In the spotlight

In the spotlight – The Utopiates

todayFebruary 17, 2023 785 1 39

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In the spotlight – The Utopiates: This five-piece band formed under the dark clouds of the pandemic and only launched in January 2021, but already the accolades are stacking up. The band, consisting of Daniel Popplewell (singer/guitar), Josh Redding (lead guitar), Luke Nottingham (bass), Ed Godshaw (keys) and Joe Jeffreys (drums), are extremely confident that 2023 is the year they claim much wider attention and stake a serious claim as one of rock ‘n’ rolls brightest new talents. No longer recording tracks in front man Daniel Popplewell’s bedroom, The Utopiates have found a new base at the Nave Studios in Leeds with producer Andy Hawkins.

Their single ‘Making History’ which is currently in our chart, is taken from their forthcoming debut album ‘The Sun Also Rises’ which is set for release on 5th May. This 12-track release will continue to push the boundaries of their unique brand of groove-laden powerhouse indie.

As a fairly new band, how did you guys end up in music?

“As everyone does I guess, because we absolutely love it. You have to because it’s a struggle these days. You don’t just end up doing it, you do it because you think about creating all day long and if it were up to us, all we’d do is record and play! One day soon.”

What would you say is your greatest strength as a band?

“Our versatility. We generally like to keep it quite groovy and upbeat but we can shift gears when we need to and literally no type of sound is off limits. People will see that over the coming albums, 100%.”

Who picked the band name? Is there a story to the band name?

“Dan had the idea of a Utopia and loved that word and its meaning. We wanted a dream-like quality to it, we think it’s quite inspiring and offers a bit of escapism. We just played around with that word til we had a name we liked the sound of. It’s also a nice statement of intent; Our Utopia will be the Opiate of the masses this century.”

How would you describe the band’s sound to a first-time listener?

“It’s our own brand of groove-laden power house indie. It’s baggy in places, it borrows from the 60s and New Wave and Britpop and we’re not afraid to mix guitars and synths. It’s psychedelic and dancey and loud. We have a guitarist that plays like Squire and Hendrix, but most of all, we have great songs and melodies. No doubt.”

What and who would you say are your main musical influences? 

“The Beatles, Hendrix, The Cure, The Clash, Pink Floyd, Happy Mondays, New Order, Talk Talk, Paul Weller (all projects), Primal Scream, Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Stone Roses, The Music, Oasis, Verve, Radiohead, The Smiths, Gang Of Four, Bowie. We could go on and on…”

What can you tell me about your song ‘Making History’?

“The song ‘Making History’ epitomises the confidence running through the band right now. From the get-go this project has been the self-fulfilling prophecy consuming our lives and ‘The Sun Also Rises’ will prove what we’ve always known. ‘Making History’ was written from Dan’s bedroom at the dawning of The Utopiates and has basically become his mantra! ‘One day you’ll see, yeah they’ll look at me, I’m not up here making tunes I’m making history!’ Says it all really. It’s a big F-you to the quiet life and a rallying cry to the masses; get behind us, because it’s happening!”

How would you describe your songwriting process? 

“So far the project has mainly been written from lockdown by Dan, that was the start of this project as a whole. He made about 40/50 strong demos that we’ve built the sessions around in the studio. Everyone adds their ideas, we keep the good parts, improve or bin the bad. We do it together with our producer Andy Hawkins. It seems to be working.”

“More excitingly, we’ve started to write much more together and each member gets a credit on at least one track off our forthcoming album ‘The Sun Also Rises’ which we’re all buzzing about. Josh is full of ideas at the minute and Dan and Josh have written a few belters together. So Dan set the bar high initially but we’re gonna blow that out the water all-together for sure! We’re only just getting started and there’s no right way of making a great track, so let’s see where we go.”

What sort of life inspirations are you drawing from?

“Dan’s the lyricist, so I guess his whole life really. The highs and the lows. Nothing’s really off the table in that regard, you just have to be honest and try to fill the tunes with as much heart and soul as you can.”

What is one element of a song that has to be absolutely perfect before you’re satisfied with it?

“The melody and the message.”

What do you look for in a good song?

“You never really know do you!? Even though we value melody and words right now it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do some instrumental stuff and we love dance music too, so it’s hard to say what you look for. Groove, hooks, great lyrics, amazing textures and sounds? One or all of the above.”

How does the collaborative process with your bandmates compare to the feeling of performing to an audience?

Dan: “The studio can feel like graft sometimes and it does occasionally get boring – waiting to get your part down etc., but we all absolutely adore that feeling of hearing the finished song and just loving it. That feeling quickly fades and you can’t wait to do another. I could spend every day doing it, honestly. Makes me feel content.”

“The actual time you spend on stage is easy compared. It’s the one time you can just soak it in, do your thing and have a fucking good time.” 

What does the rest of 2023 look like for you?

“‘Making History’ is killing it, we expect it to keep going. We have one more single out at the end of March and then the biggie, our debut album ‘The Sun Also Rises’ is released on V2 on the 5th May. We’ll be out gigging around all of that, up and down the country, and we’ll be announcing plenty of festivals too. So it’s all set-up nicely and we really think with this album it could blow up for us in a big way.”

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

“That Tobasco Boy track is good – great name too. Great tune, lovely sounds and strong song. I also really liked the sound of Joe Adhemer’s track ‘When Our Lungs Are Empty’. It reminded me of a Shane Meadows film and I dig his understated vocal, really beautiful sound, fair play.”

 What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“I’m gonna go for a track from a band we had support us in February. They’re called Rapturous and they’re fucking quality. I’m going with a track called ‘Future Of Nothing’. It deserves more attention 100%. 

The band have announced a string of dates around their final single from ‘The Sun Also Rises’ as well as the album tour itself. Catch them live here:

– 30th March – Record Junkee, Sheffield

– 31st March – Independent, Sunderland

– 1st April – O’Rileys, Hull

– 2nd April – Hotbox, Chelmsford

– 29th April – Rough Trade, Nottingham

– 30th April – Stag And Dagger Festival, Glasgow

– 4th May – Green Door Store, Brighton

– 5th May – The Crown, Bristol

– 6th May – Deaf Institute, Manchester

– 11th May – Dead Wax, Birmingham

– 12th May – Brudenell, Leeds

– 2nd June – The 100 Club, London

All tickets are on sale and available through their website.

Written by: leancool20

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