Calling their new album Apricity felt right for Syd Arthur. For one thing, the phenomenon was something they became used to as they spent chunks of last year in a forested park on the edge of Los Angeles. Yes, they were in California and it was summertime, but they were high up in the mountains, secluded, without phone signal, awake all hours, working. Clear skies regularly came with an out-of- season chill.
“Coming from Kent, we get that feeling a lot,” says Liam Magill, singer and guitarist with this four-piece based in the “garden of England”. “And as we worked on the songs, that idea kept coming back during the making of the album.”
While Syd Arthur worked on their third album – the first to be released with British artist-run label Communion – with Beck’s guitarist Jason Falkner in the producer’s seat, the rest of the world caught up. Far from being young crate-diggers spun from a “Canterbury scene” wormhole, 2016 finds Syd Arthur lauded as ahead-of- the-curve trailblazers, pop-psych adventurers who count as peers Tame Impala, Temples and Toy.
“It does feel that the mainstream has moved in our direction,” nods Liam. “People got fed up with boring indie. We just followed our instinct, and felt this was the most forward-looking, current thing.
But entirely naturally we have been adjusting – honing the tunes so we’re not just seen as being a jam band.”
“For the new album, before we even went to America, we worked through 18 or 19 songs over three different stages of demo recording,” adds Josh Magill (drums). “We’ve pulled in a lot of ideas and influences, into coherent songs, and we’ve spent a long time crafting things…”
Beyond that, the line-up comprises three siblings – Liam, Joel and Josh – and one mate with his own family musical heritage (Raven’s dad is photographer/poet John Bush, his aunt is Kate Bush). All of those currents, musical and personal, are apparent within Apricity, an album made by four musicians in instinctive sync with each other.
“Paul Weller took us out on one of our first big tours,” recalls Josh. “He’s just a legend. His energy is incredible.” “It’s amazing how eclectic Paul is,” marvels Raven. “You go round to his studio and he’s got a John Coltrane record playing. His support has been amazing. He’s pretty much the first person we play anything new to, ’cause he’s always hounding us to hear what we’ve done.”
“Now we’re playing bigger rooms and biggest festivals, having gone from smaller clubs, you’ve got to learn to make bigger, bolder statements,” reflects Raven. “You’re trying to communicate an idea in a more powerful way to more people – and have them not being distracted by that band over there or this girl over here!” he laughs. “We want to bring people together, and to do that you’ve got to be saying something succinct and direct and pure and powerful. There’s no holds barred.”