By Ella Morris
Sugarthief are an indie-pop band based in Birmingham, formed by brothers Jordi and Jack James and including school friends Luke Owen and Reece Downton. I spoke to brothers, Jordi and Jack, before their headline gig at The Victoria.
Tell me how you started the band.
Jordi: Well, as brothers, we live together.
Jack: I guess we played for years and years, we’ve been in multiple little family bands and stuff. We were an acoustic duo for ages. We used to play in pubs and stuff to like no one.
Jordi: Reece, I was at school with, so I knew a drummer and he’s like the only drummer from where we are so we found him and took him in. Luke is my best mate who we kind of forced to play bass. He kind of likes it now so it’s all good.
Jack: We used to play, when we played acoustically, we would play in Stafford quite a lot, which included a lot of pubs and stuff. But for a music scene, Birmingham is basically our home.
What originally started your interest in music?
Jack: It’s got to be our dad. He manages our band, and from day one, he was like pumping Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix, among others constantly in the car and always playing it around the house.
Jordi: I don’t think we ever really had a choice.
Jack: It’s good to keep it in the family, cos you know your Dad’s not going to screw you over.
Do you think it helps?
Jack: I guess it happens a lot because until we get to a point where we need one [a manager], it’s a lot more commercial stuff going on, it just means he can control the stuff without us worrying.
What is your song-writing process?
Jordi: We don’t tend to start off the idea together, I think it’s more of like if I’ve got a song idea, I’ll bring it to Jack first. But recently, we’ve started writing straight to the band, so I’ll bring something when we’re practising and be like I’ve got this, let’s play.
Jack: Before we’d be like Luke, Reece, these are your parts, where now we’ll just bring a part, everyone will jam it out and they’ll find their own parts.
Jordi: Yeah, as a band we are more comfortable with each other now.
Jack: And I guess you have to bear in mind that Reece didn’t really like indie music before he joined the band, Luke couldn’t play bass before he joined the band. So, originally, the drums would sound like Blink-182 and Luke wouldn’t be able to play a bassline.
What song do you wish you had written yourself?
Jordi: I dunno, what song I wish I wrote.
Jack: (to Jordi) Surely yours would be something by Dylan.
Jordi: Yes but no. That’s a hard question.
Jack: I’d probably have two, one I’d love to have written would be ‘American Boy’ by Estelle featuring Kanye West. I would’ve loved to have written the rap! Some of the lines, I’m just like: ‘yes Kanye!’ And then also, probably, ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Bob Dylan, later performed by Jimi Hendrix, then essentially every amazing artist covered it.
Jordi: Probably hit one of those Beatles classics like ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, or something.
Do you think it’s difficult to balance studying and your music?
Jack: I wouldn’t say it’s so much the music as trying to upkeep social media and stuff. I used to work in London and now when I’m at Uni, trying to post on Instagram everyday can be difficult to remember. It sounds like, it’s just a post on Instagram but trying to constantly upkeep all the social media and then book gigs can take up a lot of time. Luckily my dad does a lot of that now, but originally I was doing it all.
Jordi: I just leave it to him because I can’t be bothered. I write the songs, and Jack does all the boring stuff.
Jack: It does take up a lot of time, especially if you’re emailing labels and stuff.
Jordi: I do Graphic Design, so I design all the merchandise. It gives me something to do…
Jack: Jordi loves doing experimental stuff too, so every piece has it’s own style.
Jordi: The visual is a sugar cube but there’s one missing. It’s almost like an optical illusion because sometimes it’s flat and sometimes its 3D with a line missing.
What’s been your favourite venue to play at?
Jack: For good vibes, I’d always say Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge. You’ve got the basement which gets really tightly packed and sweaty, which means you can get a proper mosh pit going.
Jordi: We’ve played Birmingham’s O2 Academy before as well. From a sound perspective, with places like that, the sound is so crisp. You can get this incredible sound back, so that’s quite nice. However as the venue is so much bigger, unless you’re selling out, there can be quite a lot of room.
What have you got planned for 2017?
Jack: Are we allowed to say? So music videos… we’ve just finished filming two music videos, so one will probably be out fairly soon.
Jordi: Just before Christmas 2016 probably and the other will be released, probably summer time.
Jack: We’ll be doing a couple of gigs, probably one in London and one in Birmingham, with a video to follow after it so hopefully that’ll create some waves.
Check out more about Sugarthief and their music on Soundcloud and Spotify. Their ‘Joy Affair’ music video was released on December 15th.