“I think Reading [festival] last year was the first time when we were like ‘Oh, this is actually a thing now’,” INHEAVEN co-founding member James Taylor tells me. “We were doing a line check before going on and there was just a few people sat down so we went off and then we came back on and the whole tent was full of kids moshing and going fucking crazy. I think that was the moment it all clicked for us. It was probably one of the best things ever.”
This is the response that the South London band have always sought. Made up of Taylor, co-founder Chloe Little, Jake Lucas and Joe Lazarus, INHEAVEN want to replicate the #feels of being transported into a different world by a band’s music. They want to stir up that need inside of you to scribble your fave band’s song lyrics all over your school notepad and to jump into a moshpit with complete disregard of how your shoes and/or your body in general might fare afterwards.
And TBH, they can do it. As one of the groups on the frontline of the new era of great British bands, INHEAVEN are surrounded by a buzz that only exists when you’re doing something special. Championed for their deliciously dark anthems, the quartet’s refreshing take on grunge and shoegaze has accumulated a loyal following, counting Julian Casablancas as a member.
Gearing up to release their self-titled debut album on Friday, we caught up with Taylor to discover all we need to know about your new fave band.
How did you all meet?
Me and Chloe met at The Lexington. We got chatting after a gig and realised we had a lot of the same influences, we liked the same movies and that kind of thing, and just remained friends for a few years. It wasn’t until about three or four years ago when we thought “Right, let’s just get something together and do something that we’ve always wanted to do.” We started writing and making these videos that we’d put on this weird website and we started writing to blogs and people started picking up on the tunes.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later when I got an email from Rory Atwell, he mixed our first EP, and he was like “Check this email out” and I scrolled down and it was from Cult Records. It said “Me and Julian [Casablancas] are loving these songs. Who are they? Can we put out their first single?” That’s the moment when it became not a bedroom project sort of thing, it kind of came out into the world. That’s when we met Jake and Joe, and that kind of completed the line-up. Kind of an interesting story, kind of not.
I mean, it’s very interesting! Not many stories have Julian Casablancas from The Strokes in them…
Yeah! If you told the 14 year old me that that was gonna happen, I think I would’ve just lost my shit. That’s still to this day probably the best day yet as far as INHEAVEN goes for me.
When you all got together, did you have the same vision for the band?
I think me and Chloe always had a very strong vision for the artwork and the videos and the music and how it was gonna sound. We kind of just had it all nailed before we’d even rehearsed. Jake and Joe have similar influences to us, they’re into the same books and movies, so we kind of just end up passing around books and stuff whilst on tour. Weirdly it’s a very easy band to be in, because we all share the same ideals and interests. It’s a dream scenario really.
You’ve said that you want to make people “feel stuff” when listening to your music. Can you tell us exactly what you mean?
I guess we want people to get that same feeling that we got when we were like 14/15 and you first discover your favourite band and you Tipp-Ex your bag and stick their posters all over your wall and collect every single piece of anything that you can get on them. The best music makes you feel free and makes you forget about anything you’re worrying about. I think at our shows kids just lose their shit and go crazy, and that’s the kind of reception we’ve always wanted. We just wanted to create our own world and bring people into it. It’s not just about the songs with us. We do all our own artwork, we make our own videos – Chloe pretty much does them from scratch – so everything out there on us is just us. I think that’s probably the best way of people understanding who we are and getting an idea of what we believe in and what we sing about.
“I just want to shake people up a bit and I think we all do. We just want to make people feel something about anything, really.”
Your debut album is out this Friday! How are you feeling about its release?
We’ve been sitting on it for a long time and we’ve been touring for about three years now, so to finally just put it out into the world and to let go of it is a very comforting feeling, I guess. This is kind of like our flag in the sand, like this is us and this is who we were for the last three years. We’re happy to move on from it and for people to experience it for themselves.
Was there a universal inspiration for the record or is it lots of different pieces coming together?
I think it’s all different pieces coming together. Each song represents a different part of us and a different part of our lives. It’s kind of like everything we’ve thought of over the last five years in one 40 minute record. I can’t really work out if there’s a running theme or if there’s a million different running themes but I guess I’ll let other people make that decision.
You obviously call out the political shitshow we’re in right now in your songs. Do you think it’s important for musicians, especially with a young fan base like yourselves, to speak about these issues?
Yeah. I think especially in the last few years we’ve really seen a lot more young people engaged on our socials and coming up to us at shows after we’ve played and talking to us about it. I think it’s a really great thing to see young people involved in politics again, because I don’t think they were for a good while. I just think you can’t not be at the moment. It’s just in our faces and you see it everyday, especially what’s unfolding in America. It’s just disgusting and someone needs to speak up about it. I mean, it’s slowly turning into a fully fledged nightmare. I think for it not to come out in our music would be a travesty.
What’s the main thing that you want people to take away from the album?
I just want to shake people up a bit and I think we all do. We just want to make people feel something about anything, really. We want people to discover the bands that influenced the record and the topics that influenced the record. If we can trigger more young people to get in politics that would be our main goal.
Do you feel any pressure releasing it after all the hype you’ve received for being in the “next wave of great British bands”?
Not really! If we were getting that on our first single then maybe that would be pretty nerve-wracking, but the fact that we’ve already solidified our album and it’s coming out, it just feels exciting. I think for the first time in a long time there’s a new wave of amazing British bands that are exciting and talking about things. Also, I think especially if you come to one of our shows you see that kids are interested in guitar music again and they’re interested in fanzines and badges and buying T-shirts and living that life that we lived when we were 14/15. I think to be lumbered in with that scene is really very exciting for us, definitely.
And so what’s next for INHEAVEN?
Well, the album comes out and then we’re going on a UK tour and a European tour and that takes us out to the end of the year. God knows what happens after that. There might not even be a world to play in…