Baby Lung are a fresh new Northampton quartet, mixing minimalist emotional indie with a hint of jazzy vibes. Their debut single from back in November, ‘She’, laid out the agenda: an atmospheric ’80s sound [like your man Ryan Adams might do], with a steady hypnotic rhythm backing dreamy guitars and synths to create a sum greater than its parts. New Boots spoke to singer/bassist Maxx Riley about these early days of the band, and we can exclusively reveal the audio to follow-up single, the harder-hitting ‘Casualty’, below.
How did you guys get together?
Back in November 2017 I was pretty much done with music. My previous band [We Animals] was playing a few good shows and putting out some good music, but we couldn’t get to that next level. I had just come out of a relationship so I wasn’t focused on making music and at the time I was also working in the music industry, so music had become a chore more than a passion. Me and Mat [Day], who plays lead guitar in Baby Lung, were setting up some acoustic guitars for work, and I remember watching him play these jazz chords that I hadn’t heard before – I was very much ‘the same four chords with a capo on’ type of songwriter. I asked him to teach me a few chords and I managed to write a song with them. One song became a couple and then a few and so on. I managed to get the buzz of writing back and I straight away knew that Mat had to play guitar in the band. I had worked with Harry [Dinnage], who plays drums for Baby Lung, in my previous band so I was aware of how talented he was. I asked if he wanted to come and jam with us and we instantly clicked and had three songs complete in our first practise. For the next year we decided that we weren’t going to rush into gigging and instead we spent six months being unknown, with no social medias, just perfecting the songs and finding our sound. After recording our first two singles we were introduced to Matt [Willett], our saxophonist/rhythm guitarist, who has added so much to our songs already. It has only been a couple months with Matt but instantly we’re all on the same page with writing, and we’re all equally as committed to pushing ourselves and making music that we want to hear.
Who are the main influences that make up this project, do you think?
We all bring something completely different to the table, so I think this would need to be answered individually. For me personally it was Paul Weller, Jamie T, Mike Skinner (as well as others) that turned me from a drummer to a songwriter. I learnt that you could have fun with the lyrics whilst also keeping them relatable for everyone. I was very late in discovering the greats of music, and only in the last two years I’ve discovered geniuses such as Nat King Cole, Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jnr., as well as many others which has really opened my eyes to a new way of writing. Luckily we’re all quite open minded people so we could be listening to Charlie Parker one day and then The Beatles the next. There’s currently a rise of current artists putting their twists on genres such as Yellow Days, Puma Blue, King Krule etc. I think they’ve influenced us to write what we want to write and to not be afraid to flirt between genres. I think as a band we unintentionally take different musical characteristics from different genres, such as the change of dynamics used in grunge to the catchy choruses used in indie or the real bluesy guitar solos mixed with jazz chords etc. We see no point in restricting ourselves and at the same time manage to keep ‘our sound’.
What was the reaction like to your first release, ‘She’?
I was real nervous about releasing ‘She’, and we actually waited around five months to release the single. We were unknown, so it was important to us to have a good single to release accompanied with an equally as good music video, which our close friend Ryan Johnson shot for us, in order to get people’s attention – which I believe we have done. Off the back of this we’ve received compliments from friends, family, members of the public, some high up people in the music industry and we’ve received numerous gig offers which we’re thrilled with. I think ‘She’ was the first song we ever worked on as a band, so I’m happy it’s gone down so well.
Tell us about this new song, ‘Casualty’.
The one piece of criticism we’ve received from a review was that ‘She’ was basic in terms of song structure, i.e verse chorus verse chorus etc. Although it was intentionally written like that I can’t wait for people to check out ‘Casualty’. Structurally this song is miles apart from ‘She’, and really shows our songwriting skills. I don’t like to go into too much details about what the song means as I hope they are subjective to whoever is listening. However the main premise is falling in love, and having that fear that at any minute it could end.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Maxx – Julie Is Her Name by Julie London
Mat – Carolina Confessions by Marcus King
Harry – Con Todo El Mundo by Khruangbin
Matt – Skylight by Pinegrove
What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Our burning desire is the same as any other band; play big shows, record albums, etc. At the minute we’re happy with staying low and writing more and continuing to be perfectionists. We’re heading into the studio in early 2019 to record an EP, with a number of music videos to follow. We’re at the stage now where we can start to look for gigs and we plan to gig all across the UK.
Casualty hits the streaming/download services on January 4th