Back stage at The Lexington, Strange Bones sit in the gloom munching on a bag of carrots, lamenting their lack of hummus, beneath a huge poster of Frank Zappa, his giant smiling face staring down at us.
The band are: singer Bobby who is animated and jittery, guitarist Jack currently in a state of digestive post-dinner calm, and aloof bassist Will.
Do you ever still get nervous prior to a show?
Bobby: No I never really get nervous, just a bit agitated, pacing around and I can’t really talk but that’s just because of the pressure you put on yourself.
How do you feel about performing to London audiences in comparison to other places?
Bobby: Crowds in London used to be too cool for school
So has London got less cool?
Jack: No, we just got more cool.
Bobby: Haha yeah! We played in Hamburg, German crowds are crazy, but they don’t get crowd surfing. You jump into the crowd and they just throw you straight to the back of the stage!
Do you get the same people coming to your gigs – have you got to know any of them?
Jack: We’ve got to know the bands we’ve toured with and we make friends at gigs. We see the same people coming along.
You have been said to span several genres, do you try to incorporate different styles into your music?
Bobby: Yeah, we do, it’s good to keep pushing yourselves as a band. We all like electronic music and you can see we have brought that in, with some synthy bass and 808s. We want to keep trying new things and wouldn’t rule anything out – we want to be the best we can.
How do you view success? Is that what you’re aiming for or do you do it for the love of making music?
Bobby: Obviously we do it for fun but if we didn’t work hard then we would have to spend more time doing other jobs and we would be spending less time making music which would be pointless.
Jack: Yeah – whats the point in art if no-one sees it? I mean, I do art for fun but there’s more to it than that.
Bobby: The pressure and being on tour can fuck with your mental health. Success is making a record, getting your music out there.
What are the downsides to being in a band?
Bobby: It would be nice not to sleep on grimy floors or be on the road all the time. It can also be expensive
recording and mixing.
Did anyone in the business ever tell you about that side to being in a band?
Bobby: No, but we’ve been in bands previously so we have just learnt ourselves.
Jack: Yeah and we’ve got loads of friends who are also in bands, so just from talking to them.
How do you feel about people recording your gigs for social media?
Jack: We don’t mind people taking a photo, but its a bit annoying if they are just filming the whole time.
Do you use social media yourselves?
Will: Yeah but you have to beat all the algorithms now! You need it if you’re in a band and we don’t have anyone doing it for us, we just do it ourselves. Bobby is the one that does the most.
Bobby: Yeah I hate using it, I don’t do much, just put up a few photos. I have to have it though or I wouldn’t be able to find out about tattooists.
Where would you like to see yourself?
Bobby: There’s nothing for us in Blackpool, I would like to move to Manchester there’s more going on.
Glaswegian four piece Rascalton are about to take to the stage so I thank them and leave them to munch the rest of their carrots before their set.
The support band are welcomed to the stage, announcing that this is their best London show on the tour so far (it is their only London show). Their sound is a pounding tom-heavy mod/punk mix of The Clash, Idles and The Libertines. Their tracks ‘Too Late’ and ‘Lust’ start to get people going, the energy building among the crowd that has amassed at the front. The lead singer and guitarist Jack eggs them on: “we’ve come down from Glasgow today – the least you can do is dance for us!”
He and the guitarist stare each other out before headbutting each other centre stage. At the end of their set the room is abuzz and there are many sweaty faces ready and awaiting Strange Bones’ whirlwind show.
The band swagger onto the stage, launching into ‘Vicious’, Bobby snarling into his mic which has an electronic vocoder effect attached creating a grating robotic sound. His face is eerily lit up by an orange light that is glowing from the top of the mic.
Will’s bass line has a definite heavy drum n bass similarity and the synth effects the band had mentioned earlier burst forth as Bobby saunters around the stage lunging towards the audience. The rest of the band thrust into their instruments with a confidence that shows that they feel completely at ease on stage.
During ‘Here Come the Wolves’, Bobby rips off his coat revealing his sleeveless shirt emblazoned with the scrawled spiky typo: “BLITZ BLITZ BLITZ”. A mosh pit appears in front of the stage and those wearing strange Bones denim jackets stare up at him singing along to every word.
From behind his famous balaclava he screams “Get down on the floor” and a circle emerges, eager fans obediently crouching as low as possible as Bobby joins them in the centre of the huddle. He makes them all wait, deftly orchestrating the scene before allowing them all to jump back up to resume the moshing. The energy in the room is mad and Bobby himself is being thrown overhead and chucked back on stage, a look of glee on his face. Gone is the jaded fatigue he spoke of earlier and obviously the adrenaline has kicked in.
An air raid siren goes off and he pulls on a gas mask – Will the bassist is now topless and giving a smirk of enjoyment as he is absorbed in his throbbing baselines and the enthusiasm of their devoted fans. There are girls sitting on shoulders, one of them is given the mic to sing along to ‘Gimme the Sun’, and unsurprisingly she knows every one of the lyrics, delivering them with the same gusto as the band themselves.
The rest of the crowd is just a sweaty thrashing mass, pushing and shoving each other in wild eyed excitement.
Bobby looks down at one of the girls at the front who has really been going for it that evening and asks her name. “You,” he says, “you are deserving of being made our queen tonight”. He looks at the boy next to her and asks the same of him “ah…and we have found ourselves a King!” He looks at the rest of the audience: “…and the rest of us….well WE. ARE. THE. RATS!”
The place explodes as they launch into ‘We the rats’, he is jumping around and into the audience, sailing over heads towards the central column in the middle of the room, to which a go-pro camera has been fixed. He kicks it down so it is no longer pointed at the stage and now faces the floor. After being thrown back onto the stage he begins his ascent into the sound booth for ‘God Save the Teen’. From there he looks down at us all and there is almost a moment of hush as he urges us all in, pointing at individuals, beckoning them closer, naming others standing at the back to come down to the front. When the crowd at the bass of the sound booth on which he is perched has assembled and doubled in size he launches himself down onto the sea of hands and he is carried across the room for the final time that evening.
Sweaty, energetic and wild, the band have given their audience their all, and in return the crowd has given the same right back. If you were not lucky enough to catch them at the Lexington, the band return to London in June to play Camden Rocks Festival.