Formed in Newcastle in late 2005, Styles Make Fights have become well known on their home city’s live scene, making their mark with the raw energy of their performances and their bank of punchy, guitar-driven songs. After honing their live performances with regular local gigs as well as two appearances at the Evolution Festival, the band decamped to their DIY studio - at the iconic Tyne Tees Television building, the home of the 1980s music show “The Tube” - in March 2009 to record their debut EP "While You Can, When You're Young". Influenced by Idlewild, Brand New and Saves The Day, they blend perfectly structured pop with an indie-rock sensibility and are rapidly catching national attention.
We pitched some questions to guitarist Nick Tomlinson, to find out a little more about this rapidly growing band.
How did you get together?
Me (Nick), Peter and Adam went to school together and played in a few bands of varying quality and style. We started Styles Make Fights with another school friend and he left to move to London. I met James through working with him and he’s slotted in really well and really stamped his signature on the sound.
How did the band get their name?
We are all big boxing fans and ‘Styles Make Fights’ is a well-known saying in boxing, which we felt was apt for a band that crosses over between a few different styles.
How would you describe yourselves?
The band? - “Makers of interesting, quality pop music." Ourselves?! - “Four borderline alcoholics”!
You've been hailed as Newcastle's next big musical export, is this something you hoped would be said about you?
We’ve been compared to Maximo Park and the Futureheads quite a bit based on geography rather than sound and we’re sick of it! We want to be known for the music we make, not where we’re from.
What sets you apart from the other bands you've played shows with?
The consistency of our set, plus the energy in it as well. There’s no letting up. We also don’t use any of the studio tricks like most bands do (e.g Autotune, Beat Detective) - the EP is basically us playing live and you can tell we’re actually good at it.
You've played a lot of shows, which is your most memorable and why?
Good – We played with Tubelord and Tellison last year and it was great to play with two bands that are so good.
Bad – At the Evolution Festival last year a massive topless skinhead climbed onto the stage and started chanting ‘BNP, BNP’ at the top of voice into my backing vocal mic. That was memorable to say the least!
How would you describe your sound?
Unpretentious powerpop with interesting lyrics and great drumming.
You seem to have a nice blend of indie and pop within your music, do you think that being able to sway between the two sounds helps to create a more varied sound when you're writing?
We don’t consciously think that any of the parts are a particular style, we’re just trying to do tunes we enjoying playing. I wouldn’t know which bits were pop, indie, rock or whatever, just what sounds good or not!
Who are your influences?
Guitar bands with great melodies like The Lemonheads, Brand New, Nirvana, Stars, The Smiths, The Get Up Kids, Idlewild, REM, Saves the Day, Ash, Death Cab for Cutie, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Eat World, The National, Biffy Clyro plus quite a lot of cheesy 80’s pop tunes. A lot of the drumming is influenced by The Police, as Adam loves them. He loves Phil Collins as well but we all tell him off when he drops Phil Collins licks into the tunes!
How do you manage to find a balance between your influences and your own creativity? What is the element that makes Styles Make Fights unique?
Well we actually aren’t good enough to actually copy anyone accurately so it just comes out sounding like Styles Make Fights! In all seriousness, the thing that makes us unique is that that we blend influences that other bands don’t – most indie fans wouldn’t listen to emo or pop and vice-versa. The 80’s and 90’s influences also completely clash with each other but we think that it works.
What is your writing process – where do you get ideas?
Most of the songs are written on acoustic guitar first then fleshed out with the full band, but recently we’ve done some tunes where the drums are done first. Getting the rhythms right is really important. I write a lot of the lyrics separately as well, the end product is like putting a big jigsaw puzzle together.
Did you find it easy to write and select the tracks on the EP?
Well they written over quite a long period, so I wouldn’t say it was easy. We recorded it all ourselves as well so that certainly wasn’t easy! We recorded 8 tracks and then we listened back to it as one, we decided those 6 worked best together. We’re hopefully going to use the other two in the future as they’re solid tunes, just a slightly different pace which would have disrupted the flow if they’d been on the EP.
What can people expect from the EP?
6 singles – they’re all short, sharp pop tunes with great energy, power choruses, great lyrics and great drumming!
Where do you see yourselves going from here?
The next level up is going to be bigger and better shows, playing with better bands and playing further afield.
What's next for Styles Make Fights?
We’ve got a top new tune called ‘All the Things That I’ve Done Wrong’ that we demoed before doing the EP and we’re going to try and get that out as a single early next year, with a tour to promote it.