It's difficult for genuinely good unsigned bands to get recognition these days. Millions upon millions fancy themselves as the next Hendrix or Lennon, and as a result we are bombarded with words like 'latest', 'revolutionary', 'unique' and 'innovative' every time we open a magazine or turn on our computer. To be honest, not many of these bands live up to the adjectives used to describe them. NME Breakthrough is a competition designed to weed out the crap. Any unsigned band can enter themselves and a panel of judges choose the ones worthy of being in the final round. Once these are chosen, it is up to the public to decide who they like best. Don’t Panic speak to the winners of this year's competition, ABC Club.
Who are you and what do you do in the band?
How did you all get together in the first place?
D: Me and Jordan met at school around the age of 15, I thought he was a little annoying at first. We both had guitars and like most teenagers wanted to be in a band so we got together with my cousin Jack, who also had a guitar. After trying to write lyrics and failing miserably, we asked my sister's friend Zandra to write them for us. With some lyrics and some pretty abysmal songs we soon discovered none of us could sing so Zandra was asked to join. We went through a good few drummers at the start until another school friend agreed to do it full time. By this point we'd broken into the Leeds music scene and were making ourselves heard until the drummer left for uni. Feeling like we were onto a good thing we decided to keep going so Zandra drafted in James to play drums.
Why 'ABC Club'?
Ja: David said it for a joke right in the beginning but it was laughed off as a stupid idea. We gigged under the name 'the debuts' for a year or so until we were forced to change it as a Scottish band were playing under the same name. The final straw was when we played Leeds festival (via the Futuresound competition) and our write up in the programme said we were a four-piece band from Scotland!
Z: Changing your name is really difficult. We were throwing names around like 'Bear Sinatra' and something about a circus. After much arguing and disagreements we went for 'The ABC Club', actually I think we picked it out of a hat.
Do you remember your first gig together?
Jo: Our first gig was in a local village. We played in somebody's garage and just played covers. It was okay. Not the worst gig we've done and that's saying something. Never play in Leeds University library!
Has your performance style or music changed at all since then?
D: I think any band that's been playing together for a few years will change their style slightly. We've definitely changed, it wasn't a conscious thing though. I just think as we've progressed on our instruments and got used to working with each other the music developed. It would be pretty depressing if it didn't.
Which songs do you playing live the most? Do you ever play any covers?
Ja: We've never done any covers in the time I've been in the band but I think they covered stuff when they started out. I'm sure David said they used to cover a Hendrix song, which I bet was funny. Dark secrets in the cupboard I reckon. We tend to write a set before a run of gigs and stick to it for a while then change the set when we have a quiet period.
D: Each of us has a favourite song to play – mine is 'Friend of mine' because it's easy and I don't have to concentrate too hard. I can relax a little. At the moment we're recording a few songs for our next single though. One of them seems to be a favourite amongst all of us, but you'll have to wait for that one.
Jo: I know that me and David really like ‘White beast’. We recorded it ourselves in the practice room, we were really chuffed with the sound we got out of using old crap equipment so I guess it feels a bit more special to us.
Who's chief songwriter? What's been a big inspiration for your songs?
D: Me and Jordan write the music from little ideas we've made up. We then get together with Jack and James to try it out. When the song is working well with us, Zandra comes along and writes lyrics to go over the top.
Which's been your favourite gig you've played so far?
Ja: It's hard to agree on one, we always judge a gig on our individual performances, so what's great for one us isn't always good for another. One that we all enjoyed was Live at Leeds 08 at the cockpit so I guess that’s our collective best gig.
Z: I preferred the Live at Leeds in 2009. We never agree.
How do you feel, winning NME's Breakthrough Award?
D: It's great! It's nice to know people care about what you're doing. It was a total shock to us. James had entered us in months ago and hadn't told us, he'd forgotten himself until we got the email.
Are you looking forward to the Club NME Koko gig?
Ja: Yeah we all are, a bit nervous though, I don't think we will have played to that many people before. We're all quite shy people, so it's going to be taking us out of our comfort zone, but it's a good thing.
What are your plans for the future?
Jo: Well the next thing on the agenda is to release our second single on Things To Make and Do records. We're aiming to release it at the back end of November. We also have a small tour arranged through November and December.
Where do you see yourself in a year's time?
D: Hopefully playing bigger and better shows. Maybe get underway with recording an album.