One thing you can rely on the north of England for is producing brilliant new Indie bands and it’s been too long since we featured one. However, the wait has been more than worth it with the discovery of loosely Cheshire-based band The Zangwills, who offer up engaging singalong vocals alongside lively indie instrumental goodness.
The quartet is formed of Jake Vickers (vocals, guitar, synth) Sam Davies (guitar), Ed Dowling (bass), who met each other while studying music technology at sixth-form college, and Jake’s school friend Adam Spence (drums). They originally came from Chester, Northwich and North Wales, but have spread their wings to Manchester, Liverpool and London/Warrington.
And since those early school days they’ve set about honing their infectiously catchy indie sound, on which they tell us: “We’d probably describe it as upbeat tunes that even your Mum will dance to. We have a lot of fun making and performing our music and hope that comes across. Northern powerful vocals, big drums, shimmering shiny guitars and an occasional groove to the bass.”
Our first taste of what the band have to offer was most recent release Could I, which came out at the end of October. It opens up with a funky high-pitched guitar lick, which continues over heavier drums and drops into the opening line “Hello are you OK? Could I see ya? Could I, Could I, Could I?”
That feeds into big drawn-out vocals “I feel so high, This feels so right,” then the cool opening lick returns and drops into another laid-back verse that builds up to more drawn-out vocals. It all repeats before a cool little blitz of high-pitched guitars drop into a final chorus. Give it a listen here:
On the track, they told us: “Could I opens with the line, ‘Hello, are you ok?’ we can all relate to that question and it’s one we especially wanted to get out there for our first post- lockdown release.
“The song was inspired by the idea of a one way conversation, left as messages on voicemail until they are finally picked up and the pair are reunited. It was originally written as a summery acoustic song but, after we played it through a few times as a full band, it quickly transformed itself into the grittier ‘scruffy serenade’ that we now know and that we believe it was always meant to be.”
The Zangwills have quickly built a back catalogue of bangers, including a particular personal favourite The Horrors of Sobriety. It starts off with a slow lone guitar then a noodling little lick, before exploding into life with big piercing guitars under powerful vocals “Take me, Leave me, Just don’t leave me bleeding, I’ll give you five to realise, And then I’ll be leaving, Your ghost is so close I can feel you breathing, Take me, Leave me.” That feeds into a high-pitched guitar lick and heavy instrumentals before dropping into a second verse that begins “The horrors of sobriety leave me wondering what I’d see if you left with me,” which flows into another huge chorus. Check it out in the video below:
And that indie goodness is present in another personal favourite, the funky Patio Paradise from the band’s debut EP. Check it out here:
The Zangwills sound has been inspired by a wide range of influences, including some they all have consensus on such as The Cure, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths and Pearl Jam. As the band explain: “We all like rock and indie but, beyond that, our big individual influences vary hugely. Adam likes rap and heavy stuff and is a big Metallica fan. Ed likes funk and folk. Sam loves everything indie. Jake loves 80s sounds, along with artists like Bob Dylan and is a poetic soul.
“We definitely see those contrasts coming out as we develop our songs but when the likes of Metallica, Bob Dylan, Foals, The Clash, Sister Sledge, Band of Horses, Nile Rogers and The Cure collide in a mix of ideas, we hope it leads to us having our own distinctive sound.”
And their music is largely influenced by pretty relatable issues and events. As they tell us: A lot of our songs are just about going out with your mates and having a good time and the classic tales that come with that. Jake’s lyrics are often observational and pretty relatable topics but that also leave space for imagination
“Judas on the Dancefloor is the exception, it’s a darker song that was written consciously to deliver a message about the issue of groping and harassment on a night out. Pre-Covid, we’d have the organisations Girls Against or Safe Gigs for Women at our shows wherever possible to help raise awareness. Although primarily an issue for girls, anyone can be a target and we found that everyone we spoke to had their own experience to relate or knew someone who’d been affected. Hopefully, it’ll be an issue that gets left in the past when live events resume.”
Could I was the band’s first release in over a year, but the good news is there’ll be no need to wait another year for new The Zangwills material. They’ll have a new track out in December with two more in the pipeline for next year, on which they tease us: “We bought Jake a new synth as the old one was playing up, it’s pretty awesome so there’s likely to be more of that in our music in 2021.” They also have some exciting video projects that had to be postponed but hope to get rescheduled soon.
But it’s safe to say that, like most bands out there, they are missing the opportunity to play live shows. They told us: “One of the very few upsides of lockdown is that it’s given us lots of time to write and develop new material (but) we are really missing playing live. We’ve been hugely fortunate to have had brilliant fans who have given us a solid live following from very early on our last two Manchester dates were completely sold out and we really miss them.
“We’re hoping that 2021 will see some return to normality, it’s too early to call when that will be so we’ve taken the decision with our management not to announce dates until there’s more certainty of them going ahead rather than having to be rescheduled. Once things start moving in the right direction and we know gigs are happening, we’ll be back onstage and we can’t wait.
“Outside the UK, we have seen audiences develop in territories such as Germany, Sweden and the US. It goes without saying that we’d love to nurture those audiences and play overseas – Covid and Brexit permitting, we’d really like to do that in 2021.”
The Zangwills have proven their capability to consistently produce engaging indie-rock bangers and we’re excited to hear what’s coming them from the future. But we firmly believe this is a name to keep an eye out for.