The latest and greatest act to emerge out of Manchester’s ever fruitful DIY scene comes in the form of 3-piece The Early Mornings. Consisting of Annie Leader on guitar and vocals, Danny Shannon on bass and Rhys Davies on drums, the group are emerging at the renaissance of punk. The summit of the jagged guitar line. Recorded mostly in one day the band sought to capture the spirit of the sporadic nature of a live setting.
Through Leader’s thick Northern accent and occasional dead-pan delivery the group have distinction come naturally to them. Their sound draws influence from the likes of The Breeders through their angular guitar lines and popping beats. And on “Departure From Habit” they evoke the early melancholic raw sounding days of Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit… album through their sharp and sheer guitar lines and downbeat vocal deliveries. The band don’t just pay homage to this icons of indie, but turn this sound into something uniquely raw and fresh at the same time.
The name of the EP comes from a poem written by Davies “I punctuate my days with Unnecessary Creation”, referencing art and general everyday nothing and the lack of necessity that humans fill their time with. And immediately after the introductory “Legal Length” we are thrown into the bleakness of the every day with Leader singing “Perfect weather / to get sacked / Days spent seeing how long you let the match” on “Days Spent”. Soundtracked by a cacophony of searing guitars and off-kilter beats, the band seek to bring excitement to the mundane. They perfectly capture the come-down of losing sight to hope as the burst of energy that opened the track soon dies out into slowly wandering guitar lines and melancholic bass lines.
The juxtaposition of bright chords and dysphoric lyrics continue on “Not Content” delivering one of the bands most summery sounding sounds, whilst simultaneously being one of the most downbeat lyrically. “Where are you? / I want you” repeats Leader on the chorus as she wallows in lost love. And closing the EP with the swaying of “Blank Sky” the band distill their sound to its core. Crashing guitars, an infatuating chorus and a whirlwind of movements that’ll leave you wanting to head-bang and groove along all at the same time.
The band may be still be in their early days but the sound they capture on this EP is one of absolute conviction. They’ve emerged at the perfect moment, distilling the bleakness of the last year of everyone’s mundanity whilst offering a sharp slice of excitement that everyone is so desperately clinging onto.
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.
The Early Mornings have today shared new single “Blank Sky” along with an accompanying music video and have announced their debut EP Unnecessary Creation which will be self released on Friday 18th of June. The Manchester based 3-piece consist of Annie Leader – Guitar/Vocals, Danny Shannon – Bass and Rhys Davies – Drums. After recording a couple of home demos and gigging around the UK, they released their debut single “Artificial Flavour” last year.
The new single pairs Leader’s deadpan vocals against a background of gritty and whirring guitar riffs to create a sonic scenery that is both uniquely surprising and joyously vibrant. Fans of Dry Cleaning’s new album will be sure to be swooning over this song.
Speaking on the video, Annie said:
“The colour palette, composition and lighting of the video all mix to create a dullness; a mundane reality which is interposed with artistic references, flashes of colour and surrealism. This is an idea which extends throughout our music as well.”