With their latest single on Radio 1, a new music video, and a performance at Reading & Leeds under their belt, 2017 has been an eventful year for the four-piece indie Pop/Rock band Alibi. Maxi Williams, Matt Edwards, Benji Meacham and Wesley Brown have come on leaps and bounds since starting out in their hometown of Hastings, with local gigs and their debut EP establishing their presence back in 2015. Since then, the band has been on a steady path of progression, making their way from small gigs to national radio and music festivals. The group talked to Neon Music’s Lana Andelane about these recent projects, discussing their development as an up-and-coming band to their first big steps in the music industry.
Going back a couple of years, Alibi started out as many other groups tend to do; through mutual friends and a mutual love for music. “Alibi started through just having a good time playing together. We all met through friends, and having a predisposed passion for music and similar styles we decided to make it a regular thing.” With Maxi as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Matt on lead guitar and vocals, Benji on bass guitar and vocals, and Wesley on drums, they began the process of constructing their sound. “Most of our material starts as a little riff or a lyric that sparks the rest of the track…we like to write and what comes out is normally a pretty good base on which we build the song. Most of our songwriting seems to be inspired by relationships, politics, general life and the current state of the world.”
With an array of influences, the group drew inspiration from artists such as The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths and The Black Keys to create their self-described “energetic indie pop/rock” sound. There is a clear amalgamation of genres present in their music, paying homage to their diversity of influences and broad musical tastes. “We have such a wide love of music…we don’t really know what genre we are. We like the listeners to decide that for themselves.” Taking a look at their current playlists, which feature fellow UK groups such as Slaves, Vant, and Spring King, one can recognise the echoes of punk, pop, and alternative rock within Alibi’s sound.
When listening to Alibi’s recent single ‘Space, Man,’ with its infectiously catchy hook and unapologetically British singing, one can instantly see the appeal. The pop-rock beat is familiar enough to be commercial and appreciated by the more mainstream listener; yet there is still a certain rawness to it, more reminiscent of it’s post-punk, indie-rock influences. It’s energetic, it’s catchy, but it’s also effortlessly timeless, a piece that could find success in the past, present, and future. It’s got the kind of mass appeal that will see it appreciated by teenage girls but also the music aficionado, as it still maintains true to its indie-rock roots. And tellingly enough, it wasn’t until ‘Space, Man’ that Alibi truly felt they had found their niche. “Everything seemed to fall into place when we recorded the track, and since then we’ve been constantly writing and developing our style,” they said. “Our music has changed so much since our first EP…going from more of a rock-based sound that we had in 2015 with our first release up to now, where we feel our songwriting is getting better and better as time goes on.” Alibi’s recent music has solidified a sense of confidence in their sound, with its genre diversity creating an eclectic blend unique to them.
Hence, it appears ‘Space, Man’ has been something of a revolutionary point for the group. When asked about the inspiration behind the single, Alibi responded that “the general theme of the song is about being trapped. With everything that goes on in the modern world we thought if you step back and think about it, most aspects of life have some kind of control over you, and sometimes you just need a little ‘Space, Man’.” The song saw Alibi achieve their first radio success, with Huw Stephens playing ‘Space, Man’ on Radio 1 following their performance on BBC Introducing the South. It was then that BBC Introducing invited the band to play Reading & Leeds, with ‘Space, Man’ becoming ‘Track of the Week’ on Radio 1 as a lead-up to the festivals. “Hearing our track on Radio 1 was crazy! A whole week of it being played as BBC Introducing ‘Track Of The Week’ was insane! Because of the radio play we had people coming to see us at the BBC Intro stages at Reading & Leeds which was awesome. It was really cool to see our music was actually reaching people!”
Having started out playing local gigs throughout Hastings and the Southeast, the experience of playing Reading & Leeds was a big change for Alibi. “Reading & Leeds was incredible, such a surreal experience for all of us. A weekend of being rock stars traveling in a van around the country and being in hotel rooms was great fun.” The group is now really starting to see the success which has been generated; “We met some fans up at Leeds festival which was strange, people that had heard Space, Man on Radio 1.” Alongside these developments, Alibi has also begun transitioning into more polished music videos. The professionally filmed, in-studio video for ‘Space, Man’ marks a significant departure from their first videos filmed on local beaches in Bexhill and Hastings. “For our first experience with a more professionally filmed video we had help on the main theme; however, the storyline of the video itself was the basis of the production company.” The guys still maintained close involvement with the creative process, “It was filmed by a close friend of ours so we had as much control on it as we wanted, but the filmmaker had an idea so we ran with it – and it turned out pretty cool. We wanted a very DIY looking video. We thought it’d look cool if it was clearly a low budget shoot.”
Riding the waves of their recent successes, with gigs lined up for the rest of 2017 and new projects in the works, Alibi has found themselves constantly busy. Alongside their manager, the group tries to self-manage their blossoming music careers as much as possible, “the five of us manage everything at the moment. We prefer to do as much as we can ourselves so we all know exactly what’s going on…it’s more than just writing and playing music. There is so much going on “behind the scenes”, we are constantly working on something – but it’s so rewarding.”
Like the majority of today’s musicians, Alibi maintains an active presence on social media with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, where they can further promote their music linked via iTunes or Spotify. When asked about the importance of social media, particularly for the purpose of self-promotion as upcoming artists, they made clear that “social media is an extremely powerful tool for bands to use…there are so many platforms that people can follow you on. All your music, photos, videos and events being in one place so people know who you are, what you do and where they can see you play. It’s pretty cool to play a gig somewhere out of town then come home and see new people have liked the band page, so you can actually see you are gaining fans. Social media offers so much exposure to new bands; it’s easy to promote events and new music releases and gain a following pretty quickly.”
As an unsigned up-and-coming band, utilising the benefits of social media for fan engagement, promotion, and reaching audiences is a necessity. But what else can you do to get your sound out there and connect with different listeners as an emerging band? With their roots in gigging, Alibi stresses the importance of playing live as a good starting point. “We’re unsigned and still finding our live sound. The live sound will constantly be developing as you gig – so play as much as you can and record the songs you are confident with. Send off the songs to radio stations and labels to gain more exposure. Another really good way of reaching new audiences is gig sharing with other bands in similar positions to you. Say you find a band from another town and ask them to your hometown to support you for a show, then in return they host a gig in their hometown and you support them. It’s a great way of meeting new bands, making new friends and gaining new fans.”
With 2018 just around the corner, one must wonder what Alibi is planning next to follow their succession of achievements this year. If you’ve been a fan of ‘Space, Man’, or loved these guys at Reading & Leeds, don’t fret – there’s more coming soon. “We are back in the studio recording October/November time, working on a new single which we plan to release early next year. We’ve got plenty of gigs lined up for the rest of this year, and starting to book up next year as well. So keep your eyes peeled.”
Overall, there really is no alibi for these guys; they’re making moves. Stay tuned.