A grimy pub in Islington is hosting a somewhat ‘intimate’ gig for London-based band The Conway Story. I can count the number of people in the
audience on both hands, but that doesn’t matter, because they are giving it their all up on the tiny stage.
Lead singer and guitarist Nik Owens, certainly makes for an interesting figure – a mad tropical shirt clothes his super gangly frame, and his face
is hidden behind a huge mop of curly hair, which he is wildly thrashing about in a rock god stylee. He jokes “the last time we were this close was
at the cinema.” Somebody from the crowd whoops. “That’s our manager,” he reveals. But the show must go on, and the guys rock out regardless
of the small turn out.
The Conway Story (name after Anne Conway the 17th Century philosopher) have been together for nearly two years and already they have been
likened to Muse, Smashing Pumpkins and Keane. They are definitely ones to watch – capable of maxing that dirty guitar sound with heartfelt
sentiments. An international bunch, made up of members from Chile, UK and the States, their sound is distinctly indie. Currently, doing a tour of
the UK, their new single Ghost Writer is out this month – a slick ballad interlaced with scuzzy guitars.
The touring experience is certainly shaping them. “‘We can hear ourselves getting better each night,”’ says Owens. And what about nights like
tonight? Drummer, Lenin says “we just have a good laugh. We don’t think, God – there’s no one here.” If anything, it has been all been part of the
So what about life on the road? Has it been a feast of Travel Lodges, porn and Playstation? Without provocation, the newest band member and
keyboardist Nicholas, launches into a story about a security guard at one of their gigs in Liverpool, who on meeting them whipped out his phoned
and started showing the band ‘the most horrendous, frightening porn’ they had ever seen in their lives. “It was like really bad magic, basically a
man made his head disappear somewhere . . ” they all collapse into mass laughter. Life on the road has also included biscuits, food fights,
smuggling people into hotels, rock clubs in Manchester where band members go missing over night, and trying to get the Playstation to work. All
What do they think about the UK music scene at the moment? The Mars Volta, Mclusky, Camera, Muse and The Noisettes currently get their seal
of approval. It is a sorry state of affairs when a mobile ring tone gets to number one. “But that’s the charts, ruled by 12 year olds. Real music
lovers buy albums,” Owens says. So you don’t want chart success? “Well, yeah of course,”’ he mutters under his breath.
Owens talks about the current vogue for “four guys writing crap songs, but they’ve made it because they’ve got the right guitar sound. We write
music we really believe in, rather than music that’s gonna get you laid a lot and the A’n’R men are gonna like.” “What? I thought that was part of
the plan,” protests bassist Russ Dyer. “I’m off to join the Keiser Chiefs.”
With support from Xfm and Radio 1 regional sessions, the band could be onto big things. They are working with producer Al Stone, whose
previous track record includes Bjork, Jamiroquai and Turin Brakes amongst others. With a few singles under their belt the obvious leap is to work
on the album. But it is a case of finding the right studio and sorting out money.
I ask what they think about Live 8 and a deathly silence prevails. Er, hello guys? Lenin finally pipes up, “I really admire Bob Geldof. He doesn’t
give a shit about what people think. He just does it. This needs to be done.” Russ (who incidentally has model looks, great rock band hair, and
dresses like he has just stepped out of the pages of GQ magazine) thinks, “it’s a good vehicle to get people to listen to issues, in a fun way, with a
bit of music.”
Can music change politics? Jimmy Kerr, the American lead guitarist who has sat quietly in the corner all interview, comes alive. “Rage Against
The Machines, and Bob Dylan were both very political – they brought awareness to issues of the day. Music can do that.” But can Live 8 change
the situation in Africa? There is no real conclusion, but they are all in favour of the event.
The mood lightens up and somehow we get onto the ridiculous topic of claims to fame. Nicholas says his mum’s great aunt wrote Twinkle,
Twinkle, Little Star. Nik tries to go one better, “my five times great grandfather invented the turntable for trains.” “But that’s not music,” Lenin
points out. It is Jimmy who wins the day. His ‘rock chick’ mum dated Bob Dylan’s keyboard player and Janis Joplin’s bass player. Suddenly the
conversation decends into schoolboy territory, “Jimmy man, your mum’s a slut. For all we know – we could be brothers like the Kings of Leon.”.
I leave them at the pub, pints in hand, laughing at the fact maybe this time next year they’ll be playing at Glastonbury. Only it’s not on. But they’ll
still be there. One thing is for certain, whatever happens, the next chapter of their career will certainly be an interesting one for The Conway Story.
By Sharon Fried-Jones
Thanks to the band and Lisa Burprich.
Their next gig is at Dublin Castle, Tuesday 28th June (www.clubfandango.co.uk ) £6/£5 concs, doors 8pm.