Having only formed a couple of years ago and slowly slipping out a couple of songs in the form of ‘Mothers & Fathers’ and ‘Instagram Famous’, Leeds outfit Brawlers have truly burst onto the scene with a force of passion and finesse that many bands even twice as experienced as they are struggle to emulate. Now with an EP and a recent debut full-length under their belts, it seems like this is just the beginning.
As the boys also managed to secure a set at this year’s Hit The Deck Festival in Nottingham, we caught up with frontman Harry Johns at the Nottingham date to talk about finally having an album out there, how tour life has been, his experience in previous bands, and a few other things too.
DP!: Your debut ‘Romantic Errors Of Youth’ has received an incredible reception since its release. What do you feel contributed towards this?
H: I think it’s because it’s really honest. So few bands today seem to just tell it how it is, and I think it’s really kind of healthy to put yourself down. Self-depreciation, I think, is really important and that’s what we try and do. I think people respond better to that than being like “Yeah, we’re in the club talking to girls”. We’re not like a big band, although we’re doing some big stuff, but I’d rather maintain that level of honesty.
DP!: What lessons have you learnt as a band and as people during the whole process of the album?
H: I think just to be really good to people. There’s hardly any room in this industry for like egos and stuff. I think that, as long as you’re just a good person and you’re honest with people – you can’t be like “Oh, we got a good review in Kerrang! so we can be dicks to people”. I think I try to, on the mic, thank like crew, sound men and security, because they’re really important. It wouldn’t happen without them.
DP!: You went on tour earlier this year with Real Friends and Trash Boat. How was that experience?
H: It was really good to play in front of that amount of people, so we were really pleased and everyone was really kind. They’re a really professional band, Real Friends are extremely professional. So, yeah, it was a level of professionality that we tried to take on board, but it’s difficult for us because we’re not strictly speaking a pop-punk band. But, yeah, we’re just going to do what we do. We don’t follow anybody musically, and I think we’ve got quite an original sound. We have an English idiosyncrasy that I really like about our band.
DP!: You appear to put a lot of energy into your live performances. Why do you think this is really important and why do you feel other bands shy away from doing the same?
H: It’s something that we just do. We really structuralise a performance, but I think it’s really easy in a band to get caught up in like “I’m in a band and I’m up here, and you’re in the audience and you’re down there”. Everyone wants to look up at the band and they’re the cool guys and that’s great and that works for a lot of bands, but, for us, we just want to be, like, having a good time with everyone. Sometimes, in order for that to translate live, we have to get in amongst it, so it’s like you’re physically breaking down those barriers. I think that’s so important because there is so much like fucking rockstar bullshit that we’re not interested in and, even if we get turned into a huge band, we will still maintain that philosophy.
DP!: You’ve all been in different bands previously. How do you feel things differ being in Brawlers?
H: It’s just different because we’re best friends. We’ve been best friends for ten years. I’ve been in a million bands where I’ve been in a band for the band’s sake but, with us, it’s like we have a really deep friendship first. It’s always going to feel more natural with these guys because we hang out, whether we play music or not.
DP!: How do you find festival shows compared to playing your own shows?
H: I don’t know, man. I think most audiences don’t know who we are. Bands that we like, like The Bronx, who are kind of edgy and have a die-hard kind of following, had to break out of that. So, whether it’s a festival performance or a club show, we’re just happy to be here and, even when we play headline shows, we still feel like we have to win people over. Just because you bought our ticket doesn’t mean that you like our band. It might just mean they’re interested in what we’re about. I hope that in five years time, we approach it like that. We never want to rest on our laurels.
DP!: Who are you looking forward to see at Hit The Deck today?
H: Cancer bats and, if we can, The Xcerts, because we’re really good friends with them. I love both of those bands. They’re both bands that, in my opinion, have worked really hard to be here. Cancer Bats, in some ways, couldn’t be more different, but they’re both like hard working bands, which is what we feel we are even though we’ve been around less time. So, I’m looking forward to catching up with The Xcerts and seeing Cancer Bats, just because they’re a great band.
Interview by Kieran Harris