The Boy Least Likely To
FOLLOW Your Heart Somewhere is the first single release in four years…
from the always-impressive The Boy Least Likely To. That said, Pete and Jof are hardly what you’d call ‘slack’. They are about to release their fifth album so I was keen to find out about it. They discuss the new single and the inspiration behind that standout duo/band name. The boys are long-time friends and have a great love of 1980s bands like Aztec Camera and Altered Images. I ask them about how they have developed since their debut, The Best Party Ever. They tip some artists primed for greatness and explain what they have planned for the approaching months. The Boy Least Likely To play London’s Lexington on 24th April so I was eager to discover if they were looking forward and touring plans for this year. It has been great getting to know one of the most charming and hard-working acts working at the moment.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Pete: So far, so good: but it’s only Wednesday, so who knows…
Jof: Oh my god! Is it only Wednesday?! I’m exhausted. Being in a band is so tiring sometimes. I need a spa break. I’m going to have to take the next month off. Cancel everything.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Pete: I’m Pete and I play the guitar and write the tunes.
Jof: I’m Jof and I write the words and then I sing them as best as I can.
I’ll get my ‘hack’/’jokey’ question out the way early. Given your duo name, The Boy Least Likely To; for each of you, complete the following: “I’m the boy least like to…”
Jof: … wrestle
…listen to Jazz
…wear a tracksuit
…knowingly eat a tomato
Pete: …find a witty end to this statement.
On a serious note, though, that name. Where does ‘The Boy Least Likely To’ come from and how did you two find one another?
Pete: Jof thought of the name. I originally thought it should be called Billy the Kid but, luckily, Jof overruled me.
Jof: Yeah, we were originally called Billy the Kid and The Hole in the Wall Gang but we Googled ‘hole in the wall gang’ and it came up with loads of stuff about men who put their penises through holes in public toilet doors – so we decided to go for something else. There are probably some early demo. C.D.s of the first single we released with the wrong name on somewhere in the world. In the end, we just thought The Boy Least Likely To was a nicer fit for us. It’s kind of how we felt about our place in music at the time. I don’t think anyone ever expected us to amount to anything, least of all us – and anyway, we’re not really into all that toilet stuff. Not anymore, anyway.
I do know you two used to watch John Hughes films and collect weird instruments from second-hand shops. Is that something you still do? It seems like it is becoming harder and harder, as the world become more modern, to enjoy that kind of quirky/fun experience?
Pete: I never thought we were quirky: I just wanted to sound different from everything else that was going on.
Jof: We just kept trying different instruments out until we found the one that fitted: the banjo, the glockenspiel; the recorder… whatever it was.
No one else was really using those sorts of sounds when we started out. But we just wanted to make a record that sounded completely unlike anything else that we were hearing at the time.
It wasn’t us trying to be weird or quirky, I don’t think. We just tried everything until it sounded right to us. It probably sounded completely wrong to everyone else. We were just really aware that we didn’t want to make a traditional ‘Rock’ record. I still think the same way really. I just want to make records that sound like they could only have been made by us.
Follow Your Heart Somewhere is your first track in four years. What was the reason behind the ‘downtime’? Did you need to get in a particular headspace to create a track like this?
Pete: We just needed a break from each other and to step away from the band. Jof recorded the Legends of Country album which reinvigorated him. I realised I wanted to get back to playing music rather than slavishly recording, editing and piecing it all together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Jof: Sh*t, it doesn’t feel like four years – it feels like six months! We’ve only ever made records when it felt right and I guess it didn’t feel right until now. It’s always better if you feel like it’s something you actually want to do – instead of something you feel like you have to do.
Can you tell me about the song’s inspiration and how it came together?
Pete: It wasn’t difficult to write. We were both excited about working together again. We hadn’t written a note together for three years but it was just the right time to start again. I had the riff and we just took it from there. I can’t really remember how the rest of it came about.
Jof: I just remember hearing the riff and knowing it was the song I wanted us to come back with. I was so excited about it: I just wanted the rest of the world to hear it. We recorded it in a couple of weeks, which is unusually fast for us, but we just didn’t want to lose that excitement that we had for the song.
I know Follow Your Heart Somewhere track tackles growing old and becoming distant from someone. Was there a particular person in mind (in respect of the concept) and do you feel, as you guys progress, there are any regrets at all?
Pete: Haha. Don’t all of our songs have that theme?! They used to be about growing up. Now, they’re about growing old!
Jof: I guess, as you get older, you just start to see relationships fall apart. People you thought would always be together break up. It’s a sad thing but it isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. It’s just sad, that’s all. We’ve all got regrets, I suppose.
There are always going to be things we wished we’d done but didn’t and things we did but wished we hadn’t. We made a lot of mistakes as a band but we’ve had some amazing times, too.
There are things I’d probably like to change but then we wouldn’t be where we are now – if we hadn’t made some of the mistakes we did. I’m happy where we are right now. So, no regrets.
You will release your fifth album in autumn. What can you tell us about titles/music on it? What kind of themes and issues are addressed?
Pete: Expect more of the same but different!
It has been twelve years since your debut, The Best Party Ever. How do you think you’ve developed as artists since then and what is the secret of your longevity?
Jof: I think a lot of the time I’ve just been trying to get back to the way we were when it started out. There were no expectations for us then. It’s so much easier when no-one expects anything from you. I’ve enjoyed recording the new record as much as I did the first album and I think you can hear that in the songs. If you’re not enjoying it then people can hear it in the music. I don’t know how we’ve lasted so long. Maybe we just didn’t give up when other people would have.
That album gained support from Rolling Stone and Rough Trade. Did you expect to get inside the minds of the big boys that early or was it quite a shock?
Jof: It was a weird rollercoaster that we suddenly found ourselves on back then. Frightening but really exciting at the same time.
Sometimes we’d want to get off but then as soon as we got off we’d want to get straight back on again. We definitely weren’t ready for it. We didn’t know what we were doing back then and we still don’t really. We’re just a couple of chancers. We’ve been getting away with it for a long time now.
Pete: Looking back it was really exciting. It didn’t feel shocking that we were taken seriously but I didn’t necessarily expect it.
Your new track has crunching, dirty riffs and C86-indebted Soul-Funk. Quite a mixed bag of sounds and moods is included. Who are the artists that inspire your music? Who did you guys grow up listening to?
Pete: I love guitar music. Whether it’s Johnny Marr, Eddie Van Halen or Edwyn Collins; it doesn’t matter- it’s where it all started for me. I’ve always written all the music on a guitar and then transferred it to other instruments.
Jof: My record collection has always been a mess. I never used to differentiate between different types of music growing up. If I liked it I liked it. I used to put Betty Boo on the same mix-tapes as Big Black. It all fitted together in my head. I thought they sounded great next to each other. I guess this song is just another product of that mess of sounds that we have inside our heads.
In a way, your wide-eyed, optimistic sounds are just what the modern world needs. Given the political unrest and general state of affairs; are you making music to inspire people and lift the mood? How influential are the ‘negative’ aspects of the world to your creative process?
Jof: I think I’ve always written as a response to what’s happening in the world around me – but it’s always been more personal than overtly political. If there’s a war going on then I’m always going to be writing about buying tins of baked beans and building an air raid shelter – instead of writing more obviously political songs. It’s not that I don’t like those sorts of songs, I just couldn’t write them.
Pete: Of course, it’s impossible not to be affected by the world and the general state it’s in but there’s always negativity and bad stuff happening.
To me, our music is mainly inspired by our own lives and experiences: you can’t write for other people or an audience in mind; we just try to please ourselves and hope others like it.
In April, you play Wales Goes Pop in Cardiff (16th) and London’s The Lexington (24th). Any more dates or plans for the duo in the coming months?
Pete: Yes, when the album is out you won’t be able to get rid of us!
Jof: I’ll still get to go on my spa break though yeah?
Who are the new artists you recommend we investigate?
Jof: Little Bandit has made one of my favourite albums of the year. It’s called Breakfast Alone and it’s all lo-fi sweeping countrypolitan melodrama and heartbreak. I can’t stop listening to it. The lyrics are amazing. Light Country by The Kernal; I love that record so much. I fell in love with the Courtney Marie Andrews album a few months back too. I fall in love with new records all the time. I’m really easy.
Have you any advice for songwriters coming through at the moment?
Pete: Just do your own thing and remember that nobody knows anything – even if they tell you they do.
Jof: I guess just don’t forget how it feels to fall in love with music and make the sort of music you’d want to fall in love with.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song you like and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Pete: Kiss – Detroit Rock City.
Jof: Love Triangle by RaeLynn. Because some of the most exciting Pop music being made right now is being made by Country singers. Also, just because it makes me cry almost every time I hear it – and I want everyone else to hear it and cry too. Shit, I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday!
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