The Family Rain

The Family Rain

by Joanna Orland

The Family Rain is a band made up of members William, Ollie and Timothy Walter – three brothers with a shared passion for rock ‘n’ roll music.  The English band originally hail from Bath and have been working on their debut album with producer Jim Abbiss (Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys).  Under the Volcano is set for release on February 3rd, 2014.  In the meantime, the band have been hard at work touring the UK and Europe supporting The Courteeners, Willy Moon, Miles Kane and Jake Bugg before heading out on their second headline UK tour this month.

Lead singer William generously took some time out of his tour stop in Sheffield to ring us for a chat about The Family Rain.

What is the music scene like in Bath?  It’s not a common place for a British band to come out of as far as I’m aware.

It’s pretty stiff actually, there’s not much going on at all.  It’s kind of limited to one or two venues.  It’s a small place and you congregate with a few people who do music in that city.  We liked it in terms of the fact that we were kind of different to everyone else and we could kind of do our own thing and build our own original idea of what we were meant to be doing, instead of bouncing off bigger cities.

Are you guys still based there?

We are based nowhere at the moment.  Our stuff is at our parents’ house in Bath, but we are homeless.  We live on the road out of Travelodges.  Currently based at a Travelodge in Sheffield.

Did you grow up playing in bands together?  

We started playing music when we were about fourteen.  Mid-puberty I suppose, we started playing rock ‘n’ roll.  We’ve just been doing that from that age.  As soon as we realized we weren’t going to be professional wrestlers and we weren’t very good at skateboarding, we finally found something which we were kind of good at.

Did you always play just together, or did you  play with  other friends as well?

There were a few original little things going on with other people, but we found it hard to find people who wanted to genuinely do it.  As soon as you get to nineteen, everyone goes off to university and stuff like that.  They move to bigger cities and get proper jobs, and we were never into that.  We had our hearts set on doing music for a very long time.

When and how did you decide to form The Family Rain as it is now?

I suppose it’s coming up to like two years ago now.  As I said, it was just down to necessity.  We just got really pissed off with everyone being really flaky…and we just looked at each other and we were like, us three really want to do it, and were really into the same music massively.  And as soon as we did it as the three of us, everything became a lot easier and everything moved a lot faster.  I mean, we were living together and listening to the same thing, so as soon as we did it, we’ve never looked back really.

How did you guys choose your instruments?  You guys grew up together and were probably similarly interested in the same things?

Ollie is two years older than Tim and I and he picked up a guitar when he was fourteen.  He played for like two years and all of his friends learned guitar, so with all of his close friends, there were eight guitarists.  Nobody wanted to learn bass guitar and nobody wanted to learn drums.  But he was like, Oh i got these twin brothers… He was like, you two could learn it, and we were kind of getting out of our other phases and we got really into it. Ollie always said that because Tim is a lot more ill-tempered, he’s kind of more angry than I am, that he’d always  be a good drummer.  And I’m slightly more laid back, so he’s like, you should probably play the bass guitar. So we did that.

Do you think being siblings helps or hinders your music?  Are you more like-minded and find it easier, or do you have more conflict because you’ve got that sibling rivalry?

We do hate each other 50% of the time, but we do love each other 50% of the time.  I like to think that there’s a brutal honesty which you can have with siblings which you can’t really have with coworkers as it were.  You can have a blazing row and you can make up five minutes later and it’s all fine.  You can lose your friends, but you can’t really lose your family.  It’s tighter.  As much as I’m trying, you know…  It’s quite a tight knit unit we’ve got going.  It works well.

So, it’s no Gallagher brothers?

No. Well, occasionally, but not all of the time.

How did you decide on the band name The Family Rain?

It came to the point of choosing a name and we knew we wanted to get family involved in there, for obvious reasons, and it’s just a nice word.  I watched this video by this old blues artist called Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and she did this song called Didn’t It Rain.  It was like 3 o’clock in the morning, I found this video on youTube, and after I watched that, i was like, well this is why we’re doing this and this is why I think we should carry on playing music.  So, I woke Tim and Ollie up and brought them downstairs and they all saw exactly what I was saying, and the next day we wanted to get “Rain” involved, and we were just like “The Family Rain”.  It rolls off the tongue quite well and it’s quite nice aesthetically as well.  Quite nice to look at.

Who are some of your musical influences?

I suppose we just grew up listening to our dad’s record collection which consisted of stuff like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac.  And we went through the classic teenage phases where we got into punk, we got into metal, we went through all the stages.  And then we just came full circle in the last few years. We can’t stop listening to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  But we also listen to a lot of old hip hop.  We’ve been listening to a lot of A Tribe Called Quest recently, and a lot of De La Soul, because I don’t know, for a long time we were kind of scared of listening to different types of music.  In the last few years we’ve just really broadened our horizons as what we’re allowed to listen to, and we’re just having a lot better time because of it.

What is the songwriting process like for The Family Rain – Is it collaborative, or do you each write your own songs?

It’s absolutely totally mutual.  It starts in a rehearsal session, always, the three of us always there.  It can start off on a drumbeat, or  a guitar hook, or a bass line.  And we build the song, and if it works then we’ve usually written the whole thing in about ten minutes.  If it doesn’t work, then a couple of people get insulted and leave the room.  In terms of the writing side of it, I write most of the lyrics.  It depends, sometimes I write the lyrics and then we’ll write the music to it after.  Sometimes I just come up with the melody and write the lyrics to it.  But lyrically, it always comes from an actual event which has happened.  If nothing exciting or noticeable has happened for a while, then I just wait.  Something happens.  Something bad or good happens then I think, oh I’ll write about it.  As a rule of thumb, we just don’t write about nothing. That’s the one thing which we won’t do.

Do you feel your song catalogue is quite prolific and you’ve only recorded a few of what you have written, or do you just write to record and that’s that?

I think we went to this album with, I think we had about 50 or 60 songs.

50 or 60!?

Yeah, and I think since recording that album we’ve written about, I don’t know, maybe 20 over the summer.  As soon as we’ve got any time free, because we tour so much, it builds up.  As soon as we’ve got like a week free, we just like writing 3 or 4 songs.  I don’t know, we just really like writing songs.  We write as many as we possibly can.  It’s just what we do.

What are you doing with these songs?  Are you saving them for other recordings?

Yeah, we’re saving them. We’ve got half the next record already written. We usually just demo them, we have a few friends back in Bath who we can lay down a  few demos with.  We’re playing two songs tonight in the set, which nobody’s ever heard before, just to test them out and see what’s going on.  It’s the time to do it you know.

How did you decide which songs made the cut for your album Under the Volcano?

It was a joint thing between us and Jim (Abbiss).  Just by saying, what does this bring to the table?  We just wanted to make sure that every song brought something different.  So, if two songs came from a similar place, then we just had to be really brutal and be like, which one of these is the better song?  And you just have to cut it off.  There were some songs which we love that didn’t make it, and that’s just how it is.  We just didn’t want to release a 20 song album, that’s not what we wanted to do.

What can people expect from your album Under the Volcano?

It’s just going to be heavy hitting.  We just wanted to make a bold statement with the first album, like a statement of intent.  I think all the songs which we’ve released so far are kind of rocky singles I suppose, and I think there’s a few little pockets on there of things that people won’t expect us to do.  I think people are going to enjoy it.  We just can’t wait to get it out there.

If there were only one word to sum up The Family Rain, what would that one word be?

That’s a great question… An amazing question.  Uh… Slammin’.


Slammin’.  S-L-A-M-M-I-N. Slammin’!  Yeah, Slammin’.

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