Faced with a bewildering array of ways to consume music, today’s mp3-hungry media-savvy fans have come to expect their rock and roll served up on a plate.
What with digital music revenues tripling from 2004 to 2005, online marketing certainly seems the sensible option for new bands on the cusp of breaking through. So are the days of grass roots promotion on the toilet circuit numbered?
Nope, not even close. Now more than ever in the music industry – precisely because of this baffling abundance of readily available tunes – you’ve got to put in the mileage if you want to get your band known. There is, it would seem, still no substitute for hard graft.
Battle are a prime example. They’re London-based, studied at Canterbury University and released their rousing debut single Isabelle through Fierce Panda in April. Back in November 2004, Drowned In Sound labelled them ‘probably the best live band in London’. Since then, they’ve honed their sound, changed their name and toured their arses off, supporting the likes of The Subways, The Rakes and Bloc Party. They also hit the road for two sets of headline dates, most recently on September’s ‘Damascus’ tour, which concluded in London last Thursday.
Around 8pm before the gig, Battle are busy playing live for Ian Camfield on Xfm’s Music:Reponse. Just two hours later, they’re setting up their own equipment at Oxford Street’s 100 Club, ready to kick off again at 10pm. As you’d expect from a homecoming gig, the 100 Club is practically full. The girls at the front know the words – that’s a good sign. The suits at the back look engrossed throughout – that’s even better.
On record, they sound somewhat like The Cure and Bloc Party (these days, who doesn’t?), but Battle’s strongest selling-point is undoubtedly their ferocious live show. On stage, frontman Jason Bavanandan is a man tormented, his potency belying his tiny frame as he wrestles with his Rickenbacker. His husky voice, though shaky at times, could prove to be the secret weapon in Battle’s arsenal. Meanwhile, guitar-conjurer James Ellis deftly triggers layers of sound, his pedals working their magic at his command.
Despite having a contract with Warner Records under their belts for next year’s full-length debut, Battle aren’t counting their chickens just yet. The next day, they’re on the go again, this time visiting Gideon Coe for an acoustic session on BBC 6 Music (you can listen again here until October 7th). Still not content, they dash over to Pure Groove Records to meet fans, sign CDs and play yet another live set. Later on, they’re spotted waiting for a bus to lug their gear up Holloway Road.
Right now, Battle are working hard and playing even harder. Most importantly, they’re doing so with admirable humility. There’s no doubting these four are destined for great things.
Battle’s new single Demons is out now on Transgressive Records.
You can watch the video here.