Lawrence Bray of ScenicLife Interview by Roisin Kelleher
Louder Than War’s Roisin Kelleher interviews Lawrence Bray – lead singer, guitarist and song-writer for ScenicLife, who has a lot to say for himself, and is certainly no shrinking violet! This is a band for people longing to see old-style rock ‘n’ roll stars who want nothing more than to keep the classic spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive, whilst holding no shame over wearing their influences on their sleeves as brightly as neon knitted jumpers.
Louder Than War: First of all, how has your year been so far and what big plans do you have for the rest of 2013?
Lawrence Bray: Hi, well so far so good, we’re celebrating our 1st year anniversary in March so we’ve been very busy. We’ve played some great gigs, met some cool people, and been to some cool places, the groupies still need to pull their weight (laughs) but all in all it’s been good. For 2013 we plan on pushing even harder. We have new songs and just want to get it moving faster and harder. So keep your eyes peeled!!
Louder Than War: What do you enjoy most about gigging?
Lawrence Bray: Well the best part of it is the high of getting people off on your music. It’s a great feeling when they’re singing the songs back to you and just basically really enjoying what’s coming out, especially if it’s a loud crowd. It’s no wonder these rock stars (the good ones) are high on drugs after a gig because there is no feeling like a crowd going mental after a song. Now we haven’t played any venues anywhere near the size they do but it’s still a superb feeling.The best way to possibly describe the feeling of being on stage is like one immense orgasm that lasts the rest of the night.
Louder Than War: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Lawrence Bray: Ah man, loads of places…I plan on being very rich one day so I have in fact thought about this one (laughs). Well I’d have a London home and a country house. The London home would be in Chalcott Square round the back of Camden. Look it up on Google maps…it’s fucking lush!!
The country house would be huge, extravagant and in Surrey, on a golf course, with all the other rich geezers who think like me. Live down the road from Elton John or something…I could give him a call, be like “Elton geez, I just bought this piano, come round and play “Tiny Dancer” for us…it’s a tune!!”
And I’d also have a house in America, somewhere hot. So as you can see I don’t want much (laughs).
Louder Than War: How important would say image is to a musician?
Lawrence Bray: Very. I quote Kelly Jones (Stereophonics) on this ‘if guys don’t wanna be you and girls don’t wanna fuck you then you’re not doing it right’. Now I’d imagine Kelly Jones has probably had more girls than most guys around and he looks cool as fuck so it says it right there!! You need to look like your songs; you can’t go up dressed as an accountant and sing “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” ‘cos it doesn’t pass the song off so they’re intertwined with each other!!
Louder Than War: How do you go about the song-writing process?
Lawrence Bray: Well everyone is different but for me I start with playing some chords then humming a melody over the top and just wait for the first line and it goes from there. It’s strange because you could be playing the same chords for 2 months and then one day you’re just arsing about and suddenly a nice melody comes out and those chords sound different. I have to wait for the words though.
Louder Than War: How much emphasis do you place on lyrics when writing?
Lawrence Bray: I like good lyrics. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly good lyricist but when I do get some good lyrics going I think it adds to the song. I do honestly think that the most important thing in any song is the melody, the tune, and the catchy bit. The melody is what gets people’s attention. It’s the bit people sing to regardless of whether the lyrics appeal to you. But I do agree lyrics are important.
Louder Than War: You wear your influences on your sleeve; do you find this a drawback?
Lawrence Bray: (Laughs)… I know where you’re going with this one. We can’t help who we love and who we aspire to, so it’s naturally gonna come out in our music the same way it did for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Oasis, etc. We do have our own sound, I think you can agree with that, but it’s tinged with Oasis/Stereophonics. It’s strange because whenever we play down south we get all those Oasis/Charlatans/Stereophonics comments but when we go up north we don’t get any of that. We’ve played Manchester, Blackburn, Derby, Birmingham, Leicester, and no one says Oasis, Stereophonics, etc., etc., so to the northerners we obviously don’t sound northern but to the southerners we do. We definitely don’t sound like Brummies so we’re ‘up in the sky’ somewhere (laughs). And when people say you just sound like so-and-so, I just wanna say “Well I’m so sorry we offended you so much because it reminds you of whoever, I tell you what why don’t you pick up a fucking guitar and you can write and sing for ScenicLife, see if you can do better!!”
Louder Than War: What do you think of the music industry today?
Lawrence Bray: If they pulled their socks up it would be very good. There are some really good bands out there; bands that would spice the world up a bit and we’re definitely in the mix. It’s become very stale if you ask me, every chart song is either the same Nicki Minaj tune about how much plastic surgery she’s had or a 14 year old boy band who have just hit puberty. Guitar music is coming back though, which is great. If you took one glance at the charts this minute (12/02/13) you’d say, ‘Okay, so to be a pop star I don’t have to be able to sing but you’ll sort that out with auto tune just be willing to get pretty much naked whenever!!’ (Laughs) I look back at the late 60’s, 70’s and 90’s and the bands/artists people were listening to were 20 cuts above the ones in the charts now and the silly thing is most of the rappers and pop singers are sampling all the music from that time, too. So it proves they have no talent, they’re just good at I.T.
Louder Than War: How successful do you wish to be?
Lawrence Bray: Huge!! We’re not one of them bands that just want to play music because we love music, we do love music but we want the world to hear it, we want the world to love it, and we want it all!! And why not either?!?! I hate these pretentious arseholes that say things like wanting to play a stadium is so not cool…Fuck off and read some poetry. Those bands expect you to sit down, listen to their lyrics and ponder about the future of our economy!! Haha get to fuck, music is meant to be enjoyment, and you’re meant to get off your head, dance around and yeah enjoy yourself. Get yourself away from the 9-5 ritual, you know!!…Well that’s what ScenicLife believe.
Louder Than War: Why do you think music is so important?
Lawrence Bray: It speaks to you; it lends itself to your mood. When you’re getting ready to go out, put the right song on and it’ll make feel you feel invincible.That’s what it’s all about. I think a lot of people have lost respect for music and it’s power purely because of the shit that you hear on the radio and on the charts. That’ll change; all you need is some outspoken people to really give it a clip round the ear. Don’t worry people, rock ‘n’ roll still lives with those who love it and as far as I know there are millions who do…all we need is a good rock ‘n’ roll band.
Louder Than War: Cheers Lawrence.
Interview by Roisin Kelleher. More writing by Roisin on Louder Than War can be found here.