This five-piece band from Wales have been gathering great reviews for their
blend of anthemic melodies and sonic grandeur. Here the band's vocalist
Jonnie Owen tells us about the band's progress...
What are you currently up to?
We've been working on a lot of ideas for new material and so far the new songs
are sounding great and are starting to show a direction that's really exciting
and fresh towards our second album.
We have also been preparing and having lots of meetings with our team regarding
the release of our third single 'The Fear' (out on 30th May) and getting very
involved with its process. Some intense rehearsals are always going on before
our UK tour in May, too. So a lot of prep work really...
Given that daytime radio is on the whole very bland here in the UK, how does
the band get airplay and exposure to your upcoming single 'The Fear'? Does
YouTube, MySpace, Twitter etc. really drive up interest and sales in the band?
We've always maintained support at radio and as each song is released we tend to
pick up new fans and more DJ's seem to be playing our music in the UK, Europe
and now the USA, mainly from them catching us live.
Our online presence most certainly helps towards exposure, and is forever
growing but as for sales...it's difficult to tell really. But this is 'The Big
Debate' that's been going on for years and I'm sure will, carry on for years.
On this topic, though, I will say that by having access to 'the net'
possibilities in exposure are pretty much endless, as you can reach millions of
I think the larger your fan base grows the more chance there is of having
economic gain as an artist. The internet allows you to reach more people,
hopefully resulting in picking up more fans and therefore making that gain
But everyone knows this so I think I've just talked myself into a 'Yes' to your
question there, haven't I? Haha.......
What was it like appearing at the SXSW festival and what were the highlights
for the band?
We live in Wales so firstly the weather, which was beautiful, along with the
free drinks and BBQ, was a great place to start as we are used to a lot of
It was so nice to meet up with so many bands that we've gigged with in one place
at the same time and pretty much just party.
Our good friend Jeff Klein, who we toured Europe with in January, was our tour
guide for the week as he's from Austin. He is a proper gent.
The gigs were so good, especially as it was the first time in the USA for four
of us (Daf, our guitarist, had been a few times as a young lad). We were just so
happy to have been received so well - all our gigs were packed and we picked up
quite a lot of fans really quickly who kept on showing up at the next show.
SXSW also allowed us to have interest from industry that we wouldn't otherwise
be able to grab on a face-to-face level, too.
It's all e-mail these days but you can't beat old school face-to-face - still
the best way to do business, I think.
It's a crazy place to go, there is a band performing on every street corner,
every pub, club, cafe, restaurant...Jack White and Seasick Steve did a gig to
about 30 people outside a hot dog stall, and our friends.
It was very strange being in Austin after the festival had finished as the place
was literally like a ghost town. It's just so hard to describe. It's one of
those places you just have to go and see for yourself.
Other highlights were: Chapel Club, Go Back To The Zoo (and their crew, who are
nutters), Boxer Rebellion, Pulled Apart By Horses, You Are Animal and Wales' own
The Joy Formidable.
You've used social networking to great effect with regular Twitter updates,
MySpace for music and Facebook. How important is social media now in helping
bands like yourselves reach fans and gain more exposure for you music?
What social media now allows us is to constantly and cheaply enable us to keep
in touch with our fans on a daily basis, which is very important to us.
We are very active online when out on tour, so I'm sure our fans will be kept
up-to-date with all our goings on, usual competitions and general banter...of
which there is plenty of.
Most of all we really enjoy doing it, hearing all about their going-ons, too,
and it's lots of fun. Also by becoming a follower of The Last Republic we always
offer exclusives well in advance, so get involved!!!!
How have the band been preparing for the upcoming tour with The Alarm tour,
and which venues are you particularly looking forward to playing? How do you
think The Last Republic's music will go down with The Alarm's fans?
As with every tour, we always throw ourselves in to intense rehearsals, it's the
only way to do it really so that we don't have any problems during the gigs and
that we are 'match fit', as we like to call it.
We were asked to do the tour by Mike Peters when myself and our PR man (Dave
Clarke) were having a beer with him after our set at last year's Beautiful Days
festival. He came up to me after the gig and just said that he loved it and
thought we should tour with him, to which we obviously said, “OK, when?”...and
here we are.
So on that basis I think we will go down really well with The Alarm audience, as
I don't think Mike would have chosen us if he didn't think we'd do well.
He also has a megaphone, so I've already got brownie points with his audience
before we even start...I've got some tricks up my sleeve for The Alarm crowd, so
watch out (haha).
I love all The Academy venues, so there's lots of gigs to look forward to and a
few we haven't done before, which is always exciting. London's going to be a
belter I reckon.
If you could create a fantasy band line-up who would be in it and why?
I'm not sure whether to work towards the party afterwards or the performance
time on stage.
Hmmm...ok, let's try...Robert Smith for his songwriting genius and lush voice
along with Mr Nick Cave for some preaching and extra darkness.
Johnny Marr is guitar extraordinaire, Peter Hook as no one else sounds like him
when he makes his bass sing. And Jeremiah Green of Modest Mouse, he makes
everything up beat and has also worked with Johnny Marr, so at least two of them
will, or at least should, get on.
Being a lover of keyboards and synths and all that, the late Rick Wright would
have to be re-born in his prime from his peace for this tour. I think he could
add a bit of extra historical experience to the project.
What have been the live highlights so far and why?
The band basically started taking its first breaths when we won the Road to V
competition in 2009. That was then followed by a tour with The Levellers (my
favourite band) in April 2010 after spending 4 months writing and recording our
debut album 'Parade'.
We were selected to play the O2 Arena to 24,000 people that June. And since
writing the album we have just constantly toured the UK, and since the release
of the album we have also toured Europe and played SXSW in Austin, Texas.
So really there is so much but I'll choose a more recent highlight as all of
this is great really. We toured the whole of Holland in February and we had a
show at my favourite venue which is, The Paradiso in Amsterdam.
We played our own headline show in the same room that Airborne Toxic Event
played a few days before (which we were present) and the room was packed and the
crowd went crazy for us.
It was such a good vibe but we couldn't party there for long, as we had to do an
18-hour drive straight after the show to play The Razzmatazz in Barcelona at
3am, just 24 hours later.
So we did the drive, which was bloody horrible I might add, we got there in time
and played to a further 2000 people in the main room who, once again, went
ape-shit when we got on stage. It was like a circus.
We then lived on tapas and Spanish beer for 2 days in the sun before driving
through a pictorial France and re-joining the Dutch tour. Good times.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?
'Spare time away from music'. What's that? We're constantly touring, so playing
catch up with family, friends and my dog is on top of the list.
My mates always give me a welcome home party, even if I've only gone for a
couple of weeks, so that's always something to look forward to.
As for hobbies, I suppose reading, blasting some tunes and trying to keep fit,
as my diet on the road isn't what I'd like it to be - although for anyone that
knows me well will know that I do love a good burger and anything spicy. I'm
quite easily pleased!
I also like travelling to London to see mates and watch gigs and just bum about
there. It's a good place for inspiration. Mainly lots of partying and catch up,
I guess.. This is starting to sound like one of those single blokes ads...
Anything else to add and a message for your fans?
We just want to thank you all for supporting our records and coming to our gigs,
and giving us so much to laugh and talk about with your funny messages when we
are on tour. Keep them coming and see you on the road. It's all for you. xxx