On June 19th one of the UK’s best kept secrets, the brilliant pop-folk 5-piece Keston Cobblers Club release their anticipated new album – ‘Wildfire’, out on Glitterhouse Records.
Triggered by teenage obsessions with British power pop and Glaswegian indie dreamers, the stunning 12-track collection is a sonic journey of sounds, building on the band’s bedrock of urgent anthems, thumped drums, sweet strums and tuba, as seen on 2012’s debut album ‘One, For Words.’ Developing their sound, the band have fused their folk based roots with 90s synth hooks, huge orchestral waves and choral arrangements which they describe as “a blanket of voices.”
“We wouldn’t call it a huge change in direction,” says lead female Julia. “More an evolution. There’s a signature Cobbler’s recipe that we’ll always follow. That’s strong vocal harmonies, powerful drums, and hooky melodies and these are all still here. But the instrumentation has grown, that’s the biggest difference. Anyone that already knows our music will still be able to hear that Cobblers sound.”
As the album’s name suggests, these new musical flames flicker and leap in unexpected directions but at their core is the genuine warmth of a band who sing, play and create in harmony. Effortlessly moving between moments of light and shade, ‘Wildfire’ succeeds in its ability to move from the serious (like dramatic opener ‘Laws,’ and the dark narrative of ‘Sober’ – “the darkest song I’ve ever written” says lead singer Matt) to the joyous (the summery ‘Win Again’, the sea shanty cries of ‘St Tropez’ and the rich instrumentation of ‘Longer Than Gone’).
The uplifting first single, ‘Won’t Look Back’ rouses with an anthemic chorus about not dwelling on your problems, whilst the beautiful aubade ‘Contrails’ is an instant highlight. Other standouts include the glorious wall of sound in title track, ‘Wildfire’ stemming from Julia’s own experience of overcoming a very real phobia of fire - “It’s a personal and cathartic song”, she admits. “It allowed me to address my fears by writing about escaping and being free from them.” And don’t miss long-time live favourite ‘Half Full’ which finally finds a home, after multiple attempts to record it in the past.
Written by siblings Matthew and Julia Lowe, the album was recorded partly in a Devonshire cottage, and partly in the living room of their long-suffering parents’ house in Kent. Largely produced by the band themselves, they also engaged the producing services of Joe Dickinson, Ben Jackson and Austen Jux-Chandler on several tracks. Joe in particular spent two weeks in the cottage with the band, helping to bring continuity across a collection of songs that were written in very different and distinct ways. Says Julia, “Matt’s like some kind of genius when he writes; he can practically sneeze out a fully-formed song that’s already complete with all the different instrumental lines, harmonies and melodies. When I write, I tend to start with just a seed of an idea, often coming from a raw emotional place that I then have to sculpt and hone over time.”
Over the last few years, Keston Cobblers Club have been steadily building a name for themselves and winning over an army of loyal fans. Since forming in 2009, they’ve played some of the UK’s biggest festivals, sold out their own headline tours, and been invited to perform live on BBC Radio by the likes of Dermot O’Leary, Steve Lamacq and Bob Harris. They’ve provided the music for advertising campaigns for Burberry and Mornflake, created all the music for stand-up Ross Noble’s ‘Sit Down Tour’ film, and can often be heard on TV shows from ‘Hairy Bikers’ to ‘Countryfile’. Comedian and Radio 4 presenter Arthur Smith even incorporated a Cobblers’ song into his Edinburgh Fringe show.
And now comes this next chapter in their already impressive career. With the new album comes the ultimate launch, the truly unique Camp Wildfire; a 1950's-style camp and swing ‘Adventure Questival’ in a secret Kent forest location. “Music is about much more than just audio – it’s emotion, energy and aesthetic too,” says Julia, who’s organising the whole programme with experienced festival organiser Lee Denny (LeeFest). “We like to launch our music in a setting where fans can really feel immersed in the idea of the record, so we thought we’d play the whole album in a forest surrounded by the metaphorical Wildfire.”
Beyond this they’re already booked to play numerous major summer festivals, there’s two more singles already chosen, and they’re currently planning a full UK headline tour for the Autumn, followed by their second European headline tour, plus there’s even talk on starting album number three…
“We love being busy,” says Matt. “Touring is what it’s all about and ultimately is what brings us together as a band. We’re looking forward to getting the album out to a broader audience, and to finally get it to our lovely fans that have been waiting patiently for the last three years. It’s a really exciting time for us.”
We couldn’t agree more.
02 Win Again
03 Wont Look Back
06 St Tropez
07 Half Full
08 Once Had
09 Longer than Gone
10 Of Alarms
12 The Mad