Under A Banner, whose nucleus is the West Midlands, and whose CV includes supporting New Model Army, have released a new highly-listenable album titled ‘The Wild Places’. On the Under a Banner bill for 2017, is a tour supporting Headsticks. If you haven’t heard of them, you need to check them out.
Under a Banner have a following of almost 58,000 music lovin’ humans on Twitter! Wow! Their ebullient sounds are a fusion of alternative and folk, mixed in with Adam’s ‘Big’ vocals that feel like a wave gently rolling in from the sea that suddenly catches you by surprise and knocks you over. Don’t worry no need for a sale on crutches..it is only a figure of speech.
I decided to dig deep into the matter that makes up Adam Broadhurst’s mind and ride the Under a Banner wavelength.
Adam Broadhurst – Vocals & Guitar
Jake Brooks – Backing Vocals & Guitar
Simon Hill – Bass Guitar
Tim Wilson – Drums, Percussion & Backing Vocals
Kat Davis – Keyboards
Hereford City Centric: Hello guys, it was an absolute pleasure having you perform for the Underground Revolution on October 7th at The Booth Hall. We hope you had a good night. The crowd loved you and it seems you had some fans who knew all the lyrics to your songs, do you have groupies who follow you around to all your shows?
Adam: Firstly, hello there and many thanks for the kind words.
Yes, we do have fans who travel to our shows. I often joke that certain people have been to more Under A Banner gigs than I have! This fan base is growing, but in the past we’ve had people travel over 150 miles to see us play, and have even flown in from other countries!
HCC: That is tremendous! You have connected with the fans. Where exactly is Under a Banner from? Do you have a local said watering hole where you all gather to map out the future, watch local bands and get jolly?
Adam: As we hail from three counties between five band members, most of our discussions, etc are held either at our Birmingham based rehearsal studio or at the gigs themselves. Speaking personally, my local pub is a Wolverhampton micro pub where the band have performed an acoustic set and the occasional open mic night is held. It’s all about the real ale, you see.
HCC: Well, next time you come to Hereford you must pop into the Hereford Beer House. They have a fantastic selection of real ales that rotate regularly, not to mention all the other local pubs serving up some amazing local and international ales and ciders…it’s what Herefordshire does best. A story for another day.
You guys have a really tight and dynamic sound, it really fills the room musically and Adams voice is strong and rather epic…what style of music would you say you fall under? What are the musical roots of Under a Banner?
Adam: In terms of the band’s sound, we have deliberately avoided being pigeon-holed into one defining musical genre. Admittedly, both fans and reviewers have picked up on the folk/hard elements which are inescapably evident in our recordings, but we’ve encompassed a range of styles across our three albums and two EPs to date.
Our musical roots are very varied, the single unifying genre being metal, which often comes across in the work of the rhythm section. I’ve always been into melody and lyrics, wherever it’s found, but our collective influences range from New Model Army, The Levellers, Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos to Rush, Iron Maiden and Slayer, with many artists in between.
HCC: Wow, Tori Amos, I haven’t heard that name in a while. She is great. I can feel the New Model Army and Levellers vibe coming through. What promoter and venue booked your first show? How long have you been going now?
Adam: Under A Banner’s first show was, I think, at the now sadly closed Varsity in Wolverhampton. I can’t remember who promoted the gig but it went moderately well for a first tentative outing.
HCC: What is the most memorable gig you have played this year? Why? Any shows you are looking forward to in the future?
Adam: Of all the gigs and festivals we’ve played this year I’d say Down on the Farm Festival was our favourite. I’m not saying that because this interview will appear in a Hereford based publication; the festival was well organised, friendly and the crowd were very appreciative and enthusiastic. We look forward to our appearance there in 2017. We will be touring extensively with the band Headsticks next year too, as well as making as many festival appearances as possible.
HCC: I have to say you are on your merry way to a wonderful year. We are really looking forward to having Headsticks play for our November 5th show at The Booth Hall supporting the Steve Ignorant (Crass)‘Slice of Life’ tour. It was my first time at Down on the Farm this year, and I just couldn’t get over the friendly vibes. I highly recommend it for families as well.
You just released ‘The Wild Places’ September 30th of this year, which I have been enjoying listening to, why did you call it The Wild Places? Is there a theme behind the songs as a whole? What message do you want your fans to take from this latest album?
Adam: Our new album The Wild Places takes its title from a book by Robert MacFarlane. It’s about the search for wilderness, both externally and internally. I love being in remote places, climbing mountains and storm seeking. These themes tend to creep into the band’s lyrics and have done so yet again on this current album. There’s also a liberal helping of social commentary here too, some of it observational and some of it reactionary.
HCC: I have to admit most albums I listen to have at least one cringe worthy song on it, but I love every single song on The Wild Places and I found the lyrics engaging. I can’t really pick a favourite song but I am quite prone to playing Sunburst frequently. Everything about it keeps me listening. Does Adam write the songs? They feel poetic and I also feel a political undertone in songs like Kill it All and World of Hope? Am I close?
Adam: The first single ‘Nothing’s Ever Really Gone’ is plainly about the loss of a loved one. Listeners are free to take whatever personal messages they choose from the album’s twelve songs. We can only hope that the lyrics mean something to people, however they’re reflected upon. I write all of the band’s lyrics and draw inspiration from just about any available source. Sometimes they’re visceral responses to the news; abstract musings on passing thoughts or based on novels, works of art or conversations.
HCC: I sensed a diverse connection to the natural world in the songs, in a way, it is like being “on location” at times. If you could pick any human to become the new Prime Minister who would it be?
Adam: If I had to choose a living human to be Prime Minister (interesting question by the way) I’d opt for a left-leaning friend of my father’s. A combination of humanism, social conscience and fiscal wherewithal is about as good as it gets.
HCC: Well your father’s friend has my vote. Get him on the ballot. What advice would you give bands starting out regarding: Surviving on the road? Creating a musical style and developing an image? Recording? Getting their name out there? Connecting with their fans
Adam: In terms of advice to young bands, I’d suggest they first broaden their musical horizons. This might seem patronising but the wider a musician’s spectrum of musical tastes, the more quirky and inventive their own musical output will be. it’s galling that some young bands have their careers fast-tracked thanks to family money. Sadly, in the modern world, making music is an expensive business which involves a depressing level of speculation in order to accumulate.
Having said this, the current trend for DIY bands in the digital age of music means that there’s been a partial erosion of record label control. Hence, the ‘industry’ – if one can still call it that- is no longer solely the province of the young. If musicians are prepared to stick at it and develop every aspect of their craft, it’s possible to gradually build an audience willing to travel and pay to see you perform.
Studio recording is cheaper than it’s ever been and, providing you have something palatable, clever use of social media will help to reach an audience you wouldn’t have reached 15-20 years ago. In short, be prepared to take a lot of knocks but keep going!
HCC: That advice is absolutely worth its weight in gold!. What is up and coming for Under a Banner for the rest of the year and 2017? Do you have a website and music page? Where can we purchase The Wild Places
Adam: 2017 sees Under A Banner touring properly for the first time. As already mentioned, many of these dates will be with our friends Headsticks. At the time of writing we already have dates planned in Wolverhampton, Worcester, Stoke, Manchester, Hereford and Nottingham. We will be adding many more. Folks can keep track of live dates as they’re added via our website www.underabanner.co.uk, our Facebook page or Twitter @underabanner.
Thanks very much for this opportunity. It’s been fun speaking to you.
This concludes our interview, an enlightening experience from a top-notch band of musicians that should be placed somewhere near the top of your bands to see in 2017, especially on their tour supporting Headsticks. Many thanks to Adam for his time.
Listen to Under a Banner on Soundcloud Here
All Photography by Nickie Bates Distorted Image Photography
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