Whereas the thought of working full time with a sibling may seem like hell on earth for many of us, Brighton-based bros Tom and Nick Klar seem to be the perfect double act. Playing together when they were younger, they drifted apart at uni but eventually decided to give making music together another go, perfecting their psych-pop stylings in the process.
Releasing debut track “Everyone You Know” last month, the pair’s beautifully hazy pop charm is augmented by cutting lyricism to create a smart and scintillating debut. A new and exciting sound, the contrast of dark lyricism with light and hypnotic melodies shows just how brilliantly captivating the duo are.
Fully establishing themselves as one’s to watch, their latest track “Bye & Bye” is as equally compelling and exciting. Slightly more upbeat, songwriting wise, than their previous offering, it’s a rousing synth-soaked love song about someone accepting you no matter what (“‘Cause I can tell you anything and, baby, it’ll be alright”).
Woozy and wonderful, the tracks are an exciting glimpse at what the brothers have in store for the future. Eager to get a sneak peak at what that may be, we caught up with Tom and Nick to find out more.
What’s the idea behind ‘Underwater Boys’ as a name?
Nick: When we first started recording, Tom’s girlfriend, Laura, said that all our songs sounded like they were underwater, so that’s how we thought of it. But really, Underwater Boys is just the only name we thought of that wasn’t completely dreadful.
When did you first decide to make music together?
Nick: Me and Tom have been making music together since I was 12 and he was 14. We were in a few bands together while we were teenagers but when we both went off to uni we drifted apart musically. After about four years we decided to get together again, which is how Underwater Boys came about.
Was it a fairly easy process to decide on how you wanted your music to sound?
Tom: When we first started the band we had no idea what it was going to sound like. We went into it without any kind of preconceptions. We had these songs but they were just written with vocals and guitar – because back then we didn’t have a band to play anything. Nick plays almost all of the instrumentation on our recordings, layering everything up one piece at a time, so we don’t actually know how it’s going to turn out until it’s done. It’s quite an exciting way to work because it sort of unfolds in front of you. We only knew what the band was going to sound like after the songs were finished.
What’s it like being brothers and working together? Is it fun, or are there a lot of awkward silences around the family dinner table now?
Nick: Not really, though I can’t actually remember the last time we were both at the family dinner table (sorry mum). We’re mostly quite sensible people now, and we’re both grown ups so we got all the awkward conversations out of the way many years ago.
Tom: It’s weird, because growing up we would fight a lot about stupid shit, but with this band I can’t think of a time when we disagreed on anything. It’s all been worryingly easy.
What do each of you bring to the song creation process?
Tom: It’s very much an equal partnership, but we both bring different things to each song. I write all the lyrics and vocal melodies, Nick does all the instrumentation, and all the in-between stuff is a mixture of us both. Usually our songs start out as little snippets, like voice memos of me humming, or little 30-second demos, and we build on them together. But it’s completely 50/50.
“Growing up we would fight a lot about stupid shit, but with this band I can’t think of a time when we disagreed on anything.”
You dropped your debut single “Everyone You Know” earlier this year. Can you tell me a bit about the inspiration behind it – both musically and lyrically?
Tom: I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder, and I was diagnosed around the time we started the band. The song is kind of about the aftermath of finding all that out, just my worries about how it would affect my life and the people around me. Musically, it was built from this little demo that Nick had on his laptop, just the chord progression and the synth part, but it was in a totally different time signature. Then I came up with the vocal melody, we gave it that shuffled rhythm, and it all clicked into place.
It’s pretty dark lyric-wise, and pretty upbeat musically. What drew you towards creating these contrasts within the track?
Tom: I think we just really enjoy being indirect. I’ve always loved music that contrasts light and dark, and lyrically, our music is about these personal struggles, so it’s kind of therapeutic to turn all that bleak shit into something pretty. I also think it’s funny to imagine the lyrical content going completely over someone’s head, and them just thinking it was a happy song about fish or something.
You’re about to release “Bye & Bye”. Can you tell us about the idea behind it and how it came to being?
Nick: “Bye & Bye” was originally something I came up with for one of my uni projects and I just had it on my laptop for a long time, so when we started Underwater Boys I finally had something useful to do with it. My dissertation was about writing, recording and releasing a song by myself. I didn’t actually get it done at the time but I got a 2:1 anyway, and now after two years it’s finally getting its day in the sun, which is nice.
Tom: Lyrically, “Bye & Bye” is way more positive than “Everyone You Know”. It’s about feeling safe with someone and feeling able to be vulnerable, knowing that person has your back and has the capacity to forgive you. It’s a love song.
Both tracks feature on your debut 7”, what are you hoping listeners take away from the record?
Tom: I really hope people relate to it, maybe if they’ve gone through similar things or know someone else who has, because just to share the burden of those kinds of feelings and to not feel so isolated is a big deal. I also hope it serves as a good introduction to us as a band, enough that people want to hear more from us anyway, because we would really like to keep making music.
Why did you choose to lead with these songs as your intro to the music world?
Tom: I think these are just our most emotionally resonant songs. They were the simplest and quickest to write, they kind of just fell into our lap. There wasn’t ever much talk of which songs would be first, we just already knew it would be these two, because they felt right.
And what’s the next project you’re working on that we can get excited about?
Tom: For the time being, we’re just concentrating on playing as many shows as possible for the rest of the year and getting better at performing live. It would be great to fit some more writing/recording time into that, but it really depends on how busy the rest of the year ends up being. I’d love for us to release something else before the end of the year but you’ll have to wait and see!