Nick Quantrill writes:
Releasing a debut album is always an exciting time for a band, but when you have the confidence to know you’ve finally got it right, it’s all the sweeter. ‘It’s the first time we’ve had a recording that properly represents us,’ Jamie (guitars/vocals) explains. ‘People know what they’re going to get when they come to a gig, or buy a record.’
“Back Is The Way Forward” is a statement of intent from Hull’s Quicksilver Kings, an acoustic trio blending country, folk and blues with a 1960’s vibe and distinctive Yorkshire twang to create their own take on Americana, something fresh. ‘It’s a live album in a way,’ Steve (guitar) says. ‘It was recorded with the three of us just playing, so it’s stripped down and an honest representation of the tunes.’ On the top of the guitars, front man, Keith, possess that rare kind of vocal sound, grit and honey, that other singers would kill for. ‘Loving it, excited for it,’ he says, as the album prepares to launch with a sold-out gig at Thieving Harry’s, an intimate cafe bar in the city’s trendy Fruit Market area.
Urban myth has it that Keith was found aimlessly wandering the street of Hull, clutching a box of handwritten lyrics and singing random Everly Brothers tunes before being taken in by local music project, The Warren. After the studio project was featured on Channel 4’s “The Secret Millionaire” programme, Keith was introduced to Steve. ‘I think they wanted rid of me,’ he says. ‘I met Steve when we were in different bands and we spoke about doing something together. I played some demos I had on my phone and we picked five we liked and went off to play them live. Through a friend we met Jamie, who we were told also wrote his own songs. We thought it was going to be a separate project, but we ended up writing some songs together quickly and just carried on playing them live. The band’s a happy accident, really.’
It’s tempting to see The Quicksilver Kings as the sum of their influences – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan all in the mix – but as Keith explains, the fact the age difference between band members makes for an interesting process. ‘Me and Jamie liked Oasis and indie type of stuff, but I also loved the big names in music. Steve wasn’t really into the newer stuff, but every time I went to his house, he’d play me all this stuff I didn’t know, like Nick Lowe and JJ Cale. It’s weird how we’ve all ended up liking the same things and we always know when we hit on something we all love, something that has legs.’
Turning to the song-writing on the album and Steve says that it’s a group effort. ‘It’s not a pre-empted thing. It just grows from a riff or an idea. We don’t have a preconceived direction that we’re aiming for.’ Keith agrees. ‘Sometimes I might have a verse. Sometimes we might work backwards. Jamie had the tune for ‘Lillies’, so we sat down and pieced the lyrics together. We’re still trying to work out what it means. “Coupe De Ville” is totally different, tough. It’s a made up road song, the kind of music we like.’ ‘Sometimes the songs are really personal,’ Jamie adds. ‘But sometimes they’re just not.’
Maybe surprisingly, the album wasn’t recorded in Hull. ‘We’d been to a night down at the Harrogate Blues Bar,’ Jamie says, ‘and we just clicked with Dan Mizzen, who owns Warehouse Recording Co studio. He said he wanted to record as we sounded playing live, so it was just setting the mics up and doing a take.’ Moving fast, the band recorded all fourteen tracks over two days, mainly playing around the studio’s dining table, nailing most of the songs within three or four takes. ‘The thing is,’ Steve says, ‘you normally work in a room on your own, with headphones on, going from what’s already been recorded and it sounds isolated. You need a connection. Less is probably more.’ Keith explains that they’d previously recorded some of the tracks with a full band. ‘They sounded great to us at the time, but we realised we liked them more before we put the drums and everything else on them. I never want to record again in a different way now.’
As well as the album being available on CD and download, a vinyl release was made possible via a successful crowdfunding campaign. ‘We’re lucky there’s enough people interested in helping us like that,’ Keith says. ‘But when you get it, it’s the quality of it. For the kind of music we do, that little bit of crackle at the beginning is perfect. It feels like it’s been around since the 1950’s. It feels a bit like it belongs in that time, rather than now. It’s why it’s called “Back Is The Way Forward.” It sounds like us at last.’
“Back Is The Way Forward” is released 13th December.
To purchase – CD/download/vinyl – https://thequicksilverkings.bandcamp.com/
For more information – https://www.thequicksilverkings.com/
[Nick Quantrill – for The Quicksilver Kings]