Next Wave #970: The Lathums
In the words of a famous Smiths lyric “How can someone so young sing words so sad?” Something about ‘Sheila Take a Bow’ from 1987 strikes a chord with The Lathums’ prodigious projections of hope, passion and drive. Despite a very young age, a similar sense of wisdom and insight can be traced in their songs.
Humble but confident, the Wigan four-piece made up of frontman/singer Alex Moore, Scott Concepcion on guitar, bassist Johnny Cunliffe and drummer Ryan Durrans make sublime, jangly guitar-laden songs soaked in melodic textures. Not only resembling The Smiths, they connect with sonics of The Beatles, The Coral, The Stone Roses and The Housemartins. The Lathums are a close unit where everything’s natural and feels right.
Although some lyrics derive from sadness, there’s a wider palette of emotion displayed and optimistic sentiments occur with frequency. A dedicated writer Moore has a rare gift for capturing life’s essence with humour, charm and precision, offering nuanced perspectives that allow for exploration and gritty portrayals. There’s a belief that lyrics exist to explore themes of local, national and international interest, hence subjects like the French Resistance, digital culture and materialistic age are tackled with intelligence and imagination.
An early admirer of the band, The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess offered them a show at Kendal Calling. “It was my first experience of a festival”, Moore enthuses. “Tim Peaks Diner looks like an actual diner, but it’s not a very big place. It was just completely packed, we couldn’t even see all the people, but it was really good. Most people couldn’t get in. Everybody was just buzzing for it. We had a great day.”
On June 30th Burgess hosted a Tim’s Twitter Listening Party for the band’s vinyl only release. Reaching the chart and selling out completely, ‘The Memories We Make’ is also the title of their mini documentary by Sam Crowston and Tyler Jay that charts the scene and community surrounding the group. Entertaining and enlightening, tweeted snippets of conversation brought back fond memories, and explanations of songs and shows helped document their journey to date.
Moore sees their nurtured community as key to who they are as people and musicians. “Community is a good word for it”, he reflects. “Back then our reputation was built around word of mouth. It’s passed from friend to friend, so it’s like a close knit family thing. It’s not really like fans, it’s all part of the movement and part of the team.”
Two EPs are out already; one’s self-titled from last year, ‘Fight On’ was released earlier this year. 3rd July represents a milestone as ‘All My Life’ comes out, it’s the first song Moore ever wrote. He was just sixteen at the time and about to leave school, and it shows the songwriter at his purest. Produced by James Skelly, recorded at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios, it’s their first release on Island Records. The band recently signed key documents with the label.
“I wanted to pour my emotions through the guitar, and I found some solace, almost”, he says. “It was borne out of desperation, I think. I had a lot of bad times going on when I was younger, so that was my escape. I was just doing it for myself.”
“I showed the song to people, and everybody seemed quite stunned at first”, he adds. “Everybody said they didn’t expect me to be able to sing. I don’t look like the sort of person who can sing, apparently. It was all my emotions from being young, all these experiences just spoke through the song.”
Live gigs make up parts of The Lathums’ rise and simmering success. Having delivered their own UK tour of packed, in-demand shows playing to full crowds, they stopped at iconic venues like Glasgow’s King Tuts. They also played alongside Blossoms on tour and will re-join the Stockport band for some European dates in February. A gig sharing the stage with Paul Weller is on the cards. Studio sessions to work on songs for a debut album are being arranged.
Ultimately, Moore finds himself at ease when he writes. “It’s like another person”, he declares. “It’s like another person takes over my body for a few minutes and before I snap back into it. Then I’ve got a song. It’s very strange sometimes. There’s lots of work refining it, making it just perfect because I’m a bit OCD. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
He wants to make a difference in the world, and music is the best way to bring people together. “It’s the universal language, everyone can speak through music. It’s very unifying. Short-term, I want to spread a positive message and give people something to confide in. I use it for my escape. Hopefully, I can be somebody else’s escape”, he concludes.
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Words: Susan Hansen
Photo Credit: Sam Crowston
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