The industry's best kept secret? Little more than a year
ago 22-20’s stormed the headspaces of the minority whilst giving genre
a shot in the arm. ‘It basically all came from when we were 18, Martin got into
Dylan and started writing songs and having something to sing about’. Coupled with
their mini album released last May, what was to follow was an A & R clamour to
end all worlds, which eventually saw them sign to Heavenly. A year can
be a long time, and secrets are there to be told.
’Finishing the album was
a definite highlight. After all the hype it felt like we were already writing
our second album, but getting it finished meant we knew how to sound in our heads
and find out what we were about.’
Named after ‘Skip’ James, ’22-20 Blues’
they wear their influences on their pinstripe sleeves. Coming from a small village near Lincoln best demonstrates their influences, because quite simply, there weren’t
any. ‘It wasn’t like we lived in Camden with people throwing records at us and
I suppose we caught the fag end of Britpop. We just missed out on Oasis, so there
wasn’t really anything for us. We heard some blues records and loved them, and
got snobbish about the fact there wasn’t anything else.’
Bluesy but not
quite the blues, their self titled debut album combines a lovelorn tenderness,
of loss and want, but a darker side is unleashed. As you’ve probably guessed this
isn’t porch and harmonica blues. It’s there in spirit, but musically, it’s more
powerful and resonating and gives the blues a new reason to feel sorry for itself.
Front man Martin Trimble’s roaming lyrics are delivered with contempt as the doldrums
of bassist Glen Bartrup and drummer James Irving roll and hammer with purpose.
single ’22 Days’ shows just how direct they can be. It’s diamond grinding diamond.
(Visceral) vocals, and a pounding rhythm gives white noise a new polish. The cynical
‘Why don’t you do it for me’ gives folk guitar some high level voltage, a megaphone
and passion, whilst during ‘Shoot your gun’ you can feel yourself sliding off
your barstool, watching as your sour mash disappears way up high.
such as Muddy Waters, Marc Bolan and Bob Dylan, 22-20’s seem unperturbed that
they’ve unconsciously sculpted their own pilot sound. Martin’s song writing has
a simple rhetoric that is answered with the pummelling music of his band mates,
instead of his own personal battles.
‘I’ve always hated blues rock. Places
would book blues bands who were really earnest whereas we were really direct.
We never really tried to sound blues. Martin writes the songs and we play them….as
But the burning question still remains! Too blues to be
rock, and too rock to be blues. What will the record store kids do? Lump them
in by the Von Bondies or bump them to the blues section? Or will they forever
be damned to ‘Miscellaneous?’ On Glens own admission, they’re sound is at best
‘stand offish’ which in turn gives them their sense of aloof. In avertedly intense
and indirectly accessible, potential listeners are invited to expand their musical
mind and enter the world of blues.
After an enforced sabbatical of sorts,
a full debut album on the shelves and an extensive touring schedule taking in
Europe’s finest festivals, expectation rides high. Obviously not when you’re as
grounded as they are.
’We have none at all. It’s good to be on the road
and its great touring. We never planned on having office jobs so it’s all the
better as long as a few people buy the album and get what we’re doing’.
a band as industrious and designed them, you wonder where their problems come
from. No nine to five grind, an up and coming band and soon the money will start
’Fucking hell there’s so much to choose from. I can ritually think
of fifty things I hate daily...but at the hotel last night, it didn’t have any
room service, so I had to eat four packets of cheese and onion crisps. I didn’t
really want to do that.’
A ha! I knew it! Beneath the cool façade, beneath
the diligent exterior, this is the blues. It may not be coke and hookers, or room
service just yet, but there will no doubt be a few more whiskeys and rollies on
the way. For anyone who missed them the first time round put the harmonica down
but as for the A & R guys, enjoy your sleepless nights
Sherief Younis for Crud Magazine 2004©
October - December 2004- News Archive