Once upon a time Mallory Knox were just another band scuttling along the underbelly of the UK rock scene, touring relentlessly in an attempt to break through. Now the Cambridgeshire lot are riding the wave of their debut, Signals, success and it seems that the world can no longer ignore the rise of Mallory Knox. LSi spoke to guitarist Joe Savins about touring, the band’s debut album and their ‘crazy’ rider requests.
Under a year ago we would most likely have found you playing small venues with even smaller crowds – you’ve sold out the Cockpit now, as well as other venues across the UK. How do you think it’s happened?
I think the turning point was releasing our record. We’d toured for so long on just a five song EP and people can only pay and see you so many times for a five song set. Now we have the diversity to mix up the sets a bit more. We also started getting played on radio a lot more; really the album both brought more people to us and excited the people who were already listening to us and gave them more reason to attend our shows.
Have you had any time to reflect on your success over the past few months?
It’s one of those things where you don’t know how well its actually going until someone points it out to you. We played Reading and Leeds this summer. We did Reading first and when I got off stage it was a true moment of reflection, everything we’ve done had led up to that and it was the first time I realised that our band was connecting with people on a large scale. It was a huge event; there were about 30,000 people there to see us.
It’s been almost two years since the release of your debut EP Pilot – when you listen to that now what stands out in comparison with Signals?
I think stylistically there’s a very common thread running through both records. I think they’re both quite dark lyrically and musically, a lot of minor and not a lot of major. But for me the album was where we were comfortable in our own skin and we knew what we wanted from this band and we could write an album from it. I love every song on Pilot but for me it sounds like five songs, whereas Signals sound like a record. It’s more focused…we trimmed the fat on it and the songs sound more compact.
Why do you think Signals made such an impact?
I think there’s something about our sound which hits the balance between raw and polished rock. When we came out we still had that scrappy raw side to us but the pop elements were definitely there; there was a niche for a band that pleased both sides. To get four ‘playlisted’ singles in a row on Radio One is really unheard of for a rock band like us and that says a lot. We managed to get that without the rock world turning its back on us because we had something that could please the two of them. That’s why the album really did so well.
You grew up and established Mallory Knox in Cambridgeshire where you were quite isolated from any kind of rock scene or prominent local bands – how did you overcome this?
From the beginning we had this ‘get in the van’ mentality. We weren’t scared to play any show. If someone told us to go up to Edinburgh, that we wouldn’t get paid for it but 10 people had bought tickets, we’d get in the van and go and play that gig. We weren’t shy to get our hands dirty and, once we did that, where we were from became irrelevant.
You’re now on your first proper headline tour. What’s that like?
It’s been surprising every night. The attitude in our band is that we genuinely don’t expect the success we receive. Last night in Norwich I knew the show was sold out and that it was a big venue but I still felt shocked going on stage! I think it’s the same for all the lads. We’ve supported other bands in the same venues we’re touring in now and we would sit there and wonder if we could ever sell them out and six months ago the answer was ‘no’ and so to sell those same venues is such an honour for us.
Now that you’re on a proper headline tour have you had any crazy rider requests?
No! We are so unassuming. This is how shy and lame my band is – we once we thought we were being really arrogant and cheeky by asking for skittles on our rider. When we got them we could not believe it! It was just a pack of skittles but we thought it was pretty Rock and Roll. To be honest we’re happy if we have a loaf of bread and some ham. There’s nothing crazy that appears on our rider.