The music is blasting out of the speakers, The Ramones, if I do remember that right. The air is filled with the scent and incense of a joss stick. Ross is stumbling through the van, screaming: ‘This is like the Vietcong!’
The atmosphere is pumped, we are all drunk and having a good time. Our destination is the Reeperbahn and it’s a Friday night.
But wait, what happened before? Didn’t I want to do an interview, see the concert and go straight to bed, because I’m gonna go to Rheine for a reading the next day?
Fuck it, everything went not the way it has been planned! And thats more than alright!
Your sound on your actual EP, Northern Blue, reminds me of The Gaslight Anthem. Is this a compliment for you?
Louis: It is a compliment. At first I was worried that we would have to much connection to The Gaslight Anthem, but in regards to the PR and stuff, it definitely helped us. And I think, what happened to The Gaslight Anthem recently, I think there has been a void that need to be filled a little bit in the music scene. Because The Gaslight Anthem have really been around for a while, then we kind of filled that racket a little bit. I don’t think we sound too much like them. I think it’s mostly Ross’s vocals, that kind of get into comparise the most.
Ross: Yeah, I would say that! We get our comparisons to that. And to me, I love that band. They are great.
Louis: All of us do!
Ross: Anybody that compares you to an artist that you love and that you grow up listening to, I think that‘s a good thing.
I think that’s a compliment. And I don’t think we try to sound like anyone else, thats all. We do our own thing, we have our own sound. The people that influence you are gonna have an affect on your writing and so on the way you sound, thats a good thing!
Louis: And also, you know, when you start a band, you sound more like your influences. Now this band has grown. And we’ve become the band that we feel personally that we all should have been from the start now.
Our sound has developed and the more that we keep making records, the more our own sound will develop. You know, taking our influences, we won’t sound like The Gaslight Anthem in a few years time so.
I didn’t want to shame you, ’cause I have been like: ‘I like their music, but it reminds me of something.’ And one day there was ’ah hey hey‘ in my head and yeah it was the 45 song from The Gaslight Anthem.
Finlay: That is a great way for us to connect with new people, what is obviously. For the time being we haven’t had the means to connect with people. People in Germany say they read Visions Magazin. And then Visions Magazin ran a couple of features maybe and they made the comparison with us and The Gaslight Anthem and thats why a lot of people in Germany have actually said: ‘Oh, they sound a bit like The Gaslight Anthem.‘ So they are going listen to us. And that were people I met at shows! It’s advertisement for us, in that sense.
None of us wanna be seen as tryin‘ to be The Gaslight Anthem, because that‘s not what we wanna be, we wanna be Cold Years.
But to be put in that bracket it allowed us to gain you know, for people to connect with us on the basis that they like The Gaslight Anthem. So they wanna listen to us and that‘s awesome!
Miss You To Death, maybe it’s obvious, but Ross, do you actually miss someone like that?
Ross: No. The whole concept behind that, I was sitting, listening to a record one night in my house, drinking a bottle of wine, I got quite drunk and emotional. And I had this thing of, listening to a song of a Dire Straits record. And I was listening to it when I was a kid, I used to play pool with my dad on Saturdays in the house to that. With a pool table, one of this little ones you put on a table. I was five or six and my dad gave me like bits of beer and stuff and putting that record on, it has always been on in the background. And I sat listening to it and I thought:
‘How the fuck am I gonna listen to that record, when my dad goes?‘
In 30 years time, 20 years time, when I don’t have my dad anymore. And that‘s the kind of concept, where it came from. I don’t miss anyone right now, but there is a line in there: When you die I hope they bury your coffin next to mine. It’s like, that’s what it is. I love my dad a lot and I think it will be really sad try to listen to that songs.
Louis: You know, people can perceive Ross’s lyrics however they want.
Louis: You can take those lyrics and I met people before that, they said it helped them with relationships. Girlfriends and stuff. And when Ross first told us, I actually thought, it was a relationship thing. But when we got the story from Ross and then you relisten to that song. And you’re like:
It completly changes the song theme.
Source: YouTube, Cold Years
You recently signed with eone music. What does that mean for you as a band? What will change?
Finlay: It completely changes everything.
Louis: This is everything we’ve worked for. For the last two and a half years, we’ve tried so hard and we’ve really done everything of our own back. When it comes to the online presence, the merchandise, even the recording of the records … we are a very DIY band. Even when we recorded Northern Blue, I did a lot of the engineering. The record, we did it ourselves. We sat in the studio and we did it all ourselves. Apart from the mixing and the mastering process. And I think we do a lot more in terms than most bands our level do. I think it gets to a certain point you can only do so much. And we reached that point where we said, it needs to go further. We need people behind us.
Finlay: A label can provide the means for you to reach such a bigger audience. And that is one of the limitations being an independent band. You know, facebook, social media, everything, Spotify as well. Our record Northern Blue, especially Seasons from Northern Blue was added to some of the playlists, like Arena Rock and Artist Playlists. But you know working with a record label provides you with the means to reach such a bigger audience and they have expertise and how to go about doing things.
Louis: The thing about eone is, eone is the worlds biggest independent label. And the guys that we are working with, including Torben, the guy that we work with in Germany. These people that we are working with now fully believe in it and we completly trust them. And I think it’s a sense of family that we have. Even our manager Jamie as well, he’s the fifth member of our band!
Louis: I think we always said that, signing to a label was a really daunting thing for us. And the only way that we do it, is that we have 100% trust in the people we are working with. And Dan and Ted from eone have been nothing but amazing. And the same with Phoebe and Achim. So yeah, it feels like a nice, big family, all working together for the same goal!
Another post on Instagram was a throwback to your show at the Astra Stube. To play Hamburg and other big cities, that’s common. Now you’re stopping by in Buxtehude, after you played Nürnberg and before it comes to Dortmund! How did it come to that locations?
Louis: Torben (everyone starts to laugh)! The beautiful, wonderful Torben!
Ross: This is a great place for us to play, ‘cause we love to play places that we haven’t played before. And it’s always an opportunity no matter where it is, how big the venue is, where you are playing, whether it is a pub, whether it is a fucking swimming pool, it’s a house party, wherever it is. The more people you can get that never heard your music to hear it. That’s a platform for that. So hey, we play here tonight, we get thirty, forty people, I don’t know how many people are on their way coming to the gig.
Ross: So the next time we are playing a bigger venue, then we play to 500 people and then we come back and play to 1000 People. You just build it! I read a quote once from Springsteen, when he was a kid and how he moans that succeed is basically you go to one place and you play to thirty people. And then you play the bar down the street and you play there and then you play every bar in that town till there are fucking sick of you and they don’t want ya. And then you move on to the next town, doing the same thing. And so you are building a natural fanbase. And for us, that is how we do that.
Finlay: Yeah, go and meet people. It’s all about meeting people, that’s why we do this as well!
Louis: We played such a vary crowd. I mean, we played 8000 People. We played for the Brew Dog Anual General Mayhem (AGM), a massive beer festival. Our hometown Aberdeen basically there is an arena in Aberdeen, AECC, it’s the arena of Aberdeen and if you play that, not many bands of Aberdeen have ever done that. And we were very fortunate that we were given the opportunity to do so. So we’ve played 8000, 10000 People but we’ve also played to eight people.
Ross: Yeah, you put the same passion in each time!
Louis: I’ve seen bands touring they look at this: There are like eight or ten people there. And you see it in their perfomance, that their love is lost. What is does it matter? If we play eight people, for the five of us, as we are on tour, we are best friends and we’re still in a different country doing this.
Ross: And those eight people that never met you and come from a different country, they still pay money and come to watch you play, which I think is insane.
A question some friends of mine were asked, while we were together on tour. What do you miss the most on tour?
Fraser: You know, something, when we first started going on tour I found it quite difficult to adjust to the Settings of being in a van constantly moving, meeting new people and stuff. But now it’s just life and I honestly don‘t miss that much about home.
Louis: It builds your charakter.
Fraser: Like, get to go home after the tour. Go home, change your clothes and get fresh clothes. See your girlfriend, see your parents, whatever: ‘Hi, tour is amazing, I’m gonna go again, bye!‘ I need to laugh.
Ross: I think you’re gonna miss loved ones and stuff, and you are gonna miss family and partners. One thing I certainly don’t miss is the scottish cuisine, because the food here is so incredible and the beer here is incredible and the Mexicaner is incredible!
The others: And the Schnaps and Jäger (we all need to laugh again)!
Louis: We say this, when we are on stage every night, the UK music scene has completely lost sense of looking after and making artists want to come to the UK to play music.
Ross: Unless you’re considered a popular, successful band.
Louis: You know, something’s been lost along the way there. When we come here, even at our level, we are treated as well as people headlining arenas and festivals.
Ross: I’ve organized an event and there I’ve worked at the backstage. And the way there are treated man, with riders and stuff is like how we get here, which is insane. The love and the believe in music in this country is incredible because you all fully believe in supporting bands and it’s not like in the UK, where: ‘Oh, look, there is The Menzingers. Let’s go watch them, ‘cause that‘s a Status Symbol. ‘Cause it’s getting massive, so we gotta go and see them.’ But then, a band like us: ’They are not massive. So we are not interested.’ But here people are like, who gives a shit, who the band is. They like the music, so they come watch us, they buy records, they buy tickets for the shows.
Louis: Do you remember, when we played in Trier with Tiny Moving Parts, there was a local show next door to the show we were playing. And people came out, we had already played and people came out of that show, they hadn’t listened to our music before, they bought records and merch! And went back to their friends gig next. They heard we were from the UK and we were touring. It’s unbelievable the amount of support. And I don’t guess that these kids had lots of money. How much money do you …, I especially don’t have money to go buy merch from a band I’ve never heard of before. For people to do that for us is just unbelievable!
Fraser: That same show, the Trier show with Tiny Moving Parts, myself and my drumtec, Ewan. We went next door to the venue, to check out, what was going on, because we heard, there was a local show. Being on the road also gives you an opportunity to go out and check out local bands.
Louis: We wouldn‘t have heard of Blackout Problems if we hadn’t done the Noisehausen festival. And now we have them on in the van today. They are one of our favourite bands now.
The most important question!
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Everyone: Star Wars!
Ross: Fucking neither, Pulp Fiction!
Thank you for the trip to Molotow and making this night a special one to remember.
Till the next time!
For all the readers: Cold Years are working on their debut album, so stay tuned!
Text, interview & Polaroid pictures: René Biernath
Instant Film: Color, For Use With 600