Formed in February 2020, The Lowtones is an up-and-coming band reminiscent of The Cure, Joy Division and Depeche Mode. We speak with Oliver Mavilio (vocals), Jack Abbott (guitar), Tim Carey (bass) and George Abbott (drums) about their debut EP Lights Out, self-producing albums and discovering new music.
What can you tell us about your debut EP Lights Out?
Oliver: We only formed as a band in February but really hit the ground running. We have all played music together in various groups, but always ‘just for fun’ so we had a good dynamic in the band from the get-go.
George: Not long after we formed we all went into national lockdown which meant we were unable to get together, but on the plus side it really helped us focus in on the writing (as there was bugger all else we could do!). The energy of the EP is quite reflective of a lot of people’s feelings during the lockdown – feelings of isolation or loneliness were heightened and I think that really fed into the writing of Lights Out.
Jack: We were able to share ideas over WhatsApp and Oli was able to put together rough demos and share them with the rest of the band. By the time the first lockdown was eased and we were able to meet up again, we had loads of songs ready to record. All came together at break-neck speed.
What are the pros and cons to self-producing an album?
Oliver: I think the most notable thing about the band has been the momentum and pace at which we’ve written and recorded the songs. Self-producing Lights Out meant that we were able to keep up that sense of urgency, which I think is captured in the recording. I would say creative control is also a real plus.
Tim: The biggest challenge has been recording and mixing the tracks with our (relatively) basic equipment. We recorded the tracks at our houses and mixed them on Logic.
George: The added challenge of recording this EP was doing it during the national lockdown and not being able to get together for prolonged periods to learn/work on the tracks.
How did you form and come up with the band name?
Jack: We have all played in groups together over the years, but mainly just for fun. Oli moved back to Norfolk at the beginning of the year, got in touch with me and George and said he wanted to start playing music together again. Me and George knew Tim and got him involved. Simple as that.
George: I think the band name was Oli’s suggestion and was in relation to us always lowering the tone…Fuck.
What do you hope people take from the EP?
Jack: I just hope they find something in it they like/can relate to. There isn’t any sort of specific context or set way it should be listened to. There are a lot of themes in the lyrics about isolation and loneliness, difficult break-ups and unrequited love which I think lots of people will be able to relate to on some level. But the music is also pretty upbeat and catchy so I think people could just as easily dance to it.
If you could change anything about Lights Out what would it be?
Oliver: It is really cliché, but I genuinely wouldn’t change anything about it. I think the way it has come together in such an unconventional, piecemeal way has really added to the end result.
Tim: You would never set out to write and record an EP/album like this, but it has worked out really well for us. The DIY spirit and pace with which it was all done was really exciting and I think that energy comes through in the music.
Describe your music in a single word.
What inspired the EP?
Oliver: Lights Out was purely a way to express the feeling I had after experiencing heartbreak, and then subsequently the fear and anxiety of being back out on the scene alone. The lows that I’ve encountered in the pursuit of new love where nothing compares but the bridge is burnt.
Tim: Musically, I think we were inspired by the time. There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty out there at the moment and I think we have captured that in our sound.
What do you think is the best way to discover new music?
George: I think in some ways it has never been easier to find new bands, but there is so much music out there that the hardest part is sifting through it all.
Tim: I have discovered a few new bands/artists from listening to BBC 6 Music and there are always friends’ recommendations – you can usually trust those.
Jack: Some of my best ‘discoveries’ have come from watching YouTube sessions/gigs. Things like NPR and KEXP are my personal favourites. It’s good because you can go on there to watch a band or artist you already know and end up finding new acts who have also done sessions.