In only a handful of years, The Lathums’ charming ‘salt of the earth’ brand of indie-rock has propelled them to great heights, both literally and metaphorically - from gracing the iconic Blackpool Tower to their sell out headline tour. As the dust settles on the release of their most recent EP, Ghosts, where, notably, the band dip their toes into the third wave of ska alongside acoustic ballads, Gemma Cockrell catches up with the outfit’s drummer, Ryan Durrans.
Wigan four-piece The Lathums have had a busy month: a livestreamed show from The Blackpool Tower, their debut TV appearance, and the recent release of their latest EP Ghosts. Written during the quarantine period, and produced by The Coral’s James Skelly, the four-track ska-infused project was debuted in full at The Blackpool Tower this week. Speaking to drummer Ryan Durrans on the morning of the EP’s release day, he expresses his feelings of relief now that the EP is out in the world: “We got a good response from fans and we had fun recording it.”
The EP’s lead single I See Your Ghost “kind of just popped up,” Durrans explains. “We did that in the studio. We jammed it out a bit, Alex [Moore, vocalist] had already chosen the chords beforehand, but we had never really got anywhere with it, but then we took it to the studio to James Skelly and Chris Taylor. We jammed it out in that day, and it was born.” The concept behind the music video for the track was the product of director James Slater. “He works on loads of artists music videos. It was one of his crazy ideas that he came up with. It’s cool, I love it!” Durrans enthused. “He sent back a draft of what he was going to do, and no-one had a single complaint. We were all like, let’s do it!”
The band recently made their debut TV appearance, performing the track on BBC 2’s Later… With Jools Holland. “It was so weird. I didn’t really like it to be honest,” Durrans admits sheepishly. “My nan seemed to enjoy it though, she texted me a few times about it.”
When asked which track from the EP was most difficult to finish, Durrans declares “We had Corporation Street for a while.” The track originated earlier this year – “We started writing tunes when lockdown eased a bit, when we were allowed back in the practice room. I think Alex had written it before that; he brought it to the room and we worked on it for ages but we couldn’t get bits right.” Despite these struggles, they managed to perfect it once they took it to the studio. “I think we got a bit frustrated with it!” he laughs in retrospect.
“Ages ago, someone said ‘What would be your dream venue to play?’ and we all just said Blackpool straight away.”
The Lathums are a band who are not afraid to experiment, take risks, or try new things in their music. In fact, they thrive doing so. “As a band, we try to sway around the genres to please everyone,” Durrans explains, “But we don’t dip in as much so people can say ‘that’s this’ and ‘that’s that’. We tend to go for hints of influences, we don’t go full on. Ghosts is quite Madness, and quite ska, but Alex hasn’t put an accent on or anything,” he laughs. Despite these influences, the sound is very much their own, and the songs couldn’t have been made by anyone but The Lathums.
The influence of Madness seems fitting given that The Lathums were the first band to play live at The Blackpool Tower since Madness in the 90’s. “It was great, there’s nothing like it,” Durrans grins when asked how it felt to be able to play live music again, despite there being no crowd present. “It was a bit strange not having a crowd, but playing as a band again was so fun,” he adds. “It wasn’t too bad because we knew people were watching,” – two-thousand fans tuned in to the livestream on YouTube.
When asked how the band chose The Blackpool Tower as the venue, Durrans explains “I think ages ago, someone said ‘What would be your dream venue to play?’ and we all just said Blackpool straight away. I think Peter Kay playing The Blackpool Tower was a pretty heavy influence on it to be honest,” he laughs. “It’s just so cool inside, and all the other people who have played there. It’s pretty cool to be the band after Madness to play there.”
The band played a wide range of fan favourites from their discography during the fifty-minute live streamed set, opening with the moody, ominous guitars of Villainous Victorian, setting the scene for the show, with the eerie blue lighting and smoke filling the venue. Highlights of the set included Moore’s vocals on the slow-burning, heartfelt ballads Time for Me, Light for You and All My Life, accentuated by the mellow, melancholy, slow tempo, and stripped-back nature of the songs. In stark opposition, the powerful and electrifying instrumental section of Artificial Screens was the highest energy moment of the set. It was the perfect mixture of old and new, in a nostalgic and unique venue.
“We’ve had loads of time in the studio, to get demos, and just get loads of stuff sorted. We’ve got lots of new projects coming.”
Although 2020 has put things on hold for many musicians, The Lathums have still managed to keep themselves busy and productive. Durrans looks on the bright side of the situation: “It’s been good to be honest. It’s been a good time to get band stuff and behind the scenes stuff done.” It isn’t all positive of course – “It’s not great that we had to rearrange loads of stuff,” but Durrans adds, “We’ve had loads of time in the studio, to get demos, and just get loads of stuff sorted. We’ve got lots of new projects coming.”
The Lathums spent this time in the studio not only recording Ghosts, but also working on their forthcoming debut album. “We’ve been working on a debut album in Parr Street with Chris and James, the same people we did the EP with,” Durrans confirms. “It’s going great, I think we’ve got some more studio time coming up next month, so that should be good. I’m not sure when we’ll finish it, but fingers crossed soon. I don’t want to give too much away!”
Looking to the future, the band are focused on touring. Their 2021 headline tour sold out within twenty-four hours: “It sold out pretty quick.” Durrans grins. “The Scottish one did as well – I was surprised that it sold as quick as the England one. We’ve got a couple of support slots with Blossoms and Paul Weller, and a gig with DMA’s,” he rambles excitedly. “I’m sure we’ll have loads more things that will pop up, hopefully we will anyway. Just doing gigs everywhere!”
I See Your Ghost is the track that Durrans is most excited to play live to a crowd of fans. “I think it will be a good live one, especially Scott’s guitar solo.” This solo, played by guitarist Scott Concepcion, is also the reason that I See Your Ghost is Durrans’ favourite track to listen to on the EP. “I do listen to our music occasionally,” he admits, “but you play your songs to a point where you don’t want to hear them anymore. It depends what mood you’re in.”
The Ghosts EP demonstrates that there’s a lot more to the four-piece than meets the eye. It marks The Lathums as one of the most refreshing and invigorating up-and-coming bands right now. Despite being relatively early in their career, their fanbase is growing exponentially, and 2020 has been their biggest year yet. The band have so much momentum; there is no doubt that their future is a bright one.
Written by: Gemma Cockrell
Edited by: Louise Dugan