The Lathums have seemingly shot out of nowhere over the last twelve months, a rise which has seen the group make the jump from performing at pubs and clubs every weekend in the North West to selling out a huge UK tour in the time it takes to make a brew. To compound their arrival on the scene, the band secured a deal with Island Records and even a global pandemic hasn’t stopped them from making 2020 their breakout year.
Despite the postponed tours and missed festival appearances that have hampered their year, the Wigan four-piece have put the lost months to good use as they finish work on their debut record, a project which delivers a collaboration with The Coral’s James Skelly who is also at the helm for their jangly new ska-infused single ‘I Can See Your Ghost’. Despite all the obstacles standing in the way for a new band trying to make a name for themselves, somehow The Lathums have found a way to continue their mission into establishing and developing their sound into a soon-to-be arena conquering outfit.
It was less than eighteen months ago that frontman Alex Moore, guitarist Scott Concepcion, bassist Johnny Cunliffe and drummer Ryan Durrans were still at college and playing shows at small venues, weddings or, in truth, any location that would allow them to plug their amps in. Since leaving college, they were fortunate to be included as part of a local scheme by Wigan Council who recognised their talent and gifted the band an empty shop in the town centre which was transformed into a practice room, a situation that allowed them to devote as much time as possible and really hone their sound over the last year.
The Lathums HQ is where I meet the band, after sampling a Wigan Kebab which is a rite of passage for anyone entering into the north western town. Their practice room is kitted out with a ping-pong table, graffitied walls, posters of The Coral and The Beatles with vape haze filling the air. Prior to the interview, the band rattled through an impromptu set that was masterful to watch and likely to be the only glimpse of live music that I catch until who knows when, a moment of reflection which made the performance even more greatly appreciated.
Most college bands begin as an excuse for an extracurricular activity, one that usually leads to nowhere but only three years ago did The Lathums form and they’ve already played an arena show supporting Gerry Cinnamon and sold out thousands of tickets in their own right—but none of this feels overhyped. I fact, the band are exceedingly relaxed about the situation, confident that they’ve earned their position.
“We started with Lewis who was the first bassist in 2017,” drummer Ryan Durrans says about the group’s origin. “Then let’s say that he left, then we got another bassist in called Johnny, ‘Johnny One’ let’s call him and then he decided to not continue. Then we get bass man John in to fill the one and only spot to slap the bass. That was in like late 2018, we’d maybe been going a year,” Durrans added.
One significant breakthrough moment came when Tim Burgess of The Charlatans stumbled upon one of their songs last summer and, at the last minute, asked if they would play his stage at Kendal Calling. A showing sign at how fast the last twelve months have been and, one that hasn’t been lost on frontman Alex Moore. “I think it was the year before, Kendal was two years ago,” Moore said before being corrected by a bandmate that it was 2019 and sincerely adding, “Honestly, time is flying so quick like a good few years has just become one,” this is an indictment into how jam-packed their life has become since that moment.
The band only headed out on their debut headline tour in February this year, a moment drummer Ryan Durrans realised that something special was brewing. That said, Moore maintains it was “well before that” he knew. “Nothing felt real before that tour, because we were just supporting,” Durrans said which was interrupted by Moore passionately saying, “I always knew me, even when we were slugging it at college in sweaty boxes.
“I don’t mean it in an arrogant way, I just really like doing this and it kind of comes naturally to me. I dunno it’s just the best thing ever this,” the singer added with a renewed sense of proud emanating from his tone of voice.
“From 2017 to late 2018, it was all just a massive buildup,” Moore reflected. “We were writing the tunes, making them into songs and playing gigs. We had all these amazing things booked in but it was all for next year so we weren’t an established band but we were proper ready to go. So I think that’s why we skip a year because we’ve been ready for it all from the year before.”
Although it may seem on the surface that it has all been plain sailing for The Lathums, they have had their fair share of rough gigs during that period with one being memorable for the wrong reasons. “There was this one at The Crown when we were playing ‘The Great Escape’ and all of a sudden an all-out brawl erupted in the pub. Everyone was just laying into each other and then a riot van’s turned up,” which Moore can laugh about now as he recounts the night.
“We couldn’t hear anything that was happening because we were playing so loud and it felt like it was on mute,” Concepcion added.
Earlier this year they began working with The Coral’s James Skelly who, earning a formidable reputation, has produced all three albums by Blossoms in recent years, a band who The Lathums are set to support in the spring. Being a young band from the north west, there’s nobody better placed to guide you than someone like Skelly who was in exactly the same position himself, albeit some time ago.
“It’s crazy, he was even younger than us I think,” Durrans said on working with him. “He gives us advice,” Moore stated before guitarist Concepcion said his words of wisdom even stretches to dietary recommendations and trying to get the band to diversify their rider to something more balanced than exclusively crisps and pot noodles. “He said to me once if you’re worried about something or want to talk about any of the important stuff that you’re not sure about then give me a ring or give me a text. He’s done it before and been through it,” the frontman disclosed.
The band has been a source of pride and joy for Moore who feels as though he has finally found his point of focus, discovered the one thing in life that he was destined to do—a factor which has helped grow his self-confidence over the last three years. “I’ve leant more tools and I’m a lot more confident within myself to kind of come up with nice melodies and stuff. Like I say with the band I don’t think it’s arrogance but it’s just we know what we’re good at and we’re good at this,” he humbly enthused.
This summer has thrown a roadblock in the band’s plans for indie-pop domination, they were due to have toured Europe with Blossoms, their second sold-out headline tour has been postponed until next year and they’ve missed out on the chance to win over thousands of new fans at festivals all over Britain which they had been patiently waiting for—but it hasn’t dampened their determination.
“It stung at first but as the lockdown went along, we just got used to it,” Concepcion painfully said. “It was just annoying, we just got off a tour in February and we had all this stuff planned that we were so psyched for and then it was like ‘Yeah, you’re gonna have to wait another year for all that sorry’,” Durrans added.
The Lathums are a band who wants to stay away from being pigeon-holed or deemed as being the heir to The Verve—simply due to their shared birthplace—they want to be their own entity and live in their own lane, and a fast one at that. “I just feel like we’re so different to everybody and we’re not like anybody else. It’s not annoying but we’re not an indie band, we’re just a different entity. We are a band and a guitar band but I don’t think there’s been anything like us and I don’t think there ever will be anything like us,” Moore stated defiantly.
Moore understands that being four lads in a guitar band from Wigan is going to make people jump to conclusions about their sound before they’ve even listened to them and revealed that he, himself, “makes a judgement before making any research and then I find out later on that I actually like something,” he admitted.
The Lathums are focused completely on realising their full potential and they aren’t going to let a virus stop their star from rising. Their dynamic sound and Moore’s knack for writing an arm-swinging chorus tailor-made for thousands of people to sing along to at a gig, along with their visible determination and grit which is set to prove anybody wrong who writes these Wiganners off as ‘just another indie band’.