For many festival-goers, they dream of being on the other side of the barrier, on stage playing to a packed crowd. For Leeds quintet Calls Landing they managed to fulfil that dream as they opened up the Lock Up stage at Leeds Festival. Having spent their formative years visiting the festivals as fans, their appearance marks a milestone for the local band. They have bided their time playing venues up and down the country, developing a strong following along the way.
Their appearance on the Lock Up stages comes months after they released their debut album, ‘Heirlooms’ to plenty of critical praise. The record is a more focused effort that shifts away from their pop punk foundations and towards are emotive, dynamic style that is driven by strong hooks and a tightly crafted rhythm section. Whilst lyrically vocalist Joe Armitage explores personal issues such as his anxiety and family woes. Nevertheless ‘Heirlooms’ is a hidden gem of a record that should appear in more end of year lists then it actually will.
Having conquered Leeds Festival, what is next for Calls Landing? Well we spoke to drummer Charlie Thomas and bassist Cameron Hurley shortly after their set. The pair discussed their festival memories, winning the Futuresound competition, the reaction to ‘Heirlooms’ and what their next goal is.
AH: So earlier you played the Lock Up stage. How was it?
Charlie: It was cool man. It was pretty wild.
Cam: You’re playing it off. It was incredible. That is going to stick with me for a long time.
Charlie: Yeah it was really good.
AH: I guess being local lads it was a big deal for you?
Charlie: Yeah massive. It’s like coming home for us. We watched The Wonder Years play that stage last year to a full room, and even though we didn’t have anywhere near that many people, it’s great to take the same steps they did and New Found Glory will be later on.
Cam: We had loads of friends down there. It was really special. It’s something we’ve all wanted to do. To be on that stage was a special event.
AH: What are your memories from coming to Leeds Festival in the past?
Cam: Oh Leeds Festival memories. That’s not many. They’re all a bit blurry.
Charlie: The main one for me was when Blink headlined after they got back together. Me and my friend from home had five laptops opened. It was the days when you couldn’t get a ticket where as now you can get one kind of easily for it, but yeah we had five laptops refreshing them to get tickets, and then we were going to drive to somebody’s house and then it (the line-up) popped up on somebody’s phone. That memory of trying to get tickets and it was the first time I had camped for the weekend. One of the beautiful things for us is that we’ve been on that side of the campsite and being here hanging out with friends, and now we’re here having played it. It’s almost full circle.
Cam: This is my fifth year at Leeds Festival. My first time I came I was 18 and you had told me I’d be playing it one day, I wouldn’t of believed you but here we are. It’s phenomenal.
AH: You won the Futuresound competition. Did you expect to win?
Cam: No not at all. (laughs)
Charlie: Whenever those shows come up, they’re always good gigs at a nice venue and we hadn’t played Leeds for awhile. We played a record release show which was amazing and we thought “its summer we’re not doing any festivals, lets do a decent show at a decent venue”. We shift some tickets that we usually try and do best. We turned up and played second, and they liked it.
Cam: I said to the band “are we going to do the Futuresound competition? We’ve got no gigs and the goal to play here would be great” but it wasn’t just a gig. I had confidence that we could potentially go on and play Leeds and Reading but never to win it.
Charlie: I thought we could get a chance to play on the BBC Introducing but never that stage. You don’t want to be saying “oh we’re going to win it” because you don’t want to be untrue to yourself but we have confidence in what we do. I think that came through of what we want to put across to people. It was effective at that show.
The final thing is that we’ve played that many shows in Leeds now. We’ve done Cockpit. We’ve done The Well. We’ve done all these venues that have come and gone and seen bands that have come and gone. We’ve just kept trucking on, playing shows and having fun. Now we’ve been rewarded with the show everyone wants and the one we’ve all wanted to do.
AH: Earlier this year you released the ‘Heirlooms’ LP. I see it has had a very good reaction?
Charlie: Yeah people were into it. It’s nice because we love it irrespectively but to have someone validate their enjoyment for it is a bonus. It’s what you want as much as you want to like it yourself.
Cam: It had a good reaction in the press and with friends and fans. The other thing, Jason (Blackburn), our new member who joined a couple months ago, I sent him the record before it was finished and before it was a thought in our mind for him to be our new guitarist, and he said “that’s one of the best albums I’ve heard”. It was a bit weird getting him in but to have it validated by someone who wasn’t in the band and now is, is pretty cool.
AH: I remember originally you were more of a pop punk band before and you’ve moved away from that sound. What influenced that?
Charlie: I think when we started the band we were all about 18 and that was the time bands like The Wonder Years and The Story So Far were coming through. That was what we were listening to.
Cam: It was an exciting time.
Charlie: We still do listen to them in parts but I’m 23 now and I like different music. I don’t listen to pop punk.
Cam: I still do by the way. (laughs)
Charlie: It’s almost funny that we had a t-shirt saying “I don’t listen to pop punk often but when I do its always Calls Landing”. In a way I kind of realised it’s come full circle. I don’t listen to it often but when I do it’s Calls Landing.
Cam: Yeah! (laughs) You didn’t even plan that!
AH: Like you say, you just grow as people and you find different music to like and with the album you’ve bought all those influences together.
Both: Yeah for sure.
Cam: I don’t want to sound cliché but we’ve “matured.”
AH: What is the next step now you’ve played the Lock Up stage.
Charlie: The next thing is to build on it. In the Autumn we’ve got some time away from other projects to concentrate on it. We’re going to try and get on some tours.
Cam: That’s the main thing on a good tour like a big US band. A decent sized tour of a similar genre.
Charlie: Or even a UK band. Something that would take us to the next point. We want to show different people that could help us out, that we’re strong enough in the five of us to do something off of our own backs. We just need that extra bit of support.
Cam: Hopefully this will be the stepping stone from the DIY to the more mainstream.
Charlie: Then in twelve months time, we can start thinking going into recording the next record. That depends if it comes out via somewhere else because that would be nice.
AH: I know you’ve done a few local area tours but you’ve not done a full UK tour yet.
Charlie: It’s difficult.
Cam: We have done a nationwide but it was back in 2011.
Charlie: It is just quite hard because a lot of people don’t want to put out to do you a full tour and pay you for every show. At the end of the day it has to work as a business, as well as a band. We pick and choose. We’ll do a London show like we did with Make Do and Mend. We could of probably done two different London shows that were good and probably paid more, but we would rather play on that one as it’d help us make connections and play with a band like Hindsights. They’re a band we feel close to musically and they’re a bit different as well.
AH: It’s just getting on the right tour so you get seen in front of the right people.
Charlie: Yeah a tour with them or someone like Creeper. It’d be nice to embed us with some of those bands.
AH: Yeah they’re all bands that are on the rise, so it’d be good to see you latch on to them.
Charlie: Yeah. It’s weird because we’re all friends from different bands who know people. Usually its the band who wants to sort something out but its the person booking that’s the problem.
Cam: It’s all difficult but hopefully we’ll get someone coming along. We recently got some new people booking for us, so fingers crossed that all comes through.
AH: Any final comments to finish off?
Cam: Today is probably going to be the best day ever.
Charlie: We can remember this now but when we wake up tomorrow morning it’ll be just a blur.
Cam: It’ll be like “oh what did I do yesterday?” but yes we will remember this.
Charlie: I think as well that’s nice with this interview is that you’ve helped us out for ages. It’s nice that we’ve done press things together for a long time. So thank you for doing this interview because if you hadn’t had asked to do it with us, we would of asked you to do it anyway. It’s kind of nice just like talking to a friend.
Cam: Thank you for the support and thank you Leeds. It has been marvellous.
‘Heirlooms’ by Calls Landing is out now.
Calls Landing links: Facebook
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Leeds Festival 2015 here.