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Interview: Sons of Liberty
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Moose – We all have a different story to tell here, but it’s fair to say that all of us were in bands as far back as the 80’s, with varying degrees of success. Steve probably got further than the rest of us with a couple of prog-type bands that had minor label releases, but by the mid-90’s any real dreams we had about success in the music industry had kinda faded away. Day jobs turned into careers in IT or Finance etc, girlfriends turned into wives and along came families as well for three of the guys – normal real-world stuff. Fortunately, we managed to keep music going in the background as a hobby, and that opened the door again for us a second time around.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Fred - The boys all have their own things going on… we don’t all live in the same house and play instruments all the time, like the old Beatles and Monkeys cliché stuff of course. Like everyone else, we have family, a few of us have day jobs, we all have homes to run the same kind of things we all have in our lives to keep us busy… for fun we’re all big music fans ourselves and when we’re not out ourselves like to go and see bands. We all seem to be into following various sports, but the music is the common ground we all share.
Our life experiences are definitely reflected in our music, none more than in Rob’s stories of a road well travelled in our lyrics….we have been around the block a few times clearly!
How long has your band been around?
Moose – we’ve been playing together since 2014, but it was early in 2018 when we found ourselves in the studio recording what became the …Shinola EP. This featured the first five songs we’d written together as a band, so it kinda feels like the start of everything. By the middle of 2018 we were back in the studio again recording the Aged In Oak EP, so it was quite a year for us! From there we haven’t looked back…
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Fred - We are from the South West of England and South Wales, and although there haven’t been too many big names in the world of rock to come from this area…Wales at least is still the land of song! For me personally I was lucky to frequent the local rock clubs and the concert halls, where every week we could see all the great new and established bands come to put on a show. Bristol was on the UK circuit and I got to see so many incredible bands live and often get to sneak backstage to meet my heroes, including Ian Gillan, UFO, Sammy Hagar, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, and Budgie… we were so lucky to be there when it was all new....and of course all of that has influenced our music. There is also an independent, provincial spirit down here that resonates so much with the music of the Southern States of the US, tales of ordinary folk living real lives… away from the big city ‘win at all costs’ nonsense that seems so alien to us… this is definitely who we are…and I hope it comes across in our music…. because it’s music for real people.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Moose – this was really hard, as I’m sure most bands find too. We wanted something that had a link to the USA, but we also wanted something that linked to the “Southern States” too as bands that came from this area such as Skynyrd or Blackfoot or Molly Hatchet were such
an influence. So, the original Sons of Liberty were involved in the ousting of British rule and the conversion from a colony to a new nation, so we kinda thought that was ironic with us being from the UK. But there’s also a link to the Civil War, as regiments made up of underage kids who were deployed in clean up type duties took on the name as well, especially south of the Mason Dixie Line.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Fred – well, firstly they are all memorable in some way, every show, no matter how big or small the crowd or venue, is important to us, and I remember every single one…we are privileged to play them all. For me personally there have been quite a few landmark shows for one reason or another. The first would be an acoustic show in our home town (Bristol) supporting the Quireboys, out of our comfort zone definitely, but the reaction to us was incredible and gave us a massive lift in confidence. Then ‘Giants of Rock’ at Butlin’s Minehead, a full house for the ‘introducing stage’ and a reception I’ll always cherish. A year later we got to play one of the big stages to a packed crowd and we played out of our skins… hard to beat! Rockin’ The Bowl Festival (Sheffield) was a great outdoor stage and atmosphere, as was a show at a theatre for Bully on Rocks Festival in France…both incredible… we are so lucky!
What is your favourite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Moose – Anywhere with a decent stage! We’ve certainly found that we come into our own when there’s room to put on a bit of a show, and Steve is always looking to pull out his big double kick drum setup too, and that takes up a fair amount of room. We’re always looking to progress to bigger and better venues here in the UK, but having made a first trip to France in 2021 it’d be great to follow that up with a more extensive run of European gigs. Getting over the pond to play in the USA would be totally amazing – maybe Nashville, Austin and Jacksonville for starters??
If you could play any show with any line-up, who would be on the ticket?
Fred – The obvious answer is probably Lynyrd Skynyrd. We are so excited to be opening for Molly Hatchet this year, so that’s definitely one on the bucket list. The original Blackfoot would be the other dream band…. yep, Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot…and little old Sons of Liberty!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Moose – There are no short cuts in this industry, at least not these days. New bands have to get out there and put in the time playing gigs, even if that’s starting locally first before looking further afield and racking up the motorway miles. You’ll be needing the experience of the “early days” as you progress. For example, we couldn’t have recorded Aces & Eights without having Animism to build on, and that needed the two EP before that. It’s the same with gigs – learn how to put on a performance in the grass routes venues first, ‘cause you’ll need to bring a degree of confidence to anything bigger and better that you might get down the line.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Fred – Just enjoy making your music…and enjoy the experiences as you go…. and I guess have a realistic plan of what you want to achieve, that has worked well for us.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Moose – This is so hard, it’s almost like trying to pick out your favourite son or daughter! Songs such as The Brave or I Come In Peace or Into The Great Unknown have connected really strongly with our fan base due to their strong lyrical themes, but then there’s fun stuff too, and that always resonates massively at gigs. Snake Hips Slim or Beef Jerky Boogie or Doc’s Remedy are examples of these. Then there’s songs such as Ruby Starr or Marvin Popcorn Sutton that tell the story of real people, so there’s a different kinda link there too – seeing Ruby’s family respond to our video online was amazing. One thing’s for sure, where we get support slots with short 30-min sets it’s damn tricky to work out what not to play!!
Which songs are your favourite to play and which get requested the most?
Fred – I guess the boys would all have their own favourites to play live, for me currently I love playing ‘Up Shit Creek’, ‘Rich Man Poor Man, Beggar Man Thief’, ‘Don’t Hide Behind Your Weakness’ and ‘Into The Great Unknown’, simply because I enjoy the physical process of performing them a lot, and I am either really proud of how the band created and performs these songs or I get to stretch out a bit on the guitar … all the songs are all our children… and we love playing them all. We don’t do requests… you get what we think you want to hear 😊
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Moose – Everything starts with guitar parts that Freddy works up at home before ending ‘em out as a video clip. Rob will then latch onto some of these with an initial melody or lyric theme, or we’ll get together as a band to work out a rough arrangement and pull something a bit more structured together before Rob sets to work properly. We record everything at rehearsals, and over a period of two or three sessions the song normally comes together. Our producer, Josiah J Manning, had input on the overall arrangements too and this was really effective for Aces & Eights. We’re working on songs for the follow up album currently, with pre-production scheduled for April before the final recording session later in the year.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Fred – Rob Cooksley is the lyrical maestro of the band, so the stories and messages are his domain. We like to keep the songs real so the stories or experiences are based on truth, sometimes inspirational people, sometimes tying into history or places we have an association with. Hopefully the words strike a chord with people and give them a lift somehow.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Moose – The five of us have been playing together for something like eight years now, and as part of this we’ve worked out how to operate really well as a team. We have a high level plan, and this is worked out and agreed in advance, so any opportunity for major conflict is minimised. Yeah, we have the odd niggle here and there, but there’s nothing that a chat over a beer or a bourbon hasn’t sorted out. Actually, the beer and bourbon might have been what caused the friction in the first place…
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Fred – Yes, we always have a bit of a plan. Currently we’re writing for our third album, and we will be recording that at the end of this year and releasing it sometime next year, so watch out for that as we’re aiming to take our music up a level again!
We have a pretty massive live schedule across the UK (and France) this year, our busiest by far. You can find all our show and festival information on our website at: www.sonsoflibertyband.com/shows
We are also putting together some support tours with some truly great bands, which at the time of writing I can’t announce, but they may well be announced by the time this interview is published, so check out the website for the scoop on those.