We met The Rifles backstage just before hitting the stage at Lido in Berlin Kreuzberg, to talk about their new double-album ‘Big Life‘, touring their debut album again last year their fanbase, and a lot more.
The boys around Joel Stoker and Luke Crowther got back to the original line-up before touring their debut album on numerous sold out nights in the UK last year. Wether it’s that line-up or the influence of playing the old tunes, The Rifles are back to the catchy indie anthems that put them on the map back in 2006, highly appreciated by an enthusiastic crowd in the sold out Lido.
Hi guys, it’s really nice to see you back to the old line-up and it was a treat seeing you perform ‘No Love Lost’ last year! Even better to see that you’ve still been really productive and released an 18-track-album, which isn’t the regular these days. How do you make sure not to lose your creativity?
Joel: Good question.
Lucas: We have little spells, like little blasts. Where we’re getting ideas done, I mean before we went into the studio a lot of them were just skeletons, of our ideas of songs and before we knew it, we had more than we needed and than we just said let’s finish them all off now and by the time it came to sort of picking 11 tracks for the album, we liked them all, so we just thought let’s have them all, because they would go into the internet anyway.
I’m sure your fans are more than happy with that decision.
Lucas: Yeah. Cause if you left a song off, there were certain songs that weren’t going in the tracklist and we were like ‘Oh but that song is probably a shame not to put on’, so we just put them all on.
Is that how you work, like you start to write a song and take it to the rehearsal room?
Lucas: Yeah, and some songs we do in the rehearsal room. The music and then Joel would write some lyrics.
Joel: Sometimes we just set mics up and just jam und just basically get a rough structure in our heads, ‘this sounds like the verse’ and then we go to the next part and just get a rough idea.
That’s a very nice and classic way to write songs.
Joel: Yeah and a lot of times we end up writing the lyrics to that bit of music that we made and it becomes the structure. Works different ways.
Speaking about that tour last year, how did you see the peoples reactions? You sold out really quickly didn’t you? Did you expect to do that well?
Joel: I think we knew that people would react well to it, because a lot of people say that they do like the first album, online and stuff. So we thought they would react well to it, but it was really a good reaction, better than we could have expected, I think made four nights at Electric Ballroom in London, didn’t we? Which was amazing.
Lucas: It’s nice that people like the album, after ten years, that’s what you want as a musician.
Joel: Also the B-sides, some of them we never even played as a band.
Do you think that the fanbase in the Brit-rock scene are different to the ones in other genres?
Lucas: I don’t know.
Joel: Well it seems like there’s a big revival thing happening at the moment and it does seem people are well reacting.
Lucas: Our fanbase you’ve got a lot of the older fans, who are from that sort of Mod era and they are a very loyal type of fans, they like having vinyls and stuff.
Joel: Yeah, it’s like their football team.
Lucas: Yeah they go abroad for gigs and stuff like that and we really appreciate that, because we can carry on and we wouldn’t have been able to carry on without playing them crowds.
Joel: It’s really good to see new faces as well and meet new people as well.
Talking about vinyls, what was the last record that you bought?
Joel: My last vinyl is an old one, a Johnny Cash Box Set of the last one, you know Rick Rubin recorded Johnny Cash towards the end of Johnny Cash’s life, called the American Recordings, about five or six albums together and it’s just him stripped right down, just him, a lot of it are covers.
Lucas: The last one I bought was The War On Drugs, ‘Lost in the dream’. Very same all the way through but it’s good to have on in a car.
When you’re on stage in front of a crowd, do you recognize faces, or is it just a blur?
Lucas: That’s a really good question, because we were talking about this just yesterday, how it’s funny how you sometimes catch an eye of someone and it does effect you, if they’re dancing in a certain way or just catching your eye.
Joel: There’s definitely some fancy dancing going on in Germany though.
Lucas: Yeah yesterday there was a lady dancing in front of Joel, twisting, backwards and forwards. And it’s interesting, you do catch eyes in these venues that are not huge. you’re definitely seeing the crowd. And it’s cool. Sometimes it’s not cool, when someones bored, or yawning.
Joel: Yeah sometimes it happens, and then there’s people in the first row and you’re just like, what are you doing here and it effects you just as much as when you see someone enjoying it, which makes you play better. But when someone’s bored, you feel horrible.
It’s also nice when you spot a few Rifles t-shirts in the crowd, that makes you feel nice.
Do you have any childhood heroes, musical or in general?
Lucas: I’ve got a couple of weird ones, what about you Joel?
Joel: I have to think, musical I can’t really think. Bob Marley was probably the first artist at a young age I really liked, when I was at school. Other than that…
Lucas: When I was thirteen, I was into wrestling, American wrestling, and there was this geezer called ‘The Ultimate Warrior’ and as a kid he was like a bit of a hero for about a year and a half and just about a few years back he died and he came back to my attention and he was like an inspirational speaker towards the end of his life and he is cool, he was just a really inspiring person, so when I was young he was kind of a hero and now I think of him as a hero again, in a different way. He was very focussed on the mind. And his wife has took over all of his thing now and is writing a book about it.
Joel: Bet you weren’t expecting ‘The Ultimate Warrior’.
It’s an interesting take!
Lucas: His actual name was James Hellwig, but he changed his name into ‘Warrior’, that’s how serious he was about it.
Joel: Like the boxer Marvin Hagler, who changed his name to Marvelous. On his passport.
Lucas: Because he didn’t get the recognition so he was like now you gotta call me that, it’s my name.
That’s a way to do it, we’re sure you guys won’t have to go that far, you definitely made a name for yourselves. Thank you very much for the interview and a really nice concert.
Check The Rifles‘ new release ‘Big Life‘, especially if you’ve missed those indie tunes that make you feel like it’s 2007 again.
xx smoke and echoes
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