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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...

The Last Republic

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'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 people.

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 possible.

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 rainfall here.

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.

The Last Republic

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.

The Last Republic

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.

The Last Republic

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

Interview by Jason Ritchie, April 2011

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The Last Republic are on tour with The Alarm in the UK in May

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