THE LOUD’s eponymously titled debut EP sparked a groundswell of excitement upon its initial release with critics fawning over it’s boisterous anthems while their juggernaut live shows have done nothing to dam the tide. Now with raucous debut mini-album Harris Shutter (out this month on Payper Tiger Records) securely tucked under their belt, Bido Lito! senses a consolidation is on the cards and sent Phil Gofton on a mission to peruse the band’s past and present…
My first brief encounter with singer/songwriter Pennington Lee and bassist Matthew Freeman, however, came after an unusually cagey set at the Chester Rocks festival. Retorting questions with the cold-front of a stoner with a flick-blade in his back-burner, the discourse’s loftiest heights were attained with the Q&A of “Why the cover of Bowie’s Five Years?…“It’s a tune man innit”. Reconvening a couple of nights later at their Elevator rehearsal room HQ along with drummer Leroy Oxton and the ice has thawed as a newly engaging Lee hands me a beer. “Yeah sorry man we stopped drinking at ten that morning, we hadn’t really been to bed.” Ah, that explains it then. Consuming the brash carnivorous attack of Harris Shutter, I’m pondering whether the origin of their name refers to their flagrant disregard for decibel restrain? Lee agrees but claims ‘The Loud’ was once a physical entity, “after a couple of failed band attempts I was going to do it on my own with just a distorted guitar like the Neil Young album (Le Noize, Young’s wildly experimental foray into the sonic wilderness) so it would have been entitled ‘Pennington Lee and The Loud’, with ‘The Loud’ being my guitar.”
After regrouping with former ally Freeman and drafting in the metronomic Oxton, ‘Pennington Lee’ was dropped and The Loud were born. Fusing the colossal wall-of-sound power chords of Be Here Now era Oasis with the 70’s proto-punk fuzz of T-Rex, Slade and The Stooges, Harris Shutter produces the sort of sinewy-glam stomps that either grips the listener by the throat (A Little Taste Of Home) or back-hands the face with a velvet glove (There’s A Bomb In The House). But it’s the lean simplicity of the arrangements (a product of The Loud’s quasi-totalitarian songwriting process) that allows the riffs and melodies to raid the grey-matter. Oxton explains, “he (Lee) comes to us with a tune and we have our own input in terms of what beats and bass-lines to play but no-one’s trying to take the lead and show off, we just play what needs to be played.” It’s this uber-efficiency that came to the rescue during the Harris Shutter sessions when an uninspiring playback of Nurse Me prompted a wince and a retreat. Utilising the maxim ‘a-rolling-stone-gathers-no-moss’, The Loud just tossed the dead-weight overboard and wrote, then cut the tragically-aching Magic in a matter of hours. Imagine Lennon in full scouse-pomp fronting The Ronettes and you’re someway there, the kind of yearning vocal, ‘you can have yesterday because tomorrow is ours, bite down on your lip and see it,’ that had Beatle-maniac doe-eyed girls flushed at the thought of it being written for them. As it stands, it’s an enchanting conclusion, perfectly counter-weighting the album’s visceral charge while proving The Loud have the brass-balls and prowess to conjure killer tunes at will.
With the interview drawing to a close I’m left musing over the mysterious Harris Shutter and the relevance of the striking tri-colour gatefold and looming structure dominating the album’s sleeve. Don’t just tell me it’s because it looks cool. “Its actually a technique, not a name”, Lee clarifies. “pioneered by Robert Harris and created by re-exposing the same piece of film through three different primary coloured filters. We chose yellow, red and blue ‘cos of the punk resonance and it signifies the three primary members of the band.” And the cover? “Oh, its an old abandoned church in Liscard by ours.” Okay crash course over and I’m suitably informed. I for one primarily judged The Loud on Amy’s Gonna Get You and I Am A War, the bullish singles which Lee himself admits to being his “least favourites”, but beyond those hefty statements lies an acute adroitness in weaving their influences into their creative fabric coupled with a fearless he-who-dares-wins work-ethic. As it stands, The Loud have not only shed their ‘bright hopefuls’ mantle but cemented their position as blinding lights of the Liverpool scene, all in the space of just six songs.
Harris Shutter is out now on Payper Tiger Records.