Band of the Day: The Room

It’s amazing that we have “Room” for all of these new bands! Sorry…

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

I guess you could describe us as being from the South East of the UK but perhaps more accurately just west of London!

How did you meet?

I guess the foundations of the band were created when I answered an ad for a bass player on an industry website and joined Martin Wilson our singer and one of his oldest friends and drummer Andrew Rae in a project that was tentatively called Big Fish. Andrew and Martin’s friendship went back to their teens and various bands in the eighties. The guitarists we were playing with didn’t work out and so Martin called in guitarist Steve Anderson who he had played with, in the neo prog band Grey Lady Down (GLD). We decided we needed a keyboard player and Steve Checkley joined again from an industry advert. That was the original line up of The Room in place. Sadly Andrew developed horrendous tinnitus and retired and was replaced by Chris York in 2013. Last year Steve C decided he needed to spend more time with his growing family and focus on a new job and was replaced with the splendid Mark Dixon. The final part of the jigsaw was the addition of Eric Bouillette. Eric recently moved to Berkshire from Nice in France and we became friends through Facebook. We had always wanted a 2nd guitarist and Eric’s stunning guitar playing made that an easy decision. So now we are six and thank goodness for social media and sites like Bandmix.

How long have you been playing as a band?

The core of the band, myself, Martin and Steve have been together since 2010.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

Coming up with a name for a band is so difficult. There were five of us creating long lists of names which none of us liked (which is crazy for a group of creative individuals) and we eventually tore all the lists up and settled for the name of the rehearsal studios where we first met. We still use their Farnborough facilities and write our best material there!

What are your influences?

If you took all our individual influences from NWOBHM and classic rock through to jazz and prog blended it all up you might get something that was very beige or you might get what we do! That is write great songs with memorable melodies and big choruses. Real hook laden material. In fact Steve Blacknell who was part of the presenter team on Live Aid described us as having “more hooks than a pirates wardrobe!”

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

That’s always the hardest question to answer in any interview. “Weird” was how one reviewer described us when he was writing about the Bedlam album. But, weird in a good way that he couldn’t use the “cookie cutter” test to place us in a genre. He found that really cool. Look, if you want a genre then I guess melodic rock, but flirting with prog! See, even then I can’t give you a simple answer. Please just take a listen and create your own pigeon hole for us. That is the unique bit! We have been likened to the Canadian band SAGA, Marillion and perhaps Magnum if that helps.

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

Martin writes all the lyrics and generally they are about real life or real world themes. On the first album, “Screaming Through The Noise” tells the story of his sons battle with childhood retinal cancer and the impact it had on the family. Then on the new album we have a song called “The Golden Ones” which deals with generational attempts to free the world of pollution.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

I guess we have played 60 or so shows in the 9 years or so we have been together. We are absolutely passionate about playing live. We want to do it wherever and whenever we can. The more people that see us the more they will talk about the show and the band, and we will grow. It is about the show. We always uses the word “show” rather than “gig” when we talk about live because it says so much more about what we do. People pay to be entertained and people pay to have their emotions affected, that’s why they go to shows and so it is our responsibility to them, to deliver against those emotions. It’s also about bringing the characters of the band to life and introducing them to the crowd and it is that interaction that we are becoming well known for. Also from a personal perspective we love the adrenaline rush, we love it when we are absolutely hooked up into a groove and of course when we are appreciated for what we do.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

Lets say the riskiest thing we have ever done was and probably the scariest was when we went on stage at The Robin 2 Bilston with six video cameras pointing at us with the objective of recording a full 90 minute set in one take to be released as a live DVD! The guy who produced our first two albums brought up his mobile studio and we captured the lot warts and all. Yeah we fixed a few minor issues back in the studio but overall we were absolutely thrilled with how it looks and sounds. It’s a cracking piece of work but the pressure on that one night was immense!

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

Steve plays Parker guitars, Eric plays PRS, I play Overwater Basses, Mark has Nord Keyboards and Chris plays Tama drums.

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

We have just released our third studio album, Caught By The Machine, produced by the extraordinary John Mitchell and released on White Star Records, it is a massive step forwards for us as a band. The song writing is better, the musicianship better and Johns production skills have really lifted this new work to a much higher place. That is the focus for us at the moment. The reaction from the media and from our fans has been fantastic.

What are your plans for 2019?

This year is all about promoting the new album. There will be a UK tour but I can’t give you anything specific at the moment but what I can tell you is that we are headlining day two of the Blackpool based Rockforce Festival on May 5th, then playing a show in Sheffield at the RS bar on June 22nd followed by our 4th appearance at the brilliant Cambridge Rock Festival on Saturday 27th July. We love playing festivals as it gives us a great opportunity to play our music to a much broader audience and so we were thrilled to be asked to open the new Wokingham Festival on August bank holiday Monday.

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

Each one of us would give you a different answer but as you are asking me well I would say the headliners would be Journey (great tunes, big melodies etc ) and to open the show perhaps our great friends 4th Labyrinth.

Header image by Sally Newhouse

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