London based duo The Banquet Years made up of Art Bandini [vox, guitars and synths] and Marky [bass, guitar, drum machine and synths] started out back in 2009 and have been making music and playing shows since then and they have been building up a good, decent sized fanbase. With tracks and mixes on their Soundcloud, a YouTube channel with live and acoustic performances and using sites like Tumblr as a more personal approach at getting their music, videos and pictures out there, they are a band that are making good use of the internet to get more people knowing their name just as much as they are releasing music and playing shows.
‘Only Girl’ was the first song that I heard by the band and as I said when I featured the track on my tracks of the week post it is; “A beautiful and gentle guitar brings us into proceedings before deep, funky bass is added and almost takes over the whole thing with its great tone. Vocally this is brilliant, an almost old school rock and roll tone fits the sound of this track well whilst standing out completely against the music for all the right reasons. This is a really good track.”
Having met quite a few years ago at college and playing together whilst also playing in other acts – Mark was playing jazz with Richard John [the current musical director of Legally Blonde] and Arthur had been working on a variety of projects such as drumming in The Algiers, Chapel Club and Tufton Skuffle as well as collaborating at acoustic shows on guitar and vocally. So the pair may have been together since around 2009 but it was only a year ago that they decided to fully commit themselves to The Banquet Years and what a year it has been for them carving out a good career and name for themselves with the music they are creating.
Describing their music as ‘Space Rock’, ‘Avant Rock’ and ‘Dream Pop’ all genres and words that conjure up certain images and sounds to us but they are sounds that the duo’s track live up to and are very accurate descriptions of their music. The pair themselves have a huge amount of influences taking in everything from Spaghetti Western film soundtracks to the music used to soundtrack anime these are combined with their more mainstream influences which sees the likes of The Velvet Underground, The Strokes, Nick Cave, Pixies, Talking Heads, The Cure Spiritualized, Kate Bush, LCD Soundsystem and many many more. All this and picking up things from different times, cultures, artistic movements and cities contribute to their music, sound, aesthetic or lifestyle and it massively pays off when it comes to creating a completely unique and full sound to their tracks.
After putting live dates on hold in order to finish recording their debut EP it seems the pair are more willing and committed than ever to getting a solid release out there for the world to listen to. With the EP hopefully due to drop in Autumn, that surely sees The Banquet Years out on tour at some point during the winter months and hopefully they will be on festival bills up and down the country next year too. With what seems like such a busy and exciting few months ahead for the band I caught up with vocalist Arthur to find out more about them and discuss how they met, the pair’s influences and their plans for the rest of this year.
How did the two of you meet and what made you decide to start making music together?
Mark and I met a few years ago at the residence college in London where we were living at the time. We’d both been playing music since we were very young and were musically very active at the time. We played music together on and off during that period, but about a year ago, we decided to properly form The Banquet Years. I had been playing acoustic shows as The Banquet Years in the past but we decided to form this band and use the name to combine our efforts and talents. Mark really inspired me with his intensely interesting views on music and his serious talent for building sounds and grooves and I inspired him with my songs and artistic sensibilities, I guess. The Banquet Years emerged out of our mutual respect for each other as human beings and as artists.
Who would you say are your main influences?
Our main influences are quite extensive. We’re called The Banquet Years, in part because it’s a reference to the avant-garde movement in Paris at the turn of the 19th/20th century from which Dada-ism and Surrealism emerged, Erik Satie is probably our main influence from that movement. All music and art which embraces simplicity, naive emotions and melodies, but tries to be beautiful, is the kind of stuff that gets us excited and inspired. We’re really influenced by things like Gregorian Chant and film soundtracks such as Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western stuff and Nino Rota – especially on Fellini’s Casanova – really simple but forceful and atmospheric vibes. I lived in Tokyo for a few years and I’m somewhat influenced by anime soundtracks especially Akira with its driving use of strange instruments and big synths. Being a duo we’re influenced by other duos especially Suicide, The Knife and Ratatat. Being a duo puts limitations on what we can do on stage which has an effect on our sound, we can only record music we can also play on stage. We’re inspired by how duos are able to embrace their limitations and use them to push boundaries in ways that non-duos cannot.
People hear lots of different influences; I think they are probably right about the influences they find. I feel we’re like a sponge absorbing everything around us but releasing and writing tunes which are hopefully very much our own. Sound-wise, we’re also influenced a lot by current UK bands who are bridging electronic music and rock music. I know TOY and The Horrors through friends, and I think they are doing some really interesting and innovative stuff. We’re incorporating lots of synth and building sounds on the computer to try to enrich the sound and use modern technology to push sonic boundaries. I’m also inspired by the rich amount of music coming out on Soundcloud from all over the world. It’s really impressive how many talented DIY artists who are making music from their bedrooms and sharing them with the world via Soundcloud. It’s a really supportive and adventurous society of musicians and I try to be as active as I can on there. I love it and really appreciate the feedback I’ve gotten from fans and fellow musicians, who I would never have been in touch with otherwise.
How would you describe your sound to people who might not have heard your songs?
Despite how we imagine the music sometimes, we’re most probably most accurately described as having a garage/psychedelic sound which incorporates electronic sounds on songs which are written with singer-songwriter vibes. Some people say the song writing is gut wrenching, emotionally raw and we try to be as atmospheric as possible. The songs tend to be quite dark and moody but it is hopefully adventurous and uplifting too.
Are there any plans for an EP or album soon?
We are currently working on enough material for much more than an album, but officially, we’ll be releasing an EP in the Autumn. The album will probably come soon after that.
How about touring or festival dates?
We’ve put our touring and festival dates on hold until we have the EP finished. But, we’re playing some London club nights before we release the EP. Our next scheduled show is with the London indie label Young & Lost Club at their new night at the Nest in Dalston on the 28th of September. It’s free!
And finally, what are the plans for The Banquet Years for the rest of this year?
Our main plans are to get the EP recorded and organize ourselves to play some festivals next year, and hopefully do some European and many more UK dates in the coming months.
Here is the video for their acoustic track ‘Hearts Apart’: