We caught up with Josh Noble from Manchester-based Larkins ahead of their 35 date tour and what it means to be a Manchester Musician.
So Josh tell me a bit about yourself…
I’m Josh Noble and I sing in the band Larkins. I’d give you some more detail on me but to be brutally honest that’s kind of what defines me right now.
How would you describe the current indie scene in Manchester?
I’d say it’s pretty hot. The music culture in town has always been a prominent element of the city and although there is a real problem with music venues across the country shutting down, Manchester seems to be coping and many venues are thriving. We have a rich history of music and it’s cool to see that Manchester is finally turning to all different kinds of genres rather than constantly reaching for indie rock. I think musicians feel like they’re in capable hands when they’re in Manchester and being able to tour the circuit when we were first starting was huge for us as a band.
What was your first ever experience of watching live music in Manchester?
It was probably at the Arena when I was younger and then the Apollo with my dad. It was only when we actually started playing as a band that I discovered how musical Manchester actually is and started hanging around the venues in the Northern Quarter like Night and Day, Soup Kitchen and The Castle. I remember walking into Night and Day for the first time and thinking it was probably the coolest place on earth. We were playing maybe our third or fourth show ever there and the bouncer wouldn’t let me in as I hadn’t turned 18 yet. I had to convince him that we were the first band on and he had to let me in.
How has this changed since you’ve been involved and seen it from behind the stage?
I’ve definitely begun to appreciate the hours and dedication it takes to put on a (good) show even at grass roots level. The shows that are badly organised and promoted will never work, even if the band are the next big thing. You also start to appreciate a good PA and gear that is cared for by the in-house team. I always used to think the band just rock up, plug in and play. That is just not the case. We recently moved into our new studio in Ancoats and it took us weeks to get to a situation where we could actually rehearse.
Is being from Manchester / The North something you like to champion?
No. I honestly couldn’t care less when people ask me about ‘The North’. It’s such a boring argument to have with someone and so archaic. I love Manchester and have loved growing up here. I also love loads of other places and love music from loads of other places as well. Who gives a fuck where it comes from.
Has Manchester itself helped define your music?
Possibly. I think we definitely learnt how to play live properly in Manchester and with so many different venues we learnt to adapt very quickly. A show you might play at Band on the Wall is totally different to a show at The Deaf Institute and you could still have the same size audience. You have to adapt and grow. I think the fan base in Manchester is insane. I still struggle to wrap my head around that. I feel very blessed to have started our careers here.
Do you think being from Manchester has limited you at all?
I think the only limitation might be that new audiences have very strong preconceptions of how bands from Manchester sound and therefore people can be turned off before you’ve even played a note. We don’t sound anything like The Smiths or Oasis so I think people are usually pretty surprised.
What does it feel like to be nominated by the AIM awards as one of the independent bands to watch?
BBC Introducing in Manchester has always championed us so it’d be nice to win for them and it’s cool to be nominated for us but these things are always so subjective. We’re just gonna go, see what happens, and try to not embarrass ourselves after several drinks.
Has this added any pressure on the band?
Not at all. I write music because I adore music. It’s actually as simple as that. Pressure is almost always a good thing for me but that should come from the true listeners. I’ve rather egotistically always wanted to impress other musicians and the industry but I’ve started to realise that music means the most to those who have your songs on repeat in the car or sing the words at the top of their lungs at a show. I do that with my favourite bands and I know how much that means to me. That’s the only pressure I need.
When can we expect to see the release of the debut album and what influences have gone into creating it?
The album will be ready in 2020 and I cannot wait to have it finished as a collective, conceptual piece of work. Influence-wise I guess we’ve subconsciously added elements we’ve heard from music our whole lives. It’s weird with a debut album as you’re kind of showcasing your best songs from the time the band was conceived. It’s like opening with a Greatest Hits album. For me, I probably try and squeeze my influences in such as Bon Iver and Tame Impala as much as I can, just because I love the production. Maybe a reverb-drenched Led Zeppelin drum beat will be in there as well if I get my way!
What can we expect from the 35 date tour?
Loud guitars, lasers, and a lot of bass. And if you’re not into our music come for the light show. I remember someone on the front row at a show recently shouting “this is like acid without the hangover”. Our lighting engineer Callum has never been so proud.
What’s the trick to surviving being on tour and away from home?
Prep and honesty. It can be pretty gruelling after a couple of weeks in a tour bus. You’ve just got to prepare well, stay fit, and be honest about when you need some personal space. The band and the tour team are best friends and spend every day together so it’s not a big deal for us.
Lastly, what advice/tips would you give to a budding Manchester-based musician?
Work harder than any other band out there. Don’t play the show if you’re not going to give everything. Don’t bullshit. Learn your instrument like your life depends on it. Steal the rider for the way home. Go to every show you can to watch and learn. And have some fucking fun doing it. It’s really easy to see when you’re not.