Life's a Beach for Leicester's Easy Life as they head to Southsea
An album about trying to escape from it all, but ultimately having to learn that you can’t outrun your problems is purpose built for all of us in 2021.
While the themes of Easy Life’s debut album, Life’s a Beach, would chime at any time, after 16 months of the pandemic and lockdowns they are more apt than ever.
It crashed into the charts at number two on its release at the end of May, only held off the top spot by the pop juggernaut that is Olivia Rodrigo.
The five-piece, ostensibly described as an ‘alternative R&B’ group, pillage from multiple genres to create their unique sound. With the band hailing from landlocked Leicester the album is packed with images of the coast and water.
Describing the album’s concept, frontman and main songwriter Murray Matravers says: ‘For me, it was about wishing you were elsewhere – imagining if you were to go to the beach and everything's going to be fine.
‘The album then deals with the fact that you just take all of your problems with you, wherever you are geographically.
‘You could be sitting in Barbados and still feel anxious, so the album has this sense of, well one day everything's going to be fine, but then it concludes that maybe you should come to terms with things as they are and be happy. Be happy to be stuck in Leicester, be happy to be far from the beach.
‘But thinking of the British seaside is very nostalgic, it’s very inspiring – I could remember all those long windy trips to Skegness. It was quite an easy thing to write about.
‘Ironically, it was about coming to terms with being from Leicester and being okay with that.’
This month the band is heading out on a short run of record store-related shows and signings – including a date for Pie and Vinyl on The Gaiety, Southsea. They then head out on a full tour in the autumn, which includes two shows in one day at The Wedgewood Rooms. The tour then culminates in two massive nights at the 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy.
‘Obviously, we've played London a lot, we haven’t just arrived at the Brixton Academy,’ says Murray. ‘Don't get me wrong, we've been playing several years of terrible gigs to get there!
‘Somewhere like The Wedgewood Rooms is still a big gig for us – it's only a couple of years since we were playing those gigs and thinking they felt huge.
‘We were actually reminiscing the other day about the time we headlined a venue called Dryden Street Social in Leicester, which I think is a 450-cap venue,’ about the same as The Wedge, ‘but we were like, oh my god, that is huge! And that is not a distant memory.
‘Regardless of the size of the venue, we're stoked, especially if it's our first time playing there. I always find it interesting to suss out different crowds, being able to tour the UK is such a luxury – you only have to travel for half an hour for everything to change. I find that fascinating.
‘But to play two nights at Brixton is ridiculous – it's mad, it really is.
‘For us, Easy Life has always been about playing live gigs and starting off by playing to five people in an empty bar.
‘That story of the live show and the rock'n'rollness of it,’ he laughs, ‘I mean, we're the least rock'n'roll band ever – but the ethos of going out and plugging instruments in and playing is something that's really important for us as a British band, and that was taken away from everyone.
‘Obviously much worse things were going on, so I don't want to play the world's smallest violin, but it was difficult for us as a band to not play the songs.
‘None of the songs on the album have ever been played live, other than Nightmares.’ The latter dates back to 2018 and soundtracked a key moment in Michaela Coel’s multi award-winning BBC show I May Destroy You.
‘That's the first time in our careers where that's been the case, that we haven't road-tested the songs and seen what works and what doesn't.’
While Life’s a Beach is their debut album proper, they have previously released three mixtapes and several singles since starting out in 2017. But much of the album was put together over the past year – and it seems there's an unsung hero in its creation.
‘Yes, the majority was written in lockdown and certainly all of it was recorded during lockdown.
‘I do lot of the recording anyway, so I bought the studio to my bedroom, amassed all of the gear I've bought over the years, which was in various locations, my parents’ house, we have a studio in Leicester, other studios where I'd left bits lying around, and I bought it all to my bedroom – much to my girlfriend's dismay, bless her!
‘I had a lot of keyboards – I got pretty into modular synthesisers too, so there were a lot of cables... I think it's gorgeous and I love to stare at a keyboard all day long, but I know some people don't share that passion!
‘I love the art of recording music and the engineering side is something I've always been heavily into.
‘When the lockdown lifted we were in real studios, doing real music together as often as we could.
‘But I owe my girlfriend a lot – she's been very patient with me.’
Before the pandemic hit, things were already going Easy Life’s way - they started 2020 by winning NME’s Best New Act Award. And they accepted it with an unorthodox acceptance speech, as Murray explains.
‘I was in the studio with one of the producers we worked with on the album, Rob (Milton), who's a co-writer as well, we wrote loads together.
‘He was coming to the awards with us, and we were in the studio having a few beers, just before we were leaving, just finishing up, and he asked: “So have you got a speech?” I was like, obviously I don't need a speech. Do people prep speeches? I suppose they do.
‘Something Rob and I have always shared is a love of Maroon 5's first album, Songs About Jane – I love that album and I say that with no sense of irony.
‘So Rob said: “If you win an award you have to sing this song, She Will Be Loved, and I'll give you a fiver...”
Up against strong competition from the likes of Fontaines DC, Sam Fender and Celeste, Murray figured he wouldn’t have to follow through with it.
‘I was like: “Yeah, whatever”. We just didn't think we would win and we'd have to do it. Obviously I made a bet, so it was on, I had to do it.
‘I didn't tell anyone else in the band until we were walking up. I told them: “Guys, just let me do this thing, I've got to sing Maroon 5.”
‘I started on the second verse which was a mistake – but it's my favourite part of the song – I don't think anyone realised what it was at first until the chorus dropped, and then it was: “Oooh...!”
Life’s a Beach concludes with Music To Walk Home To, a stream of consciousness with Murray describing the end of a raucous night out set to woozy, horn-punctuated beats. And it’s brilliant.
‘It was a bit of a joke that we put it on the album, but people keep saying they really like it, which is quite charming!
‘I was in a studio with a friend and long-time collaborator, Fraser T Smith. I was at his house and it was about two in the morning, we were really drunk and we had been listening to lots of Fela Kuti and world music. We were listening to that and ended up making this instrumental.
‘This is what I can remember, anyway, because I was really drunk. I was going into the booth and freestyling – that was my attempt at a rap freestyle.
‘I felt it belonged at the end of the album – I definitely had no intention of it seeing the light of day when I did it, but oh well,’ he giggles.
And it may well appear in their live shows. ‘We're working on it, we've got a lot of interesting ideas on how we're going to do it. I'm not sure how, but it's going to be weird.’
When The Guide mentions how the Pie & Vinyl gig is on a pier and thus ties in nicely with Life’s a Beach, Murray is thrilled: ‘Really, nice? Wow, that's so sick – that's going to be really cool.’
The Pie & Vinyl outstore live show and signing session is at The Gaiety on July 7, from 7pm. Ticket only £11, ticket and vinyl album £25. Go to pandvrecords.co.uk.
They play an evening and matinee show at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea on November 14, with the former already sold out. Tickets £19.50. Go to wedgewood-rooms.co.uk.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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