The Rhubarbs are waiting in a car park in Basingstoke. “It’s like Jenga,” says Tom. “We’re all sitting in the back of a Citroen Saxo with guitar and amps everywhere.”
The takeaway isn’t open and they’re waiting to get to their next gig on their tour, Sweatbox Hype. It’s their first label-backed outing since signing to new indie-de-force foolscircle – and it’s already brought them attention from the BBC Introducing.
“Yeah. Glamorous? We’re packed in with all our equipment! You’ll talk to us next time round while we’re falling out of the car, one by one.”
One by one: Oli and Tom, vocals and guitar; Rob on bass (described by many within the circle as Daddy Bear of the group) and Ben on drums. They’re currently making their way across the UK in support of their debut single ‘Guilt’, a rollickingly cheeky 2 minutes 38 seconds of power-indie, set to fill out bass bins and charm the absolute socks off The View, The Rifles and Libertines believers. They’re already starting to garner the sweaty loyalty of gig-goers, as well as online attention.
“The name for our tour Sweatbox Hype came from the gig at this wine cellar club. It was brilliant – a great crowd. There was only about 80 people there but by the end of it, there was actual sweat on dripping off the ceiling.”
Right there. That’s the ticket. When your sweat comes back to you because it’s so frickin’ hot with lots of people and serious jupming around, you’ve found something very, very exciting. Or y’know, the air conditioning’s kinda broken.
“It’s also called Sweatbox Hype because we always end with minimal clothes.”
Eitherway; expect sweat, attention from the tastemakers, minimal clothes and being surrounded by many, many fans.
Their album promises to be a jam-packed corker too. They’re still recording and will be once they’ve completed this first tour, with a view to getting it ready for release next year. “We’ve got the songs together, but we’ll see which ones we prefer of course. It’s pretty much a question of getting into the studio.”
If you can’t wait ’till next year, listen here:
Aaaand… they’re still in the Saxo, rammed to the hilt with their gear. “We’ve all got very close to each other like this. There’s not much we haven’t seen, you know, when you’re all quickly getting changed in the car.”
Rough and raucous it is. Fitting, too: “It’s very DIY. I guess that’s our sound, yeah, quite raucous. Garage rock. It’s hard to capture that on record. Yet it’s kind of how its supposed to be, really. Replicating that live, ear-bursting atmosphere without screwing with Pro Tools and pleasing mp3 players everywhere is a delicate task – one that The View and Arctic Monkeys once, when pinned down, finally found what they were looking for.
“Oh my god, I would sh*t myself if we toured with The View! Haha!” Tom’s a bit excited. “I would love to play with them. Seen them so many times!” Which of course leads to: “We actually saw Babyshambles down in Lewisham,” Tom says, the lads all humming in agreement. “Not all of them were there” – he’s talking about the impromptu April gig with Drew and Mik from the band at Dirty South – “Yeah it was 2 or 3 weeks ago. Pete was elsewhere of course, but they were wicked.”
The interview finds a natural end as the takeaway might’ve just opened. Although, it’s not like they’ve had no highlight to their day, or that there’s nothing to do in Basingstoke. Even if pretty much everyone agrees that there’s nothing to do in Basingstoke. “We’ve got a new addition to the band. We’ve been walking around the 99p shop.” They laugh, and Rob chirps in: “Yeah we have a new member, Peking Duck. He’s coming with us on tour.”
And maybe, judging by the slowly but extremely surely popularity on bandcamp and youtube, they’re about to get a whole lot more rough and sweaty. Ready.