This has been a long time coming. In the summer of 2017, Kassassin Street played on the Castle Stage at Victorious Festival to thousands of fans.
The Southsea band had completed a successful joint-headline UK tour, were picking up national radio play and praise everywhere they went. There was talk of an album and record deals.
They were ‘the band most likely to’.
No-one realised at the time, but that Victorious set would be their last show under the Kassassin Street name.
‘That was the last time we all played together as we were,’ says frontman Rowan Bastable.
‘The plans were always there to really hammer it and start writing a lot more, and the music was already changing direction and getting more dance music-inspired and more synth-heavy.
‘The project just took on a whole new form and grew arms and legs in the studio, and it felt like the right time to do something new, to come back as something new and something fresh.’
So now they’re back, with a new name – Paradise Club, a revised sound, and bar a low-key debut at The Great Escape in Brighton in May, are preparing to make their full-scale return in their home town.
‘We’ve been in hiding – doing loads behind the scenes, writing, regrouping, we took a little bit of time off.
‘It kind of felt right to regroup and take control back of everything – we felt like we were getting pushed in certain directions, and ultimately we feel a lot better about taking that control back and getting on with it.
‘But I’ve missed the gigs!’
Rowan admits it was a ‘tough decision’ ditch the old band name: ‘We’d done so much under that name, and have got such a big local following and affiliation to it and we were lucky, we were managing to go on tour and sell tickets across the UK, which was great.
‘But as time moved forwards, and things evolved within the band,’ bassist Tom Wells left and has since started his own project Fast Trains, ‘so that was a factor as well, and it did feel like a new band.
‘I think people will get it when they hear it. It’s still definitely us – 100 per cent, but it’s a more formed us – the songs sound very much like they’re coming from the same perspective and the same colour palette. We’re just excited to get them out there at last.’
While the bulk of the show at The Wedge will be new material, Rowan says they’ve brought a few old songs ‘along for the journey.’
And the new name?
‘It comes from the idea that the Paradise Club is this place for fake online personas where people are always trying to put their best self out there online, and everything is shiny and glistening. But when they’re sat at home alone, they’re not that person, and inside there are those insecurities that are screaming to get out.
‘It’s a world for online fake personas. I think it will make more sense when you hear the tunes because they’re all really personal – it’s really putting ourselves out there, especially for me, from a lyrical point of view, but the music can be very dance-y and rave-y but it’s also quite moody.
‘I kind of say it’s like euphoric escapism, and it’s all themed around these ideas of getting away from the mundane – and yourself, in some respects.’
While the band remains Rowan, drummer Nathan Hill, Ryan Hill on guitar and Andy Hurst on electronics and keys, they are going to become a bit of a Portsmouth supergroup for The Wedge gig – they’re being joined on stage by Jerry Williams, who continues to make a name for herself as a solo act, former Bellyeyesmile guitarist Ben Glass and Jim Harding of New Desert Blues.
‘We’re a dance band through-and-through, but we’re trying to do everything live. That’s the point of having so many of us up there.
‘It’s so easy for electronic bands to put everything on rails and it all goes on a laptop, and before you know it, it would be really easy for Andy to almost become like a DJ, and it takes away all the fun from it.
‘That’s one reason it’s taken so long, we’ve certainly not been idle, we’ve been reimagining the whole creative process.
‘Ben and Jim will also be sharing bits of percussion and synth work, there’s going to be quite a bit of moving around on stage! There will be swapping and changing around as to what the song needs.
‘It’s been great for us because it’s the first time we’ve imagined a whole project, put it together and gone right: this is what we’re doing live.’
But Rowan stresses, the core of the band remains the original four – for the moment, at least.
‘I think, for now, the band is the four of us – this is only for the live show, but we’re going to see how it goes. The plan is that we will need more people as this progresses.’
And that initial Brighton show had been just as a four-piece. They hadn’t actually planned to break cover under the new name at that point.
‘We got offered a spot at The Great Escape at the very last minute, and it’s one of those things you just don’t turn down.
‘We weren’t actually going to announce the name change yet, but because that show came along, everything kind of shimmied up the timeline, and it was like: “Okay, well let’s do it now”.
‘We didn’t really want to make a big song and dance about the name changing – we’d let the music do the talking, but the amount of support and the love we’ve been getting, it’s kind of reaffirmed that we’re doing the right thing, and the passion behind the band.
‘It’s allowed us to form into what we want to be. We can completely lose the old moniker and come out as the band we’ve been planning to be for the past couple of years.’
Beyond this gig, the band will continue working on the new material and considering their next move.
‘We’re in and out of the studio and we’ve been talking with producers, which I can’t really say too much about at the moment, but these are guys with massive credits under their belts.
‘We’re going to do this show, and then hopefully go straight into the studio, so this show is a big introduction – blow everyone away with the big introduction, and then it’s all about the release schedule.’
So is there a record deal on the table? Rowan says there have been talks, but adds: ‘Right now we’re getting into a place where we’re really happy with how the songs sound, so we’ve got really great demos of every single song.
‘But I’m not against self-releasing the first couple of bits, we might decide to do that.
‘It’s all quite hard when people are trying to place their bets on us already before we’ve done anything.
‘It’s an easy mistake to make at this point to snap the hand off of the first offer that comes along, and then six months down the line say: “Why did we do that? We should have waited...”’
As for that triumphant Victorious set, Rowan is looking forward to getting back on the festival circuit next summer.
‘I can’t wait. I was getting so many messages asking what time we were playing at Victorious this year – I was actually up in Edinburgh at the time – but it was nice we were still being asked.’
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Friday, October 18