I sit down to interview Bayonet ahead of their sold out headline gig at Sheffield’s The Leadmill and spend an honest and often hilarious hour and a half chatting with the four local friends who are going from strength to another in terms of their profile and most importantly, their output. Latest single “Heart Attack” has just dropped and they’re about to play a prestigious gig, so they’re suitably excited.
Backseat Mafia: So how long have you guys been together as a band?
[All talking at once] Just coming up to 2.5 years –years nearly.
Vince Ringrose: So put 6 months! Yeah a couple of years. But we’ve been shit for a lot of that! [laughing]
BM: Were there other bands before that – did you play separately?
Danny Higgins: Three of us were in a band called Murder Clues. We only did I think 2 gigs and one of them were a covers gig. We were in sixth form and we packed the Cremorne out. We didn’t realise it was an 18 plus venue and we’d packed it out with 16 year olds who couldn’t drink at all! They were just ordering diet cokes.
VR: And me dad were passing fags out to all me mates! He made a killing that night.
BM: And do you still get that fan base of people you grew up with?
VR: Yeah, I think that’s the only people coming tonight.! [laughs]
DH: Yeah we still get our mates coming down especially on quite a big night like tonight.
BM: In terms of venues you’ve played, is this [The Leadmill in Sheffield] one of the biggest now? Or have you played bigger in other cities?
VR: We played the main stage at the O2 in Sheffield but this is probably the best of our own gigs.
Lewis Cain: It’s the most tickets we’ve ever sold for a gig. Like when we played the O2 main stage, it looked empty because of how big it is, unless you pack it out.
VR: We were supporting Heaven 17.
[singing of “Temptation” ensues]
LC: There were quite a few bands on, it were called the “next generation”.
Sam Chapman: It was meant to be all these new bands and then Heaven 17 on at the end. So there were all these young bands on and all these young fans who were supposed to stick around but not everyone knew who they were and they were asking us.
DH: My mum and dad were fucking buzzing!
[A debate ensues over how many Heaven 17 songs people know, whether they were on the “Trainspotting” soundtrack, whether said film is overrated and how “A Clockwork Orange” gave Heaven 17 their name. The lads love their pop culture and a vaguely related thread of conversation!]
BM: Speaking of band names, where does Bayonet come from then?
SC: Well I work at Wickes and I was walking through the lightbulbs one day and… [laughs]…That’s what everyone says!
VR: The actual story was we really like a band called Little Comets and they have a song called Bayonne and we thought we should call ourselves that, but then Danny reckoned there was already a band called Bayonne or Bayoné.
DH: I was right! There’s like a metally band already called Bayonet. Their stuff isn’t on iTunes.
BM: Aside from Little Comets you mentioned, who else would you say inspires you that’s currently about?
VR: Shall we pick one each? [sounds of agreement] Okay, I’m Vince, I’m 22 and my inspiration is [starts laughing]. I right like the Smiths. I know it’s obvious but I’ve always liked them, they’ve been around since I first started liking music. Currently I like Fickle Friends at the minute.
DH: I still like Mac DeMarco. I’d probably say him. Their tunes’ basslines are all quite funky and we try and get a bit of that into our tunes.
LC: I’d say probably when I’m making up my lead guitar bits, I’d say Bad Suns. I like all their effects and even Adam Hann from the 1975 and the sounds he gets from his pedals.
[confusion abounds as to whether Lewis said Adam Hann or Adam Ant and whether Adam Ant was even around in 1975]
BM: Do you get annoyed by comparisons to the 1975?
LC: No, I don’t think so. They’re one of my favourite bands
SC: Yeah, it’s the same reason why some people might come to see us and go, oh yeah, Arctic Monkeys just because we’ve got Sheffield accents. It’s that same comparison, using a bit of electronic stuff on stage, like the 1975.
LC: Yeah, cos I read your other view from 2015 [when they supported Lisbon] and you mentioned some of the songs and we don’t even play them anymore. It just shows how much we’ve…like tonight you’ll watch us and think we’re completely different. We’ve changed a lot and like before if you’d asked me that question, I’d have said, oh Kings of Leon and more rockier stuff but we’ve changed a lot since then….It’s still a good review though!
SC: Who’s my inspiration? [There follows some ribbing about Daft Punk and Culture Club which leads to a question as to whether there’s an actual Culture Club you can visit or join.] At the moment there’s a guy called Honne who’s touring Tokyo and doing some massive things. He did that track with Izzy Bizu which was really good. There’s also a band called Flyte who played at Tramlines and I listen to them quite a bit. These lads laugh because I know about lots of music that they don’t know!
[We talk at length about the Sheffield music scene and the lads love their home city but also find the scale of venues in other cities such as Manchester and Leeds to be quite attractive. They discuss the rivalry in trying to break out from just playing the same venues in one town and how your contemporaries judge you.]
SC: You can’t go ten feet in Manchester without finding a good bar with a good sound system where you can play. In Sheffield a lot of people prefer to go out for club nights now.
DH: I think that apart from the bands like Arctic Monkeys and Bring Me the Horizon, Sheffield’s known for being quite a dance city at the moment with people like Toddla T and Niche nightclub. It’s possible there’s a different angle. It’s a big studenty city and maybe the big majority aren’t into indie like they were a few years ago when indie was the music you went out and listened to. Now it’s all clubs and EDM music and Friday night, the underground house scene and that says a lot about…I think some bands haven’t caught onto that yet. In Manchester there was a time with a specific sound and I think in Sheffield there was too and at the minute there’s no identity as to what that sound is and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In a music city, you don’t want every band to sound the same. We’ve grown up a bit and we’ve realised we don’t just want to sound like every other band.
BM: Do you find it easy to play other cities and towns? Is there a big appetite for bands from elsewhere?
VR: I often prefer the gigs we do elsewhere now. There’s like a different feeling.
SC: You don’t know anyone and it’s alright playing your own town but are you going out getting new fans? Even like four months ago we were going to like a new city and even if one person comes up to you and – somebody came from Stockport just to see us and you’re thinking that’s nice, you can build on that. Bring your mates next time! You also look up to bands who are above your level and then you play the same venues and maybe catch them up a little bit and think, well we’re not anywhere yet, maybe I was wrong about where I thought they were. It’s hard to get success these days. You can be massive in another country and yet no one’s heard of you. Like my mum for instance, she only knows who the 1975 are because I’ve told her about them and they’re massive now and yet it doesn’t feel like there are household names anymore.
DH: Yeah, like the 1975 to us are huge and to us and the Neighbourhood from California are huge and Bad Suns are huge and people like that but then you say to people about these bands and, well maybe not the 1975, but people haven’t heard of them. It’s the same as maybe a kid coming up to me and asking if I’ve heard of this DJ or grime artist and they’d be saying they’re huge, how have we not heard of them? In a way that can be perceived as a good thing.
[At this point, Sophie, the photographer who’s been a good sport, sitting through all our rambling and occasionally joining in, is asked if she needs to get off and then teased over her ‘showbiz connections’, taking it all in her stride!]
BM: So what’s next for you guys?
VR: We’re recording three tunes in London in January and then we’re going to go with those for next year and do some different tours. Fingers crossed we can do some good ones.
DH: We’re hoping that things will continue in 2017 to get bigger and bigger.
SC: And just little things like trying to nail an image or trying to nail a sound. As soon as you do that, things fall into place. We’re only just getting that now and feeling like this is more of a professional operation we’ve got going on here.
VR: Thing is, we’re doing as much as we physically can when we’ve got three people who work full time and one who’s at uni. Like we’ve released four tunes this year and done gigs in different cities and I don’t think that we could physically do any more than what we’re doing. Like you talk to a lot of people in other bands and they work part-time and three of us work full time. Lewis is at uni full time and still works.
DH: We wouldn’t be able to do a tour and take two full weeks or anything. It’d be like instead of a holiday.
SC: To do a night after night tour we’d need to get the time off.
BM: Just like David Brent.
[a conversation follows about The Office and Ricky Gervais and Brent’s musical mishaps. I should know better than distracting them! This segues into a chat about their current look – short trousers, white socks, t-shirts at the minute, all matched and yet individual. Vince has a Napoleon Dynamite t-shirt he has borrowed for the occasion whilst Lewis has a Stranger Things black tee. Their style is a little bit 80s, retro cool and also shows off their impressive guns, especially in the case of gymaholic Vince (no girlfriend = hours at the gym, he grins). They discuss where they get their inspiration and other bands who inspire them like Sundara Karma, who they were somewhat hilariously starstruck by at the Dot-to-Dot Festival and Blossoms. I joke about the band splitting up and the conversation turns to their loyal fans, in particular their international fanbase, with several in America who send their best wishes and prayers before gigs and invite them over to the States]
VR: Have you got any seriously personal questions? I like answering them!
BM: Okay, what’s the worst thing about being in the band?
LC: Well, Danny can’t ever be on time. Earlier I asked him to start walking up a road to pick him up and he stood in the same spot.
SC: I think if you’ve been following music for years and you see those backstage videos and it’s not all rock ‘n’ roll and drugs. It’s a job and there’s money in it but you can’t be messing around. You’re on a world tour, say in America, and you wanna go bungee jumping in the Grand Canyon and your management’s like no! You could break a leg or something on like a million dollar tour. With us, I don’t think a lot of our friends realise, they see us playing in the band onstage, but they don’t realise there’s all the moving around of kit, all the money you put in yourself, and the time you put in, like you might finish playing at half ten, but you’re there till one in the morning, trying to pack up. Like we played a gig in Manchester, then drove all the way to London and drove back, all in the same day, bearing in mind I was driving and I was out of it!
VR: We drove down, played an hour, spoke to everyone afterwards, Sam had to drive us, we had to pack the car up, drove to London to play a gig at ten. We got there at half nine and to be fair, we nailed it, then did an interview for an hour, then Sam had to drive home. And we’d played a gig the night before.
SC: They all kept waking up in the car and putting a different tune on Spotify and then ended up falling asleep before someone else woke up, thought that was shit and changed the song. And it’s not that we don’t like doing it, cos we do, it’s just that not every aspect of it is super fun. You’ve got to work hard.
DH: Even like tonight. We wanna go out and have a good time after the gig, and I know it doesn’t sound much, but we’ve been rehearsing since half twelve, got our kit out, soundchecked, had some food and it’s a long day. For an hour or so you’re buzzing afterwards. I was reading an interview with one of Rihanna’s touring band and they were saying it’s like part of her job to go to a nightclub afterwards to be seen there, to make people want to go and it’s more exclusive.
LC: Like we’ll do a gig tonight and after, I’ll be like “I wanna go out and have a drink” but then after an hour, it just hits you and you’re absolutely shattered.
BM: And to finish then, what’s the best thing about being in the band?
SC: When we’ve practised a song for ages and it’s the first or second time you’ve played it on stage and you get up there with the proper sound and you can hear what it sounds like and cannot stop yourself just smiling and saying “I love playing like this”. And people singing your songs, that’s just unreal
DH: I remember watching bands playing when I was little and you think that’s unreal. That’s what we’re all working for, isn’t it?
SC: It’s on a par with being a superhero or a sporting star for sure.
Talk is occasionally bawdy and suitably laddish but also deep, cultural and engaging. These boys know how their band’s doing but also have a sensible interest in the rest of the scene, across many genres and styles.
They also repeatedly apologise for going off topic, turning the interview into a therapy/mentoring session and being random, which they have no need to do. An hour and a half has flown by and the boys have shown themselves to be savvy, hard-working and realistically ambitious, as well as being chatty, charming and as down to earth as Sheffield musicians can get.
Bayonet were speaking to Ben Lewis.