Hailing from South London, First Frontier is a dynamic duo playing lo-fi garage rock ala Joy Division and New Order. Forming in 2019, guitarist Paul Stafford and drummer Helena Poole (they both share vocals duty) have been pounding out spirited, energetic and introspective tunes for fans. We speak with Helena and Paul about their debut single ‘Take Cover’ (to be released on 18th September), future plans and much more!
How was First Frontier formed?
Probably the lightbulb moment was at a gig at the Amersham Arms in SE London where we came away saying, we want to write music, play it live and have people dance to it like that. A month or so later, we entered a rehearsal studio with not much idea what’d happen and pretty much wrote the music to a song (to be released in future called ‘Edging’). At that point, it was game on for First Frontier.
What is the backstory to ‘Take Cover’?
Paul deals with fairly low-level depression and creativity has always been a really good antidote to that, but he also pinpointed that mainlining 24-hour global news feeds and social media can have a pretty negative effect on mental health too. It can distort the severity of the world’s problems to make it feel as though the world is caving in. So, ‘Take Cover’ was a natural push-back against that really. “Just worry ‘bout the here and now” has become sort of a mantra at various times, like a reminder to tell the people you care about that you appreciate them and to focus on the positives that directly impact your existence.
What was the writing and recording process like?
The lyrics to ‘Take Cover’ just appeared out of nowhere one day with a melody. It’s probably our only song that was written lyrics first. We’d say it probably took around a year before we’d really settled on a version of ‘Take Cover’ that we were happy with.
We’d fixed the structure in place really early on, and the vocal harmonies fell into place quite early as well. After that, it was about playing with different guitar-drum combos to make the song sound like it was bigger than just two people. It’s something we work really hard on, sounding bigger than a two-piece in a way that we can play live without using pre-recorded tracks.
If you could tour with a single artist, who would it be and why?
We would love to experience the absolute carnage of touring with the likes of the Sex Pistols or The Slits in the ’70s.
What is your creative process?
Usually the song will be mostly written before we get together and play around with it. So there’s a stronger sense of what that song is before we get it on its feet as a band. Like a foundation that we can build on; but really, the songs are truly found in those jam sessions where we try loads of different things out to see which sticks. We’re always looking for that moment when jamming where we both look at one another like ‘we’ve got it’.
Describe your musician in a single sentence.
First Frontier plays upbeat alt-rock to move to and be moved by.
What are your future plans?
We will be releasing a few more singles in the coming months, followed by an EP around early-2021. Without touring as a legitimate option right now, the immediate future is dedicated to exploring innovative ways to bring our music to people over the internet. We want to really discover something that is more applicable to people’s internet habits, rather than trying to just do a live gig to a camera (which will never be as good as the real thing).
What do you hope people take from your music?
That’s a good question. Ideally, we want them to be entertained by First Frontier, to feel positive and to feel as though they’re not alone. I guess we want them to feel connected to us through our music. If we’ve made a positive impact on somebody’s life through our music then we’ve been successful.