BULL on York’s music scene, Young Thugs, signing to EMI Records and the definition of success

By July 23, 2020 July 25th, 2020 Features, Interviews, News

How do you usually expect an interview to start? With pleasantries such as ‘Hello’ or ‘How’re you doing’, with Bull this week, we got something a bit different. Soundsphere’s Dom Smith was surprised by indie rockers Bull, who were uncharacteristically suited and booted and Dan Lucas (Bull guitarist) shouting “I’m wearing a Blue Peter badge!” I think we can say now that this is the best introduction we’ve had for an interview for a while. During this chat, we cover topics from how the band got signed, the bands new image, album plans, York and how the lads define success.

Made up of Tom Beer (vocalist), Dan Lucas (guitarist), Kai West (bass guitar) and Tom Gabbatiss (drums), the band have been going strong since the early part of the decade. The Yorkshire natives who formed in 2012 are on the up in a big way, after touring here and abroad for years they have been signed by EMI records, who are responsible for huge artists like Beck, Blossoms, The Killers and Lewis Capaldi to up and fresh talent like Whenyoung and Zuzu. Also, they are first York act to sign for the label since the mighty Shed Seven back in the 90s.

So, the big question is, how did this all come together for the four-piece? Frontman Tom Beer tells us, “So, how it worked was Dave Greenbrown, he offered to manage us early days, and we thought that was a good idea, cause we need managing, so that took a lot of pressure off for us and helped us progress massively.” Greenbrown (the co-founder of Young Thugs records) gave the guys a lot of freedom, whether that be in terms of rehearsal time or planning strategically for the future.

The managing director of EMI saw potential in Young Thug Label through acts like Bonneville and her single ‘Chimpanzee’. Bull was pitched to EMI; the managing director of EMI came to see BULL and that was that. Or as Beer tells us, “He came to watch us support Warmduscher, put on by Joe Coates of course and we fucking nailed it, Dom! We played a blinder of a set, and he partied with us afterwards, and he signed us there and then.”

The guys haven’t become part of the corporate machine, even with the style change that they have appeared in for the interview, which consists of the four lads dressed in suits and ties. “They said to us that we could carry on doing what they want, they like what we do, they like our art, and they like our image, and just think we should be working as hard as we can, and they’ll do their end which is promotion and exposure,” comments Beer.

With Bull signed, could this mean the music industry in London begins to take more notice of the talent originating in the north? “Certainly is, there are so many good bands in York and there always has been basically this is gonna be a massive opportunity for those bands, through Young Thugs as a kind of launching pad I think is the idea, they’re gonna be able to have access to these possibilities with EMI, with their press people and everything like that,” enthuses Beer.

With an album on the way, the guys mention that ‘Green’ (their latest single) will be on the album along with some older Bull songs. “People who have been ‘Bullheads’ from day one, they’re probably gonna know a lot of the songs off of this album,” comments Beer. I think ‘Bullheads’ is probably the best name for fans since The Killers fans named themselves The Victims.

With this new album coming somewhere down the line, the guys have been sworn to secrecy by top brass at EMI HQ. “We’re not allowed to tell you when the album comes out. We’re not allowed to tell you the name of the album. We will be touring for definite when the album comes out.” We move swiftly on to the topic of how the lads define success. “I think any help they can give us in reaching more people is great, but I think, to be honest, we’ve all been happy with what we’ve been doing for the last three years, just being able to play music,” Beer interjects “and partying,” “and partying,” replies Dan. Beer offers his take “Just getting slowly and incrementally better at lots of little things, and doing stuff that feels good in the long and the short.”

I’ll end on this lovely quote from Tom, proving the lads are still down to earth, which is when Dom talked about them going big and him maybe not being able to get an interview with them, “We’re a phone call away anytime Dom, forever.”

Interview: Dom Smith / Words: Brett Herlingshaw 

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