It’s been five years since the band Viola Beach and their manager Craig Tarry were sadly killed in a car accident in Sweden, and a group of musicians from their hometown of Warrington have come together to record a cover of their debut single Swings And Waterslides to mark the fifth anniversary of their deaths. All revenue from the single’s release will be donated to charities chosen by the families of the band.
Warrington band Viola Beach were a hotly tipped act set to become the UK’s new favourite indie band. Everything was going their way – sold-out gigs, national airplay, an album in the works and their first European tour dates booked. Sadly, on 13th February 2016, while travelling through Sweden, their lives were tragically cut short by a car accident.
The terrible accident that killed the band and their manager Craig Tarry sent shockwaves throughout the music world, and in particular, the band’s musical peers in their hometown of Warrington. However, over the past few years, these musicians have strived to keep their memory alive by continuing their legacy. Liam Gallagher and The Stone Roses encouraged people to get the band’s debut single Swings And Waterslides to Number 1 in the charts, and Coldplay paid tribute to the group, covering their single Boys That Sing while headlining Glastonbury Festival in 2016.
Now, five years on from their tragic deaths, a community of talented musicians from Warrington have come together to record a cover of Viola Beach’s single Swings And Waterslides, which is out now.
The project was organised by Lee Harman, Editor of [WAM] Magazine, and supported by Viola Beach’s former sound engineer Cal Bate, who both wanted to create a suitable tribute to the band. Together the pair pulled together a band of musicians who have grown from the Viola Beach legacy to record a cover version of Swings And Waterslides, and all proceeds from the single’s success will be donated to charities of the Viola Beach’s families’ choosing.
Lee Harman of [WAM] Magazine has said of the project: “Viola Beach left their own legacy despite their short time together. They were the first of a new wave of bands who were proud to be from Warrington, and all the artists involved are honoured to be involved. We should have seen Viola Beach headlining the biggest festivals five years on but despite the pain and sadness getting easier every year, they put Warrington on the map, and we want to show they’re still an important part of the town’s culture.
“Kris [Leonard], Jack [Dakin], Tom [Lowe] and River [Reeves] have such an important part to play in keeping the Warrington Music [WAM] website active as I had all but stepped away from the blog but their tragic passing galvanised the town’s scene and myself. I felt it was important to cover as much as I could about everything that was happening in the days and weeks after their tragic accident.”
Sound Engineer to the band for six months, and now working with Blossoms who had Viola Beach as their tour support, Cal Bate said: “Viola Beach are a huge part of my life, the big stepping stone to my whole career. So to be able to produce a version of one of their songs with amazing musicians from Warrington meant the world to me. I was lucky enough to hear their songs and mix them a lot whilst working with them and they were always songs which you could tell they wrote for people to dance and love forever. The boys’ legacy will live on forever and they left us some beautiful music. They will never be forgotten and they are everything to Warrington and its music scene.”
Olly Thornton contributed vocals to the track, having shared bands with Kris Leonard in their formative years, and said: “I’m really excited to be a part of something so special! This is a lovely way to remember the lads and Craig. I grew up with Kris, we were inseparable for the best part of our younger life, [and] to be asked to do something like this and to represent the teenage musical beginnings of Kris’ life makes me very proud!”
Jessica Luise, who also performed vocals on the track, was able to fund the recording of her most recent single thanks to a bursary from the River Reeves Foundation – a charity set up by River’s family to provide funding to musicians from the local area – and said of the single: “I started working with the Rivers Reeves Foundation around a year ago, I love everything they stand for and think that what they do for musicians is wonderful, I never knew the lads personally but getting to experience the legacy they have left behind is amazing. It’s been an absolute privilege to be involved in this project and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Words by Nathan Whittle. Find his Louder Than War archive here.