Hailing from Southampton and emerging from the same music scene that recently spawned Cassava and The Novatones, indie-rockers Costellos are ones-to-watch.
Like an early greatest hits, their 2019 self-titled EP is overflowing with indie anthems. The opener CallerID is a seamless introduction, and the infectious Out of the Blue makes for an incredibly catchy closer - it would have been a bonafide 'indie-disco' anthem if it came out 10 years ago. In essence, Costellos' music captures everything that is enjoyable about the 'glamorous indie rock & roll' Brandon Flowers famously sang about on Hot Fuss.
2019 is shaping up to be a significant year for Costellos. With their first show in France on the horizon, the band is ready to embark on a busy summer touring schedule. I had the opportunity to chat with Costellos (George Dummett, Keiren Pearce, Kieran Wilson, and Tomi Lewis) to talk growth, the new EP, and the band's upcoming gig at The Joiners...
So, your debut EP has been out for a few months now, what has the response to it been like?
GEORGE: Yeah, it was good. Because we have always only really done singles beforehand. And it was four songs that we thought were good enough to be singles. However, everyone is just releasing singles now, so it felt that it was right. We are not big enough for an album yet, but people are always asking for more songs. The response was really good to be fair. We had a lot of good write-ups and reviews.
KIERAN: I think it is good because we always had the response that people wanted to listen to more of our music. And we came to the decision that, if we were to release two or three singles a year, the singles can be forgotten. But for the people that want to listen to us, we have a good back catalogue now.
One of the elements I love about this EP is that it really captures the energy of four people playing music together. Was this something you knew you wanted to capture on the EP before recording or did this come naturally during the process?
GEORGE: I think with our first single Keep on Lying, where we were still quite young we just wanted it to sound simple and catchy really. So that people could get to know it really quickly. Whereas now, from a creative perspective, we are looking at different routes we could go down. So yeah, on this EP we did experiment a lot more. In my opinion, the EP obviously sounds a lot different and more professional. I think back in the day, we were a little naive perhaps. We played the songs and people said they sounded good so we stuck with it. However, now we are always thinking of ways to be a bit different and creative with what we write.
That is really interesting and it totally comes through in the music. In regards to your debut EP, who did you work with to produce it?
GEORGE: We worked with a guy called Matt at Untapped Talent.
KIERAN: Most of the unsigned bands in Southampton have worked with them. I think that Untapped is one of the best places for this stuff in Southampton because they are so professional and talented. It is not a cheap game, especially when you are an unsigned band. With Untapped, it is affordable and for the price, you get an incredibly professional and enjoyable experience. Also, we had our tracks mastered at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool. And they mastered the tracks really well. This EP has been an amalgamation of ideas really and stuff like that. But, the constant was Untapped.
GEORGE: It is nice as well because when we first started practicing at Untapped we created a band friendship with Matt. He has got to know us as people and as a band over time. So, it is nice to have that relationship when going into the studio.
KIERAN: At entry-level, recording an EP you'd assume that as a producer he'd just be more than happy to just sit back and let the band sort out any creative issues. But because we have recorded so many songs at Untapped, Matt has been so supportive of the band and has input as well. It is part of our songs, I think. It isn't like we boss him around... He puts things in certain songs and makes creative suggestions.
GEORGE: I think we will still go to Untapped in the future. We are at this stage now where things are starting to take off for the band, so we are looking at other places we can go and other things we can try. That being said, it is always good to have that 'hometown' relationship with someone incredibly talented.
You spoke briefly about this earlier, however, what have been the biggest changes you've noticed in your sound since your early singles?
GEORGE: I think that when we were younger, we were always trying to be overly complicated about things. Whereas now, we have grown to know what crowds like and what they don't like. We always got that relationship with Southampton where we can just turn up and play an hour or so worth of music and people will love it. But, as we are going to new crowds and new venues we've now got the mindset that you have now got to look at the bigger picture.
With that in mind, which of the new songs have you seen connect with fans the most when you perform them live?
GEORGE: Probably Tenner in the Tank, is a good one. It gets one of the biggest responses during our sets. Get Me out of Here as well.
KIERAN: I don't think we appeal to just one kind of music fan in general. Keiran Pearce - our guitarist who is sat with me now - his pals and that love modern indie and stuff. So, Get Me out of Here is probably their favourite song. Whereas, Tenner in the Tank is about our drummer Tomi crashing his car. It is one of the tracks that we enjoy playing as a band. But I think there are a lot of different styles on the EP that appeals to different people.
GEORGE: I think Out of the Blue goes down really well. Obviously, that was released as a single almost a whole year before the release of the EP. When we did the music video and watched it all together, we kind of knew that it was a track that would go down really well. And when we released it as a single, it did get a really good response. When we said that we were going to do an EP, things just got better from there really.
Your music is very much reminiscent of indie bands from the 90s. Very often people try and compare a band to others that came before them, but it really seems like you guys are influenced by era itself. With this in mind, are there any musical acts that have contributed to the sound of your debut EP?
GEORGE: I think that we all have got quite different mindsets. For example. when we were recording CallerID, we wanted to drums to sound like it was influenced a bit by Kasabian. But, I dunno... We are influenced by all kinds of bands really. It is never one of those things where we all sit and listen to an album by The Rolling Stones and then write a song in their style. Everyone in the band has got a different venture and influences. And Tomi obviously likes his dance and electronic music and Keiran Pearce likes his reggae and stuff. So it is all different.
KIERAN: I think it is natural really. We were all born in the 90s and people like to pigeon-hole every English indie band that isn't, you know, psychedelic or upbeat, as an 'angry Oasis'. And it isn't like we reject that because every indie music fan is probably an Oasis fan. But, we like to think that our songs offer something different. And I think that shows in every track we make. I think the general consensus in the band is that there isn't any point in trying to recreate the past. Otherwise, we may as well just be a tribute band.
I completely agree with you. In regards to what you just told me, how do you feel you set yourselves apart from other bands in the indie music scene?
TOMI: George's haircut!
KIERAN: People look at us and we don't look like 'musicians'. Maybe George does, but Tomi doesn't look like a typical musician... He looks like he should be decorating your bathroom! In all seriousness, I think that is something that sets us apart. We chose to do this because we love music but it wasn't something that was built into us from a very young age. So, it is not as if we are making music for the sake of it...
GEORGE: Yeah, we are all really passionate and really want to do it. I think the moment you stop enjoying making music, is the point you should probably stop. There is no point in dragging something on if you are not enjoying it. Every band goes through difficult stages and every band has a gig that they've played that has made them want to give up. But you get through it, for love of the music. And that is what is so good about us as a band. It is really nice.
For those unfamiliar with Southampton’s music scene, could you describe the environment that you’re apart of?
GEORGE: Yeah, it is brilliant. There are a lot of great new bands out there as well. You have got Strangeways and Pretty Visitors. Although, I think they are from Pompey... Never mind!
KIERAN: Yeah, I think the good thing about the Southampton music scene is that every sort of band knows each other. Not even if you necessarily make similar music. It is not competitive at all. It is a nice atmosphere and environment to be a part of. About seven years or so ago, Southampton was quite quiet for music. So it is good to see it it is thriving. And obviously, you've got your venues like Heartbreakers and The Joiners... You've got The Loft and you have got the Engine Rooms. And obviously the Guildhall for your bigger bands. There are quite a few great venues in Southampton.
Back to your upcoming headline show at The Joiners. With you guys being from Southampton, have you played there a lot?
GEORGE: When we started out we played there a few times and we supported Planet about a month or so ago. We haven't done our own headline show there yet, so it is an exciting first thing to do for us.
KIERAN: We just played Heartbreakers recently and almost every other venue in Southampton. But, it is nice to headline a venue that everyone associates Southampton with. It is an iconic venue and we have some great support acts for our show.
Tickets for Costellos' headline show at The Joiners can be found at https://joiners.vticket.co.uk/product.php/1573/costellos
George Miles - Follow me on Twitter @GeorgeMiles6