If you’re on the lookout for a band that fuses super catchy rock with “ridiculous” guitar solos thrown in for the hell of it then Nottingham newcomers Silkrats will be just the ticket.
The quartet freely admit that they struggle to define their sound without “conjuring images of Coldplay or Nickelback in peoples’ heads.” But from what we’ve heard so far they’ve mastered the art of combining infectious rockiness with catchy melodies – which leads them to succinctly describe their sound as “a fucking racket with nice melody.”
The first iteration of the band formed back in their school days when Adam Kenney (guitar and vocals), Matt Nowak (bass) and Lewis Merrin (drums) played in a “terrible band” together. They remained friends and eventually formed Silkrats when Adam talked the other two into giving the music another try. As Adam puts it: “I’d been on at them for years anyway, but we had a jam around Christmas 2017 and thankfully none of the old ‘magic’ was there… we were fucking awful when we were kids.”
And Matt adds: “We did take some persuading, to be honest. Unlike Adam we’d both taken a step back from playing music publicly, having grown disillusioned after the breakdown of previous projects, but we’re very glad that he talked us round.”
But the turning point may well have been the addition of Luna Valentine on lead vocals. Matt continues: “We met Luna online and she gelled with us remarkably quickly and easily, both musically and as a bandmate. It can’t have been easy for her entering the old and tight friendship that the other three members of the band hold, but she’s done an amazing job so far.”
To which Luna adds: “I’ve been involved in collaborative music projects since I was about 10 years old. It started with theatre, then progressed into rock music as I got older. It’s like I’m not a complete person unless I’m doing something musically creative with my time. I met the guys by accident online and we clicked pretty music instantly, so it’s been weirdly smooth sailing until now – which is unusual, but much appreciated.”
With Luna on board, the band released debut single Partners In Crime at the end of last year, which is an impressive introduction – especially as they did all the production themselves. As Matt tells us: “I mostly feel a sense of relief that it’s finally out there and I can draw a line under its production. We decided to record and produce our songs ourselves (hopefully that’s not TOO apparent). As the only member of the band with even the slightest idea of how to do that, the responsibility fell quickly on my shoulders, which was very daunting and stressful but a challenge I found really enjoyable.
“I remember reading a quote that was something like ‘the hardest part of art is knowing when to stop’ – I imagine it was said by a visual artist, but the principle very much applies here too. Knowing when to finally stop fiddling with the faders and saying to myself ‘that is the best I can do’ was really difficult. Compromises had to be made. I had to accept that I’m not Rick Rubin – I have no formal music tech training – and we weren’t working at Abbey Road – we recorded at home. But, given those circumstances, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve produced.”
And proud he should be. The track opens up with drawn out guitars, a quick burst of guitars then a delicious laid-back round of guitar chords. Luna’s delicious take over, with support from stabbing guitars then diving into a seriously catchy chorus “And I know you think we’re partners in crime, But you’re mistaken, go get away, But you work real hard and you get real far but it’s just not good enough, You lie to me, But you work real hard and still end up scarred, It’s as fair as it’s gonna be, You lie to me.”
A cheeky little bass rumble feeds into another light burst of guitars that drop into another laid-back verse. A second chorus gives way to a cool laid-back guitar solo that drops into one last hit of the chorus. Check it out below:
They’ve just followed that debut up with second track Power Struggle, which is a little edgier, rockier and shows off the delicious versatility of Lena’s vocals. It dives straight into Luna opening up with edgy vocals “I got a feeling that I never felt before, oh no, And I can’t help it, I’m just always wanting more, oh yeah, Take the time to find some kind of satisfaction on your own.”
The edgy vocals continue through to a more melodic chorus “Maybe in another time or place you’ll get over your self-inflicted power struggle, Wasting too much time living a lie.” A mini guitar solo breaks things up then drops into another edgy verse with stabbing guitars and rolling drums supporting Luna’s vocals. A fun screeching guitar solo takes over, then drops into low vocals and building guitar chords then bursts into repeats of the line “Just give me the facts, I’ll ask again tomorrow, okay thanks” that build up to a final chorus.
As alluded to, the. As Matt attempts to explain: “I find it really hard to answer when people ask me what kind of stuff we play. It’s rock, but it’s not metal. I can’t say it’s ‘soft rock’ because I’m afraid it’ll conjure images of Coldplay or Nickelback in peoples’ heads… and we definitely don’t sound like either! We privately, and jokingly, with tongue placed firmly in cheek, describe ourselves as “heavy pop” – it’s catchy and reasonably accessible, but it’s very guitar driven. We’re not afraid to use double-kick patterns on the drums, and every song we’ve written so far has a guitar solo, but we make a conscious effort to include choruses that are infectious and hopefully get stuck in people’s heads too.”
To which Adam adds: “We’re a rock’n’roll band. But I’m a sucker for a good poppy hook so there’s some of that in there too. Ridiculous guitar solos are also a must.”
And when it comes to musical inspiration, it’s safe to say it’s a pretty broad spectrum. From Luna’s The Kills and Siouxsie and the Banshees to the rockier influences of Black Sabbath, The Who and AC/DC and even the likes of Architects and Northlane… and Lewis’ claim of Animal from The Muppets.
As Matt says: “As you can tell, each member brings something different to the party– our collective influences are broad, they range from folk singer-writers to the heaviest of metal bands and cross every bridge along the way. Our sound is the sweet spot where our interests overlap – it’s something that satisfies the tastes of, and can, therefore, be enjoyed by all of the band.”
While on the music writing side of things, Adam explains: “I’ve always hated writing lyrics but bringing in Luna has been liberating – I don’t have to feel self-conscious because I’m not the one singing them! Lyrically, no song is about one particular thing. There are multiple themes in most of the songs. I get very bored writing about one singular subject so there’s usually a line about one thing and then another about something completely different.”
You can expect plenty more from Silkrats through 2019 as they have drum tracks recorded for several more songs with other instruments set to be added as and when time allows. As Matt says: “The plan at the moment is to release them one at a time as singles, but we’ll see. Then we’ll hit the circuit and see what damage we can do!”