Jen the Red interviews Ivyrise members, Ben Falinski and Josh Thaxton, on 16 Mar at The Relentless Garage in London…
A personal discovery in traffic and from the radio of my beaten up 96 Corsa, Ivyrise’s single ‘Line up the Stars’ aired by Fearne Cotton on BBC Radio 1 Generator on 8 March, genuinely changed a bad morning into a truly inspiring day.
After immediately pulling over and requesting an interview with the band via their Facebook page, I underwent my own online crash course in Ivyrise and following various emails from their management and PR – a week later I’m walking into the small dressing room at The Relentless Garage in London where two members of Ivyrise are preparing for their single launch gig.
Perching rather uncomfortably on the edge of the low level sofa next to newest member and drummer, Josh Thaxton and opposite frontman, Ben Falinski, amply raised on his stall, I began the interview:
Starting with you Ben and your link with Portsmouth. Talk us through the beginning, your first venue in Portsmouth, the line-up’s, any struggles getting started?
Ben: I had actually moved away from Portsmouth when I started the band. So, when I grew up in Portsmouth I used to play in few local bands down the Edge of the Wedge and that sort of scene. And when we started the band we mainly played in London to start with and it think it was in late 2009 that we first when back to Steve Pitts place at The Cellars. Steve went to the same school as I did 30 years before. But then we were in The News and he basically got in contact and put us on down at the Cellars and we played there 4 times in 2010.
Great little venue…
Ben: Yeah it was wicked, we loved it.
Josh: We had great fun.
Ben: Yeah we did, he’d shut the pub up, lock us in and get us drunk afterwards! It was the only about the only time on tour you see where we got to a day off afterwards. Normally we’d do like 3 on day off, 3 on day off and the day off was always after the Portsmouth one on tour. So that was like the first time we went to Portsmouth.
What did you do on your days off?
Ben: We slept it off!
Josh: The next day afterwards was Valentines day so I had to shoot.
Ben: But all of the rest of the band went up Spinnaker tower and stuff, so we’ve had some really nice memories in Portsmouth already. We also just played The Wedgewood Room’s in January.
Is that the first time you’ve played at the Wedgewood Rooms?
Yeah it was great, really good venue actually, we enjoyed that one. But, I really struggled in Portsmouth becoming a band member. I went through various bands and used to play piano and sing and all sorts of things. It was probably about 5 years after I left Portsmouth that I finally came back. And now finally people write about me in Portsmouth!
You talked about your link with Steve Pitt who I know is particularly keen on fan-based promotion. I used to be in a band and he wouldn’t actually book us unless we had something like 25 people to buy tickets, which is interesting as it kind of links in to your My Major Company fan-based deal…
Ben: Well we spent all of last building up a fan base just by doing it all ourselves. This was before we had the record deal. So we used to turn up in all sorts of different cities, Portsmouth included actually. Josh spent loads of time in Portsmouth last year, sort of going to gigs, handing out flyers and selling tickets for our shows and doing it the real old fashion way.
Did you have a particular line that worked?
Josh: Yeah, do you have a heater?
Ben: [Laughs] Alot of the venues are by the seafront and Josh spent a lot of time at the Pyramids Centre.
Josh: Yeah the Pyramids centre is the worst, I don’t know if you’ve been but its right by the sea the breeze just hits you. And towards the end of last year it was just so cold and I was wrapped up
Ben: It was snowing wasn’t it?
Josh: Yeah, I was freezing, it was awful, but it pays off and you have to just keep going.
Ben: Well I think we were one of the few bands with Steve, without a record deal and not based anywhere near Portsmouth, that have ever been able to sell his venue out on their own. We sold it out twice.
Josh: Sold it out a few times.
Ben: So, he’s been a real big support for us and he was the one that put us on to The Wedgewood Rooms.
He’s definitely a good link for music in Portsmouth, he won a Guide Award with The News recently as well.
Ben: Yeah he’s good.
Josh: So he should.
Ben: I was really gutted actually as I got an email from him recently asking if I could send an email to someone who is threatening to shut The Cellars down and turn it into flats or something. I was really gutted about that because Portsmouth needs venues like that and there aren’t very many places to go.
Josh: There isn’t much and also there is such a large gap, you’ve got the Cellars and then Wedgewood Rooms which is like capacity 400 and then you have to go to like Guildhall which is a massive step up.
Ben: So my feeling about Portsmouth is that basically I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to start at the bottom and one day when we play at The Guildhall we will feel that we’ve earned our fan-base as opposed to just rocked up in Portsmouth to play the Guildhall.
And do you think you will be able to maintain playing at intimate venues in the future?
Ben: Well I hope not too. I mean, I don’t think we want to play small venues, we want to progress each year.
Josh: Yeah, Fratton Park!
Ben: I still feel like even when you play in bigger places you can still make places intimate. We’ve played with big big acts who have somehow managed to make the room feel very small and that’s the trick to being a great band.
Posted by Jennifer Le Roux on www.jenthered.co.uk