Tim Hughes is told from a bolt hole ‘oop north’ that this pop band are seeking fame, fortune (and free festival tickets)
Epic pop, evocative folk-rock, alternative-indie, baroque & roll... it’s hard to pin down the music of Racing Glaciers.
Even the band have difficulty explaining what it is they do – so much so that frontman Tim Monaghan passes on the question altogether.
“To be honest, we don’t know what it its,” he says after a thoughtful pause. “It is what it is. What would you say?”
One word which recurs in any mention of the band, is ‘epic’.
“I’d go along with that,” he agrees. “But we are still trying to figure out what we are. We are seeing what people like.
“The music is dramatic and we do more than just go out and play a normal show. It’s got atmosphere to it too.”
Tim is talking from what he calls ‘the band house’ – a bolt hole in Ormskirk, Lancashire where the five-piece live, write and rehearse.
“It’s a place we all live and practice,” he says. “It needs doing up but it’s perfect because there aren’t any neighbours.”
The release of the band’s second EP, Ahead of you Forever, last month, has placed Tim (lead vocals/ keys/ guitar,) Danny Thorpe (backing vocals/ rhythm guitar) Matt Scheepers (backing vocals/ bass/ trumpet,) Simon Millest (lead guitar) and Matt Welch (drums) firmly on the radar. Great things are expected.
While, on paper, a new band, Tim, Danny, Matt and Simon are no strangers to a stage – all four having cut their teeth in bands in their home town of Macclesfield – whose musical sons have included Ian Curtis of Joy Division and the lewder and cruder Macc Lads. Drummer Matt is a token Southerner, hailing from Guildford.
“Nobody knows where Macclesfield or Ormskirk are so it’s easier to say we are a Liverpool band,” says Tim, who spent a year studying sound engineering at Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts before going to Newcastle University, leaving as the band took off.
“We were all at different universities, and some finished while the rest of us dropped out. I was studying a music-related course so when the band took off it made sense to leave as that was what I wanted to do.”
The EP, mixed by Barny Barnicott (Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club, Peace) follows the release, in 2012, of their debut self-titled EP on Bandcamp and support slots for Dan Croll, The Vestals and Kodaline.
Its success has taken them by surprise. “It’s amazing,” says Tim. Part of its folk flavour comes from the use of a trumpet in the lead track. “That gets people thinking of other bands who use trumpets,” he says. “But we just wanted to use things we can play. Brass can be a bit of a novelty and just writing a song and sticking brass on it to make it bigger is the wrong way of doing it. With us, it’s simple and not overdone. Matt the bass player can play the trumpet so he just slips it in.”
So how do the band cope with living together in close proximity?
“We can get a bit of cabin fever if we’re here for more than a month,” he confesses. “But touring helps as does get us out of the house and into the middle of nowhere.
“We do have our arguments, but most of us have known each other for years through groups.”
With critical acclaim flooding in for their EP, the band are now setting their sights on playing live.
On Saturday March 22 they come to Oxford to headline the Upstairs night at the O2 Academy, playing alongside Limbo Kids, Reichenbach Falls and ArtClassSink.
“We are focusing on getting out there as much as we can and playing as many festivals as possible, so we don’t need to buy tickets.
“We are aiming for Reading, Bestival and Glastonbury but we have to start small, so this summer we are doing lots of boutique ones including some I had never heard of before.”
He adds: “We need to aim to be as big as we can - and take it as far as we can.”
And what about the name? “To be honest, the name came out of nowhere,” he confesses.
“We had the music already, were brainstorming what we should be called, and that seemed to encapsulate what our music is about.”
Glaciers – sluggish rivers of ice? “Yes,” he says. “But I hope our careers won’t be that slow.”
Racing Glaciers play the O2 Academy Oxford on March 22, with Limbo Kids, Charlie Cunningham, Reichenbach Falls and ArtClassSink.
Tickets £6 from ticketweb.co.uk