The Early Mornings are one of those bands that hit you like the first light of the day, bleary eyed and comfortably warm. Consisting of Annie Leader on guitar and vocals, Danny Shannon on bass and Rhys Davies on drums, the group are emerging at the perfect time. Following on from the success of new-wave post-punk outfits Dry Cleaning and Porridge Radio, the bands sound is both jagged and yet comfortably cool. You lose yourself among the flurry of guitar lines and anecdotal lyrical quips, trying to unpick the world that they inhabit and have created for themselves. With inspiration coming from the likes of Cate Le Bon, Kim Deal, The Breeders and The Amps the band merged together influences and inspirations to find a style that is instantaneously recognisable yet unrequitedly unique. It’s a surprisingly warm sunny April afternoon when we call the band to talk about their bright future ahead and the journey to their debut EP Unnecessary Creation, set to be released on June 18th.
Originally forming in 2018 after Annie and Danny put out an advert for a drummer, “Rhys liked some of the bands we mentioned and we just sort of knew after the first practice” says Danny. They then spent the next few months rehearsing to ensure the live aspect of the band was fuelled like clockwork. Debut single “Artificial Flavour” was released in January of last year, subsequently landing the band support slots with the likes of post-punk legends The Raincoats. Although with all the prestige around the event, the bands experience was somewhat scuppered by technical difficulties during the rehearsal. “Whilst we were sound checking the strap on Annie’s guitar broke and it just crashed to the floor and the scratch plate came off as well! My snares broke during the last couple of songs but they were still making noise. So we enjoyed who it was we were supporting but the gig was so frustrating” remarks Rhys.
They’ve recently moved down to London to break into the ever expanding and joyously fruitful underground scene. “We always wanted to live in London at some point and we just thought why not now. We’ve just lived in Manchester our entire lives, so time for a change” explains Danny.
Their music channels the depleted lifestyle of everyday nothing, with the title of the EP coming as a facetious remark of the pointlessness of art and the day to day grind. “It’s a line from a poem I wrote that said “I punctuate my days with unnecessary creation””, explains Danny. “And I guess that fits in as well with the theme as it’s just about filling our days with unnecessary creation and just trying to find meaning within our day to day lives. It just made sense as it’s a bit tongue in cheek calling our first EP unnecessary. Art in general is unnecessary, but it’s impossible to conceive life without it so it’s that paradox where it’s pointless, but we couldn’t live without it”.
“We kind of just came up with the music and then came up with lines about separate things and just glued them together. We just kind of made it up on the spot as we were writing it I remember” Annie says about recent single “Blank Sky”. A song that grabs within the opening moments of Annie’s deadpan vocals over the infectiously sporadic bass line. And just like the music, the accompanying video contains references to all aspects of inspiration for the band, from a Lowry painting to a Sarah Lucas self portrait; art imitating art.
Showcasing a candid tour of Manchester, the band sought out to find the beauty in the bland. “A lot of our other videos were edited with a very high pace so we wanted it a bit more still and focused. And obviously we wanted to get shots where we could get a lot of white sky. So I guess it’s just a meditation on certain spots” says Annie. “They form more of a specific atmosphere together rather than just a collection of shots. They’re almost framed more as a still painting, it’s all about the composition and colours and having them all merging to form quite a distinct atmosphere of grey” adds Danny.
Just like the menial travail of every day life, their songs don’t follow succinct themes or structures, but rather are collections of disjointed musings. “I guess in the way that we don’t really have an idea of what we’re doing when we write songs it’s the same. We didn’t especially write it with a theme but there probably is one if we sat and listened to it” says Annie.
Their debut EP, Unnecessary Creation almost acts as a greatest hits of the bands workings so far, containing songs both past and present. “We wanted to pick a good mix of the different sides to our sound as our first proper EP. We didn’t want to have one that has all songs that are similar so we tried to pick a range of most different” says Danny. “We spent the first year of being a band just focusing on playing live and getting our live sound right. We didn’t want to rush into it and regret putting all these songs out that we care about and not doing them justice. And now we’re in a position where we can do it as well as we could” he adds.
It’s easy to understand why the band have gained such a following so quickly. The unison not only in their sound but their connection in finishing each others sentences. After a while of talking to the band you get a real sense that their mutual understanding lies deeper than the music.
With the prospect of live shows returning on the horizon the band reflect on past gigs that have brought them to this deserved position of acclaim. “The single launch we did, we chose the bands to support and they were all bands we really love. It was at The Peer Hat, basically our local which we used to rehearse above. All our friends came down, it was sold out, probably the busiest gig” say Rhys. “I can’t even imagine it being that busy now!” adds Annie. With support on the night coming from local contemporaries and friends Roxy Girls, Vat-Egg and All Girls Arson Club. “It was such a great feeling after just putting the record out, even my mum and dad came down!” continues Rhys. “They tried to get in for free” he laughs.
But as in tune as the band are with one another there’s still room for practice. Annie stating that the thought of playing that first show back will be “Scary! I’ll be scared”. It’s a moment that, like most musicians, she’s been thinking about for a while. “I have dreams sometimes that we start a gig and we’re just looking at each other and we have no fucking clue. Just asking “What song is it?”. But that’s a horrible dream so I don’t want that in real life. We’ve all just forgotten everything” she exclaims. But the thought is quickly quashed once she talks it over. “I’ll feel a lot better once I can find a new practice room here (London) and get going with that because it’s been a month since we practiced now and I just wanna make sure I haven’t forgetting everything. I’ve probably forgotten how to sing” she jokes.
Being built on those small independent venues we also ask the band what more needs to be done to support them. “Money! I guess it depends on the social distancing thing. Maybe if you didn’t bring drinks into the actual bit where you see the band then you could all have masks on and be quite close. That’s just a theory I’m working on” says Annie. “I think there should be more live sessions on TV” she continues. “Bring back music channels! If you had the show in the venue it would showcase the artist and the venue. I want that to happen anyway. More new TV bands stuff”.
The battle to be heard in the saturated modern industry of music has never been more challenging. And with support from major streaming platforms seemingly getting thinner and thinner we ask the band to reflect on what they’d like to see changed within the industry. “It’s a bit shit that with streaming you get 0.000001p per stream so that’s quite bad” remarks Annie. “But also when we were back in Manchester I would have liked it if it was like back in the old days, where there were people in the industry coming to gigs being like “Hey they’re cool”. Where’s the ground people these days?” she asks. “Maybe they’re in London” adds Danny. “Maybe! But who knows. Like Alan McGee who would just be at this tiny club saying “Oh sign them”. I just feel like that doesn’t happen” says Annie. “I think labels now wait for you to prove that you’ve established yourself. They never just take a punt anymore and throw money at a wall. Or maybe they do and it’s just not us” says Danny.
Trying to find that balance between over and under-sharing is a line that the band tread carefully. “You have to put a lot of effort into the whole social media thing” says Annie. “Oh yeah no social media would be good” continues Danny. “I mean it’s obviously good but knowing that there’s no option to have the extra stress of worrying “Should I be posting stuff”. I feel like it’s cringey having to say “Oh look at us” but it’s necessary.
New single “Days Spent” is out now. Unnecessary Creation is released June 18th.