In life, no matter the situation, you always want a satisfactory ending. However the reality is that’s not always the case. This is something Bicycle Thieves have accepted on their self-titled EP.
Formed off the back of playing in various bands, the Cardiff quartet came together last year through an admiration for punk and hardcore that is delivered with substance. In the case of ‘Bicycle Thieves,’ that substance is the disenchantment of modern day Britain. Throughout the four tracks on offer, vocalist Neil Doran and company provide a short yet sturdy commentary on their personal trial and tribulations with an underlying hint of determination. It’s no doubt that Bicycle Thieves’ ethos is rooted in the punk rock attitude of defying the norm and striving to make a change.
Already Heard recently spoke to Neil Doran to discuss Bicycle Thieves’ beginnings, the EP, their hometown and how Beach Slang’s James Alex created the artwork for the EP.
AH: Let’s start off with a basic question – how did Bicycle Thieves come to be?
Neil: I was invited in to play second guitar for The Modern Farewell when my first band split by Jon Greenwood, but during that time I was always writing stuff of my own. Then after a few years of acoustic shows the stuff I was writing was screaming out for a band to back it so I started looking for friends to help out. Jon was first in to help out on guitar and then thankfully Jon Gardener agreed to jump on board to play drums, he brought Dom in on bass to complete the set up. There’s so much talent amongst that group of boys it’s unreal. I’m so pleased to have them be part of things.
AH: So you’re set to release your self-titled EP next month. Having heard the EP, it comes off as gruff and plucky set of punk rock songs. How do you interpret the overall tone of the EP?
Neil: Yeah I guess you’ve summed it up pretty well to be honest, high energy punk rock songs to enjoy with your friends and a beer or two. As a band we’ve started to find our real sound now which I suppose a bit heavier, maybe a bit grungy in places. The technical ability of the rest of the boys has certainly taking things in a slightly different direction but it still sounds like us if you know what I mean? I love all the stuff we do other wise we wouldn’t have put it out, I’m really happy with how things are shaping up.
AH: You’ve all played in local bands prior to Bicycle Thieves. What did you learn from those experiences and how did you incorporate into this band?
Neil: Me and Jon Greenwood have done a bunch of things together so we know each other top to toe musically. Dom and Jon Gardener have been in hardcore bands together too so it was a super tight knit straight from the off. Two things I guess I’ve learnt, firstly no matter where you’re playing or how many people you’re playing to you just have to get stuck in and enjoy it. Whether its 10 or a 100 if someone has made the effort to come and see us we’ll do what we can to repay for the favour musically. Secondly, when you’re writing songs with a hardcore drummer you need to number the sections!
AH: I understand the EP is about not having the perfect ending and trying to have a positive outlook. What has influenced that?
Neil: Life just throws shit at you, whether that be losing loved ones, relationship break ups, or people telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your life. It’s about accepting that not everything or anyone maybe be perfect but that’s ok, it’s about remembering the good times and sticking to your guns. Thankfully this generation are being encouraged to be more creative. Skate parks in all the villages and recording studios in the schools, it’s great to see this sort of thing being encouraged instead of being frowned upon like it was when I was a kid.
AH: As for your hometown of Cardiff, how has life in the area had an affect on you as a band?
Neil: I have a bit of love / hate relationship with the place to be honest! On the one hand it can be such an ace place to be, then take a wrong turn (i.e down St Mary’s Street) and it’s a stark reminder of everything that’s wrong with the UK in general! I grew up in the Valleys though and that’s definitely shaped me musically, so many great bands and musicians in that area for sure. I have friends there that tour Europe playing to huge crowds and even play with KISS, then to come home to go back to work day jobs! crazy shit.
AH: In additionally, how much of an influence has the local scene played a part in shaping Bicycle Thieves?
Neil: I can only speak for myself but the South Wales music scene is crammed with amazing bands, two of my favourite albums this year have been made by our friends in Pipedream and Masts. Saying that, the new Ducking Punches album is also one of my favourites so far this year so all the music I’m listening to at the moment has been recorded by friends, goes to show just how good this scene is! It’s hard not to be influenced by the people you get to spend time with especially when their not only amazing musicians but great people.
AH: One noticeable side note is that James Alex of Beach Slang produced the artwork for the EP. How did that come about?
Neil: Yeah, I’m so pleased to have him involved! I was playing the Deadpunk all dayer in Bristol acoustically so got to see Beach Slang and they just blew me away! We became mates on face ache shortly after and he mentioned that he was up for doing some design work in between tours so I naturally jumped the chance! All the artwork he puts together is incredible, the guy is a real talent with massive heart, the process run like clock work and I really can’t tank him enough to spending the time on making it looks so good!
‘Bicycle Thieves’ EP by Bicycle Thieves is available now through No Panic! Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)