The north east music scene is bulging with talent. A cliché that could easily be pinned to any region you may say, but there’s something unique about bands in the north east. There are no ‘one-upmanship’ attitudes or bands going behind one another’s back to gain an advantage – instead, the ‘new bands’ breaking through are often given a leg-up by more established outfits in the hope of one day having the favour returned.
LEOPARD RAYS are one of the latest to be on the verge of a breakthrough – and it is fairly evident why. Speaking with frontman Luke Dawkins, he insists “we’re lucky to be thoroughly enjoying what is going on regardless of being a stand out band or not.” The modesty is real and not him simply paying lip-service to seem so. He knows that there are hundreds of bands ranging from Redcar to Newcastle that could be the next to be hyped, but as their latest tour proves – Leopard Rays are NOT content with playing the same venues time and time again.
“We’re really looking forward to meeting some new people, playing different venues and getting our sound out there,” explains Luke. Shows last week in Manchester and Sheffield gave the band their first taste of non-north east comfort and safety, but looking back he accepts “the biggest difference is the fact that most people don’t have a clue who we are. Engaging with these new audiences is an exciting aspect as well as challenging!”
Moving away from a scene as supportive as the one the north east hosts is the first major step of ‘making it,’ and by realising this early into their short-career is vital. Luke knows that the graft deposited in Leopard Rays is paramount to any long-term success they may have. As he puts it, “it can be a challenge to stand out when playing music. I hope that putting hard work into whatever you’re doing will get you recognised, though.” Part of the “hard work” he mentions includes the release of latest single, I’m Japan – a track he describes as “the song that seems to have a bit of everything that we’re about. It’s got the riffs, pounding drums and effects that any good Leopard Rays song has to offer.”
Their sound has already been offered in the form of debut single Wealth and Comfort and follow-up release Easy Tiger, so when quizzed about whether I’m Japan will rock the boat, or follow suit, Luke is quick to point out “we feel that our sound has developed that little bit more since our first two releases and a lot more effort has went into this track.” Their alt-rock lashings haven’t gone unnoticed – a slot at this year’s Stockton Calling is on the cards and with it being sold out once again, Leopard Rays are certain to bring in a whole host of new fans.
Discussing their slot, he reminisces about his fellow band members’ memories of Stockton Calling, saying “for years we have all been attending and even playing in other projects, so to be playing together is a special one.” Giving a nod to the ‘scene,’ he calls the event “a great day for upcoming Teesside bands to play with some bigger artists from around the country” and teases how their slot will be even more special; “The Green Room is a brilliant venue because we can get really involved and close to the audience.”
A final hint of where you can expect Leopard Rays to be in six months is offered by Luke as he gives the closing statement of “we are going to be playing more new places and we’ll be hitting the studio to satisfy our creative hunger, too!”