The Theme

Photo: Leigh Innes
Hailing from South East London, The Theme formed in late 2011 and have become one of the most  powerful and exciting live bands around. For most of 2012 and 2013 the band gigged extensively all over London and beyond, including sell - out gigs at the 100 Club and Clapham Grand.

The band's first album, 'Time For Change' shows the band's diverse range of influences from mod, ska, rock and blues. Their follow up EP 'Hit The Sky' takes the band in a new, more soulful and melodic direction while still retaining their gritty power. We caught up with Pete Sim (bass player), to talk about their new EP.

R. Firstly, congratulations on the new EP, I'm loving it! How was the process of making this new EP different from the last album? What's new in the recording of your music?
TT. Thank you! It's gone down really well with everyone who's heard it and we're really happy people like it. We love the first album, but we learnt from it regards to rushing it out and getting a mix we were happy with and I think that shows on the new release. This time around we enlisted the help of brilliant producer/engineer  Ollie Thomas (from Flash Fiktion) who at the time had his own recording studio so we got a great sound and feel straight away and he really pushed and encouraged us to perform as well as we could. The majority of the recording was done over one weekend so we didn't have a great deal of time (or money) to play take after take, so the pressure was really on.

For example Selina came in on the Sunday and recorded her saxophone, keyboard and backing vocals in a couple of hours and to be honest if we'd spent another week in the studio I don't think we would have produced anything better, Ollie really captured the moment - Gary was on his knees in agony because he'd put in so much effort into the vocals!  Me (Pete) and Paul spent another few hours with Ollie over the next few months listening to mixes and adding additional parts, mainly lead and rhythm guitar and beefing up certain sections, and Martin added some percussion as well. Because we didn't have a strict deadline we could go away and listen to the songs with (almost) fresh ears and make small adjustments which really helped. It sounds like a long process but as we pay for everything ourselves there is a limit to what can be spent on recording time and mixing, so overall we probably spent no more than 3 or 4 days on the whole EP - and the next one will be even better! 

R. Tell us the brief history of the band.
TT. Paul (guitarist/songwriter) and Gary (singer) got together to play a few songs, just to see how it sounded. By all accountants it was pretty good (it's lies, I've seen the video) so they decided to get a band together with Mart 'The Mod' Gamby on drums, Reece Wiggett on guitar and phenomenal, and Antony Morgan on bass. I (Pete) was friends with Gary for a number of years and used go to watch their early gigs which were phenomenal, and because I played guitar and harmonica I was lucky enough to join them for a few gigs before Antony left and I stepped in on the bass, initially just to fill in but they couldn't get rid of me so I stayed!

Selina Lumber joined and plays live occasionally and records, but unfortunately Reece had to leave with Darren Cade stepping in on guitar at the start of this year. The core of the band has been settled for a couple of years so with the introduction of Darren this is how we'll remain for the foreseeable future and we're sounding better than ever.

R. Who writes the songs, what are they about?
TT. Paul writes the songs and they're about life, about love, about where we live , about experiences.

R. The new single "Hit The Sky" has a lot more groove. Was this intentional by straying away from the more traditional sound of ska/rock from previous tracks?
TT. The initial idea for the EP was that we'd like to record something acoustically, so it was definitely intentional even if it did turnout that way. We wanted the new songs to have a different feel to the previous album and wanted to show a different side to the band, but there are places on the EP (at the end of Everything's Fine and Two Sides to the Story) which are as heavy as we've ever played.

When we rehearse and arrange songs in the studio we're never sure how they'll come out as we've all got varied tastes, styles and influences, often the songs sound quite different to how they were originally intended. I think as a band we'll always explore different styles and sound quite different to how they were originally intended. I think as a band we'll always explore different styles and sounds which will make things interesting for us and hopefully our listeners.

R. Describe your show, visually and musically?
TT. We usually have a big beginning to the show with a powerhouse version of 'Change of The Times' the opening song which either sends people running for the doors with bleeding ears or gasping for more ha ha! It's quite a varied selection of songs from the pop/punk/rock of 'First Time I Saw You' to the ska sound of 'Face in the Crowd' and the newer more soulful songs like 'Hits the Sky' and 'Everything's Fine'. Gary is a top front man with a powerful voice and Martin is a crazed lunatic on the drums, watching him is worth the entrance fee alone! There's definitely something for everyone at our shows, they can be pretty full-on at times especially to home but always full of energy and excitement, you'll definitely want to see us again. Or hit us.

Photo: Leigh Innes
R. What are the bands musical influences?
TT. Or influences are quite varied, which seems to work really well. Paul is a huge Steve Marriott/Small Faces fan, Mart is a Mod Revival and Led Zep/Who nut, Darren love Weller/Ocean Color Scene. Gary is more inclined towards Oasis and Brit-pop and I'm a blues/rock man, Little Walter, Rory Gallagher, Hendrix etc.

Photo: Leigh Innes
R. What's your take on The British Invasion? Was it the greatest thing that EVER happened? Where do you think British music is today? Better or Worse?
TT. The British Invasion was certainly one of the defining and seminal moments in contemporary music history, without question. Whether it was the greatest thing that ever happened depends on who you ask! Personally I'd say Elvis recording Arthur Crudup's 'That's Alright' in 1954 set the ball rolling for kids to discover and skiffle a few years later which in turn lead to the formation of the Beatles/Stones/Kinks/Animals etc and the resulting British invasion, which of course helped many American musicians re-discover their own roots or at least re-evaluate their sound and the rest is of course history!

I'd also say Bob Dylan going electric, Muddy Waters going to Chicago, The Stooges and the New York scene of the early to mid -70s, the Sex Pistols exploding and imploding, grunge, early rap, Britpop there are just too many defining moments to say one was the most important or best thing ever.

Comparing the current British chart music scene to the 60s isn't really fair is it? There are so many bland, corporate, sanitized bands in the charts of all genres it's almost painful. But if you dig deeper the bands we play with and listen to are amazing, intelligent, in your face,unafraid. There's a whole wealth of bands out there that maybe in different times would have been heard more widely, but unfortunately the charts and 'popular' radio just won't go near them. So instead of sitting indoors on a Friday or Saturday night and watching the boring nonsense that you're force-fed get out to your local music venue and join in!

R. Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there?
TT. We've just played an acoustic set at Pretty Green in Convent Garden (where were you?!) which was an incredible experience, and without sounding like an a*se it made us a better band, we really had to nail it and put on a show - there was no hiding place! We absolutely smashed it, and that's kind of our motto, we always give 100% no matter what.

Our next shows are in Belfast on 29th June  and Norwich on 19th July. Just come, we guarantee you'll want to see us again, and even if for some reason you don't you'll have the best time afterwards with us!

Last but not least...

R. If you had your life to live over again, what one thing would you change?
TT. Personally I'd like to have been more confident and believed in my abilities more, without being worried about what people thought of me or what I sounded like. If you can get over yourself ad your inhibitions if you're not a natural performer, then you really can do anything. I can't believe how much our lives have changed over the past couple of years, the places we've played at, the people we've met and the experiences we've had, and it's only just begun..

Hits the Sky is out  now and available Here

EP Cover: Peter Reeds

To hear and learn more about The Theme go to:
The Theme