Earlier this year, I sat down with Mr Jim Lockey; one of the finest singer-songwriters this country has to offer and frontman of Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun. Find out what he had to say below, with up-to-date information added…
*TCOV* – Hey Jim, for people unfamiliar with you, how would you describe your music?
*Jim* – We’re probably more of a band than our name suggests, and we make kind of folk songs but for rock fans. We’re not like stroke your beard folk music, more fists in the air, get hammered, dance around folk music
Agreed! So how’s the tour been so far?
Amazing man, yeah. I think everything’s still a surprise for us, which is cool, we really do enjoy every night, and we do enjoy meeting everybody that come to the shows. We’re having a blast actually!
Are you playing any new material on this tour?
We’re working on new stuff, but we’re not playing it just yet. We did tour (second album) “Death” but it was way back in May, the album had only been out a month, and we thought that this’ll be the tour that people will actually know us before coming to the show, if you know what I mean. So we don’t want to then just start playing loads of brand new stuff.
Fair enough, because on the Frank Turner tour last year your set list was entirely “Death” tracks, wasn’t it?
Yeah because again then we just figured that it’d be mostly new people at the shows, so let’s just play the newer stuff and then they can go backwards and check stuff out it they want to. We’re doing that ourselves for this tour, working back and relearning stuff off (first album) “Atlases” because it’s been a while since we played that, and I’m pretty bad at remembering lyrics!
On the subject of album’s, who’s album are you most looking forward to this coming year?
This year, I really like the “MMX” EP (Child) that came out on Monday, Chris (band guitarist) was really looking forward to that. I, what am I excited for… I really like, I mean I don’t want to talk about him all the time or whatever but I really like Frank’s new record, we listened to it a bit on the tour and it’s just really different to what he usually does. The production on it is amazing, it sounds like a Weezer record which is a fucking good thing, for me anyway.
So going back to “Death”, was that a deliberate theme?
It just kind of happened, you know? “England’s Dead” came around quite early actually, the riff and a little bit of the lyrics and stuff. But “A Song About Death” was when I finally decided that it makes sense for this all to fit together if you know what I mean. It’s something that everybody feels really, it’s like hope though, and is a little bit more positive than it probably sounds. It should be more like, enjoy what you’re doing and enjoy life sort of thing, don’t keep worrying about dying!
Absolutely, and that comes across really well in the record. Xtra Mile put that out didn’t they, that’s a great label to be involved with right?
I love it yeah, we all love it. The roster is brilliant, and there’s a massive community around the label and everyone’s so cool.
Yeah I went to the “Night Before Wembley” gig that you played along with Ben Marwood, Billy Bragg and Crazy Arm and the whole feel of the night was one of pride and friendship…
Yeah definitely, I mean we were all hanging out upstairs and stuff as well, and Jamie from Reuben was there too, such a gent, probably the most well dressed man I think I’ve ever met.
Where’s been your favourite place to visit on tour?
I think this tour Joiners (Southampton) was really good man, it’s a venue we’ve always wanted to play and it went really way which is great. Apart from that, there were a couple of shows on the Frank tour that went really well, it’s a weird feeling when you know you’ve nailed a show, ‘cause normally one of us will really enjoy it and someone else will be like “that was the worst thing I’ve ever done” haha, but we’ve had a few where everyone has a good time and it’s all cool
Congratulations on the Dropkick Murphys tour by the way, how did that come about?
Thanks man! We just got an email through, I think. I know that their manager’s quite a big fan of ours now, I don’t really know how that’s come about… we do share the same agent in England but because the way the agency stuff works in the US it doesn’t go through our UK agent… I dunno basically, we got an email saying “we want you on these 16 shows” and we were like “alright!”, but we’ve had the worst few weeks ever rescheduling shows and sorting visas and stuff.
Well good luck, I know a few American fans on Frank Turner’s forum are stoked about you going out there…
Amazing, really? Wow, well we’re really excited about it, definitely.
Who’re your favourite people to tour with?
Hmm, I quite like Francis’ team really to be honest, they’re all just really nice and down to earth. I think Tim (Barry) was our favourite person though; he’s just the nicest guy ever. It was nice touring with someone we haven’t met really, the same as we’ll get with Dropkicks really over the length of the tour, except there’s a lot of them and the names will be a problems I think, I’m awful with names!
*At this point, band drummer Si joins us with a beer…*
So growing up, who were your biggest influences?
Bright Eyes massively, in getting me into acoustic based music really. The majority of us listen to heavier things, not THAT heavy but a lot of it is, Brand New were massive for me. I personally really like bands that are strong lyrically, it’s more important than the music to me really. I think that if a band has strong lyrics, then I tend to connect with them quite well. We all have really different views on stuff really though.
Wouldn’t you agree that makes the band though? If you all had the exact same influences, you’d sound like a carbon copy of Brand New for example…
Yeah exactly that man, you need a bit of a melting pot of different ideas really to make it work.
Good stuff. So you’ve come this far in your career so far, what advice would you give to any young bands just starting out?
Just play shows, as many as you possibly can because you learn a lot from every show. You can either learn to never go back to that place again, or like techniques or things you can say to crowds that are a bit more uplifting and stuff.
*Si* – You get road worn, you know? You get used to being in a van, it’s not all sitting down and relaxing, it’s hard work and its weird.
It is, and the best thing about playing shows it that it builds your confidence. The worst thing a band can do is say like “this is a new song so I’m probably going to fuck it up”, don’t say that! You don’t need to say that… You build confidence as people and as a band, so to any young band just tour tour tour.
Good advice. So if you could’ve been in one band ever, who would it’ve been?
Ahh, Brand New probably. Or something really embarrassing, like Wham! Maybe not Wham!, but something like that maybe, it would’ve been pretty good to have been like, a Michael Jackson dancer or something…
I think for me it would’ve been Queen, I fucking love Queen. Or Blink-182…
Haha! That’s a better answer than I got from The Sleeping Souls anyway, Matt said that he would’ve been in bands that he wanted to improve, like Scouting For Girls or The Fratellis…
*Jim bursts out laughing* That’s such a Matt thing to say, brilliant…
What’s been your strangest experience on the road then?
You do get a few weirdos, we’ve had some fucking mental times. When you’re out and there’s nowhere to stay and you pretty much have to stay with anyone, those times can get a bit creepy. But it’s like, you feel really bad thinking that because someone’s been kind enough to let you into their home and you respect that, but yeah there’ve been a few strange incidents.
We’ve played some pretty bad, weird shows. Like in school halls, where the van stereo could’ve pumped out more sound than the actual PA, but nothing too weird, we’ve gotten away with it a bit so far. We’re about to go to America however…
And with the Murphys, brace yourselves! A question from a reader, where did The Solemn Sun come from, did you start as yourself and recruit?
I did the solo thing, I did “Neon” on my own basically, although it has a band sound it was just people I knew who came to do stuff. It was when I started writing “Atlases”, I got Phil (bassist) in first out of the guys, Si followed shortly after and Chris joined way later, after “Atlases”. It was certainly a conscious decision though, to make it more of a band. It was actually quite late on that we named the band, just before “Atlases”. I guess the same reason that everyone has their band named if they start off solo; you want people to have that credit you know? Everyone’s in the van, putting the work in and it wouldn’t be fair. But the “Death” record is such a band record, and it sounds that way because we were all writing together and then it comes across live as well, we all put more into it as a result.
Great, and finally what does the rest of 2013 hold? America, then what?
Festivals start pretty much straight away, although I don’t know how many. Our manager’s keeping it real quiet, but we’re doing a load. Then we’ll probably tour the UK again, and then maybe head back to the US. We do 2000 Trees every year, well our manager runs it so if we don’t play then he’s rubbish at his job! James our manager said to us the other day that we’re the only band that are on the list for both (folk festival) End Of The Road and (hardcore/metal festival) Hevy, so that’s kind of cool to have that sort of spread.
Ah wicked, Hevy have just announced Black Flag haven’t they!
Yeah I know, that’s crazy. It’s always really good, the line up for that festival, they had like Glassjaw and bands like that which is awesome. Hevy will be rad for us I think, it’ll be cool to try and win some people over there. A challenge for us! Who knows man, apart from that!