Louder with All Ears Avow @ 2000 Trees Festival 2019
Floral pattern shirts, upbeat rhythms and resonant lyrics are all summer festival must-haves: and alt rock quartet All Ears Avow brought all three in spades to 2000 Trees Festival’s Neu Stage. Hosting the best of the rock scene’s up-and-coming talent, the Neu Stage was the perfect showcase of this band’s creativity and ethos- which we caught up with drummer Sean Ivensand guitarist Jake Willcock to discuss in more depth:
At the end of last year, you guys released your fourth EP, ‘Skin and Bones’- how have you found people’s responses to the record, online and on the road since?
Sean: It’s been really good- definitely the best response we’ve had from a release ever!
Jake: We’re definitely heading in the right direction – we’re still talking to people at the minute who have just stumbled across it who have been like ‘that record you released at the end of last year is amazing!’, and it’s been really cool! Even at our set today, there were people singing along that weren’t even people we recognised, it wasn’t just a load of our friends singing along!
Sean: It’s been really humbling and really amazing!
Lots of the tracks on ‘Skin and Bones’ are highly danceable, yet lyrically they hit some deeply personal truths on the head- was that dichotomy something you were conscious of during writing and recording, or did it come quite organically?
Sean: [vocalist] Claire writes all the lyrics- actually, all the songs on the EP were pretty much written by her
Jake: She’s an absolute genius!
Sean: It’s only recently that we’ve been starting to write more together as a band. I think there’s definitely a theme there, and I think a lot of the lyrics were tailored towards those ideas of self-acceptance, so it was definitely a conscious decision to include those sorts of themes. That’s all Claire’s doing really though, we can’t take any credit for that!
I’m curious about the inspiration behind the cover for ‘Skin and Bones’- was there a creative purpose behind the imagery you chose for the record’s cover?
Sean: There definitely was. It ties into the title of the EP as well, because it’s all about not being afraid to show your ‘true colours’, which is why the people are topless, because it’s about not being afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve and not being afraid of who you are. Again, it was Claire’s idea- they’re her lyrics, so it was largely her idea, but there definitely was a thought process behind it.
Jake: We’d agreed beforehand to go and work with the guy who had done the art for the previous two singles, and Claire came and said ‘I have this idea, just trust me’, so she ordered in the paint and managed to rope two friends into doing it- two strangers that had never met before and we had to ask them to hug each other topless!
Sean: Our photographer Courtney took the photo – she’s here with us today – and it came out great!
Alt rock is a hugely expanding scene right now at the top end- is it the same for bands making their way through the ranks, and is there a sense of community between other smaller bands in the scene?
Jake: It’s awesome that bands we’ve known for years and played with for years are all sort of moving upwards together. A couple of bands that stick out to me – our really good friends Floorboards played this weekend, and we had the same slot as them but they played on the Thursday, so it’s really nice because I’m good friends with them from university. Chapter and Verse are another band who are absolutely smashing it- we’ve known those boys for years and they’re doing everything and absolutely killing it!
Sean: There definitely is a sense of community- every time we do a gig it’s like a reunion, we’ll run into people that we played with maybe a month ago, or maybe like four years ago, and we’re all sort of moving up together which is lovely.
Jake: On our last run we played the O2 Academy in Oxford, and the show was crazy, and we [All Ears Avow and their touring mates Kill the Ideal] played together about four years ago in Bridgend, and played to next to no-one, and I was saying to Jordan, the drummer from Kill the Ideal, how weird it was that we’re now playing an O2 Academy together!
You’re also releasing music as an independent artist without a label- are there advantages and disadvantages to this, and do you enjoy working independently of a label?
Sean: Yeah, we do- we’re quite ambitious in a lot of the stuff that we do, and with that comes a bit of a price tag, which without a label to support you can be tough, but we make it work.
Jake: I think it’s fair to say that we’re all control freaks, so it’s quite nice to be able to do it all ourselves.
Sean: It’s the way we’ve always done it though- we’re not adverse to working with a label, nothing’s just ever come up. Financially, it can be tough, but we make it work, and it’s nice to have the freedom to go and do what we want and make sure everything is the way we want it!
Since your formation, you’ve been on a far-reaching touring schedule- who is the best person in the band to tour with, and who is most likely to cause trouble on the road?
Jake: It’s going to be me that’s the liability, I can tell you that!
Sean: We’re all very different to be honest, but none of us are really party animals.
Jake: We treat it like a big holiday really, like we’ll get up and find a nice country park to go to, or if we’ve never really been to a city before we’ll make time to go and see it. I’m usually the one trying to convince people to party though – Joe doesn’t drink, so he’s always the driver – but I’m usually the one trying to convince everyone to drink and getting absolutely bottled!
Sean: Nobody really gets to the point where we have to take care of them- unless you get given a bottle of wine by your mate, then that’s a different story!
Jake: That was a bad time! I’ve not drunk wine since!
Sean: But I think, compared to some bands, we’re relatively sensible- I think we just like coffee more than we like booze! Also, we take pride in what we do, and we don’t want to get absolutely battered before we play.
Jake: Yeah, like we’ve toured with bands that really go all-in, and by the end of the tour they’re absolutely hanging and can’t wait to go home, while we’re still loving it! It’s about caring about what we do, and I want to be able to do my job well.
Sean: You couldn’t go into an office job drunk – although this is much better than an office job!
Jake: Even today, I had one drink before we played and one after, and then remembered I had to talk in a bit!
Thus far, you have released 4 EPs- do you prefer releasing music in the form of EPs, and are there plans for a full-length album on the horizon?
Sean: I think it’s somewhere on the horizon
Jake: I think we’ve progressed so much with this last record, and our music tastes changed [over that time too]. You guys [indicating Sean] had been playing together in your old band for 10 years, and then my old band toured with them and we got on so well that we started up this. We are working on some new songs - you heard some of them today – and we’re working towards another EP, or maybe some singles, but a full-length is a lot of commitment.
Sean: I think we’re saving [releasing a full-length] until it’s the right time really, we’re really trying to push the singles – we might have something new out by the end of the year
Jake: Yeah, we’ll definitely have something new out by the end of the year- touch wood! Probably October/November, there’ll be some sort of new material- we want to really focus on it though, because before we’ve just sort of written a release and put it out, whereas this time we want to write ten, maybe fifteen tracks and then whittle it down to the ones that we want. At the moment we maybe have five, six demos written, but we want to go slow with it this time- saying that, we’ll probably drop a track next week now!
Keeping us in suspense as ever! Whatever - and whenever – the music world next hears from All Ears Avow, it is bound to bring a brightness and joy to the slowly darkening nights, as well as a sense of togetherness as this ambitious band, and their newfound fans, stamp their mark on the ever-evolving musical landscape.
'Skin and Bones' is out now as a self-release.
Check out the video for the band's latest single, 'All Your Pieces', below: