[INTERVIEW] with... The Pitchforks

The Pitchforks "We have built a good set of songs that we love performing and that get a great reaction which then feeds back into our performance. When the crowd is up for it, it is just the best feeling"

  "Guitar music is special. More than any other type of music it has the ability to grab you, slap you and take you away. It doesn’t matter what your mood is or what you think is important right now."  

William (vocals and guitar), Ethan (guitar), Alex (drummer) and Callum (bassist) are members of Welsh indie guitar four piece The Pitchforks. Despite their extreme youth, they have already played a number of high profile live shows and recorded with some of the UK's leading producer talent. 

 Known for cracking tunes such as Afflictions and Headlock, the band dropped a brand new single release in June. Recorded with producer Gethin Pearson, Waste of a Day has received support from BBC Radio One and Radio Wales and was playlisted on Radio X where it became a Record of The Week.  It's All Indie were super keen to catch the quartet and learn about one of Wales' youngest guitar bands. 

The Pitchforks are four "best friends", how did the idea of forming a band come up? How important do you consider friendship to be as band members? 

William: We actually started the band when we were very young, most of the boys were still in Primary School. We started on an After-school ‘Rock Factory’ E3 scheme down at Tonyrefail Non-Pol club which does not exist anymore. Just learning and playing covers and designing band logos.

Callum: It was not until about two years ago that things got serious after our song Headlock. As for being close friends, it is important in a band. You have got to not only understand and respect each other, but also have a lot of fun. If it stops being fun we will call it a day.  

How would you describe the music scene in The Rhondda?
William: The music scene in Wales is amazing right now with bands like Boy Azooga, Trampolene, Himalayas, Chroma, Rainbow Maniac etc. But you would be amazed what a great music scene we have here in Rhondda Cynon Taf. We have been supported from the start by the older musicians that give their time to our Sunday Afternoon Rock-School club. We came out of there alongside Hang11 who are doing really well and there are younger bands there now.

Tell us about your song Afflictions produced by Steffan Pringle, how was the process of writing, producing and releasing it?
William: We wrote Afflictions just over a year ago, another example of writing something the day before we recorded it. Like most of our songs the riff came first, then we jammed the music for a while before actually writing the lyrics. Steffan’s production added a lot to the song, definitely making it a lot more ‘in your face’ than it sounded when we practiced it. Actually recording was an experience as well seeing all the unique techniques that Steffan used, especially with guitar and bass, that was pretty awesome.   

Ethan: It has been amazing for us. It is the first time we had a record played on a Radio Station (Adam Walton at BBC Radio Wales way back in August 2017) and then Bethan Elfyn played it and kept playing it, which was amazing. Finally getting played by Huw Stephens on Radio One was mind blowing. He made us one of his ‘Ones to watch for 2018’ and we had to go to school the day after. 

What new bands are you listening to? Who do you count as your biggest influences? 

Ethan: Have you heard the Boy Azooga album? We have all had it on repeat for the last three weeks. It is amazing. We are chuffed that this came out of the Cardiff music scene.

Alex: We would like to be cool and give you some names of bands you have never heard of but the truth is it is bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes etc. We saw the Foo Fighters together a few years ago and were right at the front when Royal Blood came to Newport with Mini Mansions. We have loved Catfish for ages and will be seeing them live at Cardiff Castle this summer.

How important do you consider guitar music to be in an industry with other genres and styles?

William: Guitar music is special. More than any other type of music it has the ability to grab you, slap you and take you away. It doesn’t matter what your mood is or what you think is important right now, just play the first few bars of A thousand trees or wait for the drums to come in on Smells like teen spirit or the chorus of Can’t stand me now. What is important now? What do you have on your mind? Nothing. You just can’t get the music out of your head. Alex Turner said it best with ‘That old rock and roll eh?’at the Brits.

 What gigs have been your best so far and what shows you are hoping to play in the future?

 William: Our best gigs to date right now probably include our December headline in Clwb y Bont just for how mental the crowd was as well as playing the Huw Stephens Presents in the Social in London. It is every band’s dream to be in front of that big crowd or play those big festivals. But right now I am really looking forward to putting on the best show we can on the 27th July at our first headline show at Clwb Ifor Bach.

 The Pitchforks have been part of the Forte Project, in what way has that helped you develop as a band?

William: Being part of Forte Project changed things for us. It is a great scheme that gives a lot to the bands lucky enough to get on there. We learnt a lot and it gave us a chance to show what we were about in front of crowds that never heard of us before. I am not sure whether it is because we were the youngest kids on there but we had a lot of support from the bands that we are in our year as well including the likes of Chroma, Local Enemy, Niterooms, Rebecca Hurn etc.

 How many songs do you have? Do you feel your sound continues to change and move forward?

Ethan: We have been writing songs together since we were 13 and 14 years of age and we recently found a list of around 15 songs that now never get played. We self-released three EPs of songs that we sold in the school yard.

Ethan: We had the opportunity of recording a song and video at DigiChemistry way back in 2016 and the night before wrote Headlock. It was the first song we wrote which we knew was good. We have had such great support for that song from our friends.

 William: I definitely feel like our sound is evolving with every new track and working with brilliant producers like Steffan Pringle and Gethin Pearson has really helped us develop.

The Pitchforks are doing well right now. Tell us about your hopes or plans for the future?

William: Things are going great at the moment, we are really looking forward to our own headline show at Clwb Ifor Bach on the 27th July. Although we have played there before in support slots, this will be the first time we have headlined and we have got amazing support from Monico Blonde and Sssnakes. The day after we play at Welshfest, so it is a busy weekend for us.

Ethan: We are still young and playing music that we have written to people who sing those words back to you is the best thing in the world.

 Is there a particular record label you are interested in signing to?

 William: We have not thought too much of record labels yet, we just want to concentrate on writing the best music we can and having the opportunity to play it.

You are booked in to play HOYfest in Cardiff in September, how do you feel about that? 

 Callum: We are definitely excited about HOYfest. We have worked with Sam Hoy on a few shows now and we can’t wait to join such an amazing line up.

 What is your approach to picking setlists ahead of your gigs?

William: We always try to include a new song or two in our sets so we can see how a live crowd reacts. We have built a good set of songs that we love performing and that get a great reaction which then feeds back into our performance. When the crowd is up for it, it is just the best feeling.

Waste of a Day is out now

Live dates

Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach (headline show) – 27th July

Cardiff - Clwb Ifor Bach - HOYFest 2018 – 29-30 September