"We always said we'd grow up in public. And that's what we've done. This album is about what happens when a bunch of teenage lads from Leeds lap the world a couple of times and then spit it all out."
Two years on and The Music have hit something of a roll. More precisely, a rollercoaster of a roll. In that time The Music have gone from the early promise of a young band gloriously finding their collective voice to being a global hit, complete with burgeoning fan base and an awesome reputation for live brilliance.
It's two years since The Music's debut album established them among the top contenders as the UK's best new band. The Music -- Rob Harvey (vocals), Phil Jordan (drums), Adam Nutter (guitar) and Stuart Coleman (bass) -- were barely 18 years old when their eponymously-titled album rocketed into the UK chart at number four at the start of September 2002.
That success was predicated on more than the massive quality of the band's music. Not since the mid-Nineties had a young British band set such a meaningful agenda for the generation to have emerged post-Britpop. The Music were clearly striking more than musical chords.
After relentless touring -- including unforgettable moments at places as diverse as London's Brixton Academy and Fuji Rock in Japan -- The Music's reputation spread around the world. The band were on that roll. Indeed, with some half-million albums sold, it would have been easy for The Music to have rested on their laurels a while longer. What the band actually did, however, was absorb all the mayhem and return to the fray with a second album displaying an extraordinary leap forward and clearly reflecting the headlong experience of the last two years. That album is Welcome to the North.
Like all things to do with The Music, there has been little planning or pre-meditation involved in the initial stages of the new album. "We never say this is going to be about such-and-such or we need to move in this direction," says Phil Jordan. "I think second guessing yourself or others is fatal. We knew we'd grown and we knew that as soon as we went into the studio what came out would reflect that."
In May 2004 the band decamped to recording studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and spent seven weeks recording with Brendan O'Brien, whose productions credits include such bands as Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. If The Music's debut album was all groove-led exuberance then Welcome to the North marks the emergence of a new dimension -- Rob Harvey as both a vocalist and lyricist.
Anyone who has experienced the spiritual uplift of The Music live will know just how far their euphoric grooves can carry a crowd. The first album was a celebration of that power. On Welcome to the North Rob Harvey is more questioning and alert. "The Music have always been about the incredible high we get from audiences at our shows and the new album is about retaining your spiritual strength and positive feelings in what can be a bad world," he says. "It's about optimism, opening your mind and fighting the cynicism."
The band are from Leeds in the north of England. Welcome to the North, however, is not quite the chest-beating statement of local pride it may seem. "Leeds is home," says Harvey, "but we are all aware of the shortcomings of the place. The title is kind of ironic. It's a double-edged sword. You see the world and come back and see your previous life with a different perspective. The thing is none of us ever dreamed we would get the chance to see the things we've seen."
The band was formed in the music room of Brigshaw High School in Kippax, Leeds. In the beginning there was Rob Harvey, Adam Nutter and Stuart Coleman - drummer Phil Jordan was the last to join in 1999. There was no mad scramble to shop demos, secure deals or chase fame; being in a band was essentially a way of keeping themselves off the streets. "After Phil joined in 1999, it was obvious we were really good together," says Coleman. "But we've always tried to insulate ourselves from the bullsh-- and keep the music as pure as possible."
The embryonic band, however, were not short of confidence. "Me and Rob have known each other since we were babies," says Nutter. "I always knew Rob had something but he was always involved with these sh-- bands. Finally I just grabbed him and we started writing. To me it wasn't a fluke or an accident. I really did have that feeling of 'Well if he keeps doing that and I keep doing this, how can we fail?'"
Take the Long Road and Walk It confirmed his belief. Released by the small UK independent label, Fierce Panda, the single came out just as the band quit school in 2001. It was followed by the You May As Well Try To F--- Me EP, by which time the likes of the NME were stating that The Music were "potentially the most important group since Oasis."
Then, of course, came The Music album. Aided and abetted by such singles as The People and The Truth is No Words, the album went gold in the UK (and, a little later in Japan and Australia too). So Welcome to the North is very much chapter two of one of the most promising English rock stories of the decade. "The only way to hold onto any integrity is to check with yourself the reasons why you do things," says Rob Harvey. "We've always tried to decide among ourselves what feels right and ignore everyone else. One of our goals is 'No goals'. Don't set targets or goals that have no meaning. All the best things we've ever done have happened by accident."
--- from the official The Music website