Photo by Fran Clark
Sovereigns haven’t yet reached the stage where they can transcend the cultural heritage of the bands that have come before them. However, that’s not actually a problem, even though I might want them to sound different to how they do now; they have time to work this out, and when interviewing them before the gig it was clear that, whilst I might not necessarily be drawn to the music they play, I couldn’t fault their work ethic. They seem to have a plan of where they want to go, right down to the haircuts.
I had a good time at their show at Rooz Studios on the 30th of October. Sovereigns are more than capable party-starters; they were obviously having fun on stage, and from what I could tell the rest of the room were too. They can clearly play as well; their volume, exaggerated by the small-scale venue, wasn’t covering up a lack of practice. I could tell from our interview that they take their band very seriously, with their lead guitarist telling me that he wanted them to be successful enough that their band could be his full-time job.
Photo by Fran Clark
Rooz Studios seemed important to them as a rehearsal space, where they can meet other bands and feel part of a wider community. One band member was keen to emphasise to everyone reading this that ‘having connections’ was one of the most important things about being in a band. They told me how it was important to them to play with other bands, like Bilk, who they were supporting that night. They suggested that other spaces hadn’t been suited to bands like theirs; their drummer commented that, somewhere else, they hadn’t been allowed to take the drum kit apart, and through a cloud of cigarette smoke I could see that their practice room was one which had seen a lot of loud and fast bands such as theirs. And those are all things that a band should be doing; at the bare minimum, being at a gig shouldn’t feel like a chore, and Sovereigns greatly exceeded that minimum. Despite being a band that has just started out and was performing their first gig as a group, they also turned up with fully formed songs that they had clearly practiced, and which were enjoyable to listen to. Everything they could have done to make the show enjoyable, they did. The Halloween costumes were a nice touch.
But the fact remains that their sound isn’t so different from post-2000s indie rock bands like The Libertines and The Strokes, who they said were the only bands whose sound they could all agree on. None of this is, in the grand scheme of things, a problem; the noticeably younger crowd clearly enjoyed watching a band who looked a lot like them, singing about things that they could relate to, and who intends to provide a soundtrack to those young people’s lives. Yet however well they can play and control a crowd, Sovereigns haven’t yet broken free of the pattern set out by their stylistic forebears; for all the changes in rock ’n’ roll across the second half of the 20th century, there’s still a slower song three-quarter of the way through the set.
Photos by Fran Clark
Edited by Talia Andrea, Deputy Music Editor, and Josh Aberman, Music Editor