Chingford mods The Rifles are one of the UK music scene’s hidden success stories. Despite little in the way of mainstream media support, they’ve got a huge and ever-growing following of loyal devotees. So much so that last year they were able to headline London’s Brixton Academy – all four and a half thousand people of it! Now signed to sixsevennine recordings (home to The Streets and Mystery Jets among others), we caught up with lead singer Joel Stoker (who, along with guitarist Luke Crowther, bassist Robert Pyne and drummer Grant Marsh, makes up the band) for a quick chat…
When you look back on 2008 in years to come, what moments will you remember?
I guess playing on stage with Weller was probably, definitely one of the bigger ones. He came on at one of our own gigs. He did one of our songs with us, and we played ‘Eton Rifles’ with him. We’d supported him the year before for a few gigs and he really liked us, so he just sort of stayed in touch. He’s been pretty helpful to us as well, with advice, and he took us to America to support him. He’s definitely a good friend to have. The other thing is probably Brixton, which is somewhere we always wanted to play from the start. We ended up playing it the week after as well, for an Xfm thing, but you know, our own gig at Brixton was definitely the highlight. You get used to gigging and that, and then you… There’s always the next step up, and you get the butterflies again. I definitely think that was one of them gigs, yeah. It would be lovely to go up and down the country and play those sorts of venues, so that’s probably the next goal, if you like.
What have you got planned for the next few months?
We’re doing a short tour, mid to late March, and then I think they’re trying to sort out going to Europe straight after that, like Germany, Holland, Austria and that, and I guess we’ll have the festivals and then probably do a bit more touring at the end of it. And we’re just gonna start writing again every sort of chance we get. I’ve never really done much writing on the road. I’m sure at some point we’ll have to start doing a bit of that on the road, but at the minute I prefer to be in our own space, and be just doing writing, do you know what I mean? I can’t sleep on them bloody tour buses, you know – I’m knackered most of the day. It’s annoying, going, like, seven weeks with no sleep!
Who do you see breaking through in 2009?
What, new bands? I don’t know really. To be honest, I don’t pay too much attention to the bands that are out at the minute really, cos there’s so many different types of bands, I find it gives me a headache! So I kind of just stick to the old stuff. I mean, probably the only new band of the last few years is probably the Arctic Monkeys, you know. So I mean, I don’t know. I’m looking forward to Eminem’s new album. I think, that’s probably the next album I’m looking forward to, but I mean he don’t really need to do well; it’s pretty much a dot on the card, innit.
What do you think is going to happen to the music industry in the next 12 months?
Well, I just think at the minute it’s all up in the air, with downloading and all that. I think that’s why it’s so easy for loads of bands to get out there and get across. I think live acts – like, do you know what I mean, gigging and that – is gonna come forward again a lot more. I think a lot of people are gonna wanna go out and see live stuff, cos it’s the only thing you can’t sit in your bedroom and get, do you know what I mean? I really like being in the studio, and doing all that, but for us, cos we’ve never really had much press or much radio, we’ve always just gone out and toured and played loads of gigs, so that’s been our way of getting out to people.
Aside from the band, have you got any plans personally ?
Erm… I got my grand dad’s piano end of last year, so I wanna teach myself the piano. It’s sitting there, but I need to start playing it. So that was kind of my New Year’s resolution. And obviously the stop smoking one as well. That’ll be the one I ain’t gonna keep…