In the spotlight – The Last Arcade

In the spotlight – The Last Arcade

The Last Arcade are an 80’s inspired synth pop and rock band from Liverpool (England) consisting of Ste Erickson on keys, Paul Garrett on guitar and Ste McNally on bass and lead vocals.

Ste E: “We also have an awesome lead guitarist called Steven Burke who plays live with us!”

Can you talk about how the band got together and the vision for the project?

Ste E: “Myself and Paul have been friends for nearly 30 years and have written and produced songs for lots of different bands and projects. We met Ste Mak (McNally) a few years ago when he had some down time from his own band BBMak and agreed to be the lead singer for 10 Reasons which was Paul’s band at the time.”

“We usually spend a couple of nights a week in the studio writing and producing music – normally to pitch to other artists and for sync (TV / Film). Towards the end of the pandemic we didn’t have any projects on as everyone had been in lockdown, so one night we were playing about with a few ideas in the studio when we started talking about maybe writing some songs for ourselves rather than for other people. After a long discussion – mainly about what type of music we’d want to put out if we created our own band, we pretty much unanimously agreed that most of our favourite artists were from the 80’s and that’s when we decided to try writing some 80’s style music.”

“A few experiments later we hit upon what would become our first single – a song called ‘When We Were Young’. It was a song about the friends we had as kids and the people we lost touch with over the years. We decided to put it out and see what people thought before we embarked upon writing a full album. And the response was pretty overwhelming. It got playlisted on various retro and synthwave playlists. DJ and artist Jon Campbell of Go Radio and The Time Frequency called it “one of the best synthwave songsever written” and started playing it weekly on the radio and soon various other stations across the world picked it up as well. The US YouTube channel Static Realms asked us for an interview. People we hadn’t heard from for years got in touch to say they’d heard the song and that it really resonated with them. It was safe to say that the song had gone down well and that people still liked hearing songs created in an 80’s style. That was really the push for us to take the project seriously, start work on the next single and to start making plans for an album.”

For anyone reading this who does not know The Last Arcade, why should they check you out?

Ste E: “You should check out our band if you were a fan of synth pop and rock in the 80’s or just have some nostalgia for times gone by. We’ve tried to write the type of songs you would’ve heard back then, with meaningful lyrics, big memorable choruses and using similar production techniques and sounds of the time like classic analog synths, rock drums and big guitars with lots of chorus.”

What led you to music, and what motivates you to keep making it?

Ste E: “As a kid my folks always took me to watch live bands. Liverpool in the 80’s and 90’s had a vibrant music scene – lots of venues for bands and annual music festivals in the city meant there was always someone to go and watch. I remember being blown away by some of these acts and wishing it was me up there on the stage. I started getting into music from that point, first learning guitar and later keyboards before slowly buying computers and recording gear to start producing. I teamed up with Paul not long after this and we started writing together. He was usually in bands and I was on production duties. It took a while but we got quite successful, we wrote songs for some signed artists, Paul’s band supported Bryan Adams on tour and we even had a song used in the kids TV show The Power Rangers. We even did some production work for Andy McLusky of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Ste Mak meanwhile, had his own success story with his band BBMak – touring America and having a number one single with the song ‘Back Here’.”

I figure there must be a story to the band name?

Ste E: “We spent hours trying to come up with a good name for the band. We wanted something that really related to the 80’s but also something that sounded quite cool as well. We liked the word “Arcade” as the arcades were really big during that decade, and we settled on The Last Arcade as it sounded a bit like an 80’s movie name – like The Last Starfighter, or Indian Jones and The Last Crusade.”

What song would you send to someone unfamiliar with your music?

Paul: “Personally it would be either ‘When We Were Young’ or ‘Time of Our Lives’. I think they capture the essence of what we’re about. We want want people to experience our music, relating it to times and memories in their own lives.”

What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?

Paul: “The list is endless, we’re lucky – growing up in the 80s meant we had so many icons and legends that we find ourselves with so much to draw upon. Music from all genres and timelines go into making a Last Arcade track.”

Could you describe your creative process?

Paul: “We’ve written together for so many years it just feels so natural now, we don’t have a set process but a lot of the time one of us will bring an idea and then sat around a guitar and piano we will develop it. We spend a lot of time on lyrics, it’s important to us.”

“Sometimes the idea for a song will be complete really quickly. Sometimes we’ll keep coming back and working on it over multiple sessions. Lyrics take the longest. Normally by the time we’ve finished the lyrics we’ve written another song in the meantime”.

Before you write a song do you know how you want it to sound or does it tend to write itself?

Paul: “I don’t think we set out with anything in mind, we just see where the mood takes us. As the chords and melodies take shape we’ll get a feel for the type of track we want it to be. Up to now we’re really enjoying the whole creative process from start to finish.”

Your single ‘Time of Our Lives’ is the final single before the release of your debut album. What’s the release date and what can we expect?

Paul: “We would love to release the album in the next 4-6 weeks. The tracks are all finished and we’re really happy with how they all sit together. We really want to release a physical copy on vinyl as well as on the usual streaming platforms so we’re currently trying to find the best place to press them. We’ve just got a few things to finalise before we can set a date, but it won’t be long now.”

How long did it take you to write and the record the album?

Ste Mak: “It took us around two years to write and record the album from start to finish, and we had a great time doing it.”

What are your favourite memories of writing and/or recording the album?

Ste Mak: “We really enjoyed the writing process, because we love creating new music and we all work hard trying the craft every song into the best song it can possibly be. Sometimes we’ll argue and debate over which is the best line for a chorus or the best melody for a bridge, but we always come to a consensus in the end. We split everything equally in the band, which means we always choose what’s best for the song rather than just trying to get our own part in it.”

Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more?

Ste Mak: “Our music gives us great fulfilment, like when we hear our songs on the radio or someone tells us they love our music, we are very proud of the album we’ve created.”

What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve?

Ste Mak: “We would love our music to continue to touch people and for us to build enough of a following to be able to play live shows all over the world.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

Ste Mak: “Our favourite Cool Top 20 song at the moment is probably ‘Waiting for The Sun’ by The Mease. It’s got a great 90’s vibe to it. Cool harmonies and is a bit reminiscent The Boo Radley’s or Dodgy.”


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