By Micheal McKenna
ONE OF THE hottest new bands in the UK is set to perform at Manchester’s Club Academy on May 12.
Stornoway, an alternative-pop band from Oxford, have received accolades from The Telegraph, Independent, Q Magazine and the Guardian has officially named them their new favourite band.
As well as performing at The Academy in Manchester, Stornoway are set to perform at Radio 1’s Big Weekend for a second year running.
Rob Steadman, who plays the drums, said: “It has been an amazing year for us and we are definitely excited about coming to Manchester.
“We played in Manchester a few months ago as part of a tour and it was by far the best night of the tour so we are all definitely looking forward to getting back.”
The band consist of four main members, brothers Rob and Ollie Steadman on drums and bass guitar, Brian Briggs on vocals and guitar with Jon Ouin on Keys/Strings.
The band started out with Brian and Jon who met while at university in Oxford. Their first conversation was purely about music and they immediately hit it off from there.
Then Ollie, who had only been self-teaching himself for three months, joined after responding to an advert from the pair looking for a bass guitarist.
After that came Rob who begged his older brother Ollie for a chance to show the band what he could add.
Rob said: “My brother went along and it worked well so I asked him if I could play drums but I was only 15 at the time.”
Unlike Ollie, Rob had been playing drums since he was eight.
The drummer said: “Everyone was a decade older than me and it was obvious they were worried about my age but I worked well with them and eventually they got over the fear of my age.
“I am definitely the baby of the group. I get teased a lot for being childish,” he laughs.
Since the band formed in 2006, they have witnessed a meteoric rise to fame, from playing among themselves in a garage to playing at some of the biggest festivals across the UK.
Stornoway have headlined the BBC Introducing Stage at Radio One’s Big Weekend.
They also won a place at the Glastonbury Festival 2009 via an Emerging Bands competition and were subsequently booked to play an unprecedented four different stages at the event.
Success has come quickly but it has not all been easy for Rob.
He said: “I’m the only one in the band without a university degree. I have come straight out of school and into a gap year.
“I really think I needed that gap year to deal with what happened with the band. As it is, I’m looking about getting another gap year on top of this one.”
Although Rob sees the importance of getting a degree he admits there is not really an incentive to give up the band.
2009 saw the band appear on the Jules Holland Show alongside such music luminaries like Sting, The Foo Fighters, Nora Jones and Jay-Z.
“It’s hard to think about going to university when you think of the experiences we have already had,” he said.
“Appearing on the Jools Holland Show was something special, it was amazing. We got to speak to these people.
“Although we never got to speak to Jay-Z, we still shook his hand. To appear in a line-up alongside him was amazing because he is such a massive star.”
For the band to really make it big, Rob believes it will be all down to how people react to the upcoming tour and style of music.
As a band, Stornoway have an interesting array of musical influences. Both Rob and Ollie grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and with that bring a tradition Zulu music influence with them.
Brian and Jon bring a host of different influences to the band, from new world music to folk – a mix they like to incorporate into their own songs.
Rob said: “We were recognised by Radio 1 and their motto ‘in new music we trust’ so we must be doing something right.
“We definitely want to make our sound, both fresh and new. It’s just going to be interesting to see how people react to us.”
Despite Rob’s fears that not everyone will like their music he still harbours hopes that the future is bright.
He said: “I definitely think we have a chance, we are all optimistic that the band will do well. This year has been all planned out; we are going well, even more so than last year which was an amazing year.
“We’re optimistic but still extremely scared. It has been a baptism of fire.”
Tickets for the gig can be found at manchesteracademy.net and are priced at £9.