From all corners of the globe, All We Are have made Liverpool their home, much to the city’s benefit. Getintothis’ Orla Foster meets a trio living by the ethos of all for one and one for all.
Graduation is a cruel beast. At worst, the wilderness months that follow can be soul-destroying, at best it’s a year or so of indecision and value digestives. But when LIPA is your alma mater, you’re likely to be better prepared for your chosen career path than most.
Cue All We Are, a trio who first exchanged names on a LIPA induction day and never looked back. Sidelining their various individual musical projects, the three decided to pool their considerable talents to make a go of it as a band, and they’ve been making waves across the city ever since.
It’s not going unnoticed, either. The past year has been good to All We Are, and they’re finally garnering the recognition they deserve, both in Liverpool and beyond.
Their songs are marked by their distinctive shared vocals, layered among woozy melodies that start out deceptively gentle before billowing into sublime crescendoes. Having released a well-received EP, We Hunt, in 2012, the band have been grafting non-stop ever since they first formed, with the past year marking a steady progression from their initial earthy, more folk-tinctured material, to the loosely psychedelic arrangements they’re putting out now.
Notably, their backgrounds stretch far beyond their adopted city: guitarist Luis Santos is from Brazil, drummer Rich O’Flynn is Irish, and bassist Guro Gikling comes from Norway. They’re so established on Merseyside, however, that their respective birthplaces have started to seem like a far-off memory.
“We consider Liverpool our hometown now,” says Richard.
“We’ve always felt at home here. We’re surrounded by good friends and really creative people and the music scene is great. It’s a really friendly city, with loads of great stuff happening.”
All We Are
So what exactly was it that inspired them to team up as a band?
He adds: “We were mates, we wanted to do stuff together, and there was no one else we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. Except maybe Warpaint!”
They’re referring, of course, to the critically-lauded Californian outfit whom they supported on tour last month. Having barely stepped back off the plane, All We Are are (forgive the syntax) fatigued but nevertheless invigorated to recall the warm reception that greeted them in Europe, where they managed to sell every scrap of merchandise they brought with them as well as getting to meet lots of kindred spirits along the way:
“The whole experience was just amazing. Every gig was sold out and the crowds were really involved. But the highlight was definitely getting to know the girls and the team around them, we’ve made some good mates there.”
Incidentally, there’s a clear kinship between the music of Warpaint and that of All We Are. Both are celebrated for their hypnotic live performances which swallow up the listener, their richly-textured soundscapes, and their tendency to lose themselves in an otherworldly jam.
“The Bee Gees on diazepam” is All We Are’s often quoted self-prognosis, and it’s not difficult to see where they’re coming from. Tongue-in-cheek or otherwise, you can’t deliver hooks that smooth without invoking the spirits of the silver tight-trousered ones. Gritty, this ain’t.
Yet their palette of influences is refracted through a thoroughly modern appreciation of pop, carving out a niche for their sound which is totally unique, even while it complements that of their peers. And, let’s not forget, they have plenty of talented peers.
All We Are’s involvement in the close-knit Liverpool scene is reflected in their conceptual output as well as their music. Check out the video for last year’s single, Utmost Good, released through Obscenic, which features a rafter of familiar faces from the city’s musical stock.
You’ll spot the likes of Dan Croll, Jethro Fox and Stealing Sheep, saturated in suitably 1970s ochre hues, miming along to the sparkly falsetto with a hungry look in their eyes that echoes the yearning, wistful rumble of the song itself.
The effect might be bizarrely intimate, but also acts as a sort of postcard to the various friendships which have been forged here: “When we first arrived here we weren’t as involved as we are now. We’re still meeting more and more people every day so the video is only a small representation of the people we know and love in Liverpool.”
The feeling appears to be mutual, with the band’s shows consistently managing to draw the crowds. Perhaps disappointingly, you won’t find too much of the band’s older material online, but maybe that’s because there’s no substitute for the real thing.
A live performance from All We Are promises to suffuse the draughtiest performance space with warmth – and they should know, since they’ve spent the past couple of years playing their fair share of them. From Bold Street to St Bride’s Church, All We Are are well-versed in the nooks and crannies of the live circuit and know what it takes to please an audience, confident and unruffled.
All We Are get into the spirit of things during Sound City 2013
Their sound is substantial enough for the festival crowd, too – last summer, they were handpicked for the Getintothis stage at Sound City, followed by the Liverpool International Music Festival in September, again selected by Getintothis, where they more than fulfilled the brief. At times, though, it’s hard to believe that such an abundant sound could be conjured up by just three people. Just where do they dream up those sultry hooks?
Richard says: “Inspiration comes naturally just from being around each other, as we develop as people and as a band. At the moment we are listening to soul, lots of groovy, vibey music and RnB, but we already had an atmosphere and an expansiveness to our music, and that hasn’t changed,” is the band’s verdict.
With their inventive take on harmonies, sheer passion for making music and commitment to evolving their sound, All We Are make an obvious contender for a GIT Award nomination. Naturally, they’re modest about it, and show no sign of slowing down any time soon:
“We started off doing what we loved to do and it’s great that people are getting into it.
“We’ve always been fans of Getintothis and we’ve had mates who’ve been involved in the awards before, so we’re chuffed to be a part of it.”
“This whole year is going to be really exciting for us. We’re going to record the album, release some videos, and play loads of cool gigs and festivals in the summer.”
So there you have it, a much-needed injection of soul from a band who know how to shoot from the hip. Count us in.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Getintothis hosts a special evening of art and video with All We Are.
Warpaint, All We Are: O2 Academy, Liverpool
Stealing Sheep and All We Are win Momentum Fund grant awards
Stealing Sheep, All We Are: East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
Everything Everything, All We Are, Dutch Uncles: O2 Academy, Liverpool
All We Are: Cardhouse
Cate le Bon, H. Hawkline, All We Are: Leaf, Bold Street, Liverpool
All We Are, Loved Ones, Kazimier Krunk Band, Mother Earth, King Twit, Secret Garden Gathering: The Kazimier, Liverpool
GIT Award 2014 launches One To Watch prize.
GIT Award 2014 judging panel announced.
Review and pictures from GIT Award 2014 launch at Leaf.
GIT Award 2014 returns with Leaf launch ahead of Kazimier spectacular in April.
GIT Award 2013: Baltic Fleet: To be involved and win will always stay with me
The GIT Award 2013 report, reaction and review from Leaf Tea Shop, Liverpool.
GIT Award 2013 winner announced as Justice Collective win Inspiration Award
GIT Award 2013: picture gallery featuring Baltic Fleet, Nadine Carina, Conan, John Heckle, Tyler Mensah and more.
Artwork by Gary McGarvey.