[INTERVIEW] with... Rainbow Maniac

Rainbow Maniac   Photo: Elijah Thomas

Hailing from the Welsh capital four piece indie rock 'n' rollers Rainbow Manic were recently described as one of the "best live bands in Cardiff right now". They just completed a number of UK summer festivals including the likes of Tramlines and Welshfest and some photos of the band are featured at photographer Elijah Thomas' acclaimed current exhibition A Scene Within A Scene at Campfa. It's All Indie caught the band's frontman Conor Latcham to get the latest on the band's plans and achievements. 

What is new and current in Rainbow Maniac’s world?

"We have a bunch of new songs, a refined live show and we are working on a super cool music video."

Rainbow Maniac are featured in Elijah Thomas’ photo exhibition A Scene Within A Scene, how significant do you feel that is?

"I have been friends with Eli since I was 16. Ever since he started getting into photography we have wanted him to be involved with what we have been doing and he covered so much of our career, he is almost a fifth member. And now he has taken so many good photos of nearly every decent band in Cardiff and he has decided to put on an exhibition of his best work. It is a raging success and he couldn’t deserve it more. It is certainly nice to be a part of. It is like a milestone in how far we have all come as bands, photographers and friends."

Are the band writing new material at the moment? How many songs do you have?

"I have got a bit of a ballad on the go which I am quite excited about. I didn’t write anything for a few months because I was a bit depressed and pessimistic but not enough to write a banger about depression and pessimism. Also it is sort of difficult for me to write when there is not necessarily a need for it. Like we have over two albums worth of stuff. But yes we are currently working on a couple of anthems and I look forward to playing them live one day. Rainbow Maniac have about thirty and I have probably written about 150 songs. Many of the earlier songs were probably were not as good as I wanted them to be but every new song turns out to be a bit of a banger. Maybe I am getting better."

So how does the songwriting tend to work when you are feeling inspired to write?

"My method or writing is to write nothing for a couple of months until I feel really bad about myself. In this time I usually get inspired by a particular song or album and at this point I usually pull myself together and bash out one to three hits across a week or two."

What song are you most proud of and why? Tell us about writing it, is there a theme or a story?

"I would probably have to say our unreleased tune, it is called All inclusive trip to the sunset. It is a lot of people's favourite and one that gets sung back to us a lot at our live shows. It was very easy to write, every verse is great lyrically and melodically, it is quite meaningful and poignant. It is like it was always meant to be a song and we are the only band that could have made it, if that makes sense."

"It was written when me and my girlfriend had broken up and she was seemingly sailing off into the sunset with someone else. The chords aren’t very original, but the vibes and lyrics feel very  authentically Rainbow Maniac. I think it really encapsulates what we are all about… sort of the combination of comedy and tragedy, pessimism and optimism, classic, pithy, hooky and melodic songwriting."

Do Rainbow Maniac work with a producer?

"The only producer we have ever done bits of work with is Charlie Francis. He is a good guy and I respect him quite a lot. He has given us a few tips on our composition but not to the point where he gets a songwriting credit (laughs). He did tell me us one thing which has resonated in my head ever since and sort of helped me redirect my focus in songwriting, I am paraphrasing but it was basically 'Don’t be a silly student trying to squeeze time signature and tempo changes into every song, just look at the rolling stones and how they rinse the riff in Satisfaction for the entire three minutes of the song, that is all you need.'. I have no idea what his original words were but it is a remarkable bit of advice."

If you could work with any producer who would it be? What is your favourite record label?

"I have read about the libertines recording with Mick Jones from The Clash and it sounded amazing. I think that would be great for Rainbow Maniac, although I don’t know if Mick would be interested to be honest. I think we would sign with any label if it meant we could quit our day jobs. But we have had our eye on a few, aside from the obvious Heavenly and Domino, we love Witchita, Rough Trade and Deltasonic but it all depends on who likes us at the end of the day."

What bands do you listen to just now?

"I generally don’t listen to music as a result of depression and jealousy, but I have been getting really into Cat Stevens and the album Tea for the Tillerman and also Miles Kane’s single Loaded. The rest of the new singles have not been very good but Loaded is a really amazing track in my opinion."

Who are Rainbow Maniac’s biggest influences?

"I think our sound stems from my interest in Alex Turner’s lyrics and Louis’s interest in Keith Richards’s guitar playing. But aside from that I am just into a lot of different music such as Noel Gallagher, John Lennon, indie rock, 70s disco, gangster rap and just generally great songwriters like the Eagles and Don Mclean. It is probably why we have had a bit of an identity crisis with our sound, but we don’t really care too much anymore."

You recently played Welshfest, what was your experience like?

"It was actually really good. Only about 50-100 people were there but it was loads of fun. Everyone in the crowd was really drunk and really enjoyed themselves. Also, I finally achieved a lifelong dream by smoking on stage. The woman running it came on stage mid set and started kicking off, we probably won’t get asked back but they didn’t pay us, and they introduced us by the wrong name."

How was the studio session you did for Louise Schofield of Unique Lullaby?

"It was really good thanks, we filmed it at a place called Morgan’s Bar in Tonypandy. They only had Guinness in cans, but it was a really good atmosphere and we really enjoyed playing our songs that way."

What gigs have you enjoyed most to date?

"It has got to be our RMEP1 release party in Moon Club. I think we had Buzzard and My Name Is Ian as support. We had Rainbow Maniac face-painting on the door, I had a half pink face like William Wallace at gay pride, an luminous pink Adidas t-shirt, rose tinted sunglasses and everyone was just absolutely having it."

How many gigs have Rainbow Maniac played outside Wales? Where are you hoping to play in the future?

"We have had a few Sofar Sounds gigs in London which we love and a few gigs in Sheffield and Manchester. I think we have got a good connection with the working class north because of our influences like Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Oasis, Beatles etc., we always have a great reception. I would love to play at the Cardiff university great hall. I have seen a lot of my favorite bands there like The Cribs, Babyshambles and Father John Misty. It is small enough for us to get a good atmosphere going. Obviously the Motorpoint arena and Hyde Park would be nice also."

How do you see the music scene in Cardiff? What other Welsh bands do you admire?

"There is a good strong scene and sense of community. I genuinely feel like we helped start it with bands like Tibet, kicks, buzzard, Boy Azooga and Sock. And now it is carrying on with young bands like CVC, Al Moses, Rotanas and Carolines. I am not patriotic at all but there is definitely a lot of buzz around the Cardiff scene what with the Save Womanby Street campaign, HUB fest, Swn Fest and bands like us around."

"I am a fan of Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey and I also like the Stereophonics. A lot of people think they are a bit lame and cliché but they have amazing songs like Since I Told You It’s Over and Everyday I think of Money and loads more. Obviously we super admire Boy Azooga, they are friends of ours, their album is really great, it probably holds its own among classic albums and they have proved that it is not impossible to get signed and play on Jools Holland and all that stuff."

What else do Rainbow Maniac want to achieve?

"We are going to put out a couple of singles and get ourselves into a position where it is very easy for listeners and record labels to see that we are a really amazing rock ‘n’ roll band."

Photo: Elijah Thomas