The Welly House Band is a seven-piece group from Greater Manchester who found inspiration in Salford’s musical ancestry.
Although none of the members are originally from Salford, the band studied and lived in the city, moved by the artistry that originated here.
“There’s such a scope of creative things going on in Salford. All the link to the Manchester bands that come from Salford, and looking through the lens of theatre you’ve got so many venues, like the New Adelphi theatre, or you’ve got the Lowry or even in here where we’re sat right now is a staple of Manchester theatre”, stated Oliver Hurst.
I met the lads at The Kings Arms pub in Salford. This 19th-century creative hub, complete with a theatre, jukebox, and array of artist studios and rehearsal areas, is perhaps one of the best places for an up-and-coming band to establish their beginnings.
Countless members of Manchester music royalty were renowned regulars, including Mark E Smith, lead singer of The Fall, an integral figure in the foundations of The Welly House Band.
Oliver Shaw stated, “The productions that have come out of Salford are huge when you think about it, a big part of The Fall, Joy Division, The Smiths, and then also John Cooper Clarke. He used to come and do poetry in here, that’s why we have his mural outside”.
Just two months ago, Josh Phillips, Max Ainsworth, Oliver Hurst, Oliver Shaw, Marco Tramontana, and Lewis Cain came together musically for the first time at Manchester’s Wellington Mill.
Max stated, “There was a night when we all went to the room, and we all ended up on different instruments. I was on vocals, which I hadn’t been on before now, Oliver picked up a base and had never played bass. So, we all just started thrashing it out basically and then The Welly House Band was born”.
The lads became friends in all manners of ways, some in school, college, university, or intertwined through prior musical ventures. “There’s been about a million incarnations of about eight of us, in about eight thousand combinations. I think that’s pretty common, but it gets written out of the histories of groups”, explained Josh.
In a world of heavily produced and formulaic music, The Welly House Band have gone back to basics by entirely improvising their music.
“It goes back to the case, this is going to sound pretentious, but finding out the meaning of what you’ve made after the fact of making it. We go into it, we’ll make it, and then afterwards we’ll figure out what it means and what we’re trying to say”, Oliver Shaw stated.
Heavily inspired by the infamous John Peel Sessions, recorded and mixed in a single day, the band have taken this organic style of making music and made it there own.
“It would all be very fast-paced, quick, raw live recordings and that’s another influence on the way we did it, we just set up a few mics, and then you know go to town”, further added Oliver Shaw.
This one impromptu night generated over sixty songs and their latest single ‘Earholes’. The 1970’s post-punk-infused track, lyrically likens to the band in having somewhat unique origins.
Max Ainsworth, the lyricist behind ‘Earholes’ explained, “When we were all playing that first night on those first recordings, I was very aware of how unconventional the sound was and how probable it would be that would get people that thought that it sounded awful”.
“What’s all noise, just a bunch of racket”, chipped in Marco.
“So, I thought it would be funny for me to then read the back of a packet of disposable earplugs. Following the idea of that, there is a member in the audience who is hating what is going on and I am there telling them how to put earplugs in. I thought that might have been quite funny”, Max stated.
The band have an exciting couple of months, playing gigs, working on their own label Desk Jockey, producing their first album, and performing a virtual set at Chengdu International Youth Festival.
“What is so funny about this is a week before the Chengdu gig was confirmed, I picked up a bass guitar for the first time. Which kind of summarises the whole story perfectly for me”, (all laugh) explained Oliver Hurst.
This amazing opportunity provided by Salford University is the band’s first-ever booked gig.
“By some strange coincidence great things keep happening to us and I really hope that carries on for the next year” stated Max.
Starting a band in a midst of a pandemic, although extremely challenging, The Welly House Band have taken this in their stride.
Josh said, “The time for us in now because we’re finding our own way and we’re kind of tentatively testing the waters for anything. Which is good because we can make our own path because before the pandemic we would be under a lot of pressure”.
The future of this band is looking bright and it will be exciting to see how far these local lads will go.
You can listen to The Welly House Band on Spotify, Bandcamp and check them out on their Instagram @deskjockeyrecords.