We visited The Recreation at their Ancoats studio to learn more about their current 33 Oldham Street residency, upcoming album, and the new musical ideals they’ve established post-lockdown.
For those who don’t know the boys, they are George Porter (Drums), Sam Sumner (Bass), Tom Atkinson (lead guitar), and Owen Baldwin (Vocals, guitar). They can be found on Spotify under the name, The Recreation, where they have a sizeable anthology of singles and EP’s stretching back as far as 2016. An impressive achievement considering their oldest member is only 23. Their spotify collection includes the single, Jealous Lovers, an indie anthem that brought the Oldham-born lads their first glimpse of “success”, although they tell us a lot has changed since then…
When we first started, we were into just the classic indie-boy kind of things, but when lockdown came and we couldn’t rehearse, we started listening to way more shit, passing stuff between us, a broader range of styles. We’re not trying to do the whole indie-boy thing anymore; we’ve just happy to be a bit more of a ‘mellow fellow’. Our producer, Dean Glover, says he can hear a bit more Radiohead in our music now, which is something we’ve actually been thinking for a while.
Why do you think you’ve departed from indie?
Because we’re not got that same energy. And again, the lockdowns and restrictions have been a factor. You’re not going out as much, you’re not seshing and you’re not buzzing – you know? Just Monday and Wednesday coming here, chilling and playing some slower tunes, so that’s just the direction it’s gone and to be fair, we’ve proper settled into it. The thing now is playing these gigs at 33 Oldham Street and trying to get the sound to come across live.
How’s that been going?
Well, we played our first residency gig last month and when Madame Claude played before us, they fucking smashed it and got everyone pumping, and then it was on us to follow up with these tunes we’ve been playing stoned in our practise room (haha). But at the second residency gig we were more comfortable with the new material, and we messed around with the setlist a bit; it’s been fun doing that because for ages we’ve always been playing the same songs which are on our spotify but now we have a full 45 minutes of new stuff to experiment with at these residency shows. We’re really enjoying it.
How often are these shows?
We play there at the last Thursday of every month on a ‘pay what you like’ basis. Our producer, Martin – who produced on our last 3 singles – suggested the residency to us and it was something we wanted to do. The idea behind it is to kind of “reclaim” the scene. After covid, everything was a bit dead and when you’re playing gigs, promoters can sometimes be a bit annoying like ‘how many tickets have you sold, can you post this on you Instagram’ etc. But we’re just not bothered about that now. Because these new songs are so chilled, we thought the gigs better be chilled as well; we weren’t that bothered if anyone turned up, we just wanted practise room vibes where people can get together and listen, but lots of people have been turning up and it’s been good.
Has that vibe suited the supporting bands?
We’ve been encouraging all the bands we’ve invited down to play tunes no one’s heard before, to treat it like a practise room, and it’s been sick. Honestly, the sets have been unreal. Madame Claude, Ace Ambrose, Mercy Kelly, everyone’s been smashing it. We’re getting so many bands up that we’ve met at different places: Brighton, Birmingham, Glasgow, Wales… It’s good fun. That element is a big part of the residency shows: the community. Nobody expected anyone to really be there at first. Every gig we play, we always expect hardly anyone to be there so now people are turning up, we’re buzzing. But as long as even one or two people are there who love our tunes, that’s good enough for us.
Do you think this new material from your upcoming album is more mature?
We’re not sure if it’s intentionally more mature. It’s like everything we’ve done in the past, like Jealous Lovers, you can sort of tell where we were at that point in our lives. It’s not just four random people put together, we’ve been playing since we were 15 and the music’s matured because we’ve matured. You’re sort of listening to us grow up through the tunes.
Do you think the album will be successful?
Our perception of success has changed as well. Like, look at us now, we’ve got this sick room that we dreamed of for time, we’re gigging and we’re recording an album. We’re doing “Music”, and it’s been bliss. That’s success for us. If we can just continue get enough fuckin money for a studio, record ourselves, make albums – alright, we’ve got to go to work which isn’t amazing – but for the rest of the time, we’ve pretty much made it. But obviously if we could sell out stadiums that would be great. It’s not like you ever stop pushing, you’re always trying to make the best music you can. We just hate the competitive element. If you’re doing your thing and you believe in your thing, then you’ll cut through.
The album has sort of taken that narrative: If you want to be happy then you’ve got to balance what you change about your life and what you keep the same, which is in keeping with our attitude towards music after lockdown. We’re not going out there chasing success being something that we’re totally not, but also not getting stuck in the rut of doing the same thing over and over. We’re just doing what we’re passionate about. The unifying themes are about change and growth and balancing integrity and accepting where you are now. Some things do change, some things don’t change – do you know what I mean?
The Recreation’s new album will be released in early 2023 (they hope). In the meantime, follow their Instagram for news on gigs and new releases and get yourself down to their 33 Oldham Street residency on the last Thursday of every month. The next is on the 28th of April. We’ll see you there. Peace.