‘It’s cooler than New York’: The Travelling Band tell MM why they love being home

Fresh from their European tour with American Artist Lissie, gurus of Manchester’s alternative folk scene, The Travelling Band, are back in town and gearing up for a busy festival season ahead.

As soon as Mrs Boon’s Tea Party confirmed the band’s performance, tickets sold like hotcakes.

MM caught up with the gang as they played a rare acoustic set at The Black Dog Ballroom in Manchester.

“We don’t do much of sitting around on acoustic guitars anymore,” drummer Nick Vaal told MM.

“It was lovely to do it again.”

“In the early days we always liked to play in any room. We could play a stadium or someone’s front room and it wouldn’t really matter we just served the song.”

The room was soon thick with soulful atmosphere as the five-piece started playing.

Like many other musicians, their sound has ‘naturally developed’.

Once described as troubadours when they formed ten years ago, Nick now admits they’re ‘heavier and much more electric’ because of regular festival bookings and theatre gigs.

Playing gigs in people’s front rooms is what the band were known for a few years ago.

HOMECOMING: The Travelling Band at the NQ’s Blackdog Ballroom

To finance their album, The Big Defreeze, they launched a successful crowdfunding campaign.

In return, they awarded their fans with the coolest prize ever – personal house shows.

Jo Dudderidge, the band’s vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, told MM that the live-in-your-living room style gig was something they enjoyed doing a few years back and look forward to doing again in October.

“It was a really effective way of not only ensuring we could make the record that we wanted to but also connecting with our fans in a really personal and intimate way,” he said.

“When you’re together a while you end up becoming friends with your fans.

There’s a few people in that room we’ve known for years and years, they come to everything and you become first name terms and then sort of part of the family.”

In 2014 they hit the headlines when their van with £30,000 worth of kit was stolen in Levenshulme.

When it was returned – kit intact – they held a one-off gig at the Deaf Institute to celebrate with their fans.

One of their followers Ronnie, an avid fan and gearbox specialist, is a go-to for when the band’s infamous van goes wrong.

“Ronnie’s [house show] that we went and did, that was a great one that. They basically decided they were just going to have a great big party for all their mates and we got down and did it.

 “Every time the van’s gone wrong we’re like, ‘Ronnie!’ it’s definitely nice to go and see those guys and they always come to your show and you get to chat to them afterwards.”

The band formed in New York in 2006 out of a collective of musicians from three different Manchester bands and they are now well-established on the scene.

They rose to recognition quickly after the group (back then a six-piece) won the Glastonbury Festival 2008 New Talent Award, which Jo said was ‘the launch pad’ for getting onto the festival scene.

Since then they have been praised by the UK media, with titles such as ‘Under The Pavement’ receiving ‘Best Album’ title from BBC Radio 6 Music and ‘Single of the Day’ from BBC Radio 2.

They signed with record label Cooking Vinyl in 2011and released ‘Screaming is Something’, their second studio album, which received glowing reviews.

Jo said that the band was born when one of the founding members – Snaff – met a guy who’d overheard him playing some music when travelling in Brazil and invited him to go to New York and record.

“Snaff’s quite renowned for telling a story,” said Jo.

“He came back in the summer of 2006 and said, ‘Guys I’ve met this guy and he wants us to go to New York to record’.

“No-one took him that seriously but he kept on saying it and eventually we sort of realised that he wasn’t bullshitting.

“Everyone sold their guitars and cars and did whatever they needed to do and we got on a flight.”

Out of a group of about 14 people who were involved in the new collective, six of seven who went to New York became The Travelling Band.

So after ten years of being on the road, how do Jo and Nick feel about their home city Manchester?

“It was quite a burgeoning unsigned scene when we first started out in our old band,” said Jo.

“There were a lot of bands and a lot of nights and definite scenes going on, but now I’d say that that the quality of venues has gone up. The quality of bands coming through has probably gone up as well.

“You used to get loads of different bands on a night that everyone would go to. But now it feels like, in the same way the music industry has generally, everything has its own little pockets.

“But there’s loads of little pockets and loads of things happening.

“In Manchester there’s always something going on, it’s always one step ahead.

“I went to New York recently – Manchester’s cooler than New York.”

The Travelling Band will be starting a new tour in October and working on their new album which comes out next year – watch this space. 

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