In conversation with The Half Eight

Shortly before I sat down with The Half Eight, I got the opportunity to listen to a short preview of their new EP ‘Rose Tinted Soul’ which will be released on 1st March.  I immediately thought of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” as “End it Right” kicked off, but it quickly progressed bringing high energy and catchy lyrics. “Timezones”, second on the EP, was another high impact and high intensity song whose lyrics were mainly written by Charlie. This was obvious from the longing to be with somebody in a different time zone and not so subtly suggests that Charlie may have directed this towards a specific someone. The EP ends with the toned down and stripped back “If I Had You” which takes the sound back to their early days when their main inspiration was the Beatles, and they have highlighted this using complex and beautiful harmonies.

After this quick listen, I was joined by Charlie, James and Ollie so we could speak more about the EP and the upcoming EP launch show, as well as other topics I was keen to hear the boys’ view on. Speaking firstly about their up-coming EP launch at Rough Trade on 22nd March, I was keen to know how they were feeling about playing their new songs live for the first time. James admitted that he was nervous because they’re full of complicated guitar pieces and he hasn’t had to learn a song since he was about 14 years old. He retold how “End It Right” came about (which he had previously talked about in an Instagram post) explaining that he wrote it one night about an experience he had with an ex where they decided to end it mutually before they tore each other apart. Charlie also related to this experience, but when James first sent over the song, the quality wasn’t great, so Charlie thought it was a heavier guitar song, but it was actually written as a country song. Charlie helped to morph it closer to the final version, and when they played it to Ollie, he immediately wanted to dramatize it with a full orchestra- which is a regular occurrence for Ollie.

James and Ollie are more focused on the production of their shows and songs and mentioned Coldplay as an inspiration. James said Coldplay would be his band of choice to support but only if they were allowed to use the runway. Charlie said it was more complicated with who he would support as he reckoned that for one show it would be okay, but for a whole tour you would probably end up tainting the view you had of your idol. Although, he would love to spend time in the studio with either Coldplay or The 1975 as he has been told that the way The Half Eight think about their music is very unusual but very similar to those two and he would love the chance to compare.

The band seem to get on well with other Nottingham based bands such as Deco, and Ollie is a big fan of rising star Remy. They admitted that it hasn’t always been easy and have had some fallings out with one Nottingham band in the past, but they have no hard feelings and didn’t understand why it happened. However, they did comment that making it in the Nottingham music scene has been difficult for them due to lack of support from a major name, who seem reluctant to host their shows.

Despite this, the three have always worked hard and put a lot of time and effort into their shows and their music. Charlie wants to take after Beyoncé with ‘Lemonade’ and make a video for every song that they release. He pointed out that if a song doesn’t deserve a video then it shouldn’t deserve to be on the EP in the first place. They never release music just for the sake of it and that is probably one of the reasons why the EP has taken so long to come out. Although the band honestly said that the motivation to begin the EP came about mostly because they ‘got bored’, it does seem to have worked for them.

At the moment they only have one festival lined up which is CarFest, but they would like to get onto some BBC Introducing stages and hope to return to Y Not, although it is unlikely that they will be playing Splendour. The three spoke about their experiences being recognised by fans and Charlie told us how he’s been recognised twice, once at an airport which he thought was cool, and a second time whilst he was being frisked before a gig which was odd. Ollie said he was once filmed on Snapchat walking down the street, but he was more confused as to why people didn’t just come and say hello.

The three often get asked if they are in a band together when they’re out, but actually being recognised as a band doesn’t happen very often. This led to the interesting topic of whether the boys would ever consider dating a fan. None of them have in the past and Charlie was very against the idea, explaining that it wasn’t healthy for one person to be ‘obsessed’ with the other and that it would be a very narcissistic situation if somebody was okay with that. Ollie seemed a bit more balanced, still saying he probably wouldn’t but arguing that it depended on how much of a fan they were and said it could be good to have ground work to build on.

We returned back to music and whether a career in music had always been the dream. James actually wanted to be a pilot growing up and Charlie wanted to be an actor, which he is still interested in doing as film is a big part of his life. Curiously, when discussing what they would do if music didn’t work out, James said he would try to be a pilot, but Charlie was very reluctant to even consider this as an option. He sees himself doing something music related forever and won’t stop until he gets a star on the Walk of Fame. Even then, he paraphrased Ian Fleming stating, ‘Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is for real’, so one big break isn’t enough. Ollie also said that he agreed with Drake’s speech at the Grammys’ where he said you win if people are coming to see you, you don’t need a trophy because you’ve already got one. He also believes bands don’t fail, they just break up before they get there.

I was surprised when I mentioned shows like X Factor, that often appear to bypass the hard work most other bands are required to put into their music careers, as Charlie was very supportive of the show. James just liked it for entertainment value, but Charlie appreciated the talent and musical skill of bands such as One Direction and said he thought Zayn leaving due to being overcontrolled was unjustified, as that’s what you sign up to in the music industry. He said the three of them always tell each other what to do and you know what you’re signing up to when you get into the business.

However, he wouldn’t be controlled himself and would never surrender the creative freedom that they have as a band at the moment. The interview brought up a lot of interesting topics and stories from their tours and experiences with fans, but it’s obvious to see that they are genuinely nice people who have a very clear idea of where they want to be. Charlie is definitely the most comfortable and talkative member of the group with Ollie being the most reserved, but together they support each other, and they explained that everybody has no more and no less than 1/3 of a say in every single decision they make. They write everything together and don’t rely on one person telling them what to do. When questioned as to whether they’d ever invite a drummer into the band, they explained that they had tried but nobody fitted in well or understood their core beliefs of equality and kindness, and they also couldn’t play the songs right either. If somebody came along who fitted all of that then they wouldn’t hesitate to invite them into the band.

‘Rose Tinted Soul’ is a perfect demonstration of their effort and teamwork, highlighting their talent and ability to perform a diverse range of sounds. They believe that there is no point in doing anything unless it’s done properly, if they make a sad song it needs to “make people bawl”, if they make a song that kicks off, it needs to absolutely “explode”, and ‘Rose Tinted Soul’ does just that. The three will be recording footage for their video in the next week and for your chance to see the new songs live, be sure to get down to Rough Trade on 22nd March.

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