Since emerging out their native Leeds in 2005 and playing their first gig in the wider world (at The Cellar in fact), iLiKETRAiNS have established themselves at the forefront of British post-rock. They describe their sound as ‘dark, intelligent and loud’, citing Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and Radiohead as their all time biggest influences.
Last October saw the release of their second studio album, He Who Saw The Deep, which was met with critical acclaim and led to an extensive European tour. “Europe totally exceeded our expectations – the momentum has really, really picked up over there. We played in a giant botanical garden in Brussels – it’s the third time we’ve played there and we sold it out. The UK – not so much. It’s a lot less fun.”
When asked why he feels there is such a polarity frontman Guy Bannister seems at a loss, clearly not wishing to offend their UK fan base.
“I really don’t know… we could have an audience of 400 in Berlin and an audience of 400 somewhere in the UK and for some reason the crowd in Berlin would just feel more electric. There really is a distinct vibe over there – a lot of musicians are moving over there for that very reason.”
Frustrations about the UK music scene aside – after a quick assurance that they have ‘thought about moving to Berlin’ – the band seem eager to discuss the influences behind their latest project. iLiKETRAiNS are known for their concept albums; their 2007 debut, Elegies to Lessons Learnt, drew influence from tragic historical events and figures. Their songwriting process is meticulous, involving methods very much atypical of what you would expect of a loud rock band.“We just happened upon these historical figures, some famous, some not. It was so much fun to put myself in their shoes, but it took loads of research and I had to read loads in order get the characters clear in my mind.”
This album catapulted the band into great successes, but by the time it came to record their follow-up they had already sourced another concept in the very opposite direction:“For the new record we wanted the same process, but in my research I’d started looking a lot more towards the future. I started doing my research on the science of climate change – many of the scientists I read very giving a very bleak picture of where we’re heading. So that was inspirational.”
It’s not only the subject matter of their albums that is leftfield however – for He Who Saw The Deep the band joined the burgeoning group of artists that opt to release their album through fan-funding.They seem reluctant to orate upon its merits however, explaining their decision to use it as being more necessity – their previous record label went bust – than choice.“Initially we weren’t massively into it – it felt like begging; we didn’t want to present ourselves as a charity case. When we did commit to it we did it on the understanding that we would strive to give great things back to our fans – unique products and experiences, access all areas passes and so on. You only ever hear the horror stories – people aim for a lot of money but never make it, meaning they’ve wasted their fans money. We made sure that if we didn’t reach our target then no money would change hands.”
So with the past and future covered one has to ask: where next for iLiKETRAiNS?
“Yeah, I’m starting to worry about that now! I have a feeling that I’ll have to get a little bit broader. Something will come up…”
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