A few weeks ago we saw punk rockers Our Lives In Cinema open up proceedings for Nightlife in London. We loved their fast-paced, energetic brand of punk, so we thought we’d find out more about this interesting south-east London quintet.
Lead vocalist Mark Bartlett and guitarists Stephen Andrews and Phil Christopher have been playing music together for more than half their lives. They originally started a band called Narcosis at school, which played a few original songs amongst covers of The Offspring and Metallica, before starting a post-hardcore band called The Separation, which self-released debut album Feed Us To The Vultures back in 2008 and then EP Our Lives In Cinema in 2011 – hence the name.
The band got positive attention from the rock media back then, but couldn’t afford to tour and took a break, got wives and mortgages before giving the music another go. The trio was joined by bassist Bobby Davies and drummer James Reeve, who are best friends and played in a punk called Playground Mafia together, just over a year ago.
As Bobby puts it: “Two sets of best friends who met through two members working together and all bonding over a love of music.”
One of the things that instantly grabbed our attention when we saw the band play live and from subsequently listening to them was their energy levels. Think the breathless speed of the likes of At The Drive-In and Glassjaw and you’re pretty much hitting the nail on the head.
Mark explained: “High energy is 100% the intention! I pack a lot of syllables into my phrases and write as many lyrics as I can for each song. I just think it’s more exciting to listen to, even if the melody isn’t perfect. Despite being pretty heavy for a pop-punk band, I think we still manage to sound pretty chirpy for the most part, I put that down to an emphasis on very catchy guitar melodies over the chords.
“I really suck at nailing us down to a specific sound, because good rock music, to me, should inherently be exciting and not some dreary shit like Staind or Nickleback. So I guess I’d want to be labelled as punk music, but on the optimistic, glass half-full end of the spectrum, whereas our last band was more ‘woe is me’ shit I guess. We’re happy people!”
And Phil expanded: “I guess we are high energy. Every time we try and write something slower or mellower we seem to lose interest surprisingly quickly. I take your review saying we had big guitars as a big compliment. Personally, tone-wise, I guess I aim for something like a Rise Against guitar sound, high gain and crunchy. I think Stephen aims for something slightly different (maybe smoother) and we complement each other well. I think our guitar sound is actually pretty distinct right through The Separation and into Our Lives In Cinema, it really hasn’t changed much. I like it!”
It’s hard to disagree with this point. Their big guitar sound, with cool riffs aplenty, combined with Mark’s unique fast-paced vocal delivery really draws you in as a listener, and it’s impossible not to get involved in it. Case in point is I’ve Got This, which opens up as it means to go on with fast-paced guitar riffs and big crashing drums before diving into a rapid opening verse. A singalong chorus is followed by more cool guitar riffs before more of the same, it’s a cracking little punky track.
I think my favourite OLIC track may be the slightly slower but equally energetic She’s Aflame. The funky post-chorus riffs, shouty lyrics and driving drums that push the track on throughout make this song super-catchy. Have a listen below:
As already alluded to, the band draws influence from a wide range of the cult guitar-heavy rock bands through the 2000s, adding the likes of Blink-182, Sum 41, Jimmy Eat World, Coheed & Cambria and many, many more to the list. But, as the band name suggests, their writing is also influenced by the big screen.
Mark explains: “I’m honestly influenced by film way more than music. Going to the movies as often as possible is probably the most important thing in my life apart from my marriage and these guys. I idolise Stanley Kubrick specifically. The confetti party cover art and colour palette to The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls In America is a vibe I often think about, as are the New Years Eve and Christmas scenes in When Harry Met Sally and It’s A Wonderful Life, and the final moments of Rocky! Personally, I’m always searching for a festive vibe, or the most glorious version of a thing and there’s a fair few pop culture references built into the lyrics.”
The guys have been together for a while in various guises, but the energy of their music gives it a fresh feel and they clearly love what they do. But what does the future hold?
Phil said: “I think we have been around long enough not to set the bar too high . Play some good gigs, write and record as much as we can, polish our style and sound and try to gain a small fan base. Having said that I still want to play a proper sold out show were the room is bouncing one day… and a festival.
Mark added: “I just want us to produce something in line with my own standards of what ‘great’ is. It’d be nice if other people liked it, but when it’s awesome I’ll know. I’m not an amazing vocalist by any stretch, but I AM super passionate, which I think comes across at our shows and on our recordings. So really, I just want a set of very strong, meaningful songs, played like we give a fuck.”
The band aims to keep gigging as much as they can through the year, and there’s been talk of an EP coming our way at some point too. So keep an eye out for any updates.