[INTERVIEW] The Covasettes

The Covasettes - Chris

Manchester based band The Covasettes have just concluded their first UK headline tour venturing to previously uncharted areas of the UK and winning new fans everywhere they play. There’s a real energy about this band and a growing vibe that something special is building at every show.  It’s All Indie spoke to Chris Buxton, Matt Hewlett, Jamie McIntyre, Matt Buckley and sound man Dec Smith in their tour van ahead of the first show on the tour in Portsmouth.

Hey guys welcome to Portsmouth and the first date of your tour. Why have you chosen Portsmouth?

Well London was originally going the be the first one and then this one came up and we quite like it round here.
Matt H – It reminds me a lot of Sunderland but less bird poo and more sun.

The Covasettes - Matt H

Have you played London before?

Yes loads of times most recently at The Finsbury and Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. That last gig in Hoxton was a nightmare, we were stuck in traffic, got to the venue late, got all of our stuff loaded onto the stage, soundchecked, played and left! But we actually played really well even though we rushed onto the stage. It was a weird feeling. Similar vibes to today because we drove 5 hours, jumped out of the van and straight into soundcheck.

When you’re rushing about do you get time to enjoy it and assimilate it?

I think the hard bits are kinda like the good bits really when we’re like sat in the van. We saw a band we like do a documentary who said they hated their time in the tour bus and never got to enjoy it but we really enjoy those bits. Although we never get to enjoy the city we’re playing in. Today is a rare day when we haven’t just gone for a Subway and got back in the van. The only place we’ve ever even slightly explored was Nottingham town centre because we tried to get a photoshoot there that was literally it in all our three years.

Bands go on about how it’s so hard and it’s not. You drive to your place, you do your soundcheck etc but my best memories of us are when we’re together even like in the pub earlier this tonight. It is tiring but you choose it. You get the odd time when everyone’s just making tired comments at each other but most of the time we’re just in the van and asking each other stupid quiz questions and having a laugh. And it’s about realising where we’ve come. We started off doing gigs in Glossop to no-one, so to come to Portsmouth and sell some tickets and to play to a packed out room down in London it’s like yeah! That’s so fun and I’ll drive forever to do that. It’s what we want to do. And if you’re complaining at the first hurdle about driving a few hours down to London….!

We’re playing Friday and Saturday this week so Monday to Thursday has been spent purely focused on this weekend and everybody looking forward to the gigs.

So doing something you love basically?

Yeah it’s not a chore. So that‘s the answer to the question yes we definitely get time to enjoy it, even the bad bits. We always find the best of a bad situation so even when we’re sat at home together emailing or something we’re having a good laugh. Even 5 hours in a van together we’re still making jokes and having a good laugh so you’ve just got to make the best of it.

Chris to Matt B  - Didn’t you literally sleep for five hours?

Matt B  - To be fair I have an excuse I normally drive so if we’re on the road for five hours and I’m not driving of course I’m gonna get my pillow out and sleep!

The Covasettes - Chris & Jamie

Do you have any choice in which venues to play on tour?

Matt and Chris picked the venues mainly the Northern shows. We played CafĂ© Totem in Sheffield last time and we wanted to play there again and we picked Lending Rooms in Leeds so it was mainly the Northern shows we picked.  Scotland and the Southern shows we don’t know so much about because we don’t gig there so much. Also we’re limited to capacity restrictions. We’re not gonna play a 1000 cap room yet, we’re looking for small rooms otherwise you look lost in them. We wanna build each time. So it’s choosing from the possible options the venues that tick the boxes with the right size and a decent curfew so they’re not going to kick us out at 9pm.

We played Manchester for the EP show and we wanted to play Deaf Institute but the date wasn’t available so we picked a more intimate venue and filled it out. The biggest venue on the tour is London,  it’s the big one. It’s like our second city. Every time we go back there are more people there. When we come so far away from home and can still pull in the numbers it means so much.

Why do you think that is? Why are people coming to see you?

We get called fun and charismatic but I try and think a lot about why I would come and see us and I don’t know yet but I think it’s because we’re quite good. We try and think everything from a fan’s perspective. We are a small, unsigned band so if I’m going to support a small unsigned band what would I want to see them doing.  It’s daft blogs on YouTube and as much content as we can and as many gigs as we can.

Jamie - Whenever I hear from a schoolmate the comment is almost always that our socials are so good which is fully on Chris. It’s gotta be partly that.

We present an image of a bigger organisation. The socials are so important. We put out tour videos and blogs and we don’t try and be something we’re not. We always said that if we fail, we fail our way. 

The Covasettes - Matt B

You’re supporting Oddity Road in Manchester in November, how did that relationship come about?

It was genuine luck. We were tagged in a post when they were looking for a support band. I’d seen Oddity Road at YNOT Festival before we were a band and I remember thinking that is all I want to do. So we met them and started talking and we’ve been huge friends since them.  We’re a little bit older than them but they’re more experienced musically so it was like we’ll show you Manchester and you take us on tour. They’re probably one of our favourite bands at the minute. Jack’s voice is so good, he hits notes and I don’t know how he gets them, he must be pinching somewhere because he gets so high! He’s unreal.

The first time I saw you play was in Leeds with The Sherlocks, it was a sold-out show at Leeds Uni (Stylus) so how did that feel to be looking out on all of those people? It was packed out for your set.

That’s one of best gigs we’ve done although not for Matt H!

Matt H - That was one of the worst gigs of my life for some reason, I had the worst sound ever. For some reason the monitor wasn’t on and I couldn’t get it sorted until about six songs into the set. I still enjoyed the crowd and being there of course.

Now you have your own sound man as well?

Dec is good because he’s like spiritual in the way he does stuff. He’ll only do sound for bands he likes. So that means he really digs us. I thought at the start he was lying! He’s honest with us as well.

Dec - The thing is before I first started doing it, I’d messaged and emailed them asking if they wanted a soundman and they never got back to me!

At our first ever Manchester gig Dec was the sound guy and then he kept messaging us! We realised Dec made the difference at that gig. After that it was like a date. Now he’s the 5th member. In truth he gives us stability and consistency. We can go anywhere and we know he’ll get everything right because he knows what the songs should sound like and he mixes him live.

Is there a venue anywhere in the UK you’d like to play?

Matt B - Wembley with everybody singing back our songs
Chris - and Leeds Arena too.
Matt H - Deaf Institute in Manchester that’s our mecca at the moment if we can sell that out that would be making it (at the moment)
Jamie - As long as there’s a big crowd all there to hear our music I’d be perfectly happy anywhere.

We said we’d love to go back to the little venues we’ve ever played around Manchester for example our first gig was at a club in Glossop so to go back there and sell it out and do it properly that would mean a lot to us.

People singing back your songs what’s it like?

That’s the best thing ever. I never knew if it would work, now when they sing back you know it works, we’ve got the formula right. At Manchester we opened up with ‘Twit Twoo’ which is the new one and a couple of people were singing it and then we went onto ‘Wild’ and honestly you couldn’t hear the drums for people singing. I hope we never get used to that feeling because it was unreal.

Check out The Covasettes for dates including Oddity Road’s upcoming show at GORILLA, Manchester on 29 November 19.

The Covasettes are:
Chris Buxton - Lead Vocals & Guitar
Matt Hewlett - Lead Guitar & Vocals
Jamie McIntyre - Bass & Vocals
Matt Buckley - Drums/Percussion

Words and photographs by Rhona Murphy