Live Review & Interview – Communion’s New Faces @ The Bullingdon, Oxford
Kat Collison and Suzy Cripps head down to the Bullingdon to catch Communion’s New Faces tour – four new artists by the names of Flyte, Dan Owen, Jack Watts, and Seafret. Check out their interview with Seafret here too.
Jack Watts is something of an over-sharer, and his songs reflect this. His shy smile and polite exchanges with the audience are pleasant. His guitar playing is pleasant. His virtuosic, ethereal vocals are definitely more than just pleasant. However, the whole thing is nonetheless a little… well, dull. Very new to the music scene, Watts is certainly talented, but you cannot help wonder if he hasn’t found his niche yet. An ‘eat-the-microphone-with-open-mouth-emotion’ style performance with many, many teenage angst and relationship lyrics: ‘who gives a fuck/about my bad luck’. The whole thing is, at points, just a bit cringe.
The hug exchanged between Jack Sedman and Harry Draper (who together form Seafret) before they come on stage suggests they might be insecure in the art of performing live. Their performance, though, suggests otherwise. Opening with ‘Give Me Something’, Jack’s vocals mingle thoughtfully with Harry’s poignant pizzicato. Jack in particular, as the extrovert of the duo, engages with the audience in between songs, the lighthearted banter suggesting a quiet fondness for performing live after all. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific genre for Seafret to fit into. Moments are charming folk. Moments incorporate electronic fusion and adopt frequent sampling. Either way, fittingly, the whole thing washes over you like the sea. ‘Missing’ sees Jack turn to the side of the stage, staring past the audience and we cannot help wonder if he is singing to someone beyond the audience’s grasp. It is important not to disregard Harry, however, as his silence highlights his adept guitar skill.
Wielding an acoustic guitar, Dan Owen delivers an upbeat set of an undoubtedly bluesy flavour, perfectly enhanced by his lusty, engine-like voice. The highlight of the set was ‘Little Red Rooster’, a song reminiscent of 50s/60s rock ‘n’ roll. Owen becomes something of a one-man-band, wildly multi-tasking. It was like Marty Mcfly’s ‘Johnny B Goode rendition’, with additional harmonica. He begins teasingly with languorous harmonica riffs, hammering at the tempo until the song crescendos into a kaleidoscopic explosion of raucous soloing and vigorous stomping. He also performed less bluesy, mellower renditions of ‘Fall Like A Feather’, ‘Splinter’ and others. He picked up the pace and warmed the crowd up nicely for Flyte.
Flyte are effortlessly cool, while at the same time being the kind of guys you could bring home to your mum. Their live sound is a lighter, tighter version of The 1975, combining punchy, scintillating guitarmanship with chirping electronic fillers. Having mastered the dreamy four-part harmony, their voices serve both to texturize and to create moments of simplistic space. The crowd bobbed along to favourites ‘Please Eloise’ and ‘Light Me Up’, then swayed to future X-factor Christmas single ‘Faithless’, a new and nostalgic track. Note: mustachioed bassist Nick Hill looks quite a bit like Sergeant Pepper era George Harrison. Oxford anticipates their return.
They also caught Seafret before the show for a chat…
How do you tackle writing a new song?
‘Harry tends to start with a riff on the guitar and then we turn to structure. After that we move onto lyrics, before we know it we’ve moulded it into a song.’
Your debut album ‘Tell Me It’s Real’ is out on 29th January. Any thoughts?
‘The album itself is definitely our proudest moment. The whole thing was completely nerve-wracking of course. It features some of the tracks we’ve already released: ‘Oceans’, ‘Give Me Something’, and ‘Atlantis’ in particular. We’ll be touring the UK to promote our album’ (at this point Jack’s eyes light up at the prospect) ‘and we’re doing 5 dates with Kodaline in December.’
How did your duo come about?
‘Well we met at an Open Mic Night in Bridlington (or roundabouts), where we’re from, in 2011 and Harry was playing with an Americano band’ (Jack laughs) ‘…he was playing some really cool banjo. Then we just spent two years hiding away really…writing songs, and thus Seafret was born.’
What 3 things would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
(Jack jumps at the question) ‘Definitely, bread, Bovril and well… Harry I suppose.’
(Harry is surprised… ‘Would you?? Really!?’). Harry requests his guitar, beer (amongst other things…) and (fondly), ‘Jack also’.
What are your main musical influences?
Harry: ‘John Martin is a big influence of mine. I just really like his guitar style. Anything folksy or bluesy I suppose comes out in my guitar playing.’
Jack: ‘I’m a big fan of Jack White. I’d also say Ray Charles and the American rock band The Districts influence my style.’
Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
‘I suppose the main goal is to keep making albums. To be able to make music fulltime has always been a goal. We’re incredibly lucky we don’t have to work now and’ (Harry laughs shyly) ‘it’s still mind blowing when people turn up to our gigs.’
Best big artist they’ve ever met?
‘Hozier was without a doubt one of the best artists to support. He was so down to earth and welcoming. As a support it can be really nerve-wracking supporting such a huge name, but he was really kind. He even came to see how we were before the show, which rarely ever happens. We were very grateful to him for that.’
As children, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Jack: ‘I wanted to be Michael Jackson. Seriously. I had a glitterball suit and all sorts. It wasn’t until I was about 18 though that my mum told me that I could actually sing’ (he shakes his head) ‘and I thought…nah! But then I guess… here we are.’
Harry: ‘I guess as a kid I wanted to be a footballer. Luckily for me, we were signed before leaving school though, so I’ve never actually had a full time job doing anything else!’
Seafret’s debut album ‘Tell Me It’s Real’ is out 29th January, and is available to pre-order now.