(From left: Charles, Natya, Maisey and Tim)
“People really need to celebrate every chance they get to listen to good dark band in the North”
S] So how did Legion get started, what are the band’s origins?
Maisey] When we started it was just Shelley and I. We went to school together and we went to college in Guildford. I wanted to put a band together and there were only a few people that I knew who could play instruments at the time, it was the both of us alongside a girl called Daisy. We spent time jamming in my bedroom for the best part of a year and a half. Things really kicked off though, when two of us moved to Leeds in September of last year. When we arrived here it was just me and Shelley working on music, I was on vocals and he was on keyboards. We put an advert out on the Sisters of Mercy forum asking for guitar and bass players. Tim answered the call first saying that he ‘had a bass’ and after a few months of work he became our official bassist and is shockingly very good. We also had a lovely chap called Matt get involved on guitars but when he departed some months later, we called Natya up and she answered magnificently.
S] You had had some very positive feedback and great support slots so far in your short career, can you tell us about them?
Charles] We have had the opportunity to support bands like The Screaming Banshee Aircrew, The Last Dance and Sisters of Mercy, but the most exciting experience recently has been Beyond The Veil at Leeds Cockpit. That was definitely a big step up for us. I mean, the people that we had played to previously were been fantastic but The Cockpit really is a much bigger venue, and the audience was much larger and more receptive. We got some really great feedback and as a result, we really grew as a band.
Maisey] I think we also had a lot of fun with that one because we had such a good sound system. It was the first time we had played a venue that big so we could really sound just like we wanted. However, our live show is really a work in progress, as it is with any band at this stage. You play then you listen and you have another go. At the Cockpit we had proper lighting with loads of smoke, which is very important to me and to the band. I mean, you always have an image in your head about how you want the band to look and at Beyond The Veil it felt like what I had always seen in my head.
Natya] For me, when we played The Giffard Arms in Wolverhampton, there was something of a surreal joy in realising, ‘I am supporting Vendemmian, this is a band that is on a CD that I have been listening to since I was twelve-years-old, and they were this abstract concept to me and all of a sudden we are sleeping on a floor in a pub with them, having played a gig with them. I can’t describe the feeling that I got from that.
S] Have you been able to get any advice from these bands?
Natya] Mostly, from the reception we got from that gig, the biggest thing that came out of it was that in this genre you really can’t take yourselves too seriously. The biggest mistake you can make is to take the camp elements of the style, like the smoke, the overplayed melancholy and the drama and take it too seriously.
Charles] To add to that, the one thing that I remember from our first gig as this incarnation of Legion supporting The Last Dance was the feedback that they gave us. They said, ‘move around more and make your live show hit the audience harder,’ and that’s really stuck with me and it’s something I have tried to do ever since.
Natya] Even if we don’t take our image too seriously, it’s about the passion we have, and the fact that we have fun together. One of the biggest things that came out of looking at previous incarnations of this band before I joined was that there were elements of stress or tension around and the focus wasn’t really on the fun of creating music.
Maisey] We have had great support from a lot of people which we are very grateful for. We are not kings of the world or anything but we have been lucky enough to get to a nice place already that we are very happy with. There’s been a lot of belief coming from people within the scene and the music industry and they have given us criticism, advice and support. For example, the guys from Rhombus are helping us to record our EP. They are sitting us down in their studio and helping us get our first release out there. Also, the guys from Cybercide have always been there to help us out and spread the word. I think the support from musicians that I look up to is great and for them to say to us, ‘we believe in what you do’ has really encouraged me to strive onward.
S] Your debut EP is coming out very soon, can you tell us about what’s happening with that?
Tim] Legion currently has an EP in the works that we would really like to have available at our concerts in the Summer.
Maisey] We have some June shows booked in London and in Blackpool. By these shows we aim to have the CD on sale.
S] Can you tell us about the song writing process?
Charles] Most of the songs that we have right now were written in the original incarnation of Legion. The lyrics and the drum programming are handled by Maisey but the melodies, guitar riffs and the chord sequences were written by me and Daisy. The beauty of these songs now is that they have been re-interpreted by the guitarists we have. It’s a real mixed effort, we have been writing some new material and it’s an equal contribution from every person involved. Maisey writes the lyrics and each person writes his or her own parts. It all works together very nicely.
Maisey] I think that it’s fair to say, I put together the skeleton of a song, and these guys will flesh it out. So they make the music and I build the song, we all have a part to play.
S] You said that you don’t take yourselves seriously, what do you mean by that?
Maisey] (laughs) I am very serious!
Natya] I think that was the wrong phrase to use. We are very passionate about what we do, but we don’t have a sense of entitlement to a certain image, we will not exclude people because they don’t dress a certain way, or exclude people because they don’t listen to a certain style of music. We don’t have those kinds of perameters and we will never shut people out. We are very aware that we are a new band, and so we will take what we can get and hopefully people will enjoy what we do.
Maisey] You need to take what you do seriously but not yourself. I meet some bands that are literally just having a party, and it really is like, ‘Okay you’re great but you are not going to get anywhere with that attitude.’ Some acts are just very far up their own arses and they have no sense of perspective. You really have to step back sometimes and say, ‘We do what we do, and we are really going to care about it and enjoy it.’
S] What’s the best thing about travelling together?
Natya] (laughs) It has been an experience travelling with three guys! You end up adopting that bravado, and becoming ‘one of the lads.’ It’s good fun. To be fair, Maisey is actually more of a girl, so we can talk about make-up and hair together.
Maisey] We are a Goth band after all, so the whole gender thing must always be brought into question a little bit.
S] How do you want to expand the live show?
Maisey] The impact of the live show is very important to me, it’s actually very 50/50. I buy a record and I will love it, but a lot of my most life changing musical experiences have happened whilst I’ve been at shows. It’s never all about that live aspect, but you always want to leave the right impression. I mean, you don’t want to be forgotten. When I see a band that I love perform, I have this really stark image in front of me. That’s what attracts me, it’s like, ‘Wow, this really is the whole package and it’s what I want to do.’ So with the money we have got, I try and do everything I can to make the stage show as magnificent as possible.
Natya] (turning to Maisey) It’s funny, I haven’t really discussed this with you but, what do you visualise? I know a lot of your influences but, can you describe the picture of our stage show that you have in your head?
Maisey] Smoke. It’s not just a Sisters of Mercy show really! Actually, they once said, ‘You can lose yourself in the smoke, but possibly find yourself at the same time.’ There’s lots of bright colours and silhouettes, it’s something that you can really be awed by. It’s almost mysterious, yet it’s beautiful.
Charles] It’s this idea of these grim spectres coming out of the fog, we want to symbolise that in our stage show, there are flashing lights which add to it and in turn give it a more theatrical feel than most live music that comes out these days. It’s just what we aim for as a band.
Natya] It is melodrama and you have to see it as such. It’s all part of not taking yourself too seriously and saying, ‘I could fully adopt this idea and actually believe that I was this grave dwelling thing coming from the smoke.’ It is the image, and as a band, you accept the box that you put yourselves in. A lot of the bands that influence us, we feel could be popular with the current climate of indie acts if they had a different haircut or had appeared at a different time. We accept the genre within which we have put ourselves.
Maisey] For me, especially within Goth genre, I strive to be less about spookiness and graves and more mystical and magical. In the shows that I went to, like with The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and The Nephelim, it was more about this epic scene rather than your usual horror-oriented type themes which we are very keen to stay away from.
S] Tim, when you started in Legion you barely knew how to play the bass, can you tell us about how you feel when you are playing, do you feel like you become a different person?
Tim] I think any musician when they get on the stage will say that they become somebody entirely different. I wear my sunglasses on stage so that I can hide behind them, and the smoke that we have, that’s something else that I can hide behind. When I joined Legion I couldn’t play and Maisey had to teach me so my first appearance on stage was the first time I had ever played bass in front of people. So, you really do need things to hide behind as a musician. I think many other people who are in bands will agree with me there.
Maisey] That said, I have been watching Tim in the gigs we have filmed and he has been getting more dramatic by the gig. I think the biggest success story of Legion so far is probably our bassist!
S] So, where do Legion want to be in a year’s time?
Charles] Well, we are aiming to get on the line-up for Whitby Gothic Weekend at some point. We want to be in recording, or have released a full-length album because it will give us more to put out at our gigs. As much as we love live music, we want to offer up something more permanent that people can take away and listen to and become better acquainted with who we are and that is very important to us. It’s very important for us to get this EP out, but a full-length album will be our next step.
Maisey] I am actually hoping for a vinyl release. I don’t want a big run or anything but once we know that people will buy our records, I am adamant that we will be releasing some kind of vinyl release. That’s something that I have to do before I die.
Charles] Yeah, the other important goal for us is to not only play gigs all over the country which we have started doing now, but also we are looking at playing abroad too. That is something that is a very achievable and very important goal for us, to play places like Germany would be amazing.
Maisey] Definitely, I have a message for all Germans, ‘I already love you.’ There were actually some German people who came over from Cologne to the Vendemmian show, and the reception that they gave to us following the gig was great. They got in touch afterward, and it was just a pleasure. It’s no wonder they have festivals like Mera Luna and Wave Gotik Treffen over there.
S] Okay, so you’re new material is out in June – you’re having a celebratory dinner, and each of you can invite one guest, who is it and why?
Natya] I am going to say Sigmund Freud, because frankly he would have a field day with these guys.
Charles] I am going to say, Josh Homme from Queens of The Stone Age because I have been looking up to for many years. It would be great to talk to him for a while. It would blow my mind.
S] You would make him listen to Legion’s new stuff?
Charles] I would make him listen to Legion yeah. I think that I have listened to enough Queens, so I think I would make him listen to us.
Natya] What do you mean make him? Josh Homme will have heard of us already!
Tim] I would want to bring Patricia Morrison to dinner, because she’s beautiful.
Maisey] I would say Porl King of Rosetta Stone, but I think I would be a little nervous. So, I am going to have to say Wayne Hussey of The Mission because I guarantee that he would be the life of the party.
Natya] (laughs) Yeah, I think the restraining order that Porl King has against you might keep you away!
S] Okay then guys, what do you think about the current scene in the North?
Maisey] It’s not as big as in London but people really don’t take the scene for granted here. I have met so many passionate people. I think fundamentally, the Northern scene is absolutely wonderful and I prefer it. I’m glad I am here and not in London. It’s so wonderful to be a part of it. People really care here and they do go to things. I think it’s going to grow. I have met a lot of promoters and bands who want to get the ball rolling again. These people realise that it’s not the 80s anymore and they want to have their own scene right now. I think their passion is going to pay off.
Charles] I can only really speak to Leeds because it is the one I am most familiar with but, I have a lot of experience in London as well. Speaking as a genuine outsider, Leeds’ scene does seem a lot more welcoming to new people like me.
Natya] When you say ‘Northern’, I feel that my homeland Scotland is somewhat neglected in that definition. Not only that, but it is neglected in terms of the scene. I don’t know if it’s because there are smaller audiences, or a smaller population. Though, a city like Glasgow certainly could be a good place to take Legion one day if we could draw a big enough crowd.
Tim] There’s a great bedrock of enthusiasm in the North for alternative music. People need to get out, they need to go to more gigs and buy more records! They need to wear badges and shirts whilst really celebrating every chance they get to listen to a good dark band in the North. I know there are people out there and I know that they want to hear this music so we are going to bring it to them.
For more information visit the band’s Myspace and website.
View a live video for ‘Lust’ below:
Legion will play Mis-fest in Blackpool on June 20.