Nylon. Running his fingers down the strings of his first guitar, sweet reminiscing about their earliest memories of music, Dave still recalls the first three chords his brother taught him. Making a point to have music as the forefront of our lives, the boys have no set structure on how they create their sound, allowing them to construct their music from anywhere.
Instantly captivated by the four bright and refreshing personalities bursting into the room, it's clear The Dunwells, consisting of Joe Dunwell, Dave Dunwell, Rob Clayton and Adam Taylor have arrived. Heart thumping and blood rushing, the tidal waves of applause meets fans chanting their songs back to them. It’s hard to imagine what it's like to be on stage in front of thousands of strangers that you know nothing about, yet they know everything about you. The adreneline that coincides with performing live is incomparable for The Dunwells. They don't make music for popularity or for likes, it's the reaction from the audience that they crave.
The band treks on cold cobbly paths to find warmth in an east London cafe, captured by Sophie Mayanne
in this black and white images series. Styled by Kitty Cowell
in fresh, contemporary street pieces that compliment their vibe. Having performed in Leeds, Red Rocks in Colorado, and dipping their toes into good ol’ British festivals, travelling is nothing new for the foursome. Talking to Boys by Girls Magzine, the boys discuss their bucket list adventures, girl crushes, facial hair and what it is like to be: The Dunwells.
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Joe and I’m the lead singer of the band.
My name's Robert and I play bass. I don’t know why I said Robert, just Rob will do.
I'm David and I play guitar.
I’m Adam and I play the drums.
What inspired you guys to start a band?
Joe: I think the love of making music. It started out when me and Dave made a few songs and then Dave got Rob involved. I went to college with Adam, and I think the fact that we were able to make music together inspired us.
From Left to Right: Rob wears Shirt by APC at Sefton Fashion, Coat by LACOSTE. Joe wears Jacket by ACNE STUDIOS at Sefton Fashion, Shirt His Own. Dave wears Jacket by TIGER OF SWEDEN, Shirt by NORSE PROJECTS. Adam wears his own Hat, Jumper by APC at Sefton Fashion.
What’s your earliest memory of making music?
Joe: I was about sixteen and there was an open mic night that Dave ran. I really wanted to be a full time musician after that point.
What about you guys?
Rob: I wanted to be in a band, but I couldn’t play any instruments or do anything, so I had a go at singing. That didn’t work, so I played some mouth organ. That also didn’t turn out too well (laughs).
Dave: I was about fifteen and my younger brother at the time brought home a little rubbish nylon string guitar that couldn’t play a tune at all. He showed me three chords and ever since then, that's what it has always been about, just making music for me. I was amazed at how just playing these three chords could allow me to play so many songs. I loved it.
Rob: “He still only plays three cords now.”
Dave: Yeah yeah I haven't learnt any more since.
How would you describe your sound as a band?
Joe: I would say that its pop, rock, anthemic music. At times it can be quite acoustic, but it has a large sound to it as well. It’s fit for big stadium rooms; well that’s how I feel anyway.
Talk to me about your EP and the inspiration behind it.
Dave: 'Lucky Ones' is the title of the EP. We started writing that song in Newcastle as a band and then we left it for a while, just writing parts of it here and there. Then we did some more work on it and flew to LA to meet up with a friend of ours who’s a writer and also has a studio there. He asked if we would like to work out there for a little bit, so we carried on working on it and then finished it off in London. It’s about looking at where we are right now and where we are looking forward. We were a little bit confused as to whether we were doing it right and that we were making the right sort of music that we all wanted to make. We have acoustic elements in our music but for us, we did experiment a lot with more electronic sounds. 'Lucky Ones' was the starting point for that kind of sound.
Joe: The intention was to release an album, but I don’t feel like we were ready. That’s why we released the four track EP, which introduced what the new sound of The Dunwells is. We have a new album coming out in February 26th.
What genre of music would you like to explore in the future?
Dave: We’ve moved our sound forward using more electronic sounds. Strangely, the more experimental thing for us to do would be going back a little bit. We want to explore music as individuals and not necessarily experiment with new sounds.
Joe: We’ve been creating new sounds and trying out different types of instruments.
Adam: I think everybody’s got a different style and different background from what they actually listen to. It’s nice for us to get together to write as a four, to incorporate different sounds and add our own element to it.
Joe: I’m a massive fan of Radiohead, and the way that every album develops and goes forwards and backwards. When they got to their fifth album 'Rainbows', it was almost like they had re-released 'Pablo Honey'. They’re always going to be Radiohead. The way that they move forward, I think that’s what we want to do as a band. We see what works and what doesn’t, take elements from that and move on.
From Left to Right: Adam wears his own Hat, Shirt by PUBLISH. Dave wears Jacket by AMI at Sefton Fashion. Joe wears Shirt by COMME DES GARCON PLAY at Sefton Fashion. Rob wears Shirt by APC at Sefton Fashion.
What is the process of creating your music?
Dave: We have no set formula, but at times it might be a song that Joe brings to the table where he started on an acoustic guitar. Sometimes it might be just a melody and sometimes we’ll all be working in the rehearsal rooms and come out with an arrangement or a song structure. Sometimes it could be created just sat in a room, with a laptop in front of us, playing around with different sounds.
Joe: We’ve been really lucky to have had the chance to work with such amazing song-writers and producers, like Dan McDougall, where he did a track called 'Animal and Hurts', which is our new single on the album. We also worked with James Flannigan, who did 'Lucky Ones' with us. He helped develop our sound' because we can now say we’ve tried a variety of things before agreeing on an idea.
Is there a dream collaboration?
Joe: I’ve always said I want to work with Guy Garvey from Elbow. I think he puts lyrics so amazingly.
Dave: I’d like to see how Chris Martin puts a song together.
Rob: Freddie Mercury, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Who are your biggest influences?
Joe: Elbow, bands like the Killers. I like the way they’ve developed their sound throughout the years. It’s interesting.
Adam: Like I said before, everybody’s flavours are different. I like R&B, Hip Hop, and Soul. I love musicians like Miguel.
What does music mean to you?
Dave: Everything. All of us have made a point to have music as the forefront of our lives. Even though life still goes on in other elements, whatever happens, music will always be our priority. We have all made a choice to be a band and we have made a little family.
Adam: It sounds a bit cliche to say, but it genuinely is all about music. We all know each other and thinking about the stages that we have played, we owe it to ourselves.
Joe: Especially because we are all making the music we want to make and were not just doing the stuff that people are telling us to do. We earn what we are doing and believe in ourselves.
What does it feel like to perform live?
Joe: I think we make music, because we love performing live. That's why we make the records and put them into the shops for the sole purpose of standing on the stage and getting that reaction back from the audience. It's unbelievable.
Adam: I think all of us are the same really. I think we all have different levels of how much we enjoy being in the studio, but I think we can all say that we are in this game because we want to stand on that stage and play live.
Dave: You can still play when you're in the studio, but it can be quite bananas when we have to redo things. Im not the best, so I might have to do fifty three takes over and over again to get it right.
Rob: You always know what you like and why you write songs, but when you play it live and you get that crowd reaction. Going somewhere you haven’t played before and there's people singing your songs back to you. It's a crazy feeling.
Have you got a favourite concert that you have played?
Joe: There's quite a few. I think the most memorable one for me would be the Red Rocks in Colorado. We played a small radio station just around the corner from the University. We went for lunch at about 12 o’clock, sat outside and had a few beers. Then a bunch of guys came over to us and asked if we were English and in a band. We said yes and then we got asked to play at their radio station. We had our instruments with us and thought let's go and do it. We literally picked our instruments up and walked around the corner, into a lobby and then realised that we were in a huge radio station called 'Alice'. We went in, played our acoustic songs, did a live lounge session, really enjoyed it, they really enjoyed it and ended up playing it on their radio station. Then of the back of playing there we ended up being invited to play a full seventy minute set at Red Rocks to a sold out crowd; about sixteen and a half thousand people. That was pretty amazing. A complete dream come true.
Is that the highlight of your career to date?
Joe: We all have different ones, but for me that's the one that sticks as a great memory.
Adam: Leeds Arena for me was the best one, it was sick.
Joe: I think we are really lucky to be doing what we are doing. Our first sold out show that we did in Leeds, was a 400 capacity venue and there were people queuing outside the door. Something's happening if that's happening.
Rob: There're gigs that surprise you like Red Rocks and Leeds arena. You have this expectation when you go in. We went on tour and played in Scotland, which was good and then we had a gig in Sheffield.
Joe: It was the Grey Stone.
Rob: We didn’t know what to expect when we went in there. We did our sound check and then people just started flooding in, it was so crowded in there you couldn’t move. People were going into another room trying to get to see us. We had never been there.
Dave: The green room was on the roof so we could see people queuing up, we just weren't expecting it.
Joe: Where did that come from? It was so funny, because the night before we had played in Glasgow and we sold two tickets to the show. It was quite early on and we drove down to this gig in Glasgow thinking that's it, noone wants to see us play. Then there were queues outside in Sheffield.
Adam: The week before, we had been on ITV. It was just nuts.
If you could choose anywhere to play live, where would it be?
Joe: I've never been to Vegas.
Dave: We’ve never really explored Europe. We’ve done America, the UK and have dipped our toes into festivals.
Adam: I’d like to go to Asia.
Joe: We’ve been to a lot of places, but then you step back and think, we haven’t even started yet. There're so many places to go.
Are there any funny stories from your tours?
Adam: I don’t think we could tell you, haha. There are some stories that we could tell you from this morning.
Dave: Not much happened this morning.
Rob: We always talk about things that have happened. The band has developed to what it is now, so there're stories before myself and Adam were in the band. We are constantly telling all these stories.
Adam: A lot goes on that involve alcohol, haha.
What the three items do you have to take with you on tour?
Adam: My phone.
Joe: Some form of Skype.
Adam: You don’t have to video call if you have a phone.
Joe: My phone, headphones and a toothbrush.
Rob: Nice choice Joe.
Joe: I would say toothpaste, but we are only allowed three items. I'll have to borrow Rob's. You're bringing the toothpaste.
Rob: Ok. You're bringing the toothbrush. We only need one of them, we can share, and a pair of boxers, we can share them too. No that's ridiculous. Phone is always one or a good book, then you can put your headphones in and read. That comes in handy when you have been on tour a lot.
Dave: It’s the only time we ever read.
Rob: I don't read too well. Im going to say vodka, lager and my phone.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Rob: On album six and touring the world.
Joe: Still selling out shows.
Adam: We would all have longer facial hair.
Dave: It’s always about having a core fan base that still want you to do what you're doing, because the world is a pretty fast moving place; especially in the entertainment world. I don’t know if you're ever on top for that long, so for me, that part of the dream can’t be popularity. Bands that I have adored - not necessarily musical influences of mine - but people like Counting Crows, I get really excited when they come to England to play and they're never going to be on Radio 1. Although there’s still two thousand people in the room watching with me who are really excited about them being over here. Adam what do you want?
Adam: I think its quite difficult to answer that question. I just want to see what happens .
Joe: So we want global success, loads and loads of money and to have met Jennifer Aniston in that ten year period.
Rob: If it is the back-end of the ten year period she would be nearly sixty though wouldn’t she?
Joe: It's fine. It's fine.
What's next for The Dunwells?
Joe: We are really excited for the album and the tour. The album is out on the 16th of February. It's been a long time in the making and we are so excited about putting this album out. We have put everything into it and then after that, a tour straight away.
Rob: We just released a single called 'Hurts'. It’s had good traction on the radio and people seem to be liking it.
TIGER OF SWEDEN
Interview by Nicole Chui.
Words by Rebecca Jones-Clarkson.