whynow is the time to listen to… Life Aquatic Band

The perfect antidote to the end of summer slump, it’s the perfect time to get to know Life Aquatic Band. We sat down with Ben for the low-down…

Life Aquatic Band interview whynow

The Sheffield scene is an underrated gem in the UK’s musical landscape. Sure, it gave us Arctic Monkeys, Pulp and Self Esteem, but right now, the next-big-things are gigging away in its many local venues. And one shining diamond amongst it all is Life Aquatic Band; a silly pop band with a classic music backing.

Meeting during their time as music students, the collective of musicians combine their skill with a tireless commitment to the bit as fun prevails as their number one priority. Releasing their debut album L.A.B.P.D (Band On The Hunt) during lockdown, it was a catchy concept album about a police force on a mission to find Paul McCartney. Now back out in the world and gigging around, their latest album FREE SUMMER! is sunshine in music form.

The perfect antidote to the end of summer slump, it’s the perfect time to get to know Life Aquatic Band. We sat down with Ben for the low-down…

Life Aquatic Band interview whynow

Introductions please – Who are you all and what do you play?

Hello! My names Ben Allen, and I am the singer, guitarist, sometime guitarist and general clown for Life Aquatic Band. We also have Jaz Kelly, who sings, plays guitar and synth, Henry Tufton, who also sings, plays guitar and synth, Ben Evans, who plays bass, Will Shaw, who plays drums, and when we can get him, Tim Peters who plays everything better than all of us and is the real star of the group. 

And the name… where did that come from? Are you all Wes Anderson fans?

I was looking for a name before I’d formed a band. I was in a folk duo prior to moving to Sheffield and wanted to come up with something completely different – I thought that the name conjured something distinctly NOT folk and stuck with it. But yes, the film is ace and I do enjoy Wes Anderson’s films. I thought that Asteroid City was his best in ages… I’m not sure how many people agree with me on that. 

The band includes horns and all sorts and feels like a true collective of musicians – how do you find merging more classical training with creating fun bangers?

I would say that I am a maximalist at heart – the state of my bedroom reflects well on our music, being full of STUFF. We are lucky that so many of us play different instruments – I love getting to find new sounds, and that is the consequence of having a bunch of us around. But, at the end of the day, we are still a pop group and we want to write something that a crowd can sing along to. I enjoy the idea of trying to write these weird pop songs that combine all sorts of styles… and somehow they still work? 

Life Aquatic Band interview whynow

As the city you were formed in, Life Aquatic Band are such an integral part of the Sheffield scene – how would you describe the current scene up there? What do you love about the city?

Sheffield is a beautiful city full of greenery, a lot of hippie art types, and friendly people. What’s not to like? The scene is slowly becoming less obsessed with the Arctic Monkeys which is great, nothing on them but it’s been stuck in guitar rock-land for two decades. There are some great folk/pop crossovers going on at the moment – I went to see Before Breakfast play in a chapel and it was the best gig I’ve ever seen in Sheffield. Check them out! 

Your debut album, L.A.B.P.D (Band On The Hunt), was all about a mission to hunt down Paul McCartney – how do silly ideas like this get formed? Are they just inside jokes that get carried away?

Yes, definitely inside jokes that get carried away. Henry would say that he incepted the whole album idea into my mind from a joke one day, and messed up my life for a year as I got around trying to write enough songs to fill an album! Jokes aside, the number one rule in the band is to have fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we just want to spread that energy out there – everyone should let loose and have a bit more fun. 

 

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And how about the new record? Could you introduce the story or the themes on FREE SUMMER!

This concept is much, much simpler than the last. It’s about sending positive and optimistic thinking into the world, getting out there and making the most of it. Yes, its a summer record, but the message carries over. The first song has this mantra, and it sums up the whole album really: “Say you want it? Go and get it. Get outside and face the day. You want meaning? Make meaning, by living and breathing everyday.” 

What is the LAB process? How do you write songs? Is the whole band involved from the start or does it build gradually?

On this record me, Henry, and Jaz came together with a few songs that were written on their own, and some that me and Jaz had written together. Then we just get in a room together and hammer them out until we find something fun comes out of them. I think, this time around, and going forward, my philosophy is this: don’t think about it too much. First thought best thought. Have fun with it, and keep the fun in it. 

Life Aquatic Band interview whynow

Anyone that has been to one of your gigs knows it’s always a party – but for those that haven’t, can you describe the atmosphere you try to create?

Look, we’re not trying to be cool, we just want to have a good time. The idea is that if you see us letting loose and having fun, you will want to let loose and have fun too. I really think that dancing makes music sound better, it gets you in the vibe and in the groove. If you’re dancing, then we think we’ve done our jobs pretty well! 

What’s your favourite gig you’ve played so far?

We played Shambala fest this year in the Chai Wallahs tent – it was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played too, and it was crazy hearing them sing along to our songs and dancing and having a great time. I would recommend that festival to anyone. 

And what’s next for the band?

More shows, more music. We have 6 shows coming up this Winter, then a bigger tour next march. Come and see us and join in the fun! 


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