Man­ches­ter band LIINES played a blis­ter­ing set on Sun­day 29th at Beard­ed The­o­ry fes­ti­val – the crowd was obvi­ous­ly lov­ing it – and there’s plen­ty of social media com­ments that indi­cate they’ve gained a raft of new fans. I was thrilled to catch up with Zoe McVeigh (vocals/guitar) and Leila O’Sul­li­van (drums) after they came off stage, for a quick inter­view before they head­ed home.

Hi to you both! So it looked like every­one was enjoy­ing them­selves out there watch­ing you play. How was the show – and what was it like per­form­ing in the mid­dle of the after­noon instead of a sweaty venue?
Leila: It was great, amaz­ing. Yeah, it was fine being on stage in the after­noon, it felt the same as at night. We’re absolute­ly exhaust­ed because we got home at 2am from 02 Acad­e­my Leeds and left at 9.30 this morn­ing to get here. But we’re buzzing all the way!

Any oth­er fes­ti­vals booked?
Leila: Kendal Call­ing. We were booked for Beard­ed The­o­ry and Kendal Call­ing in 2020 – so we’ve been wait­ing all this time… we’re hap­py they kept us on the line­ups.
Zoe: And we’ll be in Brighton, it’s just been announced that we’re play­ing The Wed­ding Pre­sen­t’s At The Edge of the Sea fes­ti­val in August. 

I read about your gig at The Trades Club in Heb­den Bridge, I hear you did a real­ly long set. How did it go?
Zoe: Yes it was an hour which we’ve nev­er done before… an 18-song set. I near­ly faint­ed on stage with the inten­si­ty of it, it was real­ly quite hard. We need an instru­men­tal in the mid­dle, haha. 
Leila: The gig was part of Inde­pen­dent Venue Week, so it was meant to be at the end of Jan­u­ary but it got delayed [to March] because of Covid. Again there was quite big a big build up. Obvi­ous­ly we’ve always want­ed to head­line The Trades, it was a buck­et list for us and it was yeah, real­ly cool. We took it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to play as many songs as we could. 

How did your voice hold up for all that time?
Zoe: Well, I did it, although I lit­er­al­ly had lack of oxy­gen because I’ve realised I don’t take many breaths! There aren’t many spaces. It’s a learn­ing curve… although I would­n’t have it any oth­er way because that’s just the nature of our songs, they’re intense, they punch you in the face.

Leila: You know you’ll only have to last anoth­er minute and then you stop again. It’s just about get­ting through each one, mak­ing it as intense as pos­si­ble while you’re performing. 

Zoe: We play like it’s a 100m race, per­form as fast as we can and give each song every­thing. And that’s why we come off stage drenched!  But play­ing today… that was off the scale. Real­ly cool.

Leila: You just don’t know with fes­ti­vals, do you? You don’t know who you’re up against. But peo­ple seemed to be stick­ing around and it got busy and we’re grate­ful when peo­ple give us a punt. And a few peo­ple were singing along as well, which was real­ly cool.

Zoe: If you see one of your t‑shirts out in the crowd, and you don’t know them – they’re not your mates – it’s so heartwarming.

Since your album came out, you’ve played some new mate­r­i­al. Are the new tracks going to be part of your next album?
Zoe:  We’ve record­ed 75% of the new album. We’re from Man­ches­ter and we record in Lon­don so we’ve got the trav­el­ling back and forth and we work full time. So it’s quite tough and we’re self fund­ed. We’re doing as much as we can… but it will be fin­ished this year.

Leila: Not sure if all the recent sin­gles will be on the album. Some might be. If we are going to wait for four or  five years to release our sec­ond album, we want to do it right. We’re writ­ing new­er stuff as well and it’s just a bit dif­fer­ent and it’s got a dif­fer­ent dynam­ic. We end­ed this set with one of our new­er ones.

So how do you feel your song­writ­ing is evolv­ing?
Zoe: We’re reach­ing four minute songs now, where­as we used to be two. When we hit three, we were like woah! And now we’re at four but I think that’s the max, I don’t think we’re going any fur­ther than that. But we have been devel­op­ing our song­writ­ing as we had some time over lockdown. 

Leila: We’re just going to do it right. We’re not rush­ing to end songs, we’re giv­ing the music a bit more space as well, which is good. And it’s been great to see the response, espe­cial­ly from a fes­ti­val crowd where they don’t know you as well. So this is a nice oppor­tu­ni­ty to try that new­er stuff out.

Zoe: If peo­ple can lock into a song quick­ly, that’s what we’re about, try­ing to be catchy. There are four or five songs we would­n’t have writ­ten two years ago so, yeah, hav­ing that [lock­down time] helped.

Leila: So at The Trades Club, we end­ed on a dif­fer­ent song [These Days] and peo­ple were going, “You should be end­ing on this one”. 

What has inspired your new material?

Zoe: Well, it’s not lock­down. So many peo­ple have come out with songs about lock­down and iso­lat­ed life and I just don’t want the album to be in a time cap­sule of a hor­ren­dous time. Obvi­ous­ly peo­ple want­ed to doc­u­ment it and that’s fine but I want it to be a time­less album. We’re look­ing in a new direc­tion. We want it to be time­less, broader.

Leila: If we’d been going into the stu­dio as lock­down hit, it would have been a very dif­fer­ent album. So we’ve had a cou­ple of years to just take a bit more time to write songs. We’ve writ­ten four or five songs we would­n’t have writ­ten a cou­ple of years ago. So that’s exciting.

Zoe: Yeah. Time­less is the word. And I nev­er real­ly write about spe­cif­ic things like that any­way. It’s just not real­ly how I write. 

So you’re very much about look­ing in a new direc­tion

Zoe: Yes. Peo­ple are so excit­ed at gigs too. It’s lovely.

Leila: Obvi­ous­ly peo­ple were a bit nervy and we were hit with Covid. We did the first run of dates with The Wed­ding Present at East­er. We’d just come out of lock­down, and we haven’t giv­en it a sec­ond thought since. It’s so nice, not wor­ry­ing about being at a fes­ti­val or at a few gigs… it feels nor­mal again. But this is back to what we know and love and what we’ve missed.

What have you been lis­ten­ing to recently?

Zoe: I real­ly like my old school stuff which I know isn’t very excit­ing!  And I’ve enjoyed the first Wet Leg sin­gles and the Dry Clean­ing album.
Leila: Sink Ya Teeth have got some good stuff out at the moment. And A Cer­tain Ratio – they are real­ly cool. We’ve seen Bil­ly Nomates a few times as well. 

Do you feel Man­ches­ter is a sup­port­ive city for young artists?
Zoe: I think com­ing from a big city with a big music scene and his­to­ry behind it obvi­ous­ly it does help.

Leila: There’s room for improve­ment… not that the net­work isn’t supportive. 

Zoe: Our home town shows are incred­i­ble. You feel it the audience. 

Leila: With our sec­ond album, we’ll throw every­thing at it and hope­ful­ly we’ll cut through. Peo­ple in Man­ches­ter will go to a gig every night and they’ll sup­port you and they’ll sup­port the next big thing com­ing through but they’ll stick with you as well. 

Zoe: There’s the The John Hall foun­da­tion com­ing up. It launched this year, sup­port­ing grass­roots bands. [John Hall Foun­da­tion Launch Par­ty] He was an impor­tant guy in the Man­ches­ter music scene who passed away last year. He raised mon­ey to set up rehearsal rooms in Man­ches­ter. That’s a big thing for the city.

Leila: He was at gigs all the time and when peo­ple like that are sup­port­ing you, you know that you are doing the right thing. 

LIINES  Links: We Are LIINES   /    Face­book    /    Twit­ter
Album Stop-Start released on 4 May 2018 via Reck­less Yes Records. Lat­est sin­gle Keep On Going released dig­i­tal­ly on 3 Sep­tem­ber 2021
LIINES per­formed at Beard­ed The­o­ry fes­ti­val 29th May 2022

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