America, it’s time for a new British invasion. Lately I’m finding myself drawn back to a sound I couldn’t get enough of 10 years ago: songs reminiscent of the pop/punk music I overplayed in 2004 with a heavy emphasis on piano. I’m falling in love with it all over again, and the thing I discover every time I find one of these bands? They’re British.
Enter The Cold Start.
If you’re a fan of Keane, Band of Horses or Jimmy Eat World, you’re gonna love these guys. When Dan, Lloyd and Addy’s former punk rock band in the UK disbanded, the trio found themselves facing a change in musical direction and demoing new tracks. With the addition of a new lead guitarist, Taylor, The Cold Start was born. The name, you ask? “The Cold Start” comes from a dance move that drummer Addy used to do at shows in his hardcore days – and if you ask right (maybe with a Lone Star in your hand), he just might demonstrate it for you in person.
The Cold Start made a quick pit-stop in Houston before heading off to Austin for their SXSW showcase (Friday at Esther’s Follies, 9 p.m.) and out on their 12-date upper Midwest/East Coast tour, and it’s probably the best Sunday night I’ve had all year. With hints of indie pop, piano rock and a fully-updated-from-2004 pop/punk vocal vibe, these guys filled Walter’s to the brim with their high-energy set, clap-along tunes and melodic vocals.
And they were kind enough to chat with me prior to the show about touring, where they’re headed next and how the heck four guys from South of England wind up living in sunny Orlando, Florida.
So how DOES a band from England manage to move halfway around the world to Florida?
Dan: Thanks to British Airways!
Lloyd: Love me some British Airways (although I think their service has gone downhill a touch as of late) Seriously though, with the new demos I was working on after the old band broke up, we got some attention through friends and old colleagues in LA. We signed a deal and busted over there with our life savings in pocket. When LA didn’t make sense any more, we decided to hit the East Coast. It was a wonderful, terrible, happy, sad experience and we learned a hell of a lot.
Describe your music for a music fan who’s never heard you.
Lloyd: On record, dynamic and sing-along. Live, even more dynamic and sing-along. We say indie-rock, because five years ago it probably would have been. Now its probably indie-pop, but then that’s kind of its own thing. How about pop-indie-rock?!
Dan: Loads of energy! Come to the shows and watch us go. We still have the same energy we had 10 years ago playing punk rock and have transferred it to what we do now. It’s way more fun to watch than four blokes stood still looking moody.
Houston kicked off a 12-date tour for you guys – what are you most excited about on this tour?
Dan: All of it. Being able to travel around America and play in all these different towns is amazing for us. Coming from our background it’s just something we never could have imagined.
Lloyd: I love this country. I love the scenery, the roads, the people, the venues, the accents. Meeting new people and playing our music to new faces, and people who have actually wanted us to hit their cities and now we get to, is perfect and we don’t take it for granted.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you while on tour?
Dan: We have some crackers, but I think Lloyd would shout at me if I shared them. We like to have a good time and sometimes that gets you into some very strange situations. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Lloyd: The strangest of places, and the strings of people have always been involved in such stories, but Dan is right, not to be spoken of in Internet text. You might get some of them out of us if anyone buys us a drink out there…
Haha, well…had to try! What’s one thing each of you can’t live without while on tour and why?
Dan: I hate to say it, but I need the Twitter app on my phone. I’m a massive football (soccer for you guys) and hockey fan, so I’m constantly on my phone refreshing my feed to make sure I’m not missing anything. Being on tour means I sometimes miss Man Utd and Philadelphia Flyers games, so it’s the best way for me to keep up-to-date.
Lloyd: New York Times crosswords book, Kindle, Spotify on my phone, and I’m set for years to come.
Favorite venue or city to play?
Dan: We’ve been to Austin before, and I loved it there so playing SXSW is going to amazing. Most of the places we play, it’s our first time coming through so it’s beaut just getting to play.
Lloyd: We had some fun shows at some well known spots in LA, and on our recent tour in January I loved The Basement in Nashville. Love that town. I’ve been to New York a few times before but never to play in a band. It’s pretty amazing we are playing two shows there in two very different venues.
Must-have favorite restaurant to stop at while on the road?
Dan: IN-N-OUT BURGER!!!!!!1111111111
Lloyd: Waffle House, perfect for the morning after hangover.
I found a mention of Fist of Extermination on your Facebook page – totally intrigued!
Dan: Haha. It’s probably the best material we’ve ever done. Lloyd can take this one as he pretty much started it.
Lloyd: Well, its all in the name of stupidity. I was messing around with metal drum samples in the studio on the keyboard, had the “Terminator 2” soundtrack in my head and said to Dan and Taylor, ‘Why don’t we start a metal movie/TV theme tune band?’ About 30 minutes later we’d recorded and completed the T2 theme. It’s something fun to pass the time, the next release will be when we get back from tour.
What single song best captures you as a band?
Dan: Of what’s released, I’d say “Perfect Timing“. We love that song. We’re ever-changing and growing, so this new record is really going to capture where we’re at on our journey.
Lloyd: I’d probably agree with that or “Love, Hate, Sunset“. Different spectrums that both display our dynamics. We are really happy with our new material and everything that’s coming next..
What other bands have been a major influence on you?
Dan: I always forget people when asked this question. Let’s have a go. Jawbreaker, Small Brown Bike, Hot Water Music, Against Me, Saves the Day, The Promise Ring, American Nightmare, Das Oath, Explosions in the Sky, Baroness, My Bloody Valentine, Minus the Bear. Loads of stuff. Started off listening to a lot of punk then gradually my tastes chilled out to apart from this massive love of metal and fast bands I still have. I’ve kind of gone with big bands that people would have heard there. I could go on for ages.
Lloyd: Yes, he could…ha. Singer-songwriters have influenced me a lot. Josh Rouse, Pete Yorn, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, to name but a few. There’s something inspiring about the craft of simply creating an insanely wonderful/emotional song with just a voice and guitar/piano. I tried to capture an essence of that on our song “A Different Voice” from our last record. Hopefully it translates. I think we’re all lucky that we are all very much into similar music and genres, and somehow all our personal influences come together in a way that works for us all.
What one thing haven’t you accomplished yet that you’d like to as a band?
Dan: Bloody everything. We haven’t even began. We just want to tour forever, make loads of great records and have people singing those records back to us.
Lloyd: Just to keep growing, to have new listeners, play and sustain our lifestyle of travelling on the road. I think it’s safe to say we’d all enjoy playing more festivals and moving up the bill as we go along the way. That would be a sign of things continuing in the right direction. Either way, we’re extremely lucky to do what we do.
Good news, good groupies – these guys are just getting started on their current tour, and I hope they’re coming to your city (or one near you – road trip it!):
Practicing my own “Cold Start” dance for next time,