With their debut album freshly released to much critical acclaim, Getintothis’ Paul Higham profiles GIT Award nominees All We Are and considers the impact of Liverpool on their burgeoning career.
For long time readers of our pages Liverpool’s multi-talented pop-perfectionists, All We Are, will need no introduction.
For those yet to wrap their ears around the three-piece’s effortlessly seductive charms you have a treat in store. Like many things in this world, the twin feeling of unbridled joy and limitless excitement on experiencing something wonderful for the first time cannot be easily replicated by future.
Think of walking into a floodlit stadium as a child, clutching tightly to your father’s hand, and seeing the shimmering green of the hallowed turf for the first time. Remember arriving at JFK airport for the first time and catching your first jaw-dropping glimpse of the Manhattan skyline as it emerges into view. Recall the dizzying blur of your fist day at school, that combustious combination of anticipation and trepidation.
Good music, no, really great music, has that enduring, life-altering effect. It captures a moment in time. It forever evokes memories of people and places, of times happy and sad. It forces itself upon you, makes you think of little else, and demands such constant play to risk wearing down your fragile stylus.
It might sound like hyperbole but, what seems many moons ago now, All We Are had this effect on us. So treasure that first moment, the visceral thrill of lowering the needle and hearing something magical. Treasure it, as you’ll never quite experience it again.
For pretty much all our readers however that will be a mere blissful memory for All We Are are now so much ingrained into the fabric of arguably the country’s most musical city that they feel part of the furniture.
GIT Award nominees last year, they appear a reassuring constant in a city where the musical landscape is constantly shifting and ever-evolving. A mere cursory glance at the current crop of nominees would confirm this and cement Liverpool’s place at the top of the pile for creativity and musical innovation and reinvention.
Never a city to stand still and rest on its laurels, forever keen to push back the boundaries and to challenge the artistic consensus that too often rewards the safety of mediocrity over risk-taking experimentalism, Liverpool eschews trends. With barely a nod to the stultifying effect of the bandwagon, Liverpool does its own thing.
This is reflected in the music that is being produced right here and right now. Often unpindownable, always interesting, and certainly diverse there is such an array of emerging talent that to remain at its forefront and to continue to lead the charge of the new wave across new frontiers is no inconsiderable feat. Yet this is what All We Are have done.
Nowhere is the city’s diversity and inclusivity better celebrated than All We Are. Coming variously from Norway, Brazil and Ireland the band’s members met and forged their identity amid the creative hotbed of LIPA. Despite their backgrounds, the band see Liverpool as their city and clearly owe a great deal to their adopted home. “Being from different countries, we feel extremely honoured to be nominated for the GIT award, that means Liverpool has accepted us as their own and that means a lot to us! We are a Liverpool band!“
Tellingly, when asked how Liverpool has influenced the band and how important the city has been in shaping the band’s identity and artistic direction the response was clear and definitive, ”Massive, no Liverpool, no All We Are.”
Like many other bands within the city that we speak to, there is an overriding sense that All We Are exist within a broader community of artists, all of whom feed off each other, challenge expectations and push one another to the next level.
We have long been extolling the healthy state of Liverpool’s music community, yet too often it is easy for social commentators to attach a label to a ‘scene’ when none really exists. That a number of bands emerge at similar times from the same city does not necessarily a community make.
Yet we have always felt Liverpool to be slightly different, a place with the outlook of a global city, but the sense of community of a small village. It is thus reassuring that All We Are have expressed a similar sentiment, “The music scene in Liverpool is special. If you need anything, there is always someone there to help you. It’s one big family where everyone wants the best for each other and keep pushing each other to become as good as they can be.”
What then of the band’s sound? With their collective tongues no doubt pressed heavily against their cheeks, All We Are’s twitter profile reveals them to be like “The Bee Gees on Diazepam”. While that description is not altogether misleading it does perhaps do the band a disservice.
Embracing a fusion of styles with supreme musicianship and a sureness of touch, All We Are can perhaps be a tricky band to pin down. Certainly there are big elements of funk and R&B to their sound but this is coupled with an intricate tautness and sprightly and seamless leaps in divergent directions.
At the core of the band is Richard O’Flynn’s relentless drumming which underpins the band’s perfect-pop sound and provide a distinctly danceable tinge around which Guro Gikling’s lolloping bass wonderfully weaves. Luis Santos perhaps has the most fun. Dictating melody with his experimental and ear-catching guitar he ensures that you’re never sure in which direction a song might head.
What makes All We Are so appealing is the lack of affectation in their music. Far from following a scene or trying to be someone else, they display a confidence in themselves and a style of music that complements their playing and diverse tastes. While not disguising their influences they have been successful in melding them in their own style. Perhaps the biggest compliment we can give is that they sound like All We Are!
The last 12 months saw the band move to bigger and more high profile stages. From supporting Warpaint at the beginning of the year to playing with London Grammar on their European tour last Autumn as well as strutting their stuff on a host of festival stages in between, in many ways 2014 was a breakout year for the band, “Last year was absolutely amazing, we loved every bit of it. Playing live is what we love the most so being able to do so on big stages was a dream come true.
“The only pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves, we want to keep developing and growing.”
Spending time on the road can often result in strong bonds and artistic connections being developed between bands. Warpaint have been a big influence on the career of All We Are, and the Californian band have remixed the Keep Me Alive, turning it into a darker and more mysterious cut
Anyone who saw their triumphant headline show at The Kazimier in the Autumn will attest to the band’s rapid development as a live force. What was most revealing about this show was the togetherness and a new-found confidence that stems from playing bigger stages to people perhaps less familiar with their oeuvre. Each band member seemed to simultaneously take centre stage, each as important as each other and each as essential to the band’s distinctive sound.
February 2015 saw the band release their debut album on Domino’s Double Six imprint to pretty much widespread critical acclaim. Speaking about the album, which cements their irrepressibly catchy pop sound, All We Are are rightly proud of their achievement, “we’re really happy that it’s out there and hope people will enjoy it as much as we did making it. We’re very proud of our first-born.”
You only have to listen to the album to hear the sense of fun – it leaps out at you from the speakers and hits you smack in the face.
Speaking to the band about the making of the album, it is clear that they view themselves, first and foremost, as an albums band, “Since the dawn of All We Are we knew we wanted to make albums. We like to think of ourselves as an album band where the songs belong together and tell a story from beginning till the end. There’s a lot of thought behind the track listing and we kind of feel it’s a little bit like an old school soul album, where the A side has the more upbeat ones and the B side has the big headphone moments.”
As with their live shows, the album feels like a triumph of the band’s collaborative spirit. Each member coming to the fore to bring their own skills as part of a cohesive whole. The record veers arrestingly and easily between the funky and intricate to the blissed out and swoonsome. Without ever being confused, it’s a record to dance to but also one to sit back late at night, headphones on, and take in its mesmerising and hypnotic disco grooves.
The band remain coy on what the future holds but have revealed that they will soon be starting work on their second full-length album as well as hoping to get back on the road and do what they do best, “We’re hopefully going to play loads of gigs and festivals and then we’re very excited to start writing our second!”
With strong foundations already laid and a determined musicianship coupled with the irrepressible joy of playing we, for one, are sure that the future will be rosy. Like you, we’re excited for the band and look forward to what they’ll do next.
For full details on all the GIT Award 2015 nominees read here.