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INTERVIEW: Saint Raymond

Introducing Nottingham’s own indie-rock legend Saint Raymond

As part of our new introducing feature, we recently caught up with Saint Raymond ahead of his new album ‘We Forgot We Were Dreaming’. It may have been nearly six years since they released their debut album ‘Young Blood‘, but Saint Raymond is back at the top of his game following his last few releases such as ‘Solid Gold‘ & ‘Wide Eyed Blind‘ (which have already amassed a total over two million streams). We found time to chat about what we could expect from his new album, how he’s coping in lockdown, and his awkward conversation with Noel Gallagher

 It’s been nearly six years since you released your debut album, Young Blood, what are we to expect with your long-awaited sophomore album, ‘We Forgot We Were Dreaming’?

[Laughs] Yeah, you know what… I never wanted to be that artist that took ages to release a second record but for whatever reason, it has been ages. I guess I have just taken my time with it and not rushed it at all. I’ve just made the record I wanted to make. I don’t think I’ll alienate anyone that enjoyed the first record because I’m going into it with the same mindset. I just wanna’ make music that I enjoy making and I never want to be like let’s force something different. Obviously, this is different as I’m older and life has changed, but I think if you enjoyed the first record then you’ll hopefully enjoy this one

Would you say your influences have changed since your debut album?

Not really, no. I’m really weird with music, I have a real love/hate relationship in terms of listening to music. It seems really weird to say as a musician but I have stages where I don’t really listen to music, so I guess my influences have pretty much stayed the same. Obviously, I’ve listened to new stuff so when I go in to make a tune there might be something that I had heard recently that I think, oh this is quite cool. In terms of influences, it all kinda stems from the same point of making music I like and not trying to put it into one box so to speak. 

How would you describe the way your sound has developed throughout your career?

I guess the big thing for me when I first started making music as Saint Raymond I was like 16, so I was literally a kid. Even though it’s a really cliche answer to say the sounds matured is probably the most sensible. When I was writing that first record it was things I was experiencing from the age of 16-20, whereas this record is more 20-mid 20s so it’s about the way life changes in many different ways.

For me, the debut album was a bit more me being wide open to everything, a kid that is embracing this mental journey. For this record, I’ve got a bit of a more mature head on me and kinda’ maybe a bit more skeptical I guess.

So far you’ve released four singles from the album. Are we to expect any more singles from you before the full album is released on April 16th?

Yeah definitely. At least two more, maybe three. It’s such a weird time for music at the minute. For me personally, I love holding it back, the idea of the album coming out and no ones heard anything. This isn’t possible now with Spotify and Apple Music these days, music is much more accessible now so it just makes sense to release stuff, even though the purist in me is a bit resentful of it. I sometimes struggle to grasp the way things are released now. I love the idea of releasing a record and everything is brand new. I do understand the fact it’s different times and it’s not like you go and buy a CD on a Friday when it’s released.   

Saint Raymond – Love This Way is out now.

Tough question to ask but do you have a favourite track off the album? And where would they rank in your Saint Raymond: Best of..?

I have a real soft spot for ‘Soft Landing’ and the last track on the record ‘Amsterdam’. I’d say these are the two songs that I personally love the most, but I don’t know if that’s because they were the most recent tracks. When you’re constantly touring and playing gigs you can lose how important they are. However, when you haven’t played a show in a really long time, there’s always a song that I’m not sure if it should go on the setlist or not but when the crowd is singing it back then you realise how important that song is to people.

I think ‘As We Are Now’ holds top place for me just because of how personal that song is. It’s crazy when ‘Movie In My Mind’ gets played at a gig too. It’s a tough one to judge until they’ve been played live.

 

A question that naturally has to be asked, how has lockdown three been treating you? Has it ruined much of your plans for the album?

Yeah, it’s pretty shit like it is for everyone. For me personally, I do quite a lot of creative stuff by myself, but I do prefer working with people.  I do like my own company but when it comes to the creative side I just love being around people. I just love that interaction, love speaking to people, and having a laugh. I’m a bit fortunate now in one sense in terms of the record being finished but in another sense, it’s hard to be twiddling my thumbs a bit. It’s affected the album in terms of when ‘Right Way Round’ came out we had a bunch of shows in the diary.  We had initial thoughts about bringing the album out in September, which obviously got moved to April. I know it’s the same for everyone but still, shit.

COVID restrictions permitting, You’re set to embark on a small run of dates across the UK in April, how would you describe your shows to anyone that’s not seen you live before?

I just like to have fun. I’ll get drunk with you and have fun. Sound-wise I think we put on a bit of a heavier show, I’d say it’s a proper guitar-driven show which we put everything into. I think the hard thing for me is we have been speaking about doing some socially distanced shows, but I don’t want to play a show where people aren’t just having fun. For me, a Saint Raymond show isn’t people sat not being able to do what they want. So I want to do a show when we can properly do a show.

Were there moments where you doubted certain songs because you didn’t have a live reaction to back up your opinion?

Yeah massively, with all of them you have those doubts. Like going right back to when I wrote ‘Young Blood’ for example. I wasn’t massively a fan of that song, I had to be persuaded by it. Then we played it on a tour and I realised “oh shit, people really like this song”. I think sometimes the process of writing a song can be really weird, for example, this record I probably listened to it fifty times, maybe even more by the end of the process. Sometimes you can doubt if the song is actually any good because you have the initial excitement of the song and then fifty listens later you’re talking about the sound of the snare drum and you’re kinda going mad about it.

Without seeing a live reaction it can get a bit of a struggle. There have been some songs that I’ve sort of put to one side and literally forgot they exist, then people have said “oh this was our first dance or I asked my girlfriend to marry me to this song”. It just made me realise not to rule anything out. When I’m touring and just singing lyrics constantly, it sort of loses it’s meaning because you repeatedly do it. When you do play them live and you talk to people after the show it makes it all worthwhile I think.

Looking back over your great career so far, you’ve played some amazing shows whether that is headlining Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Rock City & supporting Ed Sheeran on his arena tour. What would you say has been your favourite show that you’ve played?

Rock City will always hold a special place in my heart. I grew up going to that venue and I still go to gigs there now so that’s crazy for me. The Rock City show would have to be my favourite because I’d always dreamt of playing it.  I will never get bored of talking about the Ed tour because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I gained so much from it in terms of learning so much during it. 

Was it the crowd that made it your favourite or just something about the venue?

Yeah, it was a culmination of everything really. I remember my brother sending me a video of the queue outside. Like I’ve been in that queue so many times and the fact people are doing that for me was mad. It was a real blur for me you know, I can’t really remember it at all. Not even through being drunk, I don’t even think I had a drink that night because I was so nervous. I think the adrenaline and everything make that show super special, especially the nostalgia of it. I can kinda still hear the noise in my head. I relive it through videos I guess. I very rarely watch my own live stuff because that’ll be weird but like once a year I find a clip of that gig just to relive it. One of the reps told me we were the first person to sell it out without having a record out which is pretty crazy.

What’s your most embarrassing moment in music?

There was this one time I was talking to the lead actress in Game of Thrones at Glastonbury for like half an hour. My best mate John (Drummer in Saint Raymond) was like mouthing something to me throughout it. He was like fanboying and I had no idea who she was. I asked her what she does for a living when she said she is an actress. I asked if she’d been in anything I’d know, when she said Game of Thrones, I replied saying I hadn’t seen it. A picture of me and her went up the next day and it exploded and I was like “oh wow you’re actually really famous then”. I’ve had the cliche trousers splitting on stage which is always horrendous. I always enjoy the video of my old bass player falling flat on his face. I think other moments are like asking people for a photo and being pied. I asked Alex turner for a photo once and he basically told me to fuck off.

I once met Noel Gallagher at an after-party for the Brits. Where I asked him for a photo and he asked me if I smoke and just kept repeatedly asking despite me saying no. So there’s a photo of us where he’s just looking angry. I completely forgot about it. I got stupidly drunk, completely forgetting the fact I met him and I got a text from my brother asking me if I met anyone famous last night. Baring in mind the fact that Noel Gallagher is one of mine and my brother’s idols. I was just on my phone looking through my photos and was like fuck turns out I did meet someone last night. No recollection of it until I saw the photo.

 

‘We Forgot We Were Dreaming’ will be released on April 16th…

I know you’re a keen Notts County fan, if you had to choose between Notts County or being Saint Raymond what would you choose?

I can’t believe you’ve done this to me. It’s so horrible to answer. I’ve invested so much of my life into going to watch Notts County. I’ve been going to see Notts since I was three. I’ll obviously say Saint Raymond but it’s such a hard one to choose. 

So talk me through what made you decide to set up your fan group ‘Everybody Loves Saint Raymond’? What else can we expect from this group?

I’m a bit useless at social media sometimes so I got some help from people who do this very well and someone suggested a Facebook group. I wanted something a bit more personal. I don’t use Facebook personally, so I had no idea what to expect. It’s got people from all over the world on there now and the live streams have been great. There’s going to be a lot more going on in there, we’ve got ideas in terms of streaming, competition-based stuff but definitely a lot more activity on there. 

Speaking a little bit more long term, where do you see yourself taking Saint Raymond in the future?

I think it’s a weird one. I’m not sure what we can and can’t do at the moment, but it definitely won’t be as long as last time. I’ll just always be releasing new music, whether that’s another album or not. I’m still writing music but I’m just not actively writing for an album at the minute. It definitely won’t be six years so don’t worry!

Billy Fitzjohn
Writer and promoter

 

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