“Restless eyes whispering in the doorway, under starless skies you give yourself away."
Writing on the train is something I often do. Carving out words onto pages as London speeds hap-hazardly above you. This indulgence, it seems, is one that Will (leadsinger of alternative-pop band Flyte) and I share. The man over your shoulder gazes over, his curiosity the better of him. The words meander into one another, forming what could be lyrics and melodies. A woman to your side laughs, sprinkling a different direction into the ink that marks the page. This ability to capture obscure moments and turn them into heart-catching words is something Flyte know well.
London based, and renowned for their catchy, infectious melodies - Flyte are steadily growing a fan base of hardcore followers. Their juxtaposition of upbeat guitars, harmonies and melancholic lyrics prove to be a heady, pulling mix. Delving head first into the lyrics, the band is unafraid to present their tinted views of the world. They’re unapologetic and honest - raw and addictive.
Captured amongst the suburban lines of the city, the boys are photographed by Sophie Mayanne, as their murmurs of conversation filter through the wind. As we meander around the art subscribed walls, the boys share tales of their love of literature and how busking on the tube brought significant change - altered everything. Dasha Kova styles the boys, reminiscing their day-to-day style with infiltrations of colour from Topman and classic blue jeans from Cheap Monday. With a prescriptive vision of what they want to put into the world, Flyte's melodies and untold tales fall into place.
From Left to Right: Jon wears Shirt by VANS ANITHERO, Jeans and Boots by TOPMAN, Sam shirt by LEVIS, Jacket by VINTAGE BALENCIAGA at Rokit, Jeans by CHEAP MONDAY and Trainers his own. Will wears shirt from Stylist's Archives, Jeans by LEVIS and Shirt by CHEAP MONDAY, Trainers his own, Nick wears Shirt, Jacket, Jeans and Boots his own.
We recently saw you play at the Sebright Arms.
Will: You saw the gig, amazing! Where were you standing?
In the middle, your harmonies were really impressive. How long does it take you guys to perfect that?
Will: It just happens. Haha. We used to busk on Portobello Road when we first got together, to make coin and pay the rent. We didn’t have a PA or microphones or anything. It really helped, because all four of us were singing at the same time. It just makes it much louder and easier to project. It's just the way it naturally worked out. Everyone’s got their own place to sit in their vocal range, so it doesn’t take us too long. It comes fairly naturally.
That’s really impressive. How did it all start?
Will: John and I have been in bands together sort of exclusively since we were like 9, because we went to school together. Nick was in various other bands, but in the same town, so we knew each other through that.
Nick: We were rival bands.
Will: We were sworn enemies for a long time.
Were you actually?
Will: Yeah, we got into a fight, haha. We had a sword fight.
Nick: Musketeer style.
Will: Out on the field. Then Sam we saw busking on the tube.
Was he a good busker?
Will: He was. That was what stuck out, because there is a really good standard of busking in London, but often it doesn’t make you want to stop and really listen. Do you know what I mean? But with Sam, he was singing Van Morrisson, Paul Simon and James Taylor and loads of awesome stuff, and he has a really beautiful, angelic voice. We just wanted to stop and listen for like an hour. We were looking for a fourth member, so we prodded him and asked him to join.
Sam: I joined them at a gig in like a week. It didn’t take much convincing.
Nick: He was surprisingly up for it.
Did you listen to their music first?
Sam: Well we went for a drink first, and they wouldn’t send me anything. Then we went for a jam and I just sang to their songs. Then I thought, "Yes, these are good songs", so I joined the band. That was basically it.
Will: There is a clip of us on Youtube playing our first gig at the Lexington. The lights had broken, so we were completely in the dark, haha. That was just a few weeks after. It all took off very quickly the minute the band had properly formed. Before then it had been years and years with writing and being in a kind of a hermit like state, hidden away in our bedrooms, just learning how to write and to do music. We hadn’t put a Facebook page together, done a show or any kind of release. We didn’t even have a name or anything right up to that point, it felt like a cocoon-like thing. Like a butterfly! We left school and skipped a lot of 6th form, because we knew very early on precisely what we wanted to do. We were incredibly restrained and insular at the same time. It took a very long time until we thought that we were good enough.
That's quite brave.
Nick: I think once it was good we knew it. We thought: "This is it," so everyone should hear it now.
Will: It's just like a toy car being wound up for ages and ages and never actually putting it down on the table. It felt like we actually put it down on the table, and it just set off.
What was it like the first time you guys wrote a song together?
Will: It was transcendental, haha. I’m joking. I retract that. Yeah, it’s great writing together, because it’s a mixed bag. Sam might have a riff, or Jon and Nick might just be jamming together. That would be enough to start something off. Then other times I might write a song fully formed on the acoustic, and then it’ll be completely transformed by the way the band play and sing it - the way it’s arranged. It’s a really lovely process.
Yeah I was about to say, because your music just seems uplifting and happy. But when you’re actually listening to what you’re saying, it’s quite deep.
Will: It’s always quite depressing. Even "Please Eloise", which is our latest single we put out, it’s a pretty miserable song about eating disorders. But you barely know, because the song is kind of so up on it’s feet. It's a sort of summary almost. It’s funny, I think that you see the real fans really getting that. You can see it clicks with them. They’re kind of sad and melancholic, but at the same time is this sort of exorcism of that with the music being uplifting.
It’s not like you listen to it to cry.
Will: No, but we do have a few of those up our sleeves, and that might be a bit more obvious for people, because sometimes I think people don’t have the time to stop and delve into the depths of a pop song. I think we have a lot of faith in fans to go there and hear the depth themselves. We do mask it quite a lot.
Would you say that it’s the same for you guys when you’re writing it?
Will: It is a real release playing music for everyone. I think writing, especially lyrics, can be a form of therapy. You’re always writing and keeping the cogs turning, but when something really significant happens to you, or something that's going to be difficult to deal with, then it’s so good to have that. If you make something in that way you can be really proud of it, as you’ve also dealt with something that could have been really difficult that you might have pent up, or let out on someone else and not used in a productive way.
Nick: It’s also really fun to just play really loudly in a room together - it's such a fresh feeling. It’s an outlet. Just like, ah I feel really frustrated lately, let’s play really loud and turn it up a bit!
Will: We got it nice and loud in our archway, which is where our studio is and where we record stuff. You can hear in "Please Eloise", which was recorded live in that room, that it sounds loud. We’ve been letting loose a bit more recently. I think we’re enjoying loosening up a bit.
Above Left to Right: Jon wears Top by CHEAP MONDAY, Jacket, Jeans and Boots by TOPMAN, Will wears outfit as before, Sam wears Shirt from Stylist's Archive, Jacket by VINTAGE BALENCIAGA at ROKIT, Jeans by CHEAP MONDAY, Nick wears Jumper by DR. MARTENS, Jacket and Jeans his own.
What’s the weirdest place you write?
Will: On the tube is where I write most. I will take my notebook onto Circle Line and just keep going round and round. Haha, no you can’t do that anymore. You have to get off on Baker Street to carry on, but I spent a good three hours on the tube just going on various different things. It’s great, because you look at people and there is this constant movement going on. People going in and out. People giving each other the eye and stuff and someone having a random chat with some stranger sitting next to them, and there’s also that sense of movement that keeps you rising. The only problem is you get a lot of people looking over your shoulder, but then you would do the same, wouldn’t you? You’d be wondering if they were writing about your face.
Nick: Then you're thinking 'the guy next to me is really ugly'. Haha.
Will: So it’s obviously not that weird if you do it, too. I know quite a few people that write who do it on the trains.
Will: Writing on a rollercoaster. That would be impressive.
Nick: I like the bus. The bus is really good to write, because sometimes you can overhear snippets of conversations as well. Sometimes you’d be just lost for something, and then you’ll hear something that inspires you.
Will: It’s a bit of a cliché, but if you go to a pub on your own in the middle of the day, you get a lot of the alcoholics just having their chats. Wheatherspoons, that's my goldmine right there.
Those are some pretty fantastic conversations.
Will: Reading the paper as well just helps a lot, see what’s out there. You get a lot of good stuff out of headlines especially the tabloids.
What’s the best bit about being in a band?
Sam: The variety is good, because no days are the same. Just playing music all the time - not having to do anything else. There are a lot of good things to do with being in a band.
Jon: Doing the thing you love doing every day.
Will: I think Sam is right, if you were to do anything no matter how great it was, say your job was to ride on rollercoasters or eat chocolate. If you were to do that every single day, you’d get sick of it. That’s the thing with your dream job if it’s something you love doing, but it turns out to be kind of repetitive. Then after a while you just get a bit desensitized and really bored by it. We’re here now, we won’t do this again. We’re going to be in a different situation tomorrow and it just keeps going. And touring can feel like a little bit repetitive. The van and the hotel and then the venue, but even they’re different venues and different hotels its always a different thing cities and you go out and the crowds vary so much. In so many different ways. so yeah variety.
What do you write about?
Will: I like how it ends up being quite sunshine-y music. Then I kind of like just feeling, wandering around writing in my notebook and being all emo. It’ll be this kind of nice juxtaposition of the miserably mundane.
From Left to Right: Will wears Shirt from Stylist's Archive, Jeans and Trainers his own, Jon wears Shirt and Jeans by TOPMAN, Nick wears T-Shirt by LEVIS, Jacket by TOPMAN, Jeans his own, Sam wears Shirt from Stylist's Archive and Jeans by CHEAP MONDAY.
Do you all enjoy touring?
Nick: The tours we’ve been on have been really awesome. We do go completely insane though, you can get into such a weird state, because it’s such a specific thing to travel to a new place. Do a soundcheck, do a gig - it’s a quite nice simplicity.
Will: The Bombay Bicycle Club tour was a long tour and it was also the best, because the catering was amazing. They had a free buffet, fruit salads and cheese boards.
What’s the worst thing about being in a band?
Will: People trying to make you think about so many other things that isn’t the creative side of it. We do try to avoid putting that hat on, to think about the business side. Since being with a major label it's been a lot of pressure in that way. Needing to think about Facebook, online social media etc. I don’t think we’re that way inclined really. It means you have less time filling your brain with creative stuff.
Nick: It’s good for interacting with fans.
Will: I think if we had our way though we'd just thinking about music the whole time, because that’s what we love.
Nick: Nature of the beast.
What other creative outlets do you each have?
Will: We’re all big film fans, we go to the cinema an awful lot when we’re in London. Literature. Virgina Wolf. I read 'To The Light House' the other day.
Nick: I read that about three weeks ago actually.
Will: Did you? That’s mad. But yeah, anything by Fitzgerald I’m a big fan of too. Infact the name Flyte is from an Evelyn Waugh book, after a character in “Brideshead Revisited”.
Who was on your walls as teenagers?
Nick: Blink 182. The Offspring was first and then Wheezer as I gradually progressed.
Will: I was just a huge Bob Dillan fan, like diehard. Lenny Cohen, Joni Mitchell.
Sam: I was constantly in rented accommodation. Haha.
Nick: All of the slightly underground rock 60’s bands, I was well into that for ages. Then I stopped.
Will: Before adolescence I think I had more posters. I literally remember having Holly Valance poster, and that T.A.T.U. poster with the two girls kissing. I got a lot of posters from HMV, but it was MVC for me, before it became HMV. Although I was never allowed back after stealing a CD rack. And liked Spice Girls, when I was a kid.
I remember loving Ronan Keating and playing “Rollercoaster” in the car over and over.
Will: I remember for some reason having Lady in Red by Chris De Burgh on a film sound track tape cassette that I brought into the car, and I’d play 'Lady in Red' again and again. My mum would get so fucking annoyed with me. I had great taste. We actually play that in the van now to annoy our tour manager.
What’s your Netflix film of choice at the moment?
Nick: 'Roadhouse', the Patrick Swayze film where he plays a bouncer. He goes and fixes up a bar in the middle of the mid west or something, and he’s like really zen and is a philosopher.
Sam: Definitely put something about 'Roudhouse', because Will will love that.
Will: Sam really annoys me by going on about 'Roudhouse', because I’m really poncey, I like film a lot, and sometimes I will start to try and talk really pretentiously about some Korean film. Sam will start talking about this Patrick Swayze 80’s film about when he plays a zen bouncer who does yoga.
Sam: It’s like the perfect bad film.
What was the first time you fell in love with a song?
Will: I remember my uncle buying me St. Pepper on cassette when I was very young, and a lot of the tracks merge into one another. It’s a concept album, although I know they deny that it is, but to a certain extent it is quite a proggy concept album. I just remember at that young age being really confused and excited by it, but also not understanding. There’s a moment when it bleeds into good morning and it’s got all these dog and cat noises and stuff. It was such a first glimpse into more progressive ambitious music. I think that was probably one of the first seeds that planted subconsciously “you want to be in a band, you don’t want to be in a pop group. You want to be an artist, and you want it to be more malleable, progressive and interesting. Just the sound of those four guys meshing together. I remember that being incredibly thrilling and strange and exciting, and everything all at once.
Sam:I had a paper round. I remember I used to buy a CD every week on this market in the town. I bought 'Blue' by Joni Mitchell and listened to it for like a month on my paper round.
Will: I too had that album on a CD Walkman, it was my mum’s though so I nicked it.
Nick: I inherited loads of records from my uncle when my grandmother moved out of her house, so my brother and I had a stack of records. I remember having a particular moment with Pink Floyd Echo’s, like the 10 minute long version. That made me want to play bass, because his bass playing is so very wonderful on that whole album.
Describe your perfect Sunday.
Nick: I’d say, waking up late, having a big roast lunch, watching loads of TV and going to the Royal Oak pub for a couple of pints. Then home for 10pm, and be asleep by 11pm.
Sam: Cinema is always good on a Sunday. I like Sunday night cinema
Will: Sleep in, read in bed, a long breakfast. I like spending a couple of hours on breakfast, like thinking about it, walking to the shop and cooking it. Playing some records. I like spending a fucking long time making breakfast.
More Flyte here.
VINTAGE BALENCIAGA at ROKIT
Interview and words by India Opie Meres.