A few weeks back, Mr John Hellier posted us an EP of a band named Penny For The Workhouse. We liked what we heard heard and asked the band if they would play for us down in Carnaby St. Their sound is folk and Indie of sorts or whatever you'd like to throw in to the mix, it is hard to pin PFTW to a category.
The band themselves are a proper good bunch of people who seem like they are always up for a good old fashioned knees-up. With Paul Weller and Steve Cradock being fans they have to be doing something right.
We had a chat with band and asked them a few questions, found below.
G-C - When and how did you form the band
PFTW - All of us trained as actors/performers and all found each other through work.
Mel was writing songs and doing acoustic gigs on her own but always felt she needed a band to give the songs full potential, being a close friend Nathan would come along and support so the idea of teaming up came up whilst drinking after a gig.
The duo then began performing small pub gigs around London performing both songwriters songs and then it was decided that we wanted to form a full band as it was working so well.
Jess came on board as bassist, being an old friend of Mel's from a few years before she was always going to be asked once a band was formed and Tom came on board as drummer/vocalist.
The band gigged around London and surrounding areas for the first year, Tom started to get very successful in his stage career and the band needed a re-work to be able to carry on pushing when he was away on tour.
Sam Young met Mel and Nathan through work and originally stood in on drums for a few gigs that Tom couldn't make, he fit in so well that we decided that a 5 piece would be the way forward so Tom went onto Lead guitar and Vocals and Sam joined the band full time. Now we have best of both worlds!
For those that haven’t heard you, how would you describe your music
This one is an interesting question that we are often asked!
We have described ourselves and others have described us as many different things over the years! We have been Indie, Folk, Pop and all sorts in between. We are hard to pidgeon hole but we don't think that is necessarily a terrible thing, Steve Bingham of Slim Chance also said he liked the fact he couldn't put us into a category. We decided that we needed to give ourselves a genre for the reason that we did get asked a lot! We put the question out to our fans online and someone described us as Folk'n'Roll, and that was perfect and has stuck ever since, so there is your answer......FOLK'N'ROLL!
Who are your musical influences
There are so many!!
Mel grew up on the Small Faces and all 60's music in her household and has always had a soft spot for old rock'n'roll. I think 60's bands such as the Small Faces, The Beatles etc have a big influence over all of us really and definitely comes through in the music.
More modern artists and bands also, Mel is a HUGE fan of anything Pete Doherty, for her he is the ultimate song writer and story teller and his pure passion for his art is fascinating.
There have been loads of great indie bands about that we love to such as Babyshambles, Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabien, Keiser Cheifs, Fratellis, Jack White.
and of course anything Brit Pop, what a great time for British music, bands such as Blur also have an influence over our sound.
What is behind the name of the band
Well this is an interesting one, Originally when we formed in 2012 we were called "The Workhouse" this name came from Mel's love of Oliver Twist, everything Victorian London and the fact that all members of the band were so caught up working their day jobs and needed music to escape reality.
Unfortunately there was a band already called this that got wind of us and weren't very happy so we decided the best thing to do would be to change it slightly, we loved what The Workhouse meant to us and we had already started collecting a fan base under that name so wanted to keep that in it.
When recording our first EP "Coins and Cards" we were thrashing some things around in the studio, we looked up "workhouse" online and found a poster for a in house show at a Victorian workhouse and the title said..."Penny For The Workhouse" and we thought it was right considering we were all performers and skint!!
We hear Paul Weller and Steve Cradock are fans of the band. How did they come about
We are lucky that Mel's dad is John Hellier!!
John is always a massive support to us as well as constructive and honest. From day 1 he has always been a fan and tried to plug us where he can. He sent our CD off to Paul and Steve and as they have a good relationship we were lucky enough to get them to take time out to have a listen! Its great to have the support of not only a loving dad but a man that knows good music when he hears it!
Paul was then nice enough to send us a quote that we could use about our first EP "Coins and Cards"
"It's Quirky, I Love the title track Coins and Cards, good luck, keep working at it!"
You are playing The Small Faces Convention, looking forward to it
Unfortunately due to other commitments we aren't playing this year but we were lucky enough to be involved last year and it is always an amazing night full of great bands.
We also played the Christmas Mod Ball last year and we supported the legends that are Slim Chance at Dingwalls earlier in the year where we also performed along with our friends circus performers Caeli Stick men and supplied the "Workhouse girls" for the can can during Oh Laa Laa, that was definitely a highlight of 2014 and Slim Chance are a truly incredible bunch of talented musicians.
I'm sure you will see us at The Small faces convention again in the future.
Any releases coming soon for PFTW
We released our second EP earlier this year "Jack The Gunslinger and Other Tales" recorded at The Animal Farm, London.
This EP was partly funded by a successful kickstarter appeal and ourselves and self released on iTunes. We launched the EP with a successful launch night at the Enterprise Camden and it went down a storm.
We also donated "Not My Revolution" to The Pete Quaife Foundation for the charity CD "Pass It On, Vol 1" and we have donated "Jack The Gunslinger, Country Singer" to the follow up album "Legends, Shoulder to Shoulder" which is also featuring the likes of Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller! You can find out more about the charity here http://petequaifefoundation.com/
Do you have a PFTW channel on the internet
Yes we currently do all our "plugging" via social media and we are currently raising funds for a website.
For gig listings and banter, You can find us on Facebook - see foot of the page link
we have a youtube channel of live gig vid's at TheWorkhouseUK
What are you're favourite bands at the moment
We all have huge tastes in different music that range from folk to American pop punk to Rock!!
But some bands and artists that we love are;
The Libertines, Babyshambles, Arctic Monkeys, Bowie, Jack White, Mumford and Sons, Oasis, Blur, The Strypes, Bastille, Beatles, The Small Faces, The Who, The Kinks....theres just too many to list!
As far as current day music, we are probably not that up to date! But there are certainly some great bands out there.
Do you have any other gigs lined-up
We have been mega busy gigging this year, our next one is one we have organised ourselves and will be raising money for us to get a proper website, this will feature a full length set from us plus great support acts;
Penny For The Workhouse and Friends 11th August @ The Enterprise Camden, to be put on the reserve list you can contact us via email or facebook. https://www.facebook.com/events/1645969368962602/
All our gig listings for the rest of the year will be on our facebook page.
What else can we expect from Penny for the Workhouse in 2014
Things we want to do next are;
Set up a top notch website featuring downloads, merchandise, pictures and gig listings
Make a music Video
Get some bigger gigs
get featured on radio
Get a good manager on board
We want to push even harder in 2015 and get our music out to the masses! So watch this space and join The Workhouse Revolution! So any managers, web designers, radio show hosts reading this.....get in touch ;)
Thanks, keep Folkin' and Rollin!