RGM Introducing – The Taboos

Hiya folks take a seat, what made you decide to start a band?

Growing up in Lincolnshire there was not a lot to do. Alex decided to learn the guitar and I had always been writing lyrics from the age of seven, so it felt good to combine the two. We were both heavily into bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines and would run through their songs and it sounded good so we went from there.

Introduce us all to the members, how did the band get together?

Alex Martin- Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals 
Sam Dawson- Bass guitar, backing vocals and synth. 

We met at the age of 11 with a similar interest in music. Alex taught me (Sam) little bits on guitar and from there I bought a bass guitar and taught myself how to play alongside Alex. We started writing songs at quite a young age, having been in a couple of bands together.

Alex and I moved to London for Uni and that’s where we formed what is now known as The Taboos. We changed name, brand, image in order to make ourselves come across more professional. We felt that we’d moved on musically and developed as songwriters since moving to London, so we wanted to distance ourselves from our previous music and have a clean slate. 

What is the unsigned scene in East London like at the minute?

It is a mixed bag. Some promoters are great and are really there for the bands, and some only care about crowd size and filling their own pockets. It is fair that it is obviously a business so they need to make a profit, but often bands are victimised, despite offering their own services, often for very little monetary return. It takes the value of the music out a little bit. We’ve definitely become more picky when booking gigs these days. The actual talent in East London right now is great though. 

What good bands are coming out of East London at the minute? 

Wunderhorse, the former lead singer of Dead Pretties’ new project, who were ace
Paulo Post Future Le Junk, new solo project of a former member of the Big & the Fat before they broke up. 

What’s your favourite song right now from another band?

Sam- Bright Eyes – Forced Convalescence
Alex – Celeste – Stop This Flame

What support is out there for new artists in East London?

There are so many opportunities. Tonnes of venues and events to play on, which is great for artists as it gives them the chance to discover themselves as performers. There are also so many wonderful people there as well, that are all hungry for music. 

Who is inspiring you at the min?

Sam- From a lyrical standpoint definitely Conor Oberst. He has a heavy dose of material on his mindset of the world and what it does to him mentally, which I can relate to definitely through all of this strange place we find ourselves in. 

Alex – This band called the Peach Fuzz have certainly influenced some of the new material I’ve been writing. Bands such as FEET, Haim, Blossoms etc. have really nice basslines and tones. I haven’t been incessantly listening to any of them lately particularly, except maybe FEET, but the bass has been a focus and a starting point for a lot of the new material I’ve been writing and I think the glimpses of these artists has sept in.

Harry Styles’ new material has also been pretty inspiring to me. I’ve been listening to quite a lot of pop music and some soul artists, such as Lianne La Havas, whose vocals are incredible. It’s always nice to use different styles and influences to impact your music. 

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

Sam – Last year, we played at The Monarch in Camden for This Feeling to a packed out room. Hearing people sing so loudly back to us and go crazy throwing their drinks in the air and everything, got some real adrenaline out of it. 

Alex – Any festivals we play always seem to be memorable. There’s a special feeling when playing festivals, a different kind of excitement to normal gigs, which we obviously love too. Hometown gigs are also usually special. 

What was the worst experience on stage?

We have had a few dodgy string breaks and guitar drops but one time both the power cut and the stage floor gave in simultaneously after a string break, when things like that happen you just have to laugh.

Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about? 

Sam- I’ve never had IKEA meatballs, and now I’m vegetarian I never will. Sad times.
Alex – I’ve never dyed my hair or had any piercings or tattoos. Au natural. 

Four-piece band made up of legends – who would be in it? (drummer, bass, lead singer etc)

Sam- On drums, I would have Chad Smith from Red Hot Chilli Peppers because he looks like Will Ferrell and I rate that. 

On bass guitar I’m gonna have Chris Wolstenholme from Muse as I just remember learning lots of Muse’ bass tabs when I first started and they were great fun to play. 

As a lead singer I would have to go for Conor Oberst just because I find his voice so raw and unique, you can really feel the pain in it, some of his lyrics to go with the band would be great too. 

Finally, I’d have to bring on Bez from Happy Mondays because no band is really complete without a Bez.

Drums – Gary Powell 

Bassist – Zach Dawes

Lead guitar – Josh Homme 

Frontman – Paolo Nutini / Alex Turner 

If the tour needed a few extra bodies to bulk up the sound… 

Keys – Jay Watson

Rhythm guitar – Albert Hammond

If you could play any music festival which would it be?

Sam – I really wanna play South by Southwest, it looks insane there and the journey to America to play some tunes in the states would really make it a well-rounded experience.

Alex – Of course Glastonbury is obvious, particularly being from England, despite having never been. We also love going to European festivals, such as Rock Werchter in Belgium, so to play somewhere like that would be a real personal sense of achievement and the festival is always incredible as well and the people are so lovely. I also have to agree with Sam as well, as it’s a big dream of ours to play in the states

Best gig you’ve been to that you weren’t playing? 

Sam- Probably still Arctic Monkeys in 2013 at Benicassim in Spain. It was the first time I had ever seen them and me and Alex got right to the front, only to be trampled on and lose our shoes in the first song. The set they did was incredible and the energy was really there. I’ve not managed to top that since.

Alex- There have been so many to choose from but Arctics in Spain does definitely stick out to me as well. I think particularly when you’re a young teenager and gigs are a little more ‘new’ to you, there’s something elating about seeing live music. Also, Tame Impala at Citadel festival 2018 was sublime, they were on astounding form. 

What goes into your favourite sandwich?

Sam- Probably have to say eggs, as its the only thing I have in my sandwich. The sandwich life is hard when you’re a veggie that doesn’t like veg.

Alex- It’s quite rare that I make sandwiches, but I’ve got to give a shout-out to onions. They just make everything taste amazing. I would go as far as saying they are my favourite food.

What advice would you give someone going into the music industry?

Don’t try to fit into any sort of label. Be yourself and discover who you are as a performer and musician. Sometimes it can take a while to actually become who you are and who you want to be, which is an amazing journey in itself. 

What advice would you give your younger selfs

Sam- Save up lots of money because it is gonna be a while before you make any.

Alex- Probably just to stick at it, stay focussed as I have been, but also remember to take a breather here and there and don’t get too stressed.

What’s your biggest achievement as a band?

We’ve supported Nick Grimshaw and the 2 of us have previously supported Scouting for Girls and Toploader in a previous band. Also, we have good fanbases in a few areas of the country now, which is great as it gives us a few places that we know will be a good gig.

As well as this, 30K streams on Spotify for ‘No Miracles’ is a big milestone for us. I think this has felt especially good because we’re finally beginning to take more pride in our recorded music, as we’ve always felt like a ‘live’ band, it’s nice to be finding a good balance. 

What makes you stand out as a band?

I think we do have a fairly unique sound. We’re labelled as an indie band, but we try and escape the stereotype in our music. We also intentionally try to display a good level of ability on our tracks. We agree that some of the best songs can be so simple, but we enjoy adding complexities to keep it sounding fresh. 

Also, I think a writing partnership of so long helps us to stand out, as there is certainly an understanding between us as we’ve matured together musically. We play to our strengths and it’s hard to form a bond like this. We’ve kind of been at this game for a while now and I feel like we’ve started to settle in and find our stride now.

Right now, what’s pissing you off the most? (Can’t say the virus) 

Alex- I think everyone on the planet has something to be pissed off by at the minute. We’re all existing inside societies that are crumbling before our eyes. We just have to hope that things will eventually change for the better. Other than that, David Luiz is really pissing me off at the minute, as I have just witnessed a horror show of performance against Man City. 
Sam- Amazon cancelled Sneaky Pete after season 3 and I’m still not over it 

Tell us about a time when you had a proper reyt laugh while you were all together?

Well, we’ve lived together for 3 years when we were at Uni, so there have been many intoxicated nights, containing many giggles. We’ve also known each other for like 10 years and there have been many chuckles along the way. 

When we go to festivals together, you end up spending a lot of time together and forming so many inside jokes and sayings, that eventually it becomes the entirety of your language. I don’t know if other people do that, or if we’re all just weird. 

I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it?

It was recorded at Hackney Road Studios with award-winning Shuta Shinoda and mixed by our engineer Joe Sage. 

The track was originally some lyrics that Sam had written and then Alex basically turned it into a song back in the summer of 2018. It was played live as an acoustic song a few times before the full band came to learn it. 

This track evolved a lot in the studio, as there were no real lead sections written beforehand, so it came to life in a ‘heat of the moment’ way. This was quite new to us as usual, I’d have a very clear image of what I want in my head, but in the studio, I think you hear things from a different perspective. This also happened when it came to recording vocals. I locked myself in the studio alone and just experimented with heavy layering. 

‘Innovative Thinking’ also helped us take a new direction in our music. It was the catalyst for a bunch of new songs, including ‘No Miracles’, as it felt like a step forward form our previous work. 

The lyrics discuss the challenges of modern technologies on society and how we rely on it, allowing it to control us. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

As we’ve been in lockdown recently, there’s been a lot of new music written which we’re very excited about. We always seem to write way faster than we release, so we still have like another 12 unreleased recorded tracks or so, as well as basically a whole new albums worth of new music that’s been written in recent months. We certainly have a tendency to favour the newer music! 

The new music covers a lot of new moods and sounds which we’ve never really ventured into before, so we’re excited to have new material that is sounding fresh and will complement our current music.