Gig preview: Heir at The Wardrobe, Leeds

Heir. Picture: Portia Hunt

Heir. Picture: Portia Hunt

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The five members of pop band Heir – Tom Hammond, Sam Luca, Harry Vernon, Ste Fisher and Samuel Newham – met while studying at Leeds College of Music.

In the past 18 months they’ve released two singles and an EP, supported The Dunwells and Honne and toured with Blackpool singer songwriter Karima Francis.

“The last EP [When The Lights Went Out] was back in March, and we did a gig with Richard Watson at the 360 Club [the showcase for unsigned musicians at The Library on Woodhouse Lane], which was great,” says Luca.

“We’re from all over the country – I’m from down south, in Exeter, and Tom’s from Blackpool, and we’ve got some other Northerners in the band as well – so it was nice to be able to get family and friends to book it in their diaries and we had a full room on the night, it was sold out in the end, which was good.”

Hammond says Heir were also featured on Alan Raw’s BBC Introducing West Yorkshire show around the time of the EP’s launch. “We went in and did a live session with him and had a chat. They’ve been really good to us, every single we’ve put out they’ve aired for us. The first single was also on the Mark Forrest show that brings together all the local BBC radio stations, which was lovely.”

For a comparatively new band, Heir’s sound is notably polished. Luca attributes a lot of that to the fact that they’d spent a year getting to know each other before releasing music. “We did spent time together just playing music and writing together here and there but it definitely took a bit of time to find something that we were happy to put out to the public,” he says.

Heir. Picture: Portia Hunt

Heir. Picture: Portia Hunt

“Even now our next releases are another stage on from where we feel our true sound is and we think we’ve developed on to a better stage of our music. It was nice to be able to release ourselves with something that we felt comfortable with but the sound is hopefully continuously being polished and we’ll ideally spend the next ten plus years continuing to do so.”

As for musical touchstones, Luca says: “I think I can speak for all of us in saying that one of our favourite bands, if not our favourite collective band, is Haim, the three sisters from California. There’s lots of elements of their music that we love, particularly the way they deliver their vocals is striking. It’s catchy but it’s also real.

“Fleetwood Mac are another classic band that we draw a lot of sound inspiration from and again vocal delivery.”

Hammond adds: “We obviously have a lot of mutual influences but also the great thing is we had a lot of time as musicians before we knew each other, so there’s a lot of different influences coming into one. I think that helps us to not be copycat.

The sound is hopefully continuously being polished and we’ll ideally spend the next ten plus years continuing to do so.

“We all bring our own influences into the band as well and make sure that we’re not all listening to the same stuff because otherwise the thing could get a bit stale.”

The band tend to write collectively. Luca explains: “Tom and I are both lucky enough to have grandparents who live out in the countryside so we’ve taken a few days out there to get the core songs down – the stories and the melodies and the lyrics – and then we’ll bring them into the rehearsal room with a guitar and play them to the boys. The arrangement process takes the songs on to the next level. In terms of creative collaboration it’s always that as opposed to ‘Here’s the song, play it’.”

“It involves absolutely all five of us,” says Hammond.

Since the release of the EP the five band members have moved into a shared house where they’ve set up a studio. “We’ve been doing a lot of recording and a lot of arranging in rehearsal rooms,” says Luca.

Last week the band played in Islington, north London while on next week they headline at The Wardrobe in Leeds. Also on the bill will be The Howl and The Hum and Goldsands.

“In terms of the songs we’ve just spent the last few rehearsals getting more and more excited for these gigs,” says Hammond. “When we write and start arranging the songs we’re obviously excited by the fact that it’s new material but this time around we’re excited about the extra dynamic that it’s going to bring to the set. We’re looking forward to seeing the reaction in the audience.”

Heir play at The Wardrobe, Leeds on Wednesday December 7. www.facebook.com/heirtheband

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