An interview with This Is Radio SilenceThis Is Radio Silence have been operating somewhere under the radar for quite some time. Since 2006 This Is Radio Silence have released numerous singles and albums but we really became aware of This Is Radio Silence around 2019 when they resurfaced after a 4-5 year hiatus. First we heard was The Fallen Men EP, an adventurous and nuanced release straddling ambient, experimental, post-punk and their core sound of industrial electronic rock. It was followed by a further EP, There Is No Time / Impermanence, and some singles which expanded on the diversity of the group's sound as they incorporated electro-pop, dub, krautrock sequences and shoegaze atmospherics whilst retaining a thread throughout. It's a thread woven with elements of many genres revolving around a core sound we're reluctantly describing as industrial electronic rock. A later single, 'Disappointed, carried on a wave of thrashing industrial guitar and powerhouse drumming captures the energy and directness of their expanded set-up.
Formed by Ben McLees in 2006. They've had quite a convoluted history and gone through various line-ups. The current group features Ben McLees (formerly of Earth Loop Recall and SonVer), Hunter Barr (formerly of Knifeladder - with Andrew Trail and the late John Murphy, Black Light Ascension, Antivalium, Oblivion Guest), and Geoff Courts.
2023 saw the release of the self-titled double compilation featuring all the material (and those mentioned above) the group had recorded since 2019. Their core sound is based around Ben McLees' melodic vocal with post-punk and transcendent guitars, strident bass over synths and electronics melded with nuanced sonic textures it proved the group to be versatile and thrilling eliciting, from us, comparisons with The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, The Twilight Sad. We were struck by how a group so accomplished could still be so little known.
This lack of recognition struck a chord with Ben McLees who launched a thread on X/Twitter expanding on the difficulties of gaining exposure and feeling ignored. The sense of frustration was unmissable and it's a valid feeling as This Is Radio Silence had created a great album worthy of attention which should easily find a larger audience. Those descriptions only touch on the varied elements found within their deeply expansive and emphatic songs.
Outside of This Is Radio Silence, members of the group are active in many other musical pursuits. Ben and Hunter comprise the rhythm section of Lloyd James's angular post-punk/dark folk group Naevus. Aside from the earlier mentioned Oblivion Guest, Hunter Barr is also a member of Antivalium and the post Knifeladder group Black Light Ascension, as well as operating the Retina II studio. Together with Lloyd James both were part of Man Eat Man Eat Man who released a great exhilarating self-titled album full of post-punk mannerisms and industrial heaviness.
We spoke with Ben McLees about the group in a wide ranging interview covering their history, the diversity of their songs, their other projects and their current plans as they enter a period of sustained momentum which should see their profile rise and hopefully result in wider recognition for a catalogue of songs that really deserve to be heard.
This Is Radio Silence formed in 2006, but before that you were in Earth Loop Recall and SonVer, both featuring Jo Quail, tell us about these?
ELR was my jumping-off point, musically. I'd been writing and recording serious demos from about 1998, I guess. A lot of those were precursors to ELR, which started in early 2001 when I met Mark Waterhouse through a mutual friend. We started writing together and in that first year we wrote songs like 'Mesh', 'Like Machines', 'Glass' and 'Optimism Creeping In'. Jo joined the band at the start of 2002, after answering a 'keyboardist wanted' ad we put in one of the free ads papers. ELR did quite well over the next couple of years - we built up a following, signed to Wasp Factory Recordings and put our first album Compulsion out in 2004. It was an exciting time. It's a flawed album in some ways - the production hasn't aged well - but I can't not be proud of it. Those songs still mean a lot to me. Unfortunately, it hadn't been that long after the album came out that Mark and I started pulling in different directions musically. We weren't experienced enough to find a compromise that worked. I really regretted that. We split in 2005. Mark and Gareth formed a band called Mordachi, while Jo and I threw ourselves into SonVer. SonVer was the product of some instrumental experimentation Jo and I had been doing while ELR were still going. Guitar, cello, samples, field recordings, programmed beats... a weird kind of classical/psychedelic/ambient/industrial, I guess. We had a good run, put out a couple of albums, expanded to a 4-piece for the second one, then played some big festivals like Green Man, WGT and Latitude. When we moved to a quartet, we seemed lose a lot of the interesting sound collage elements and the experimental edge we'd had when we started. There wasn't room for the samples, programmed drums or whatever. It felt like there was resistance to that from the others, which was where I started to feel a bit disillusioned with it. We'd gone from being this cool, experimental leftfield project to being this... you could say post-rock-lite band. To me, it wasn't about that.
By 2009, the inter-personal dynamic in the band had also gone awry in a big way and looking back, that last year or so in SonVer was really fucking miserable for me. The band kind of fell apart for a multitude of reasons - things had become completely unsustainable at that point. But by then, I'd already started working properly on what became Now There's Nothing; while Jo had already started to go down a solo trajectory. So in the end, there was a fairly natural parting of ways and we've not crossed paths since.
What was the impetus for starting This Is Radio Silence?
I needed something as a carrier for the songs I was writing post-ELR. To me, they felt like a continuation of the thread I'd started in that band. I recorded a demo EP in 2006, which were the first set of songs to carry the TIRS name, but I still had no real idea what to do with them really. It was just about getting something out. The notion of forming a band was on my mind for sure, but the timing was wrong.
Then in 2007, Lee Chaos asked me if I'd consider reforming ELR for a one-off show for Wasp Factory Recording's 'closing-down party'. I jumped at it. Mark wasn't interested but gave as close to a blessing as I could've hoped for. So... it was me, Jo, Tim Clark (guitar), Dan Vickers (drums) and Jason Knight (bass) in that line-up. It was a huge release to play those songs again, but in retrospect it should've been ELR just for that one-off. We ended up playing several shows over the next 10 months, but by the end, I'd become hugely conflicted about it. We were playing all these new songs, most of which ended up being on Now There's Nothing. It wasn't ELR anymore to me and I decided it was just better to put it to rest in March 2008. If I'd had some conviction and flexibility of thought, I'd have rebranded the band - because in truth, that group was actually the first iteration of TIRS. TIRS was reborn about 6 months later when I put out 'The Heart Grows Fonder' as a single on Line Out Records - this was in August 2008. The B-side was a track I'd written with Tim called 'T.M.N.T.Y.' which I think probably represents the true starting point of TIRS. We still play it live now - Tim came over to London from his home in Berlin to see our headline show in March this year, which was the first time he'd seen that song performed live. That meant a lot to me.
Between 2010 and 2014 the group released 2 albums Now There's Nothing and Soon, Much Of This Will Have Been Destroyed then the EP The Crux & Remixes. Could you tell us about these releases? Would you consider this the first or at least an early phase of the group?
Now There's Nothing was certainly phase one, yeah. Because many of the songs were written during 'ELR mkII' in 2007-8, it's actually quite a strange record for me in that it's very transitional. I'd originally had an idea for that album to be very different, featuring guest vocalists on each track. The only song which survived that plan was 'The Truth Is In Your Trigger Finger', a collaboration with Scott Lamb (aka DeathBoy) - I'd approached a list of vocalists who agreed in principle to be involved, including Andy Cairns from Therapy? - but it ran out of steam for a number of reasons. In the end, I went back to a lot of songs from that ELR mkII period which'd been recorded but not released - songs like '000000', 'Adoration', 'Unbeautiful', 'We Fall Apart'. They were better and more realised than I'd given them credit for. I still had no band then either, so I wasn't sure what TIRS really was, or what it would end up being. By then, I knew that SonVer's days were up, so I had this sense of impetus to do an album for myself, to lay some foundations of my own. That's probably what that album really is - the foundations of the project. By the time of Soon..., TIRS had played live for a couple of years. Geoff Courts and Sam Astley were both onboard and we were writing something which we felt represented us at the time. It was crafted differently to what had come before, for sure. I think of that album as something of an outlier in our catalogue now, certainly sonically. In retrospect, I was probably airing a bit too much dirty washing on it lyrically, so I find it quite difficult to revisit now. 'The Crux' was another transitional release, really. I wanted us to become more electronic, synth-orientated - Hunter had joined by this point, Sam was about to leave to focus on fronting his own group and Austin Davey - who had a very different approach to guitar to Sam, this shoegaze kind of style - had joined. A bit like with the first album, I was more fixated on how the songs would be presented on record than live. So when we did play them live, they became very different beasts again.
The group went on a hiatus around 2015/6 for a period of 4/5 years, why the, uh, silence?
I was about to become a parent, so we'd agreed to take a few months off. But without really knowing how, those few months somehow became a couple of years - circumstances seemed to keep shifting and they never seemed to be a collectively convenient opportunity for us to resume things. I did some solo work as DISCONNECTS, which was a bit of a throwback to how I approached SonVer in the early days. It was something of an audio diary of my time living in and around Peckham, Camberwell and Brixton. It was nice to do this experimental, ambient dub thing again. I put out an EP called The Cold Harbour, which is still one of my favourite pieces of work. In addition to that, I was also producing the Naevus album Curses during 2016 - and to be honest, that was really hard to get over the line. With that and being the parent to a newborn, I simply didn't have enough bandwidth to resume things with TIRS too. In the end, the opportunity to restart TIRS didn't present itself again until 2019 - not long after which that bloody pandemic arrived and shut everything down again. We pressed on though; the work we did during Covid was invaluable in setting us up for where we're at now.
There's been something of a revolving door aspect to the line-up what's accounted for that?
You're right - we've got a surprisingly lengthy list of ex-members! I think in some ways, TIRS had existed more as a project than a band until 2015, so a lot of people have come in for a gig or two then gone again. I don't really see it as an issue because as you've mentioned, TIRS has had some defined stages and we've done things quite differently during each one. But Geoff joined in 2010 and is still here... and Adrian, who does our live visuals, has been in and around TIRS since day dot - he was at the very first solo show I played as TIRS in 2010 and his contribution to what we do is really valuable.
How did Hunter Barr (Knifeladder, Anti Valium, Oblivion Guest) who has remixed tracks as Oblivion Guest and is now a member of the group become involved? Oblivion Guest and TIRS have become somewhat entwined with tracks appearing on each other releases and together you've performed live studio performances. What has Hunter brought to the group?
Hunter joined the group in 2012 - I invited him while travelling back from a Black Light Ascension show in Germany. His impact on TIRS was immediate. Onstage, he just has this inimitable presence. He's also the technical brains in the group - the changes in our hardware set-up, approach and sound have very much been steered and enabled by him. His input on the recent EPs and album has been huge - we've become co-writers and co-producers, so TIRS as it is right now is very much the realisation of a shared vision that Hunter and I have had since 2020. The crossover of TIRS and Oblivion Guest material really started with 'Fallen Men' and 'We Know It's Over', so introducing Oblivion Guest tracks to the live set just felt like a natural extension of that crossover. We've been doing 'Tomorrow Has a Flaw' live since last year and it's a track which seems to have a real impact - audience responses to it have been great and it's become a really important part of our live sets.
The self-titled compilation gathering together the groups releases since 2019 along with live cuts and unreleased material has just been released. What prompted the release and why now?
The original plan was to release a series of EPs (starting with 'Fallen Men') which would effectively form an album anyway, just in stream-friendly bite-sized portions. But once we'd actually released them, we quickly realised it was the strongest work TIRS had done to date. Not having that music in a physical format was something we knew we had to address. Because the costs of getting CDs produced for each EP would have been an expense we couldn't take on, we decided to collate everything from this period together onto a 2-CD set, which we've trimmed down to an 18-track set for the streaming platforms. The double album idea gave me the push to complete a bunch of tracks that'd been laying around for a few years in an unfinished state. One of those was 'Disappointed', which we'd been playing live back in 2015 and had originally intended to be a single before our hiatus. We decided there was no better time to launch the album than at our first headline show for 4 years, which was back in March. It just made sense. It's an album that I'm really, really proud of. I should also point out that the photos for the album artwork were taken by our friend Robert Barker, who'd previously run Line Out Records. In fact, Bob's photography has been on every TIRS release since 'Fallen Men'. So there's a nice tie-in with our first single and album there, as they were both released on that label.
It's a diverse and cohesive release with a recurrent thread throughout but I'd like to ask you about specific tracks: On 'Fallen Men' over forlorn synths and atmospheric guitars you sing about "citizens of nowhere" and "the direction we're forced to take isn't one that we've chosen". It seems to point to a frustration with the current situation. You think things could be better?
'Fallen Men' is quite transparent really. I don't write many political songs, but this song pretty much wrote itself. At that time, Theresa May was PM. She was of course the architect of the 'hostile environment' line which has since enabled people like Patel and Braverman to push further and further to the right. Pure xenophobia. I think there's been some misguided revisionism with May, that somehow she wasn't all that bad in relation to her successors - but she was awful, utterly vile. She pushed through this disastrous hard Brexit, mainly to try and convince the hardliners in her party that they could get behind her as PM. True-to-type Tory self-service at the expense of everyone else. Her 'citizens of nowhere' speech was a blatant 'fuck you' to a huge percentage of the population and just underlined how divisive and damaging the whole Brexit experiment has been since the start. Do I think things could be better? They WERE better! Things were better before all of this, that's what's so frustrating. As is the sense of being powerless to it all. A million people marched in London in 2019 to campaign for a people's vote and it was swept under the fucking carpet. We were just told to shut the fuck up and get over it. It's maddening. There's never been a greater need to get the Tories out, but right now I sadly have little faith that the alternative will be any better. And I say that as a former Labour member. The whole thing feels broken and it's kind of crushing to feel as though nobody's going to be able to fix it. 'Fallen Men' still feels just as relevant as when we wrote it, it's a bit mad to think we've had three Prime Ministers since and we're even more in the shit than we were with May.
I find the synth based 'We Know It's Over' particularly poignant and one of your finest songs. It was the first single after the group reconvened in 2019. Tell us about it?
I'm glad that song has made an impression. It's a really important and special song for us. Hunter sent me an instrumental version of the song in 2018 and it knocked me sideways. Even before I set lyrics to it, it had an inescapable poignancy to it. On one hand it made writing the lyrics and vocal line easy, but on another it added to the sense of responsibility to get them right. It's a song about loss, mortality. We're at that age now when you have to face those things a lot more regularly, unfortunately. It follows on from 'La Muerte De Una Estrella Es Un Ojo' from the Soon... album in that respect, just darker, less hopeful, more... final. We decided almost on a whim to put it out as the first single - it appealed to our warped sense of humour to release it on Valentine's Day. We really wanted the song to have its own space as opposed to it being swallowed up within an EP. I think a few people thought that the song was actually our way of signing off - including some members of the band at the time! It would have been easier to come back with a 3-minute banger, for sure... but it wouldn't have been 'us' to do that. We're working on a way to play it live right now - it's a challenge to translate the space of the song on record to a live performance, but we like challenges. Hopefully we can make it work - it sounded really promising at our most recent rehearsals.
Lyrics about self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy hang heavy on the choppy, post-punk scrapings of 'Unsound' - could you elaborate on the feelings behind this?
Lyrically, it's a really personal track. It's hearing my speaking voice - either on recordings or echoing on a bad phone line - and hearing the voice of someone I've had a very difficult relationship with since I was really young. It's a reality I fucking hate. It's inescapable, torturous, always there. 'Unsound' is a kind of 'part two' to 'T.M.N.T.Y.' from the first album, thematically. Revisiting themes is a big part of my writing approach, helps continue the thread, the story. I do it musically too - 'Impermanence' has a keyboard motif which reprises the last track on the ELR album. I think it's the classical training in me coming out.
On 'The Voice Inside My Head Remains', amidst the waves of guitar and atmospheric passages, you sing "All desire replaced with doubt", "all the feelings that I've betrayed" and "there's nothing worth saving". There's a lot of self-doubt and despondency going on here so what accounted for those feelings?
Self-doubt is another thing that always seems to be there. It's been there for as long as I can remember. It's a bastard, nagging, prodding, questioning. Telling me that I'm not good enough. I wrote 'The Voice...' during a particular point just before our hiatus when I wasn't sure we'd ever get back onto it - we'd made some recording plans that hadn't come to anything - namely the lost 'Disappointed' single - and I had this sense of all our momentum slipping away. I felt like we'd just disappear and nobody would remember we'd ever existed. 'The Voice Inside My Head Remains' is actually the one song I had doubts about putting on the album, because it countered how I felt about the body of work as a whole. But it's got real validity, because that voice still pipes up now and then. It's an uncomfortable truth for me, but it's truth nonetheless. And truth is one thing I consider to be really important within our work.
'Frozen Frames' incorporates electronic sequences and noise shimmers, 'As Below, So Above' unfurls to experimental industrial atmospherics, and 'One For Sorrow' and 'Two For Joy' are more dubbed-up. You've also recorded sessions acoustically? You're not afraid to take This Is Radio Silence out of their comfort zone, are you?
I don't like the idea of having a 'comfort zone'. I think that suggests a degree of complacency... and the minute you become complacent as a musician, you've lost that edge which creatively is so important. Making art shouldn't be comfortable anyway - it should push you, bend you into different shapes. And I think music should help you confront things, not escape from them. That's really important for me actually - these songs are for the most part, me confronting things. They're not songs of escapism. It's not easy to sing them sometimes, but it means I'm never going through the motions. More than the musical styles, I think that the feeling we put into the songs is more important, certainly more of an identifying aspect to what we do. I also enjoy revisiting and reinterpreting our songs - hence remixes featuring as album tracks in their own right. The majority of songs in our live set at the moment are either remix versions or rearrangements - it keeps the live experience exciting, helps us keep that edge.
'Disappointed' is carried on a wave of surging industrial guitars, while 'Impermanence' glides from cinematic sequences into transcendent electro-pop. Industrial, electro, shoegaze, ambient, experimental...all feature within the sound and often within the same song. Is there a core sound to This Is Radio Silence? How would you describe the group?
To be honest, I don't really like trying to describe our music, it's the part of the biography or press release where I always get stuck. It gives me a right headache. We'd probably be a marketeer's nightmare, maybe that's why we're still unsigned! Personally, I'd rather other people tell me what they can hear in it - that way, it becomes open to subjectivity and therefore can't be wrong. I find it genuinely fascinating, learning what other people hear in our music. And to be honest. it's the beauty of putting music out there - at the point someone else listens to it, it becomes theirs, they acquire this unique relationship and connection with it. It's why you and I are music fans too - I think we're all constantly searching for the next thing which connects in that special way.
Our own music, to me though... it's just our music. I'm too far inside it be able to remove myself from it in order to analyse it. I know where it comes from, but what it actually is... (shrugs) you've mentioned a lot of genres already and they're all valid. But yeah, finding that one definitive term doesn't come easily. I listen to a lot of music, both new and old - and pretty much all of it provides me with an influence one way or another. How those influences come through into the music depends on how I, or Hunter, filter those influences and translate them into what we write or play. We'll have conversations about a track wherein I'll namecheck... I dunno, say 23 Skidoo and Loop; he'll come in referencing Meat Beat Manifesto and Thom Yorke - and we'll just find that way of moulding those elements into something. By the end, we can't tell where those references have gone within the finished track, but they helped inform the journey from initial idea to finished song. But irrespective of any reference points, it's most important that each track fits in the wider catalogue, that it sounds like TIRS and not a pastiche or rip-off of something else.
Wouldn't it be easier just to focus on one style?
I think we do, to be honest. In our own way. It's funny - I don't really think about genres or sub-genres, but more in terms of sonic colours, or ingredients. You're not just working with the primary colours, there's a whole gamut to explore. It's as much about dynamic and 'feel' than it is about style. To be honest, I quite like the fact that people feel the need to use several styles or genres to describe us. I see it as an indicator that we're doing something right.
Some of the influences I've detected within your sound include - and these are big names - include The Cure, The Chameleons, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, The Twilight Sad. Am I wide of the mark and who would you consider are the group's musical influences?
I don't think you're wide of the mark at all! But again, it's not really for me to tell you that you're 'right' or 'wrong' with that shortlist. If that's what you hear in in it, then that's how you've connected with it , which is completely valid. For what it's worth though, 80% of those bands you've named have undoubtedly had an influence on me. You're not the first person to compare us to The Twilight Sad either, which I find really interesting. They're certainly a reference point, I love that band. I first saw them at Latitude in 2008 or 2009, I don't remember - it was one of the years SonVer played. But it wasn't until No One Can Ever Know that they really hooked me. I think James is an incredible vocalist and frontman... and I love Andy's guitar sound. I just wish they'd break off from supporting The Cure and get back to doing their own longer shows again.
I will admit though - just before ELR started, I wrote a song called 'Please Stop Hurting Me' - which ended up re-recorded on Compulsion. That song was my attempt at method-writing something that was like NIN meets early Therapy? with Chameleons guitars. Belatedly answering an earlier question, I guess that possibly formed the beginnings of what could be called the 'core sound' of our music. It's 24 years on now, so I don't consciously go into writing music with that kind of objective in mind anymore - but I guess it could be considered to be the foundation of much of what's come since.
Aside from This Is Radio Silence you're also part of Lloyd James's angular dark folk group Naevus and together with Hunter Barr a decade back you formed the side project Man Eat Man Eat Man. The name might have been lifted from Magazine but the result released belatedly was an album of hypnotic post-punk charged with an experimental, dub and industrial edge. It was a refreshing and unique album, how did it come about and any chance you could do it again?
We conceived the idea of MEMEM in 2008, I think while we were at, or just after being at WGT. I'd played guitar at that festival with Naevus, while Hunter was a sometime Naevus member but at that time had just left Knifeladder - albeit briefly. We wanted to do something together which brought out our noisy, experimental post-punk side. It was a really liberating experience and a lot of fun too. While that album's really quite dark, we spent most of the recording sessions pissing ourselves laughing. We were really enjoying ourselves. It was the first time I'd written with both Lloyd and Hunter - of course, we've been working together in Naevus since - and it was also my first opportunity to be THE BASSIST in a band, which I'd wanted to do since I was in my teens. I was definitely channelling some Tracy Pew and 'Metal Box' era Jah Wobble on those recordings. I think that given the way we wrote and recorded it - largely improvised to randomly-selected time signatures, it's probably a one-off album for us. We've certainly talked about doing something again, especially when we exhumed the masters and put it out 10 years after recording it. But there's a tangible fear that we'd be unable to capture anything like the spirit and spontaneity of that record. At worst it'd be a contrived attempt at recapturing a vibe, or ethos that was very much of the time we recorded that material. We wouldn't want to be a pale imitation of ourselves. Some things are just meant to be left as they are, I think. But playing live? I'd never say never to that.
Our review of the This Is Radio Silence compilation called it your definitive statement and it prompted a passionate response from you on X/Twitter where you articulated the difficulty of gaining attention and exposure for something you strongly believe in. It probably motivated this interview, so could you reiterate those sentiments?
I really try not to vent about music matters these days. but fuck me - trying to get any kind of attention or traction these days can be so disheartening. Social networks all seem to go the same way in the end if they survive: they all become cluttered; money talks, algorithms go against you, everyone's just trying to shout louder than everyone else. It's so easy to get lost beneath the din. Myspace was great for a while, but there's been nothing with that kind of music-centric networking capability out there since it went to the wall. Twitter, or X, or whatever the hell it is these days, just doesn't work if you're at the bottom of the pile. So, with this album, I tried to do things properly - I sent out emails to 40 or 50 magazines, online 'zines, blogs, radio, reviewers, etc weeks in advance of the release and - thank you again, Tony - you were one of only two people who even bothered to acknowledge me. It was an utterly soul-destroying experience for the most part. Not really what you want or need when, like you say, you've got what you consider your 'definitive collection' about to enter the world. You're inviting supposed 'new music champions' to just LISTEN and nobody's fucking interested. What's the deal with that? I guess ours was just another unsolicited email from an unfamiliar address, straight into the bin. The maddening part of it is, most of these people are actively requesting bands contact them. As I say, they call themselves champions of new music, some in genres you could say we cross into and stop for a cuppa in, but they're just writing reviews of established bands like Depeche Mode at Twickenham Stadium or whatever, a pointless exercise really, while for whatever reason not giving a band like us the time of day. Pick a fucking lane, guys - are you championing new music or not?
I've always been a firm believer in doing things as organically as possible - I don't like the idea of paying for ads on social media, or giving money to someone to plug your music, or to access someone's database of contacts. Not that we could necessarily afford it anyway. I don't mind active rejection, or a bad review, or whatever. It's being ignored that really gets to me. I genuinely think this music we make deserves better. Maybe approaching people with a double album is a bit intimidating for them, maybe it was just asking too much, maybe they don't have the patience for it. But for us, it was about making a statement, going all-in while everyone else is tip-toeing around, drip-feeding single tracks online. For us, it's "here's everything we did over the course of three years in one beautiful package". There was an opportunity to do it and we took it. I really believe that ours is music that gives something to the listener. We do catharsis, we do beauty, we put a lot of time into producing our records, we make music that rewards the listener with something worthwhile and meaningful. I think we're a good live band, too. I can't lie... some wider recognition for what we do would be really nice at some point.
What's next? Anything else you would like to add?
We've just been back in the studio to prepare for a pair of September gigs in Manchester and London. Geoff's back in the line-up again after 4 years away; he's moved from bassist to guitarist, which I'm really happy and excited about. There's a really good, open and universally positive energy in the band again. We're all pulling in the same direction now, which hadn't completely been the case for a while. We're going to be pushing the new album pretty heavily in the live set of course, but there's also some of the older material plus an ELR song or two in the mix. The way we're setting up now is the closest we've ever been to how ELR were in the early days - stripped back to two guitars and electronics. I've found my space as a frontman again. And I think there's a lot more energy in the way we're performing now. After these gigs, we're going to record some new material - there are some demos in the works which are already sounding pretty exciting. Some stylistic curveballs in there. We're experimenting with different sound sets and ideas which have opened up some new possibilities for us and after a fairly lengthy writer's block, I've started scribbling lyrics down again too. Recognition for the double album aside, it feels like we're tangibly moving forwards and we really want to get some sustained momentum going now. We've got further shows lined up around the UK in 2024 - having that pipeline gives us things to aim for and look forward to. Playing live is still the best thing about being in a band - other than doing interviews, of course - and it's exciting to be thinking of ways in which songs not in the current set could be reimagined and (re)introduced. We're open to opportunities, of course - so anyone reading this who might have something TIRS-shaped available, please drop us a line!
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