Luke Das, Wednesday 18 July 2012
‘What does everyone reckon to the end of that last song?’ asks vocalist Alfie Sharman.
In the studio at Venti Venti, The Longfellows rehearse for a series of summertime gigs. Sat in the corner, I listen with great interest. They repeat each part of every song until they feel satisfied to move on. There is a professional manner in their conduct but every now and again this is broken up with affectionate quips and jokes.
The band formed in 2008 when the original members were all still at sixth form. They decided on a band name that reflected their Worcester Park origins and Longfellows Road was near to their childhood homes. From adolescence to adulthood, they have played local gigs at venues such as The Halfmoon in Putney and The Grove Tavern in Wimbledon. The Longfellows are genuine South Londoners and proud.
I have been to see them play before and the most striking aspect of their sound is their unique blend of influences. Skimming through their iPods they tell me that this week they have been listening to David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Bon Iver and even a bit of Jay-Z. I ask them more about how they write their original material.
‘We write songs. We leave them. We come back to them. Then we argue a lot!’ says guitarist Douglas Ayres.
‘My songs start with the vocal and guitar part. When I bring them to rehearsals everyone will add their own ideas,’ Alfie adds. ‘There are core elements that always remain. Ben has been with us from the start. His drumming always has a heavy theme. We find the music just evolves naturally. We are all self-taught musicians. So the music we play is definitely our music. A Longfellows track is a knee jerk reaction to playing our instruments.’
‘Our sound has changed quite a bit. Different people bring in their own influences and styles. I think we are making progress!’ explains drummer Benjamin Bell.
The Longfellows are enthusiastic to promote Kick Your Height, their digital download EP available on iTunes. Another potential EP may be released soon combining several new demo tracks. ‘Recording is probably the best part of being in a band,’ Alfie shares. ‘We have worked with many producers. They are pretty good here at Venti Venti.’
‘It is good but I have a tough time,’ says Ben. ‘As the drummer I have to go first. Eventually, I will get into a rhythm and it all comes together. It is about capturing the energy that we have when we play live.’
‘We recorded at Kingston Uni too. There were like seven grand pianos in a massive hall,’ exclaims Doug. ‘It was like going to Chessington World of Adventures!’
You can see The Longfellows in action at Wimbledon Village Live on 20 July, and at The Half Moon Putney on 3 August.