Camden’s Tribes, one of our Ones To Watch acts, are bucking the trend of fashionable scene bands who pay attention to their image than their rehearsals, by being an unashamedly British guitar group. Their debut album Baby came out in January filled with rousing gang anthems which tap in to the essence to traditional rock and roll, yet dragging it in to 2012.
Their rise is thanks to an avid fanbase across the country who have supported them, promoted their gigs and given them a room on tour, a following they are eager to repay. Their grass roots attitude makes them unique in professionally managed industry and has given Tribes the experience to thrive, and by dominating the Camden scene they are bringing the areas heritage up to date.
As Tribes tour the UK as part of the NME tour Londonist caught up with bassist Jim Cratchley.
How would you describe Tribes Sound and what makes it special
We all agree that it’s British Rock No Roll. A lot of people try to pin us down as grunge without listening to us, but as soon as people hear us they realise were not heavy enough to be a grunge band.
Which British bands inspire you?
Me and Johnny we were brought up listening to the Rolling Stones and The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and that sort of thing. Of course there’s Black Sabbath so we have some roots in the heavier stuff. But it a love of the Stones which we all share and we think informs our music.
Is there anyone contemporary who you admire?
There are loads of really good bands coming through. When people say guitar music’s dead they’re probably not looking hard enough. There’s a band called Sharks from Leamington, who are a total balls out punk band, a band from London called Whales In Cubicles who are like a heavy Pavement. We really admire the Horrors too cos their friends of ours.
How did Tribes get together and decide to form?
Me and Johnny grew up together in the midlands and I’ve known him since we were six or seven. Dan and Miguel have known each other since they were kids growing up around Maidenhead. We all kind of met up in Camden: Johnny was living there, I was down for college with Dan and was all just came together in various Pubs in Camden that we used to drink in. We decided we wanted to form a band cos we didn’t really hear anything around that we felt any particular affinity with. We wanted to start a band that we really wanted to hear, rather than what the scene dictates.
So why Camden, what’s so special about it and it’s musical legacy?
We didn’t decide to be a Camden band; it was just where we were living and started to rehearse. It became a centre for us and the whole community got behind us and load of the pubs put our demos on. It’s a great place and the musical heritage is really special like the Clash and the whole Britpop scene too.
Where’s good to hang out in Camden?
We used to rehearse at a place next to the Hawley Arms so we used to drink in there a lot. The Lock Tavern is probably my favourite pub, or the Crown and Goose- the food’s awesome there and there’s always a good crowd, it’s an easy place to just hang out.
What’s your favourite London venue?
Maybe the Electric Ballroom, we did a gig there in October which was fantastic. Bigger wise the Shepherds Bush Empire is fantastic, but there are so many great little venues.
If you could play anywhere in London, where would it be?
We’d love to play either Alexander Palace of Brixton Academy. My first gig in London was at Brixton Academy and I’ve been going back there ever since and it has such a great history.
What’s the London gig scene like for bands starting out?
It can be tough cos there are hundreds of bands try to get gigs, but there are a lot of people out there giving support.
What’s most exciting about the huge NME tour?
It’s one big three week party really. Two Door Cinema Club and Metronomy are two band be really respect, especially Two Door because of the way they’ve done it They didn’t jump on any hype, they just put they’re album out and kept plugging away and they’ve become bigger and bigger.
Where were you when you found out you were on the tour?
We were in our manager’s office talking about something completely unrelated and he got a phone call saying we were booked on it. We found out about four or five months before and our album wasn’t our yet and we were still unsure about how tickets for the Electric Ballroom we’re selling, so when we found out about the tour we knew we had something else to work for after the album had come out.
How exciting is it to finally have a debut album coming out?
It’s brilliant. It’s by no means the end goal. It’s like having to start again at day one, when we got signed that was another day one. It feels like a massive weight off, because were a touring band so we just want to be playing it and get around to doing new stuff that we haven’t necessarily played before. So we’re really excited.
What are the main themes on the album?
When we started out people were maybe expecting a hard and fast rock album, but I think the highlight are the softer songs like Half Way Home which I think is the most British song on the album. Although Alone Or With Friends is essentially a dance song with a British swagger trip.
Is guitar music still important and is it going through a resurgence?
There have always been hundreds of bands and people will never stop picking up guitars. Maybe it hasn’t been in the charts as much recently, and you keep reading about who’s gonna save guitar music, but it doesn’t really need saving. It’s probably harder to get noticed because the industry doesn’t want to be seen backing guitar music as it’s not bankable whereas quick fix electro pop seems to be coming and going every three weeks- a string of one hit wonders.
You seem to have gathered and avid following why have people latched onto you?
We’re a hard working band and we did everything ourselves doing out own gigs and trying to get involved with people who are interested in the band. We’ve got regional Tribes- people who got in contact and said they wanted to help so they get free stuff if things like the album in advance, and that’s really important with how we started and something we’re maintaining. We want to stay involved with the people who put us where we are by being interested in the band. Maybe that’s why they feel the connection with us.
Do you think you appeal to a particular kind of fan?
Our gigs always go mental, the fans are crazy and jumping around like lunatics. We did a gig in Sheffield invaded four times by rabid kids which was great.
Do you think Tribes can change the world? Do you want to?
Of course we want to it would be great. But there’s a 101 things you need to do to change the world, but yeah we’re up for it.
Tribes play Shepherds Bush Empire 27 April. Debut album Baby is out now.