Last week our review of 2000 Trees featured a glowing appraisal of Rob Lynch’s set. During the festival we also found the time to catch up with Rob and his guitarist Jonny Ward to chat about his plans for recording his sophomore album, writing happier songs, his pride at using his music to help fans deal with and broach the sensitive subject of death as well as the importance of building a career at a natural pace and much more.
AH: You’ve only just arrived on site but how are you feeling about your first visit to 2000 Trees?
Rob: Very positive and excited for what the next 24 hours holds. I’ve only heard good things about it and it’s nice to finally be here.
AH: You’ve headed here right off the back of putting out new ‘Plans Pt2’ song on Music Glue, how’s the response been to it?
Rob: Yeah it’s been good. It’s a song that I’ve had kicking around for a little while and it’s not going to get used on any new releases. I thought why not get a new song out in the open for people to hear?
AH: Did it feel at all strange putting out a song that ties in with your EP after you’d released the album?
Rob: Not at all. It’s one of those things where if you don’t know about the EP or what the song relates to, then it’s just a stand-alone song. But if you do know then it does have added meaning and links and what not, and I like stuff like that. There are artists who reference old songs and old albums many albums down the line. Like, off the top of my head, Eminem, on his album ‘Marshall Mathers LP II’ he’s referencing songs from about 15 years ago and I think that’s cool.
AH: So it’s now the better part of a year since your debut album came out, since then it seems like you’ve done a great job of putting out really fun videos that capture the spirit of your live shows.
Rob: That’s great, I’m glad you think so. It’s one of those things where, well video shoots can be long and pretty boring, so we thought we’d try and make them as much fun as possible for all involved. And also fun for people to watch. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve started watching a video and turned it off halfway through because it’s just someone standing in a room playing a song. That really wasn’t what I wanted.
AH: From what we’ve heard your Slam Dunk performances, particularly the Leeds one, were pretty crazy. How were they for you?
Rob: It was great. It’s definitely one of my favourite shows that I’ve played in this country. Especially because it was the first band set I’d played here outside of London on any kind of scale. It had a really triumphant kind of feel to it. Johnny can say how he felt about it.
Jonny: It was so great. We weren’t sure how it was going to go as we were between some pretty big bands, but it went nice man. The people there enjoyed it and we enjoyed it.
Rob: It felt like a moment didn’t it? It felt like people had been looking forward to it and were rooting for us.
AH: Have you started to think about working on album number two yet?
Rob: Oh yeah. Its booked in.
AH: The first album ended up being something of a labour of love, I’m guessing you’re hoping things will be a little more straightforward this time?
Rob: Yeah this is going to be a lot smoother and a lot quicker. There were various reasons for how things went with album one, but we’re rolling with album two now. The studio’s booked and the songs are almost finished.
AH: Have you managed to make plans that leave less room for a hurricane to chuck a spanner in the works this time?
Rob: Definitely. I think the only thing that could stop it this time is a tube strike. Even then we could probably walk to the studio within two hours.
AH: Is the recording process for the new album going to be a full band one with Jonny, Charlie and Tom all getting involved?
Rob: Yeah it’s going to be a full band record. I think for the others because we’ve played so many shows, not so much over here but in Europe, we’ve played a lot of shows together and we’ve got that chemistry where we can take it into a studio and really make it work. I’ve only ever recorded solo or with other people coming into play bits and bobs of stuff, never as a band where we were all there together getting in that creative zone and vibing for two weeks. I’m super pumped and really excited. I think the songs are a progression and that they sound different to the first record. I think having the other guys on board will really help to bring that out.
AH: Has it put you in a position where you’re having to do a lot more pre-production then you’ve done before?
Rob: Yeah. Me and Jonny have been working on the songs on our own and then we’ll be taking them to the other guys within the next four weeks. Then we’ll get it all locked in and have a bunch of practices. Then we’ll go into the studio later in the year and hopefully it’ll be fun, and I won’t say easy but…
Rob: Yeah exactly.
AH: A lot of the stuff on the EP and the album was pretty poignant and based around your father and some tough times for you, will things be a little brighter this time?
Rob: Yeah. It’s time to move away from that. I feel like that album and that EP were about, well they were my first releases, so they were about my whole life beforehand, now I’m writing about stuff that’s happened in the last year and a half. It’s still personal stuff but it’s not as…
Rob: Yeah not quite as, well there are some deep bits, but it’s not quite as ‘deathy’ let’s say. Which I think is cool. I think you can get bogged down in stuff like that and it starts to loose meaning. Because you’re like, “oh there’s another song about death.” Whereas if you have that record that’s about that, that stands on its own and now we’ll talk about some other things. The new songs come from a happier place. There are still some sad songs as well, I’ve got an acoustic guitar.
AH: One of the striking things about the songs from those releases was how you’re able to take the sad subject matter and make it sound really vital and upbeat live, was that something that was hard to do when you first started playing them?
Rob: That was always the thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to take heavy subject matter and turn it into a singalong and make people feel alright, because people find it difficult to talk about death and loss and things like that and they don’t really know how to approach it. If you can put it into a singalong song and make it feel like it’s not a taboo subject, that it’s a subject you can broach, it’s amazing. I’ll be in a room of people singing along and I’ll get someone come up to me afterwards and be like ‘I lost my father and I really found it helpful to express it in that kind of way’. That is great and that’s what I wanted to do.
Jonny: I think it makes people more comfortable and opens them up to talking about it, rather then it being a taboo subject or something like Rob said. It stops them feeling like it’s a subject you shouldn’t broach because it’s too personal.
AH: The first time we saw you play, there were maybe 15 people there. Now at shows like Slam Dunk or in Germany when you look out at packed rooms, do you just think, “wow this really picked up”?
Rob: Yeah, but it’s been a long road though. It hasn’t felt like it’s just an overnight thing. It feels like I worked my balls off. It makes sense for the shows to be bigger now, as I’ve had the chance to connect to people over a period of time. Now I have the label, and the agents, and the management and everything, but it feels right to have those things now. Obviously it is all because the shows are working and the reactions have been great. Sometimes bands get those things too early and they get put in front of bigger crowds before they really should be playing in front of that many people. I mean I’ve been to watch bands that are massive now, but I’ve seen them on bills where it’s been like, they’re not ready to play that stage as their live show isn’t ready yet. It was super important to do those shows playing to next to no-one. Those are the ones where you cut your teeth and learn how to do it, and actually where you make the fans that are going to stick with you for years to come, because they were there first and could connect on a human level.
AH: The last time you were out and about playing a lot of UK shows was the tour with Alison Weiss, it felt like you were able to pull something quite cool and special out of what could have been a pretty crappy situation.
Rob: It was within hours of being pulled completely which would have been a disaster. Well, it would have been for me and for Alison anyway. We let everyone know what the situation was as soon as we could. I think it turned into a success because everyone who was there really wanted to be there. We made new fans from that tour of people who bought tickets to see the original line-up but still wanted to go out and support live music. They understood that we were in it for real and not for our own personal wants and needs.
AH: What has team Lynch got in its collective diary for the rest of the year?
Rob: We’ve got a lot of festivals this summer, mainly in Germany. We’ve got some of the biggest shows we’ll have ever done over there next week which is really exciting.
AH: It does seem like the Germans love you and have helped to make you really successful over there, any thoughts on why?
Rob: I don’t know, I’ve just connected over there. Their approach to live music is different to here and I can’t really put it into words.
Jonny: They seem to genuinely care about live music rather than just following what they think is cool or hot.
Rob: Not that they don’t here, but it’s less of a scene over there. I think there are lots of different fragments over here that people like to stick to too closely. Over there we’ll get kids who are twelve years old coming out to shows with their parents, or we’ll get grandparents who are seventy odd coming and then everything in between. It’s a really nice, cool vibe. Do I know why I’ve been so successful there? No, I’m not sure.
AH: So just to bring things to a close, where can people catch you during the rest of festival season and the rest of the year?
Rob: Look on my Facebook! (laughs) After that we’ll be recording the new record and there’ll be some bits and bobs at the end of the year before some down time at Christmas. Next year hopefully we’ll be everywhere.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)