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Ivory Wave: On Their BBC Introducing Debut

Ivory Wave: An Interview

Interviewed Friday 31st May 2019

by Maya Kubisa

Image: Credit to Ivory Wave

Ivory Wave are making waves on the Birmingham music scene and beyond. Birmingham is full of amazing music, but I really think Ivory Wave have something special. Their music is just so good, it’s different and the lyrics are catchy. They’re a dynamic group of lads who are clearly passionate about music.

I sat down with them before their BBC Introducing headline debut and we talked about new music, song writing and collaborating with a Grammy award winning producer. They are a lovely bunch of guys who I think are going places very soon so keep an eye out.

George Johnson: Lead Singer

Connor McMinn: Guitarist

Luke Morris: Bassist

Rob Clarke: Keys

Seb Baldwin: Drums

How does it feel to be part of something like BBC Introducing for you guys?

George: It’s a name brand, you’ve got the verification. Any band that we’ve liked in the past forty years or so have come through BBC Introducing, it’s a right of passage.

Luke: It’s opened a lot of doors for us and it also allows for more opportunities in the future. If we keep a good relationship going with them then you never know how they might reward us in the future

George: You can get festival slots, but this allows us to be noticed a lot more. Tonight, is through BBC Introducing, if you get played on BWM (BBC Introducing West Midlands) they pass you on to like London, you’ll get played by Hugh Stevens, Radio 6.

How did Ivory Wave Begin?

Luke: Well, Connor and I were in a band like way back!

Connor: We were asked to support UB40 once, not sure why because at the time it was the two of us, we didn’t even have a drummer or anything. Hardly any songs. Just me and you in the fucking garage!

George: Then I worked with Rob’s Brother and I was like,’ah I really need a keyboard player’, and Robs brother was like ‘my brother plays the keys’, turned up the next day. Then Seb (Drummer of the band), drummers are really hard to find because they’re always in like 100 bands. I think it’s because mums don’t really like it! If you play guitar it’s like you can do that in your bedroom, but with drums, you’re kinda smashing the shit out of it. No one’s parents want you to be loud with drums I don’t think… Seb was in, like, several different bands at the time, I asked him if he wanted to come down for a practice session and he was like ‘I might come I don’t know’. We were on a night out together and I was like ‘look you should really come down and practice with us, I’ll pick you up at 9am,’! He thought I was just drunk and talking shit basically. I stuck to my promise and the rest is history, I guess.

What are you most proud of so far?

George: I think we’ll all have different answers for this.

We’ve done a lot of stuff, but for me it’s the new single. We’ve had the final mix sent back today. When we showed it to our closest friends and family, said we were really proud of this track they all really loved it. For us to sit back and say yeah, we are really proud of this and to feel like it’s the best thing we’ve written so far is an amazing feeling, I think the rest of the band will agree. We’ve played festivals, we did Truck festival and you can get lost in all that, but you have to remember why you’re in a band and it’s to write good music.

Rob: We’re all in it for the right reasons which I think is really important.

Connor: We’re all like brothers, the best part for me has genuinely been meeting the members of this band. That’s what important to me is that we all get on so well. I mean obviously we fall out like normal people, but we get over it pretty quickly

George: Well I dunno I hate all of you actually, I’m off. Nah kidding no I love everyone they’re amazing

Connor: Actually, maybe our biggest achievement is not being drunk! Sat here drinking green tea. We did have a phase where we were drinking a lot before/after shows but soon realised probably not a good idea. Yeah tea – it is rock and roll!

Out of the band who’s the songwriter or do you all write together?

George: It’s all of us I would say yeah

Luke: We kind of like to bounce off each other

George: Luke and I write most of the lyrics together, Connor kind of suggests stuff to us. Connor gets the backbone of it and we add the ‘meat’ to it if you like.

Connor: I never sit down with just a guitar and be like let’s write a hit song boys. We build on ideas and layer music together.

George: Think it would be boring if only one person wrote the songs. Individually we can write great songs but we’re even better together. All of us going at it, Rob will go ‘try this on the key board’ and I’ll go ‘Ah I dunno not sure I like the sound of that’ but then he’ll piece it together , it’ll sound great and I would’ve never of thought of something like that.

Performing live or Recording in The Studio?

Luke and George: Recording is fun, We love the creative process.

Connor: I love performing live I do.

Luke: We love performing live, but it can be such a ball ache. We went all the way to Leeds recently to play half an hour, that was such a long day and then we got back at 3am. It becomes worth it when new people discover your stuff.

George: Yeah-, we’ve been doing it for four years

Rob: Don’t get me wrong we do love it, it’s fucking amazing but it’s always a long day.

George: Yeah that’s why we ended up taking up drinking because we would get bored. It used to feel like a stag do.

Rob: We all love the studio.

George: When you’re touring it’s all old music you’re playing. When you’re in the studio it’s all new, exciting ‘ah this is the next wave of what we’re gunner be playing’.

Connor: It’s a bit more exciting

George: Yeah it is because you’re like ‘no one knows about this song yet’.

Luke: I like how in the studio there’s no pressure you’re just with your mates!

All: It’s just such a more chill vibe!

Cool Kids has had a lot of attention and personally my favourite song. What was the inspiration behind that song?

George: I’m about to embarrass Connor now I think. Connor writes a load of backing tracks and he just keeps them on his laptop. He won’t let anyone hear them because he thinks they’re rubbish. Every now and then he’ll play us a second of it, Luke and I will be like ‘fucking hell that’s amazing!’. Then Connor will be like ‘nah it’s really shit’.

Connor had written this song with this rapper ages ago, when he was trying to pretend he was in Rizzle Kicks! Originally the song didn’t have that saxophone part in because when Connor first played it he’d taken it out. Rest of the lads loved that part and made him keep it in.

Connor: The lyrics came really quickly

Luke: The ones that you don’t over think and just kind of come to you in the moment, they’re the better songs.

George: It is a tune to be fair , we’re all really proud of that one.

What advice Would you give to someone perusing a music career now?

Connor: Make sure you’re all tight if you’re in a band, being good friends is key really.

Luke: Make sure you get two steps ahead of yourself.

George: If you’re lyrics are shit it doesn’t matter if you’re good musicians. If you’re lyrics are shit and your performance is shit then you’ll be twice as shit. Make sure you’re all well-rehearsed, especially before you go on stage.

With the whole two steps ahead thing, we’d write songs and then be like ah should we write another one then? Now it’s like we’ve got the next four singles lined up and ready. You’ve got to keep chipping away.

Rob: Main thing is just enjoy it, enjoying what you do is so key to everything no matter how successful you are.

George: We all love music and that’s the heart of it.

Where is your dream venue to play?

Luke: Brixton Academy

Rob: We’ve supported at O2 Academy in Birmingham, but we’d love to do our own gig there.

George: Yeah O2 Academy is another one. When we did support it was surreal for us as that was somewhere, we went to as teens to see gigs and read about in NME. The whole time we were like waiting for someone to come on stage like Lads get off you’re not meant to be there. We would love to headline though.

What’s next for Ivory Wave?

Connor: We actually don’t know!

George: We’ve got our new single coming out soon and I think that’ll be a game changer for us. It’s a bit more mature and intellectual. The lyrics are good, I feel like Luke is so good at lyrics. I think this year will be important for us as a band.

Connor: The guy who mixed this record has won two Grammy’s.

George: Yeah, a guy called Adrian Bushby, has produced records for liked the Foo Fighters and Muse. This year feels like our year, I almost feel like the past few years have been a practice and now it’s like the real thing.

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