The Rifles: (L to R): Joel Stoker, Rob Pyne, Grant Marsh, Lucas Crowther | Photo: The Modern Republic
On their third night in NYC, after a long train ride from Coney Island to Harlem and then after sound check, Joel, the 30 year old, recently married singer of The Rifles sat down with me for a little Q&A. It was a great pleasure, because what makes this band so special is how down to earth and humble they are, and what a class bunch they are. They've made a name for themselves around the world, not by inserting themselves in every tabloid rag, but by playing good clean honest rock n roll, and doing it really really well. They're easily one of the best English bands today. Do yourself a favor and get into this band if you haven't already.
What brought you back to America?
I think, we've never really done our own little mini tour, and we've just gotten our own distribution company, and label over here, so its just a little dummy run before we get an album out.
How do you feel you've been received in comparison to the response to your last tour here with Paul Weller?
Its a hard one to gauge really, cuz, obviously the Paul Weller crowds were much bigger, you can't really tell. We seem to go down really well with the Weller crowd here in the States, but obviously with our gigs on our own, they're a lot smaller, and intimate, but everyone we've spoken to after the gigs seemed to have really enjoyed it.
Do you feel like a lot of people came back this year after seeing you last year with Weller?
I know a few did, yea.
How do you like NYC?
Its good. I've done a sort of mission today. We all have. I've gone all the way from Coney Island to Harlem on the train. We've been lucky really, both times we've been here, we've had at least a few days each time to sort of take it all in.
The Great Escape was just released on iTunes in America, and Canada, are you planning on doing vinyl and CD release as well?
I'm not sure to be honest, I'm sure we'd always like to bring out the vinyl if we can, I suppose until we get a bit more established, I don't think there will be anyone paying for it, you know what I mean?
Is that part of what brought you here this time around?
To get established?
Well I meant more to establish a label for US distribution? Because you guys are on Sony in the UK right?
No, not no more, that was our first album. The Great Escape was on 679, which is a part of Warner, but we're not with them any more either. We're gonna probably bring our next album out with our management company ATC.
Are you guys already working on new stuff for that?
Yea, we're working and trying to get down some new stuff hopefully by Christmas, and try to record it by early new year.
How does it feel to go from playing the likes of Brixton Academy and large places like that, to playing these smaller gigs again?
Yea, I think its great, because we don't usually get the chance to play little venues back at home anymore, so, I think we quite enjoy them.
I know that you guys put on the Narrow Minded Social Club monthly in London, and are there any new and upcoming bands in the UK that have taken your attention lately?
There was a good young band called The Federals from the Northeast of England, and Danny Connors from The On Offs has a new band called Danny Connors and The Ladders, and they're great too.
They played the same night with Andy Crofts' band The Moons, right?
So are you guys an East London band?
East, East, East and North.
And you're a West Ham supporter?
Through and through. Grant supports Liverpool though.
Unlike many in quite some time, you seem to have a ring of positivity in your music that brings all types of people together that have pretty harsh football divides and even more cultural divides. Do you recognize that as a positive thing? I found myself having pints and singing your songs with Tottenham fans, and that's an experience I've never had, and it was a good one.
That was what was great. I think Oasis really did that. Because of their love for the game, it kinda brought football fans into the bands, and music fans into football. A bit of a crossover is really good.
Were you upset at all to find out about the end of Oasis? Is it real this time?
Yea, I dunno if its real this time or not, but apparently Noel wants to do a solo album, which I'm sure he'll do some great stuff.
Does that mean you're next in line to be England's new sons?
Yea, that would be nice. I'm not gonna say yea, but hopefully.
Any closing comments?
Your trains are as bad as ours.
Check out the Rifles at www.therifles.com/ or on Myspace, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Romeo & Julie @ Mercury Lounge on Sept 24
Darling Girl @ Mercury Lounge on Sept 25
Spend A Lifetime @ Mercury Lounge on Sept 25