Much more than a one night wonder

Young Helmsley band One Night Only started off as a Beatles cover band but now, four years on, they are on the verge of hitting the big time. Sarah Freeman reports.

Sometimes a band gets a new line-up and suddenly find themselves on the brink of a big break.

Rarely is that new addition only 12-years-old, but until the appearance of George Craig, One Night Only were a not entirely hopeful Beatles cover band plying their trade in Helmsley.

Four years on, the band are preparing to support the Pigeon Detectives at their homecoming gig at Leeds Cockpit and have long since branched out from their North Yorkshire roots.

"There were three of us," explains 19-year-old guitarist Mark Hayton, "We had literally just started to learn our instruments, we were about 14 or 15, so we were just making noise really, in a really small village. And then we met George. He was friends with the drummer's brother who was also at the house and he just started singing whenever he was

up there."

"I kind of persuaded these guys to let me be a guitarist and a singer when they only wanted me to be a singer," adds George, who has managed to perfect the look of indie scene veteran.

"There was another guitarist, but I persuaded them to let me do the other guy's job."

Despite being in the heart of rural North Yorkshire, One Night Only began to find their feet just as Helmsley was becoming home to a thriving underground of late-teens skater bands aping Blink 182. As unlikely as it sounds, the town and surrounding area had spawned around 20 fully-fledged local bands, and One Night Only appeared as something of a novelty.

"I remember some of the first songs I wrote were about when my parents divorced and just sort of friendship/relationship based things," adds George.

"That's how it is for me now as well. There's a song we've got called He's There which is going to be on the album as well. It's about how our friend died of leukaemia. Just after we got signed I went away to Marrakesh for a week and I just got the news that one of my closest friends had died. I came back and I had all these lyrics and parts for the song. In all our music there's nothing there that's a down feeling. A lot of our lyrics are about being happy and having a good time, loving life."

Two years ago George brought school friend Jack Sails into the band as keyboardist and set about writing what they described as "proper songs" like first single You And Me, and driving for three hours

to play gigs in Liverpool to ten people.

After eighteen months, word spread and last October Steve Lamacq began playing the demo of You And Me, prompting George to drop out of school to concentrate on the band full-time and within a month every major label in the UK was trekking up to their rehearsal room for a personal showcase.

"We knew friends' bands who'd had a bit of interest from labels and gone down to London to play to them and it was like 'Go away, come back when you're a bit older'," says George. "So we didn't want to do that, we cancelled all our shows and said, 'If you want to see us, you'll have to come to York'.

"Then we hired out the rehearsal room, practised there for a week, got really tight and then we did individual showcases. We were so tired by the end of it. We couldn't be arsed to talk to them. We'd had all week of doing three a day, all asking the same questions."

In March this year, One Night Only signed with Vertigo Records, hit the road for two months supporting Milburn and The Enemy and then took a break to record their first three singles with Steve Lilywhite, squeezed in a few gigs with the Coral before putting the finishing touches to an album which includes an unlikely love song about a power station.

"We were recording some demos and there was this power station on the horizon with a load of lights on it," says Mark. "It was the most epic thing you've ever seen. It's not about a power station, but it was inspired by these epic lights. We went out for a drive one night from the studio and we sat on this hill looking across at it. After that we wrote that song, which is our best song to date."

One Night Only play Leeds Cockpit on Dec 10. 0113 244 1573, www.thecockpit.co.uk. The new single Just For Tonight will be out in January.