Announcing Live at Leeds: An Interview with Ørmstons
BY ANIA BUSIAKIEWICZ & EVA JAMES
We caught up with the core members of indie four-piece Ørmstons at the Live at Leeds Announcement show. Formed in 2016, the Leeds locals have developed a core fanbase propelling them right into the heart of the ever-evolving and diverse indie scene across Leeds and beyond.
Opening the night is always a tough task, but while punters still trickle into the venue the atmosphere is not hindered one bit. Ørmstons take command of the stage and their audience with a wave of power and dynamicity, boasting bouncing riffs and catchy choruses in songs such as ‘Mexico City’ and ‘Bridgewater Way’. Lead singer Jess utilizes the space, jumping between guitarist Bob, and bassist Josh, who provide added force in both musical instrumentation and stage presence.
However, their enthusiasm was no façade as we found out upon meeting them. They shared all with us, from hilariously relatable drunk stories to the saddening reality of sexual harassment in the world of live music.
First off, we’d like to know more about your band name, how did you come up with it?
Jess: Basically, when I started college we were playing in an ensemble and I was like “wow this bands going pretty good, what if I make my own band?” also because I’m useless at writing music by myself. I’m a four-chord wonder honestly, Taylor Swift eat your heart out! and the drummer at the time was like “ørmstons is a really good name” and I was like “hmm yeah ok” and it just stuck.
Bob: It’s one of those things these days, you get band name’s that are just kinda like nonsense words – I always feel like it’s cool to have a nonsense word
Could you describe your sound in three words?
Bob: Fun Jess: Clueless Josh: Varied
This is a question mainly for you Jess. How is it being a female musician in the indie music scene? And do you think it’s a different experience for your male counterparts?
Jess: Oh have I got a story for you! before last week I didn’t have any issues, I was getting treated perfectly fine and we were getting opportunities that males wouldn’t have but then you do have gigs like in Edinburgh last week, where guys were a bit vulgar and sexual towards me on stage.
Bob: It was really disgusting, I felt uncomfortable.
Josh: Yeah It was really disconcerting, I’d never seen that before.
Jess: I wanted to say something to this guy because, I’m from Bradford, I can look after myself! so I went up to this guy to tell him this was not okay.
Ania: What exactly did he do? If you are happy to share that is…
Jess: Basically, at first he was doing the puppy dog eyes to me on stage but it wasn’t until I got off stage Josh and Bob turned round to me and said he was saying he wanted to “f*** ya” and he was grabbing his balls.
Your track ‘Mexico City,’ is that a song written about a real experience? have you ever been?
Josh: No [laughter].
Jess: It’s a funny thing because I can write songs that don’t have any meaning to it, it’s just lyrics that flow but then afterwards when we’ve played it a few times I can link the songs back to a moment in my life. So with ‘Mexico City’ I link it to this guy that tried it on with me who had a girlfriend and all that jazz. It’s the same with ‘Bridge Water’, when we wrote it we were like “lets write such a happy song!” and it ended up being about prostitutes, but we didn’t realise that the building down the road from where we practiced were called ‘Bridge Water Place’ and literally up the road was a kind a red-light district – so we now link that song to that.
Bob: for me I love it when you can listen to a song and derive your own meaning from the lyrics. I feel like the song can be a lot more personal to the listener if it’s a little bit more vague and they can piece a meaning together themselves.
So you guys are from Leeds, is this the city you met in? Could you tell us a bit about how you met?
Josh: I met Jess through a friend who had her on Facebook and she had advertised a bass position, so that’s how I joined!
Bob: The line-up of the band before me and Josh joined was wildly different to how it is now – more jazzy and two guitarists. Their bass player couldn’t do a gig so I played bass for it but then after that gig, there was tension between the band members, and they approached me about being a guitarist which obviously I was like yes, because that’s the instrument I actually played.
Jess: Baring in mind, when I met Bob I never thought we would be friends
Bob: Yeah, we went to college together and we chatted once… and she just wasn’t my kind of person
Jess: Bob used to wear Bob the Builder pants – so not cool.
Bob: They were for comfort and nothing else!
How would you describe the music scene here in Leeds? Is it alive and kicking?
Josh: Yeah, really Diverse.
Bob: There’s the indie scene, which we are a part of, but there’s also the jazz scene, DJ’s, so many.
Ania: Yeah, it’s very eclectic. There’s something for everyone.
So what’s your favourite venues in Leeds? And could you name any venues non Leeds people might not have heard of?
Josh: I think our favourite is Oporto.
Bob: Yeah I think non-Leeds people probably wouldn’t have heard of Oporto.
Jess: You know what they haven’t heard of – Milo’s! My first gig actually as an ørmston was at Milo’s.
Bob: And my first gig as an ørmston was at Santiago. And yours (Josh) was probably Verve.
Jess: I love that venue. The amount of times I’ve gotten really really drunk, is unbelievable.
Josh: The Key Club?
Jess: But you don’t wanna go. I’ve got bad memories.
Josh: The only reason Jess doesn’t like Key Club is cos she drunk that much tequila that she threw up in a KFC bag and the KFC bag burst and went all over her shoes.
Bob: [laughter] It was amazing
Josh: It’s not a bad venue it’s just cos Jess got absolutely rat-arsed.
Plans for 2019?
Jess: We’ve got quite a few more gigs coming up after that, we’re going on a tour. We’ve got our first ever gig in Manchester. We’re absolutely crapping ourselves we’ve never ever played in Manchester. We’ve got some more music coming out tomorrow.
Eva: Is that the song you played first tonight?
Bob: Yeah, ‘Can’t Take Your Call’, I’m really excited about that one.
Jess: We’re just gonna try play as many cities as we can. Play Leeds less, and focus on the other cities.
Ania: in the north?
Jess: Yeah, like Newcastle. The tours been incredible so far – London, I was nearly in tears I was like omg there’s people here.
Ania: where did you play in London?
Jess: we played Zigfrid Von Underbelly.
You must be excited to perform at Live At Leeds Festival later this year, can you tell us who your most excited to see play?
Jess: Sophie & the Giants
Who or what are you fangirling over at the moment?
Josh: The Leeds/Reading announcement. I think that’s one of the best ones they’ve done.
Bob: I really like a band called Starwolf. Their vibe I’m really digging right now.
Josh: On the daily Bob listens to Jazz covers of pop songs. Just thought I’d put that in there.
Bob: I do really like my covers – they’re not jazz covers they’re funk covers. Josh likes to rip me…
Jess: I really like Anteros, Queens of the Stone Age and Jerry Williams. I fangirl over too much. I also fangirl over food – tagliatelle and rogan josh!
Bob: I’m fangirling over ‘The Good Place’!
Josh: and ‘Sex Education’!
Jess: ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’!
Bob: You like always sunny?!
Bob: omg friendship.
You can catch Ørmstons at the Live at Leeds festival on the 4th of May.
Image Credit: Eva James and Ania Busiakiewicz