Face to face with City Reign.

City Reign live at The Deaf InstituteCity Reign are about to explode to bigger audiences and, bless me, you should pay closer attention to these lads from Manchester. With the release of the debut album ‘Another Step’ just around the corner, City Reign’s Chris Bull answered some of my questions.

– Your debut album ‘Another Step’ is out very soon. Now, it’s a very exciting period no doubt. How does it feel to be releasing a debut so soon?

– It’s funny, obviously to people who’ve not heard a lot about us, which admittedly is a lot of people, it probably does seem quite soon, but to us it feels like an age. Mike and I have been writing together for six years and this is really the culmination of that work. The songs have been written across a space of about 3 years so they’ve been developing for some time. So it does feel very satisfying to finally get it out there for people to hear it in a form that is as close to complete as they’ll ever be. We’ve released and recorded a few singles and EPs which we were really proud of at the time, but this album blows them all out of the water as far as we’re concerned so it’s very exciting.

– How would you introduce this album to your audience?

– It’s basically a reflection of the music we grew up listening to. Although we’re very careful not to try and copy any band or another, we make music that we like listening to, so it’s a blend of all the different bands and singers we love. Hopefully the songs carry an energy and drive that we feel for our music and what we’re doing. That’s very important to us.

– Is there any special connection between the album name and messages in your songs on it?

– It’s from the opening lyric to one of the songs on the album, Retaliate. Normally I spend weeks and months meticulously writing lyrics, having absorbed the feel of the song from an early demo in which I warble any old nonsense I made on the spot. But on this song I ended up keeping most of the nonsense I made up on the spot, so this it keeps that stream of consciousness feel. We picked it for the album title as it seemed appropriate.City_Reign_Jan13

– How did you like working with Sam Jones?

– It was really enjoyable to work with an experienced producer like Sam. He pushed us pretty hard. He had a number of catch phrases, one of which was, ‘We’re not here to make a crap album…are we?’

– It’s interesting that he took you to the Sacred Trinity Church to record the album. What was that experience like for you?

– It was our producer Sam Jones who suggested we record in the church. He sounded so passionate and excited by the idea of using the natural reverb of the hall, that we thought we’d be mad not to jump at the chance to do something a bit different. Due to the restrictions of the budget, it had to be a well organised 5 or 6 days and it was Sam that kept us on track, apart from a near disastrous double booking when a funeral nearly cost us our valuable strings session!

– In 2012 you played your first gig in Europe. How did the European debut go? What are your impressions from playing in Europe for the first time?

– We actually dipped our European toe in the water so to speak back in 2011, we played in Amsterdam as part of the Numbers For Street Names tour. We had such a great time that we wanted to go back asap. This time we added a date in Paris and had a blast. The audience were fantastic at both and had a real appreciation for live music.

– What are your most favourite releases of 2012? What are your most anticipated albums of 2013?

Making_Plans_Artwork– We’re always about a year late with music in this band. The big albums for us last year were 2011’s War On Drugs ‘Slave Ambient’ and Kurt Vile ‘Smoke Ring For my Halo’. Album we did catch were First Aid Kit and Sharon Van Etten. One of our most anticipated has already come out and that is I Am Kloot’s new album ‘Let It All In’ its beautiful.

– In general, how would you estimate 2012 for you?

– It was a fantastic learning experience in how to record and release our own music. We started recording the album in February and its taken a full year to get it ready for release. At times it was stressful with having to re-master and re-sequence the album as we’re perfectionists. But it was all worthwhile as it gave us a reason to get back out playing shows.

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