After making our way through the arches of the well established Night People, Manchester, me and my mate squeezed past the crowd to grab a pint as the band on stage bounced along to Partyman, a track which combines 60s rock and roll with a Charlatans-sequel vocal. By the end of the set lead singer Ben was performing in the crowd, and as for the crowd- we were part of the performance.
That was the first time I saw Suave Martyrs back in 2019, but I’d been listening to them for months. They’ve manage to bring classic rock and roll into the modern day so gently it’s a real standalone sound. Skip forward six months and they’ve got gigs lined up for outside of Manchester, and I’m going with them to see what it takes to keep the cogs of a modern day rock and roll band turning.
The plan for the weekend was two gigs in two towns within 24 hours of each other and Glossop was the first show. Even though gigging had become the norm for the band, there was still a great sense of excitement.
We picked up lead singer Ben and new frontman Brad from Manchester city centre before heading for Brunswick Mill where the band rehearse, and more importantly, where they formed as Suave Martyrs.
“I was actually in a band that rehearsed next door”. Sam explained. That’s how he met Ben, and Ben had to convince bassist Stu to actually learn the instrument ‘he was not having it, but I just kept asking him, ‘Stu can you learn the bass?’ until he finally gave in. He’s really good to say he’s only been playing a few years.”
Biscuit is the second drummer the band has had and was discovered by a clean and fresh Sam, who was in the bath when he heard his next door drumming. “ I went round soon as, and told him I’d heard him drumming and did he want to be in the band.”
Sam, Ben, Stu and Biscuit have been running a tight ship ever since, and it’s paid off. They’ve got three really good quality singles available for streaming, but also a plethora of exceptional live tracks to go with, and by having Brad join, they can all work on more creative arrangements. Biscuit explained “We’re always up for trying new stuff. Brad’s a really good guy, and like, five minds are better than one, so it’s definitely going to be exciting to see what we come up with.”
Conversations about the band logistics often cropped up over the weekend- in car journeys, over pints, before soundcheck and even during cig breaks. It was refreshing not just to hear about the discussions they have in rehearsals, but to see them occur so naturally because it showed how important the band was to them and how their motivation really was driven by their passion for the band and music.
We arrived at The Crystal Ballroom in Glossop to a large hall of guitars, band members and riders of mainly lager, and over the course of an hour, the room became a bustling gig venue. The crowd was left uplifted and lively after the first act, Albarosa, and after a last minute restring, Suave Martyrs were ready. The baggy beats and psychedelic riffs, combined with Ben’s honest lyrics, drew people out from the corners of the room. When the boys are performing, it’s obvious they all work together on stage, as much as they do off, and it doesn’t take long until the audience are feeding off the party atmosphere and joining the band in what seems like an effortless yet unreal jam. Of course it isn’t a sporadic party, but the band certainly know how to enjoy and have fun with a set, and this time it was Sam who jumped down and began to dance and run with the crowd.
There’s a lot of preparation that comes with each gig, from deciding the order of the set list, to hanging up band merch behind the bar of the venue. I quickly learnt that this band had got the combination of hard work and fun just right.
With the other acts performing, the band got some beers and enjoy the rest of the night. I could tell they enjoyed this part of gigs too as they could fully immerse themselves in the music world. They were able to discuss music on a technical level with the other bands, but also interact with the gig goers who ultimately love music as much as they do. So after chatting chord progressions with like minded musicians and saying thank you to those who came out and enjoyed their set, Suave Martyrs headed for Leeds, ready to do it all again the next day.
“This is our first headline outside of Manchester. That’s quite a big thing really isn’t it?” Stu commented, as they unloaded equipment at Royal Park Cellars. With the second gig being a milestone for the band, soundcheck was vital and the boys, although a bit delicate from the night before, were once again striving for perfection to ensure they made their mark on Leeds- another northern city with a rich and varied music scene.
The venue is popular with students, and with Biscuit living in Leeds and spreading excitement about the gig, it was looking like a strong turnout. After an upbeat, toe-tapping set from Meek, and some indie bangers from The Calls, the crowd was ready for Suave Martyrs. They drew closer as the wah-wah opening to Man About Town graced the room and Ben began to dish out whiskey shots to the crowd, which is a popular ritual at Suave Martyrs gigs. The crowd thrived on the band’s nonchalant yet friendly attitude to performing on stage, and were soon dancing at the front and belting out the lyrics. As setlists go, the band have found a formula which sustains the crowd’s excitement, and when Brad took to the mic to introduce his voice to the crowd for the very first time, by performing Cascades of Gold, the band ramped up the sound, energy and funk, for the end of their set.
As the set concluded, the crowd hung around to lap up the mood of the night and to keep the party going. Gig goer Will had seen Suave Martyrs before, and said “They just play so well and get the crowd involved too I really like seeing them”. It was obvious that the crowd cared about the music and the band just as much as Ben, Sam, Stu, Biscuit and Brad do.
Suave Martyrs are going places and it’s obvious they’re well on their way to conquering the north. With their easy going rapport with their fans and their banging tunes, they’ve already achieved a lot. They’re aware of their talent, however stay on the right side of confident, which is humbling. But it’s the fact they’re always switched on and focused which stuck with me. Creative ideas about song arrangements, gig plans and merch designs were constantly flowing which showed they enjoy immersing themselves in all aspects of the music industry. Throughout my time with them the boys were stage crew, merch sellers, taxi drivers, ticket sellers, event organisers, party hosts and most importantly- performers. And it all boiled down to one core drive, music.