Well, this Sunday you rockstars are in for a treat! I had not heard of this crazy bunch prior to this interview and what a joy it has been to engage with them! One thing you will not be in danger of when you read this is being bored!
Rainyday Rainbow – just when you thought South Wales, in particular around Swansea, couldn’t throw any more curve balls at the live music scene, along come these three to shake it all up again. Read on…
VL: Hello, and welcome – Tom, Ed and Osian! Lovely to have you all here with me today. How would you describe your band?
Tom Emlyn: Unhinged psychedelic garage rock. I don’t think we want to be particularly categorised by anything. We’re just mixing up odds and ends of genres into a weird soup, not with audience in mind but ourselves but if other people like it then that’s great.
Ed Hancock: Really out there, going for the outsider vibes and bringing them inside to a warm forever home. Made for people with eclectic taste, by people with eclectic taste. I like soup.
Osian Boland: We want to give it our all and play music that feels big. We want to do something organic. Why would we want to be labelled?
VL: Tell us a bit about your background – where you’re from, and how did you come to start making tunes together.
Osian: We’re all from South Wales, we all like South Wales music. I met Ed on the internet. My primary school teacher laughed in my face when I said I wanted to be a rock star, in front of my whole class, so I’m determined to prove her wrong. Look at me now Mrs Jones! My dad is in a covers band that played covers on the weekend. It sent me on this path, as it made me believe in miracles, and that being in a band is cool.
Ed: It started with me wanting to make weird music, and writing weird songs, but it was in mind to someday have a band to create with. The idea being a group of misfits making a supergroup out its parts.
Tom: I’ve been playing with Rainyday Rainbow for just a few months since Sept 2022. I’ve been making my own strange sounds for years with my solo project and other bands, but RR has helped me find some kindred music making spirits and it’s a really fun band to play with. Me and Ed are from the same part of Swansea but have only just started playing together. It’s an exciting time as we’re writing loads of new tunes together and seeing where it goes. We’ve mostly played around Swansea/Cardiff but we’re hoping to get out there and play further afield in 2023.
VL: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
Ed: The Shaggs. If they can make music and put it out there, then we can too! I really love John Dwyer of the OSEES (Thee Oh) who writes from a very fantastical perspective about down to earth stuff. I also like how songwriters like David Bowie and Donovan hide real life experiences and emotions behind layered metaphors and narratives of an ‘out there’ nature. Ian Holloway, my college lecturer (blogging as Wyrd Britain, musician as The British Space Group) said “why write about love songs when you can write about anything?” and I think those are wise words indeed.
Tom: I love a lot of weird 60s 70s prog psych folk stuff and lyricists like Bob Dylan and Elliott Smith. That comes into play more with my solo project, a lot of which is about trying to respond to the Welsh landscape, but I love the stranger, outsider side of music like Syd Barrett, Cardiacs, The Residents, which is a good influence for RR. My own songs tend to be little stories about things I notice, trying to make the everyday a bit phantasmagorical or magic realist. I try to draw attention to small things in life that are easy to miss. For instance, there’s a new song the band wrote together called ‘Undergrowth’ which is about a feral cat that lives in the car park at my job. There are no rules to songwriting which is nice and it gives me a feeling of expressive freedom that nothing else does.
Osian: I want to be John Dwyer when I’m old I guess because he’s a legend.
VL: What are your aspirations as a band?
Ed: We wanna become fat cats with lotsa money! Just kidding, but it would be good to have a Wikipedia article written on our musical exploits and be able to afford to produce vinyl records of our music. That whole early 2000’s Detroit garage rock scene has a DIY self-sustaining vibe that would be amazing to be able to replicate here in sunny ol’ Swansea.
Osian: I want to play Green Man; I love going to that festival… And I want to go on Jools Holland and swear on it.
Tom: I don’t really know what our aspirations are. We just want enough people interested to keep being able to do gigs and getting our music out there. I just want to keep being able to keep the music going, whatever it takes. Keep writing, doing gigs and making tunes.
VL: What has been the proudest moment in your music career so far?
Ed: So far, my proudest moment is sending a self-produced noisy cassette album (The Brain Thunk When It Thailed) to the aforementioned John Dwyer, and him saying he dug it! I’m really proud of our latest LP which we managed to record live at Porters Cardiff (Live At Porters!). It’s a truly unique album in this day and age of people recording music to get everything perfect, and we’re just rawdogging a Tascam Portastudio with a messy, chaotic performance.
Tom: I’m proud of everything I’ve done, I’m proud of how much music I’ve managed to release during 2022, including two solo albums and the ‘Live at Porter’s!’ Rainyday Rainbow Bandcamp release. The live album was a bit of a reboot for the band featuring our current sound and like Ed said it’s really nice to do something a bit raw and imperfect, embracing the mistakes and not trying to make everything too polished. I try not to look back, it’s best to keep moving forward and look forward to the music still to come.
Osian: Just playing in general. Going from saying I’m going to do it, to doing it.
VL: Promoting music can be a real challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
Ed: At the moment we are completely self-managed and self-promoted. It is a struggle at times because it requires a lot more admin work, but also is a lot more fulfilling as a result. Saying that, it does not hurt to have additional help when it happens! Just going to slip in a quick thank you for interviewing us at this point, we really appreciate it. I run the social media at the moment, it’s a bit of a sludge sometimes but I try and get a post or 2 up every couple of days, although I should probably do more.
Tom: In some ways the internet makes everything easier and, in some ways, harder. It’s great to have the ability to record and release whatever you want, but if you’re doing it all yourself it can be a lot of work to promote it and get your stuff out there. We try to think of fun and interesting ways to engage, like in the lead up to the release of our recent live album for instance we sent it to artists we know and like and asked them to film a little video talking about it. And for my solo stuff I’ve really enjoyed making some homemade videos and doing a cassette release. There’s always different approaches you can take to engage in a fun way and use the tools and resources available to you such as they are. We’re not necessarily trying to get massive anyway, as long as a small number of people are genuinely vibeing with it then that’s enough of a reward.
Osian: We’re just a band, aren’t we?
VL: Any performances coming up?
22/01/2023: Buffalo, Cardiff
17/02/2023: Bunkhouse, Swansea
10/03/2023: Crofters, Bristol
13/05/2023: Le Pub, Newport
01/07/2023: Tiny Rebel, Newport
VL: What are you working on at the moment?
Tom: We’re working on a few new tunes which have a slightly different vibe. There’s ‘Undergrowth’ which I mentioned before and ‘The Jellyfish’ which have both come from more of a collaborative approach, writing together as a band, which has given them a fresh feeling. You can hear both of them on the live album. Then there’s a song of Ed’s called ‘Bluman’ which we’ve just rearranged as more of a band piece and some other bits and bobs in the works. In January we’re planning to go up to a studio in Bristol to get a more polished EP recorded, which we’re really looking forward to.
Osian: I study sound engineering so we’re going to manufacture our own inhouse EP, so we have some music to show. It’s a bit awkward being a band without a studio recording.
Ed: Is there anything else you want to add?
Osian: No. Don’t put that. Take it out.
Ed: We’ve also just started on a song by Tom called ‘Starsixk’ which is like if King Gizzard were listening to a lot of David Bowie and then Captain Beefheart attacks. We also have an ambitious concept we’re in the very early stages of but aim to get done and down before 2023 claims another year from us.
VL: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Ed: I suppose lyrically I keep trying to write something as epic as ‘1983 A Merman I Should Turn To Be’ by Hendrix. The lyrics are introspective to a degree, but also a reaction to the wider context of being written in America during the Vietnam War, whilst having a fantastical and brilliantly creative setting. It’s like Jazz on several layers of lysergic substance and takes you on a journey when you listen. It’s like a condensed and compact parallel to the much later written ‘Nonagon Infinity’ album by King Gizzard which faces themes of escapism, and which if I’m honest I also really wanted to mention.
Osian: Ditto 1983 by Hendrix. It’s a tricky question because if I wrote the songs I like I wouldn’t be able to listen to them as a listener… BUT I wish I had written ‘Strawberry Fields’ by The Beatles. I wish I was there for the production for it because it sounds incredible, they were really on to something.
Tom: There’s a song called ‘Common Courtesy’ by an obscure Swansea band from the 2000s called King of Despair which I love. It’s pretty much a perfect guitar pop song, but nobody knows about it so I recommend them to everyone I can. Heartbreaking observational lyrics with a mundane edge and music that climbs and soars perfectly, it’s a song about how we treat the people in our lives and about difficult times in life.
VL: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, that you would change if you could?
Tom: Too much emphasis put on image and marketing, not enough emphasis on genuine music. But the biggest thing is financial, it’s too hard to get paid for making music and we’re going to end up with a business dominated by musicians with wealthy parents who can afford to support their children’s music. Music has arguably always been a working-class profession to some extent, but maybe this is currently changing, which is for the worse I think.
Ed: There’s a lot to unpack. I’m not sure how to put it, but if you’re rich from heritage, you can certainly fuck about a bit more compared to if you’re starting from the ground up. Ultimately there is little in terms of financial comfort when you want to do something for the passion of it; there’s much to invest before it pays off. I’ve been very fortunate to be where I am, and am grateful to those who support me, but many may not be so lucky. Base level; artists should be paid for their art. Streaming does not facilitate this and yet has become the norm, so now music has become a merchandise and physical sales game, which not everyone is going to have the capital for. So to echo Tom on this one, it’s not so much about the music, but how much money you can invest before you can start being the star that you are. It’s a can of worms.
Osian: I’d delete it. No, I wouldn’t. I don’t like people not making good songs, it’s pointless. That people think more about how popular a song is going to be rather than how good a song is going to be. I don’t like people copying other people (other than the Osees of course.)
VL: What’s the most outrageous thing your band has ever done?
Tom: I dunno if it’s outrageous or not, but I always enjoy rolling around on the floor in the middle of a gig. Writhing around like a worm in the middle of all the chaos. But there’s always a lot of craziness going on at gigs. We try to put a good show on.
Ed: I once stamped a microphone repeatedly upon my forehead which left me pretty bruised and bloody, but most of the gigs we do I’m eating the microphone whilst singing which is pretty much coming from being a fan of King Gizzard and OSees. I sometimes get too sweaty on stage so take my top off, so it depends on how outrageous nipples truly are. I’d love to do something truly crazy at some stage but generally also want to keep it as a thing being done in the moment in response to the experience rather than an act being put on.
Osian: Launching into songs that the other two didn’t know existed. For example, in our recent gig with Dactyl Terra at The Fork and Tune I launched into a song dedicated to a couple that got engaged just before the gig, however this song didn’t exist until that moment. The other two were shocked to their core and had to join in with me. (Congratulations Sarah and Tinker on your engagement!)
VL: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
What do I think?
Quite honestly, I don’t know what to think! Musically I have never heard anything like them before, and this is the first time I’ve interviewed a band having had zero prior knowledge of them. What an experience that turned out to be.
Intelligent, original and heavy on the weirdness, Rainyday Rainbow are a band to fall in love with. They like to use more zany adjectives than I do which is saying something. Musically they are intense, they seem to have written their own rule book and I think they are way ahead of their time.
I will 100% be calling in to a live show to get the delightfully bonkers Rainyday Rainbow experience.
They are not completely mad…but they aren’t far off!