll get there. I’ve actually got a couple friends that live in Adelaide. So they’re moaning at me for not getting there. I’m saying, we’ll do it soon. I promise, I promise.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Nothing But Thieves are touring on the following dates…