We’ve all met them – the typical know-it-all fella on a night out who’s had one too many, spilling Stella Artois everywhere and overly eager to set the world to rights, despite your best efforts to politely palm them back off to their mates.
This all-too familiar scenario is the theme to London-based upstarts The Rills’ new single The Angler; an intense, gritty slice of turbo charged garage rock that rightfully takes its place among the new wave of UK guitar acts ripping up the scene.
“He has it all to blame but himself”, says frontman Mitch Spencer when describing the character as he charges from venue to venue in London’s trendy Shoreditch. “The Angler is desperate to have a real connection with someone, but, when he acts like this, his life is turning to s***.”
Citing contemporaries IDLES, Hotel Lux, Fontaines D.C., and Speedy Wunderground alumni as inspiration, The Rills also look towards classic acts in the 60s Mod scene and The Beatles.
Lyrically, Mitch delves into social and cultural observation, as well as the works of Shakespeare and Joyce, while Fontaines D.C. Grian Chatten stands out as another figure of influence.
Since forming, the Lincoln/Essex trio quickly established themselves as a must-see live act in a pre-lockdown world, having supported the likes of Italia 90 and King Nun.
They’ve tasted success on TikTok, too. They broke 12,000 followers on the platform in under a week after a video featuring their track Pyro went viral, also boosting the track to more than 500,000 plays.
Click here to see how it’s done.
And with an EP on the horizon, The Rills are ready to take charge, as drummer Mason Cassar revealed to Daily Star Online: “We’ve got some tunes in the bag that are really going to turn heads”
Daily Star Online quizzed members Mitch, Mason and bassist Callum Warner-Webb about their career so far, life in lockdown, their experience of meeting “Anglers”, and their TikTok success.
Hi guys, who are The Rills? When did you form?
Mitch Spencer: “We’re three lads from Lincoln and Essex who formed in 2017 and found out pretty quickly that we thrive in the chaos of hyperactive live shows.”
Mason Cassar: “Being a Rill is a harsh way of life. We are organised mayhem on stage and organised madmen when we are together – I also play the drums.”
Callum Warner-Webb: “Hi I’m Callum and I play the bass. I’m also a Rill.”
As a band, how have you you navigated the coronavirus lockdown? Have you worked on new material?
Mitch: “We’ve struggled to keep writing together, which is particularly annoying as we’d come into a bit of form.
“We’d never really written as a group until the end of last year and I think we’ve made some of our best stuff yet, but the lockdown has forced us apart.
“I’ve been in Lincoln while the lads have been in and around London, so writing sessions just haven’t happened. I’ve carried on writing myself though, but these songs are screaming to be put through The Rills filter.”
Mason: “Since the start of the year we have had our fuses lit and ready to explode.
“We’ve not let up once since the lockdown has started either. But it does feel a bit like playing an online band simulator at the moment.”
Callum: “It’s probably the longest I have gone without seeing Mason or Mitch in years.
“It’s a little like missing your captors after your family have paid your ransom.”
You return with the pacy, urgent new single The Angler. What was its writing process like?
Mitch: “This one was actually written before we’d started writing together, but I made a conscious effort not to stifle the other lads’ creativity – I came to a rehearsal with the bare bones of the song and they added their take on each section.
“I wrote the riff and it felt sort of triumphant, almost Superman-esque but if Superman was actually a Dursley, or Captain Underpants.
“The ‘Angler’ himself is an amalgamation of people I met growing up, but also probably a bit of my younger self in there – slightly over excitable, a bit arrogant and doesn’t look towards himself or how his actions may be perceived as a way to solve his problems.
“I originally wrote it about hipsters in Shoreditch and I think we debuted it at the Old Blue Last, all I really remember from that gig is that we were barred from playing the venue for a bit of time after…”
Mason: “I had been sitting on the opening rhythm for a while, it felt too heavy to put into one of our songs at the time, then Mitch chose to roll through with this gut busting riff and the two married together like a shotgun wedding.
“I really tried to imagine this character throwing himself around Old Street in and out of clubs, charged with dutch courage. I made the drums sound like they would take the roof off of any party they would play at.”
Callum: “My process for this song was pretty straight forward in regards to the intro. As soon as I heard that dirty little drum bit I was like ‘yeah, I got it’. I tried to over complicate it after but came straight back to syncing with the drums.”
‘The Angler’ thinks of himself as the lad about town but is someone you wish you’d never met. Have you yourselves encountered a few ‘Anglers’ over the years? Would you say your lyrics are observational, formed by your own experiences?
Mitch: “I’ve encountered so many – The Angler really could have been called Frankenstein as he’s not just one person but all the Angler’s I’ve met stitched together.
“I would definitely say my lyrics are observational, but not without a bit of romanticism in there.
“I definitely write from my own experiences as that’s the best source, or at least the most authentic source of lyrics in my opinion, but I was a huge Joy Division fan growing up and so there is a drop of abstraction which sometimes spills into the lyrics.”
Mason: “We’ve found that Essex culture and Lincolnshire culture have a lot of uncomfortable similarities.
“All of our hometown Anglers must fish at the same swim. Every line in the track feels like an anecdote we have all experienced.”
Callum: “Yeah, I like to think of this song and some of our others as these hand drawn sketches of characters you’d find in a Dickens book. Like Fagin or something. Really interesting characters that you should hate but have this romanticised aspect to them.”
You’re also set to release an EP later this year. Is The Angler a taste of what we can expect?
Mitch: “Absolutely. In the past we’ve felt a bit inconsistent with the style of our tunes.
“It’s probably because we were so young and writing to our taste, which was inevitably changing by the week, and not as a way to totally express ourselves.
“These new tunes feel like they have a particular sound to them, something which we can call our own.”
Mason: “We write with such ruthless conviction now. It feels like Scott Pilgrim style animation appears when we are in the danger zone of the jam.
“We’ve got some tunes in the bag that are really going to turn heads.”
Callum: “Everything has sort of clicked together. The pieces finally make sense together and were writing some really amazing stuff.”
You’re from Lincoln. What’s the music scene like there? Has it shaped The Rills’ sound? You’ve also been cutting your teeth in London – what’s the difference between the two cities for emerging acts?
Mitch: “When I was growing up there really wasn’t a music scene in Lincoln and when we started writing together we actually moved to Sheffield to become a part of another scene.
“After that we moved to London and ironically the 2Q festival started in Lincoln, which began to form a proper scene.
“London has really developed our sound though, and we’re so glad we made that move. Some of the bands I’ve seen, particularly the Speedy Wunderground ones, broke the spell on what it meant to be an indie band for me.
“Of course, most of them go by the genre of post-punk, but to me it really felt like a huge turning point for indie bands – all of a sudden there was a new way to write anything from sophisticated and complex pop funk to anxious, industrial sounding indie jazz, but somehow they were all dangerously catchy.
“Those bands have been a breath of fresh air and certainly encouraged us to experiment with our own sound.”
Mason: “Where I come from in Essex, there is one venue that really stands out in my memory where bands could go and express themselves. One venue. I had outgrown that at a young age and was starving for more.
“When I started travelling to London to play, it opened my eyes to the stage attitudes and abilities of some of these bands, which were bigger than anything I had ever seen.
“That inspired me to play how I do, and we all generate unstable power when we play together now.”
Callum: “Lincoln didn’t really have a music scene that I was interested in, it was all cover bands and they didn’t do it for me.
“It’s only as we’ve left Lincoln that bands have been popping up and smashing it.
“I never would have thought that Lincoln would have its own festival! London and Lincoln are completely incomparable and even though Lincoln is Midlands you can still see the huge difference between the north and south in terms of what their bands are saying. I like to think we’re meeting in the middle.”
You cite IDLES, Fontaines D.C., Hotel Lux and Speedy Wunderground as influences. How exciting is the UK and Ireland music scene right now and what’s it like to be a part of it?
Mitch: “It’s incredible, certainly the most exciting it’s been in the last ten years.
“I think one of the most amazing things about it is the live shows, the bands in the UK & Ireland scene write fantastic songs, but the energy at their live shows are unparalleled.
“It also feels a little bit like a secret, a lot of these bands haven’t hit the mainstream yet and it makes it all the more exciting to feel right on the cusp of something.”
Mason: “It feels like the scene is on fire at the moment, it is full steam ahead.”
Callum: “It might be because I was only 18 and didn’t quite know where to find the pulse but the sheer amount of amazing bands that have appeared in the UK in the past five years is dizzying.
“It seems like everyone knows exactly what they’re doing.”
Do you all share similar inspirations?
Mitch: “Not really. I know myself and Callum have always been into The Beatles and The Libertines. Myself and Mason also take some inspiration from The Streets, but I think we all have quite different tastes and so our music is a bit like vegetable soup.
“Personally I love James Joyce and I try to take inspiration from literature where I can.”
Mason: “My family are all musicians. As a result I’ve been brought up on 60s soul, psychedelic and the late 70s mod revival/post punk bands such as The Jam and the Buzzcocks.
“But I have a huge love for experimental hip hop bands such as Death Grips, and UK Drill artists like Headie One. The vocal rhythms and instrumentals of rap inspire my drumming more than anything these days. I think it’s insane that these producers are creating some of the most insane drum patterns I’ve ever heard, and they’ve never even picked up a pair of sticks.
“These two friends who I also call band members inspire me, and definitely keep me on my toes.”
Callum: “I think our core inspirations are fairly similar. The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys, the Mod scene in the 60s and the basics like that. But since we hit London we’ve completely diverged and brought all this other stuff from all over the place and chucked it into the pot.
“I like to think that Mitch and Mason are lucky because a lot of bassists you see at indie gigs are normally a last minute addition to the band and are either complete metal heads or 40 year old men. And luckily for them, I’m both.”
You’ve supported the likes of King Nun and Italia 90. What’s it been like learning from them and have there been any stand out moments from your live shows so far?
Mitch: “Supporting good bands is priceless really. It’s an opportunity to see how people operate on the levels above yourself in a more intimate way. You only have to go and watch good bands to learn how to hold a crowd or find ways to improve yourself, but actually supporting them is great because you find little tricks which you might not find otherwise.
“It’s really important to see how these bands present themselves too, when you’re first getting going I think it’s easy to be naively unprofessional.”
Mason: “I’ve also thought you learn 10x more being on stage than in a practice room, and playing with these bands is almost like a lecture and a practical all in one. You take from it what you can.
“It’s so exciting playing with someone you respect as an artist. You know it’s gonna be a party.”
Callum: “It’s always a rush because you see these amazing bands play live and you’re like ‘right how are we gonna set ourselves apart from that’ and you can never get too complacent or comfortable with your live product. You’ve always got to step up and create a new experience for your audience (even if it’s just the sound tech).
“The stand out moments for me are always when you have just finished a set and the crowd are going nuts and you and the lads are all looking at each other like ‘have we just done that?’.
“When everything just clicks and the mood of the night is just right for complete chaos during a set”
TikTok is a global phenomenon and one you’ve tasted viral success with. What was it like seeing your track Pyro played 500,000 times and gaining a large amount of followers in a short space of time?
Mitch: “A total shock to the system. We never expected this sort of success on the platform, and it was amazing to hear people really loving a tune which had just about gone stale for us.
“It’s been so long since we released Pyro that we’d considered dropping it and then boom! Thousands of listeners remind you that it doesn’t matter when people find it, a good tune is a good tune.”
Mason: “I woke up and my phone had turned into a constant vibration of notifications, and I sat there and read each one.
“I could have cried when it happened, it was a huge lung filling breath of fresh air, that has given us a huge want for more”
Callum: “I didn’t really believe it at first and the numbers weren’t really registering with me until I was about to go to bed and saw all this love flooding through our socials.
“Even now having set up a Discord community it’s so amazing to speak with all these interesting people who actually like our music. It’s honestly mad.”
You’ve earned yourself a reputation as a ferocious live act. With venues closed for the foreseeable, how eager are you to get back out and play and where do you see the music landscape as it continues to recover over the next few months?
Mitch: “I’m absolutely desperate. I really feel most at home playing live and it’s not something I ever want a year off from again. I think socially distanced gigs might be a stretch too far, I can’t see it being financially viable and also it’ll strip away from the atmosphere which only a crowded live show can bring.
“I think in the same way football stadiums are operating right now, it would be ideal to have a temperature test before entry to reduce the likelihood of a carrier from entering the venue, although they still don’t have crowds in them.
“Obviously that would make buying tickets beforehand a bit of an issue because you’d only know if you could actually go in on the day, but I think it’d be the fastest way to get things going again.”
Mason: “Music will always find a way to be performed, we will work it out, not to worry. Although if I have this long off from a gig again I will lose my marbles.
Callum: “It’s been really hard, I miss that energy. It sort of builds up and has nowhere to go and I feel like a kid ramped up on strawberry laces strapped into a booster seat.”
Do you have an ultimate aim with The Rills?
Mitch: “Of course, it’s quite a modest ask really but to do this full-time is all I want. I know most people would say something like headline Glastonbury, but I don’t really have many milestones in my head like that.
“That’s not to say I’m not ambitious, I’ll push this band as far as it can go – if that means a world-wide stadium tour then you can bet we’ll be doing it. But the real aim for me is just to make this my life.”
Mason: “I will always be doing music – there is no question about that. But my aim with The Rills is to make this colossal. It needs to be, we are a huge force to be reckoned with as a band, and there will be no stopping us from doing this, that’s for sure.”
Callum: “We all know exactly where we want The Rills to go but I’d be happy with never working in retail ever again. That’ll be a start.”
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