Gone but not forgotton Manchester moody sound merchants The Rain Band.
The Rain band are no more they split a few years ago after one fantastic album and a string of supersonic live dates. Unfortunately our acclaim didn’t transfer into massive records sales. We still love them so here is stuff we wrote for easyriders a dedicated Rain Band fanzine – gone but not forgotton. The Rain band were from Manchester and were great! Do you need to know anymore? Probably yes and no, we all know about the great bands from the musical capital of Great Britain and The Rain Band wore the Manchester tag with pride but there’s more to know about this former three piece than some Stone Roses or Oasis rip off merchants. The first thing you need to know is that they didn’t sound anything like Oasis but influences banded about included the Roses, New Order and Joy Division. So there’s the intro and what did we think? Well suffice to say that if I were you I’d run to the record shop now and try to buy anything and everything they’ve ever done cause they sound great! They were dark and broody but with some classic pop sensibilities, there’s usually plenty going in the background whether it be traditional guitars or a bit of the old electro pop but at no time does it dilute the quality that is Richard Nancollis’ vocals. Debut single ‘The world is ours’ is dark yet poppy, almost Cure like with a thumping bassline and a great chorus, foot tappingly infectious. Follow up and critically acclaimed ‘Easy Rider’ follows on from this mixing all the influences up in a great bag and pouring them out like you’ve never heard them before in a pulsating four minute forty-eight second package. The Rain band have a strange name (well it’s always bloody raining across t’ Pennines when I'm there so maybe not that weird afterall) but plenty going for them. Manchester, so much to answer for, yeah and keep them coming!
the rain band were
Mark Lee – Guitar & programming
Richard Nancollis – Vocals & Keyboards
Stephen Taylor – Bass
questions for the rain band
Having featured the lads in our sister fanzine ‘Shadders? On me Lungs? we decided it was time we ventured out to catch up with them in person at York’s famous Fibbers venue on their joint headline tour with Medium 21. So after they’d done the business and blown Medium 21 off the planet we caught up with the lads in the comfort of their ‘lavish’ tour bus.
Q1, First things first – Why the name The Rain Band – anything to do with the Manchester climate? Mark – Ask Rick. Stephen – See Rik, he’ll probably tell you about The Rain Parade. Richard – There was a band called The Rain Parade from America, liked the name so I robbed rain & changed it to Rain Band. Q2, Is it true that at least one of The Rain Band were in mid nineties hopefuls Sussed and how do they differ musically and in attitude to the Rain Band? Stephen – Boyz 2 Men. Richard – A lot more ambition, can now sing in tune! At time couldn’t be arsed to get a proper job! Mark – No comment. Q3, The Rain Band are a three piece without a drummer isn’t this a bit strange? Richard – No, drummers are the spawn of Satan! They smell of viagra and shit! Mark – Not really Massive Attack use session players, The Clash were essentially a three piece as were The Whailers. Stephen – You wouldn’t say that if you had ever met the drummer we used 2 have. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Q4, Do you think coming from Manchester creates a greater sense of pressure to come up with the goods due to what’s gone before? Stephen – Yes, but if bands don’t want 2 be counted amongst the greats then why bother? Richard – No we work a lot harder than most and believe in what we do! Fuck everyone shit houses arse twat! Mark – No, we thrive on it. The bands that we’re compared to are important historical groups. We take in our stride. Q5, What’s your favourite Manchester band past or present? Richard & Mark – The Smiths! Stephen – The Fall, Smiths, Roses, Mondays, New Fads, Buzzcocks etc Q6, Your Pr says you’ve got some interesting political views – what’s getting your goat at the moment? Stephen - £5 to drive around that shithole. Someone’s having a laugh. Richard – Third world famine, poverty. The ignorance of people towards the impaired and less fortunate. Mark – George Bush’s little Christian foot soldier Blair, you are not speaking for me Prime Minister. Q7, Do you feel politics and music mix? Richard – Obviously views can be put across in music but if you’re into politics fuck off and buy a tie and become a politician. Mark – If it’s done right, but I don’t like being preached to too often. Music should be a release from the everyday grind. Stephen – Can do. But why join a band if you just gonna bang on about politics all day. Music should move, politics is 4 stuffy old twats in suits. Q8, What can punters expect of The Rain Band live & why should they come out to see you? Stephen – Top vibe – better than some of the stuff around. Not just music to revise 2. Richard – A wall of sound that makes you come! Mark – Sonic sex. Q9, How would you describe The Rain Band sound? Mark - See above. Richard - Melodic electronic guitar whore! Stephen – Electro punk clash. Q10, What’s the worst record you’ve ever bought? Stephen – This OLE house – Shakey. Mark – John Squire’s solo “effort”. Richard – Now 13 or something when I was about 11! Q11, Using at least one swear word say why we should care about The Rain Band! Richard – Bastardize. Stephen – Coz no fucker else seems 2 want 2 liven up the party. Mark – We are right here, we are right now and we shitting well matter.
questions for the rain band 2
After the success of the interview in the debut issue of EASY RIDERS we decided to get back in touch with the lads armed with a boatload more questions, so here goes.
Favourite ever Rain Band gig – where, when and why? Richard - Glasgow, T in the Park, the crowds were fucking amazing. Mark – Glasgow King Tut’s Mar 03 – The jocks know how to rock & Brighton Free Butt – July 03 – Hot, sweaty, crowd in your face all rockin’ with the rain boys. Stephen – T in the Park – July 2003 – coz the the crowd were buzzin and we played a blinder even though it was only lunch time. Any song by another band you’d really wished you’d wrote? Richard - No. Mark – Midnight Ravers – The Wailers. Stephen – Nah. Any Rain band songs you refuse to play live? Richard - Some from the past, they were wank. Mark – Desert Song. Stephen – Desert Song coz we never that keen on the verses. Bet we’ve forgotton how to play it now anyway. Top outro though. Easy Riders have heard you’ve already wrote over 15 new tracks any you’re particularly excited about? Richard - We all have different tracks which turn us on. I suppose they’re all exciting. Mark – The Hours, When the lights turn green, 400 Blows, Open your eyes. Stephen – Yeah shitloads – The Hours, Empty Years, Reductions of Youth, Sinking Sands and the 3 b sides on our next single out in October. I know it’s a bit soon but when can we expect a second Rain Band album? Richard - Fuck knows, these music people that sit behind their desks on their fat arses make decisions? Cunts. Mark – Your guess is as good as ours. Stephen – If it was up to us we’d have one ready in a month or 2 and then another by xmas. But it’s not so fuck knows hopefully not too long though. Which football teams do The Rain Band support? Richard - Man City – blue moon and all that! Utd suck cock. Mark – Manchester United. Stephen – Stephen supports Rochdale FC and normally watches from the Sandy Lane. What was the first gig you ever attended and also the best (other) band you’ve ever seen live? Richard - First gig – some shit local band somewhere? Best gig – The Rapture at Glasonbury 03. They were good for a set of yanks (but we were fuckered on pills + drink). Mark – First gig – can’t remember probably something crap. Best band – Massive Attack or The Wailers on DVD. Stephen – Saw the Quo when I was 8, but I’m keeping that quiet. Seen loads of top bands live, so dunno, maybe Massive Attack or Happy Mondays. Saw The Rapture at Glasto this year n’all, they were top draw. What’s so special about Manchester and what does it mean to you? Richard - Man City, that’s it! Mark – Nothing special. Just where I was raised. Stephen – The place has seen tons of great bands but it lost it’s spark years ago. It’s turning into London. It means fuck all. No more important than anywhere else; Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Bristol etc. Do you create your own artwork and if so does that mean that The Rain band are control freaks? Richard - We are control freaks and also have power wanks! Yeah, I do all the artwork because I enjoy it and believe it has more relevance to our songs and band. It’s better to do this rather than pay some wanker hundreds to create an image that means fuck all to us. Mark – Artwork: yes. Freaks: no. Stephen – It’s not wise to put your trust in a record label that goes around signing Kim Marsh and Mark Owen, cunts the pair. You should have seen the T-shirts they tried to get us to use, utter shite! What do you think of the finished album? Richard - Ok. Mark – Great but the best is yet to come. Stephen – Good statement of intent. Expect better next time tho. Any tracks that you aren’t entirely happy with & why? Richard - You always look back now and think maybe this could be louder, that could be harder etc. I suppose it’s all about progressing. Mark – They all could be improved with hindsight, but you need to let go eventually. Stephen – No not really. Maybe some of them sound a tad too polished. But that’s because we prefer the heavier vibe we get from playing live. What is your favourite song from the album & why? Richard - Fist of fury – great to play live, it’s a real shagger. Mark – Fist of fury – sounds like a sex offender & Ruins and remains – top bass lines. Stephen – Fist of fury coz it’s got such a heavy groove & Ruins coz we never played it live and it reminds me of when we recorded the album. Any titles / names / songs you rejected from the album? Richard - No. Mark – Shoot to kill / Don’t think twice. Stephen – Yeah, Shoot to kill, Don’t think twice and 13th Disciple all got sidelined. We almost called the album ‘The Eparian’s Sunday Lie – in’ and Journey used to be called Temptation and had a different chorus. Any songs you’d wished you’d put on the album? Richard - No. Mark – No. Stephen – No but maybe Shoot to kill might have been a better b side than Dessy. How many copies of the album do you think you’ve shifted - is it above or below your expectations? Richard - Don’t really know, at least my mum got a copy! Mark – Don’t think about it. That’s the domain of soulless number crunchers in suits. Stephen – Wouldn’t like to put a figure on it but I’m still driving around in a second hand Fiesta with a fucked exhaust, so what does that tell you? Any record company pressure to sell millions of albums? Richard - Lazy cunts too interested in Busted, Kym Marsh, Mark Owen etc to bother with The Rain Bands rock, fucking dickheads. Mark – Yes of course. But they are all dicks, telling Kym Marsh she’s not a slag. Stephen – We tend not to pay too much attention to the stuffy exec types. What musical ambitions did you have for this album? Richard - To make a record for people to dance to and be uplifted by. Not a tortured wanky, stare at your shoes piece of fucking crap! Mark – To be the best it could be at the time. Stephen – To make an album where people couldn’t decide over their favourite track.
the rain band live sheffield
What a corking support slot this is, after blowing err average, no Medium 21 away once again The Rain Band warmed up the crowd for our non Manchester fav band The Cooper Temple Clause. Unfortunately the clause’s fans on the whole seem to be a bit unresponsive to our manc mates but to be honest it matters not a jot as The Rain Band are awesome. Singer Richard looks like a true star, he leans on the mic stand all pomp and rock star leers, he embodies a whole generation of Manchester legends and has the voice too. It’s a short but sweet set packing a real punch with the bass lines sounding bigger, louder and even more imposing than on record and the live drummer giving The Rain Band a more dynamic edge. Highlights are the fanzine inducing ‘Easy Rider’, ‘Fist of fury’ (rejected fanzine name!) and live fav ‘The Runaways’. The band leave the stage to plenty of applause possibly a few new converts to the cause and then it’s onto The Clause who I must say were great, what a top bill!
the rain band take scotland T in the Park, The X tent – 12.45 pm Saturday 11th July, 2003
A major admission here on the part of yours truly, I missed the start of the set! After a five hour drive and having to assemble the tent in a field miles away from the stages I thought we had given enough time to get to the X Tent however it was right at the other side of the festival site so ahem songs missed, sorry. When we did get to the X Tent I was more than happy with the amount of Scots packed inside the tent, especially due to the early start with plenty well up for it at the front (maybe a few manc interlopers who’ve made the journey north too). What we did see was very impressive, the first song and a half we saw Richard was singing with the aid of a loud hailer quite a natty effect but I must admit I prefer the sound of his voice unaltered. The final couple of tracks played are well worth the 260 mile drive, firstly they play the excellent single ‘Knee deep and down’, it’s fantastic bass is only heightened by the live drums then finish the set with the magical ‘Into the Light’. Richard and co seemed well up for these tracks and the crowd responded in kind. Richard once again looks like the real star that he is, he exudes that Manchester attitude and confidence, just looks and sounds great and that always seems to be appreciated north of the border. Mark and Stephen and their live drummer mate really give him the grooves and back up to be the perfect frontman. While ‘Into the light’ buzzes the crowd up a bevy of fanzine flyers are thrown high into the air landing on and around the audience, only adding (in my mind anyway) to the spectacle. The band leave the stage looking pleased and so they should as the tent empties it’s job done and Scotland are mightily impressed.
the rain band album track by track
It’s debut album time; we’ve got it, given it a real good listen and now it’s time to see if it lives up to our expectations. Plus as a special bonus we’ve got insight from the rain band too!
Track 1 – Knee deep and down Easy Riders Rating – 10 / 10
This is how to start an album, it’s a real stunner. ‘Knee deep and down’ is a statement of intent which the rest of the album has to live up to. Just have a listen to that mix of bass and drums, excellent.
Notes – Single release (July 2003) Length – 4 Mins 10 secs
When was the song written? Richard - Winter (oh how the snow fell!). Mark – Winter 02 / 03. Stephen – Late last year and recorded at the start of this year at Real World studio near Bath. Did you always see the track as a potential single? Richard - Yes it had good melodies and guitar lines. Mark – We don’t break our songs down into singles. People suggest them to us and we agree or we don’t. Stephen – Yeah that, Fist fucker & Easy, they were the 3 singles we wanted. What does the song mean to you? Richard - Been locked in The Rain Band lare eating shit cheese pies from the crusty cob in Ancoats, Manchester. Mark – 56. Should have been top 40. Stephen – It’s a piss easy one to play so it gives us a chance to see what’s going on in the crowd. Where does the title come from? Richard - Knee deep and down – from the inner core. Mark - ? Stephen – Riks mouth. What’s the song’s all about? Richard - The worry of the future – thinking that you’re getting on a bit and fearing whether or not you’ll ever be settled financially etc but then realising that there are many worse off than you! Mark – See Mr Nancollis. Stephen – I dunno, I’d guess at about 4 minutes. Were you pleased at how stylish the video looked? Richard - Yes it was ok. Mark – Yeah, good for a first go. Stephen – Yeah and the make up girl was a fox!
Track 2 – The World is ours Easy Riders Rating – 8 / 10 Continues directly from ‘Knee deep and down’ with the great Cure like bass line hitting you from the start. There’s a real deep throbing sound upon which Richard’s atmospheric vocals sit.
Notes – Limited edition single release (1300 copies November 2002) Length – 4 mins 09 secs
Track 3 – Easy Rider. Easy Riders Rating – 9 / 10
This really kicks up the tempo and Richard’s claims of, ‘We’re here to make people dance again’ really stands up. It’s ballsy and drips manc attitude, a cracking song.
Notes – Single release (February 2003) Length – 4 mins 47 secs
The line ‘ I wanna kill you all’ is kinda threatening is it meant to be serious? Richard - No it’s tongue in cheek but we all feel like that sometimes, when people piss you off that’s the rage from the heart! Mark – Yes of course! Stephen – Not really what kind of band wants their audience dead? Maybe it’s just Riks idea of pillow talk. Were you surprised it charted at No.63 or were you expecting and appearance on top of the pops? Richard - We wanted it to go higher, it should have but didn’t, Fuck it! Mark – No expectations at all. But when it went to 63 we thought, ‘now if someone did their jobs and got us on the radio that could have been higher’. Stephen – Surprised coz we’d not had much airplay or press up till then and it was before we’d done a proper tour, so not many people would have heard of us beyond our immediate families. Do you like the film of the same name and is the song directly a homage to it? Richard - Yes it’s a wicked film but no the title just sounded cool. A song about a free spirit! A real demon. Mark – No, overrated. Stephen – Good film but no relation. I always thought Easy Rider was a slang term for whore. The Fly magazine stated in their review of this song, ‘Coming on like the Cult having sex with Duran Duran’s favourite pets’. Do you agree with this comment and what does it mean?!? Richard - It sounds cool to me but pet sex ain’t The Rain Band’s bag! Mark – Most hacks are always wide of the mark whether it’s good or bad. We always ignore reviews, it’s what the real fans, the people who buy our records and come to the gigs, that’s what we care about. Stephen – Makes a change from Roses, Mondays, New Order comparisons. The Cult used to sound like real in-outers and The Duran’s had a few tunes as well. Between them they’ve sold a few records so maybe it’s no bad thing. Fuck all that make up tough!
Track 4 – Fist of fury Easy RidersRating – 8 / 10
A darker more electronic edge takes The Rain Band attitude up a notch or two. ‘Give me some loving’, asks Richard but you’ll be more tempted in this sore mood to turn your back but then there’s no doubt you’ll soon return for a catchy chorus. The chorus it has to be said borrows slightly from the Rolling Stones!
Notes – Very limited promo single (500 copies ) Re-release single (October 2003) Length – 4 mins 50 secs
Track 5 – Ruins and Remains Easy Riders Rating – 7 / 10
Big drum intro and features more delicate vocals lightens the mood somewhat. A little New Order in texture and feel. Not the strongest track on the album but gives a different in the Rain Band mix and easy listening none the less.
Length – 4 mins 48 secs
Track 6 – Lucifer Easy Riders Rating – 7 / 10
Back with a banging drum beat and a more hard feel, once again a very catchy chorus. A hooky bassline comes crashing in and out of the track. First minute has a bit of a mid album track feel but at least it’s washed away by the chorus. Maybe the Manchester influences are a bit overly evident here.
Length – 4 mins 07 secs
Track 7 – The Runaways Easy Riders Rating – 10 / 10
It would have been a waste to leave this as a mere throwaway ‘b’ side on some hard to find single, so here it is as track 7 - ‘The Runaways’. Starts off with a delicate 40 second intro before breaking into life with Richards perfect trademark vocals. This is one of those tracks that really hits you when played in the live arena and translates here perfectly onto CD. Not touched much upon The Rain Band lyrics but they are definitely worth listening to in great detail and the Runaways is as good as example in that respect. The Runaways weighs in as the longest track on the album but it could go on forever and you’d never bore of this song. It breaks off after 3 minutes 30 seconds then comes back at you with some splendid instrumental work. Perfect Rain Band.
Notes – ‘B’ side to The World is Ours single (Nov 2002). Length – 5 mins 34 secs
Track 8 – Island Easy Riders Rating – 6 / 10
I’ll be honest here these track really feels the pressure of following ‘The Runaways’ and never really lives up to it. I’m possibly unduely harsh but it sounds slightly laboured at times with no real direction. The distorted vocals do nothing to enhance it and it sounds like it borrows from Madonna’s ‘Justify my love’! Weakest track on the album.
Length – 4 mins 54 secs
Track 9 – Eye for an eye Easy Riders Rating – 8 / 10
Back onto a more bouncy poppy edge, great foot tapping guitar and bass combo. Builds up for a rip roaring chorus with banging bass. Breaks off around 2 minutes 45 seconds into a rhythm and blues, rock n’ roll bonaza.
Length – 3 mins 50 secs
Track 10 – Journey to the end of the earth Easy Riders Rating – 7 / 10
Slow burner of an intro on this with an almost conversational vocal. Bursts into half life around 45 seconds but never really gets into top gear or into the full Rain Band flow. Although saying this you can see the hands clapping along to the outro of this songs in years to come in the nations stadia if things go to plan!
Length – 3 mins 46 secs
Track 11 – Into the Light Easy Riders Rating – 10 / 10
Now where do you start when you’ve just heard a song like this? If there’s ever a lesson on how to finish an album in true style this is the one. It’s a 3 minutes 50 second rip roaring rollercoaster ride of non stop thrills and excitement. The intro to start with is just fucking awesome and flows head long into a real cracker of a song and then there’s the chorus! Singalong? Hell yes!! Add to this the drum beats, the driving rhythm guitars or the monster pounding bass lines, god there is too much going on for just one song! It’s about as perfect as a song gets, 3 minutes 50 seconds and you’re heading for the repeat button!
Length – 3 minutes 50 seconds
The title sounds a bit trippy is it meant to be? Richard - No. Mark – No. Stephen – No more than incense + peppermints by the strawberry alarm clock. Did you record the song and think ‘that’ll sound good as the final track on the album’? Richard - Yes it just felt heavy. It had a big impact on people when we played it live. Mark – No. It’s just the best place for it and we’ve always closed the live shows with it. Stephen – Think we always had it in mind for a closer coz it’s usually the last song of the live set. How would you describe this song? Richard - Open gobbing whilst being birched by a dwarf. Mark – Back door action. Stephen – Like a secondary stiffy. One that you can spin a plate on.
STATS 11 Tracks Total length 48 minutes 50 seconds
TOTAL EASY RIDERS RATING 90 / 110