INTERVIEW: PRIDES

Stoke On Trent. Not just the home of the English pottery industry and birthplace of Robbie Williams, it is also where Prides frontman Stewart Brock was born, as he puts it, ‘during a thunderstorm whilst an eagle flew overhead’. Having been forced to play the piano as a child, it was not long before Blink 182 found its way into Brock’s bedroom, something he describes as ‘a real turning point’:

“Suddenly music wasn’t just the bands that my dad pumped out of the car stereo, it was something for us too, something relatable, something that I wanted to be a part of. I’d always played music, but until Blink I never wanted to write music. That was a real wake up moment.”

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It was a moment that would spawn the formation of Prides in 2014 with Brock on keys and vocals, Callum Wiseman on guitar and keys, and Lewis Gardener on drums, and their profile skyrocketed that same year with a performance at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. Following the release of their successful debut album ‘The Way Back Up‘ in 2015, Gardener left the band – they still all remain good friends however, says Brock, who doesn’t feel the bands dynamic has changed too much as a result:
“To be honest [the dynamic’s] not changed as much as I thought it might. Me and Wisey are best mates, we hang out all the time regardless of whether we’re writing, or watching time travel films, or whatever it might be. We have fun, we try and write the best songs we can write, we still have the same ambitions, it’s all pretty much the same.”


Friendship seems to be the key of Prides’ success, who have released a string of singles since their debut album, including the raucous ‘Rome‘, and their latest release ‘It Must Have Been Love‘. The road to musical success never did run smoothly however; Brock describes being turned away from his school choir as a child, something that is inexplicable if you’ve ever heard his impressive vocal range. It’s Brock’s vocal prowess, in fact, which cements their status as one of the best pop acts to come out of Scotland in recent memory, something which is a definite source of pride for the frontman, who says:
“‘Pop’ can sometimes be considered a bit of a dirty word, especially if you’re in a band, but for me, all of my favourite bands write unabashed pop music. Bands like The Cure, Tears for Fears, even Talk Talk, have written some of my favourite pop songs, but they all have weight and heart. It’s definitely something we try and emulate.”

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However, perhaps in testament to the pure panopticism of pop as an umbrella term, Prides’ brand of 80’s inspired indie pop is miles away in terms of genre from most of the dance and RnB inspired tracks in the mainstream charts. By using retro synths and huge melodic hooks, the band hard back to an era of songwriting that, for Brock ‘is all about escapism, enormous hooks and ambitious production’, asking me ‘whats not to love’?
A true realist, I remind him that for every Robert Smith, there was also a Bros, to which he replies:
“Of course, but that’s how romanticism works! For every Kurt Cobain there’s a Hanson, for every Arcade Fire there’s a Nickelback. Nostalgia is a powerful thing.”
It certainly is. It’s difficult not to yearn for the 80’s, where there were many male fronted bands making unashamed, brash, emotional pop, something which now seems to be the remit of solo female singers and Louis Walsh-esque manufactured boy bands. Brock is hopeful however:
 “There’s been a massive swing towards more ‘manufactured’ pop sure, put the pendulum is working in our favour now I think. With bands like The 1975 leading the charge, and massive tunes from Clean Cut Kid, Muna, Sundara Karma, pop music seems to be in good hands. We hope to add to that best we can.”


I ask him whether he thinks the music industry is headed in the right direction.
“It’s a different beast, I think people are still trying to find their feet with such a massive emphasis put on streaming rather than physical sales, but we’re getting there. It does feel like the music industry is the slowest of the creative industries to actively make positive changes, but the opportunities are there, and people have more control over what they listen to than ever, which can only be a good thing.”
It’s certainly been a good thing for Prides, whose streaming figures have translated seamlessly into huge turnouts for their live shows, which Brock seems to be extremely grateful for:
“We like to throw ourselves into every show that we play, leave everything out on stage, to do less would be a disservice to the people who love the music that we make. That connection has always meant a great deal to us, and we try to honour it at every opportunity. We’ve been massively lucky that people always get involved, always engage with us, and get what we’re trying to do.”

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When I ask him where his favourite place to play is, his answer comes as no surprise:
“Glasgow, come on. The best live city in the world, and our hometown. No question. New York might come a close second.”
There aren’t many arenas in which New York would come a close second to Glasgow, but that’s the thing about Prides – they are fiercely loyal people, to their fans, to their hometown, and to the music they make. I ask them what they are hoping will come from 2017:
“We just want to keep making music, keep connecting with people, keep hearing their stories, and meeting them after shows. The most fulfilling thing for me is when someone talks about one of our songs helping them through something, or helping them celebrate something, those personal connections mean an awful lot. “

‘Rome’ is out now on New Moons Vol. VII
 CONNECT WITH PRIDES

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