Indie pop-punk trio Brixton Alley have switched their crumpets and tea for vegemite on toast and we are reaping the rewards!
Comprising of best mates, Jonny Magro and brothers Ben and Alex Wells, who formed the band in 2014, Brixton Alley made the move from the UK to Melbourne early this year, hitting the live gig scene hard on arrival as well as releasing their sophomore EP Nevermore to a full house at The Espy in Melbourne (pre-COVID, of course).
The trio have now moved to Brisbane and we were lucky enough to chat with the boys about their move Down Under, their cracking EP and what they have in store for an action-packed few months ahead.
What first inspired you to make music and how did you come to form Brixton Alley?
"We've all been into music from a young age and were introduced to live performances in our early teens through various projects with schools and jamming with friends. That's really how Brixton Alley came about. Ben and Jonny were classmates at college in the UK and were looking for a drummer. Luckily, Ben didn't need to look further than home and got his brother, Alex, to come for a jam and Brixton Alley was born!"
Where did the name Brixton Alley come from?
"We actually had the song 'Simple Sally' before we had a band name. I remember we were sitting in a pub back home trying to come up with a name as we had our first gig coming up and, as the ideas became worse and worse after more and more beers, we settled on taking a line from 'Simple Sally' and 'Brixton Alley' just stuck."
Welcome to Australia, lovely to have you here! What prompted the move from the UK to Melbourne (and now Brisbane) and how are you liking Australia so far?
"We actually came to Australia for the first time as a band in 2019 and played a couple of shows across Melbourne and Gold Coast. We loved the scene over here and our music seemed to get a really good response. We knew it was where we wanted to be before we even left and so we focused on making Australia our base in the new year. We've been here since January and, although the year has been crazy in terms of COVID, the people we've met, venues we've played and everything else in between has been awesome and cemented our beliefs that this is where we need to be at the moment."
What were you doing to stay sane during lockdown?
"Well, 'sane' isn't usually a term associated with Brixton Alley but video games, beers and a steady supply of Solo in the fridge has helped us behave like normal people for the most part, and we can just about remember how to play our instruments, which is always a plus."
What’s the weirdest thing about living in Australia you've noticed so far?
"Hook Turns, People striking up friendly conversations with strangers, Maroon being pronounced Marone... Everything's upside down"
Who are your greatest musical influences?
"Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, The Offspring, Catfish and The Bottlemen, Jamie T and Sublime, to name a few."
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be?
Which is no surprise considering Brixton Alley are maniacs when it comes to the stage, delivering animated performances that are known to draw in crowds. The trio thrive during live performances and feed off the buzz that follows a ripper show.
"I think the whole experience of playing live is like nothing else. The nerves that kick in before you're about to go on stage, running through everything in your head and mentally preparing yourself. Then you get up there and everything other than the music just falls out of focus. It goes so quick when you're in that zone and feeding off the energy of each other on stage. The buzz that follows when you play that last chord and get off stage knowing you've put everything into it is like no other."
Hitting the ground running when they arrived in Australia, Brixton Alley were able to play a cluster of shows in Melbourne before COVID. Venue favourites for the band include Stay Gold and The Espy, where they held their Nevermore launch in March, a personal highlight from their career so far.
This sold-out success is a crowning moment for the boys, whose sophomore EP Nevermore brings their unique blend of pop-punk, indie-rock and rap to fruition with five energetic tracks, exploring small-town frustrations drawn from their experiences growing up in rural England.
"Nevermore was really an opportunity for us to draw from our own lives and project those experiences into our music. Coming from relatively small, sleepy areas in the UK where finding bigger opportunities and excitement usually meant looking further afield, we had more than enough ammunition to create something we believe most people, in some way, can relate to. The story within the songs is about a girl in this situation. Stuck in the same routine with the same people, same lifestyle and essentially wanting to break out of the mundane life and see what else the world has to offer."
With their fast lyrics, big riffs and funky basslines, Brixton Alley’s snappy tracks will appeal to those partial to doc marten-worthy nights in the mosh. One such track is 'Voices', an energetic alt-rock number containing contagious riffs and head-banging rhythms. Easy to see why it is one of the band's favourites from the EP.
It's one of our favourites musically and in terms of melody lines.
Another stand out is 'Animals', a song that skilfully blends the Brixton Alley genres in just under four minutes, combining groovy, reggae-esque rhythms in the verse, fast-paced rap, a ridiculously catchy chorus as well as an awesome guitar breakdown that will have you itching for your punk eyeliner and thinking back to those angsty-teen years. Take your pick, it's all there.
This track really carries the message of the whole EP. Urging you to break out of the 'caged' existence and explore what's out there.
Personal favourite 'Outsider' brings the EP home with an imploring soft-rock tune that features the raw emotion of Ben's exposed vocals, desperate pleading "Oh baby, don't go" in the chorus.
Following Nevermore's release, Brixton Alley's fun-loving style has been thriving in Australia, the band receiving a warm reception that they're eager to continue exploring.
Have you noticed any differences between the UK and Aussie music industries - positive and/or negative?
"The scene in Australia seems a bit more vibrant, especially for our style of music. Having come over from the UK in January and being halted somewhat by the state of the world this year, and to still be in the position we are in speaks volumes about the Australian music scene. Contacts we've made with bands, venues and the response we've received from everyone over here is truly amazing. The UK has always had a strong scene but I think unfortunately for us, and other artists, it can become oversaturated at times. We cut our teeth in the UK and a lot of our writing stems from our experiences back home but we are seeing our music growing in Australia at a pace that we haven't experienced before and that, again, is testament to the scene over here. We're going to give as much as we can whilst we're here and we don't plan on slowing down anytime soon."
The trio have plenty planned for the rest of the year, hinting at some new songs in the works as well as live gigs lined up in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, including their first ever band line-up thanks to GC band Local Safari.
"We've got loads of shows between now and the end of the year between Brisbane and Gold Coast. Local Safari are absolute legends who got us onto our first band line-up and we can't wait to share the stage with Drop Legs in the Gold Coast and Sunflower in Brisbane."
What better way to listen to a new EP than live and loud?! Make sure you check out Brixton Alley on stage and in their element at their upcoming shows
Brixton Alley Upcoming QLD Shows 2020
Saturday, 24th October
Thirsty Chiefs Brewing Company
Saturday, 14th November
Mo's Desert Clubhouse
Saturday, 21 November
BBQ Bazaar, Burleigh
Thursday, 26th November
The Wooly Mammoth