Badminton are a trio from Leeds – singer, guitarist Robbie Tooth, guitarist Dominic Marshall and drummer Tom McAndrew - who have been writing together since 2015, releasing their first couple of tracks in 2016 under the name of Friends of Friends. These tracks were picked up by BBC Introducing East Midlands and they started playing some shows around the North, quickly making a name for themselves in a very short amount of time and catching the attention of radio, press, labels and promoters a like. So much so, a small US label of the same name got wind of the band and a legal battle ensued. Out of the ashes, Badminton was born. We pose a few questions to the band…
How did the band come together?
Originally the band actually started as Robbie’s solo project. We were all at uni at the time, and Robbie asked Dom to help him write some songs. Tom came up after a while to do some drums on the tracks and it all just seemed to work. After that, Tom decided to move up to Leeds from Bristol permanently to turn it into a proper band and do it full time.
The band were originally called Friends of Friends, why the change of name?
So this was not actually out of choice. We got contacted by a law firm on behalf of a record label also called Friends of Friends with a cease and desist. We had a bit of back and forth with them (with advice from someone more legally savvy than we are) and eventually we came to the conclusion that we would be able to keep the name, but not be able to use it in the US. Given that this was less than ideal we decided to just change our name and start again. We’re actually really pleased with how things turned out because it felt like a fresh start for us, and we’ve got loads of new things to look forward to now.
Musically, although there’s an EMO vibe and you are often described as ‘quirkpop’, your influences seem quite varied, what inspires you?
Well, with the exception of Robbie (who exclusively listens to about 12 songs) we’re inspired by a bunch of music. Tom is a bit of a Clyde Stubblefield wannabe so spends his days listening to the likes of James Brown. He’s obsessed with drums that ‘groove’ so he drools over anything that fits into that category. Dom listens to anything where the guitars are twinkly and the lyrics are sad. Generally though, we’re all into good melodies; bands like The Cure and Bon Iver feature heavily. We kind of like to think ourselves as emo influenced pop music?
I Was Were You is your new single, what can you tell us about the song?
I Was, You Were all started with the riff you hear at the very beginning. Robbie was trying to write something super simple and catchy and came up with this little stabby riff. Dom added the harmonies and it all built from there. The chorus riff was actually lifted from a track that Robbie and Tom wrote when they were both about 16, although we like to think it works a lot better on this track. Lyrically we kind of want to keep things a bit secretive as we enjoy when people are able to take their own meanings away, but it’s quite simple and deals with the kinds of things that a lot of people can relate to.
Will you be playing any summer shows or festivals?
We haven’t got anything booked at the mo, but we’re in the process of hopefully sorting out a small tour later in the year. We also tend to play quite a few shows in and around Leeds, but check us out on social media if you want to keep fully up to date. We’ve also been playing quite a few shows in London recently, but it would great to spread our wings a bit more this year and play a bit further afield.
When can we expect an album release from you guys?
We’ve got a load of new songs and material that we’ve already written and recorded, and other stuff that we’re working on, but we’re still deciding on the best way to release it all. Doing an album is something we really want to do at some point, but it’s also something that we wouldn’t want to rush. If we’re going to do it, we want to do it as well as we can as it’s a much larger body of work than we’ve ever put out before. It’s a weird one, because people say albums don’t feel like a modern format anymore as they tend to listen to singles and EPs. But having said that, we probably will do one eventually just because it would be an incredible experience.
Do you have a message for your fans?
Yeah, we want to say thanks to people who’ve stuck with us and to any people who are just hearing about us. We get quite a few really kind messages over social media (mostly Instagram) from people who’ve heard us and enjoyed our music, so want to get in touch. It honestly makes our day and we really appreciate every message that we get – it’s amazing that people are taking the time out of their day to listen to us. There’s so much stuff to check out and, although making music is a really fun process, it can feel like an uphill battle getting it out there, so when people let us know that they love our music it makes it all worthwhile. The same could be said about when people come over to have a chat after live shows – connecting with people is probably the best part of music.
Watch ‘I Was You Were’ here
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