It’s not every day that someone puts up an ad to start a band that sounds like “Madonna through a noisy tape machine,” but last year, that’s exactly what Sam Ayres, guitarist of British indie pop group Flowers, did.
His wording caught the attention of singer and bassist Rachel Kenedy, and the two – along with drummer Jordan Hockley – formed the band and played their first show in September of 2012, a few months after meeting.
In the short amount of time since, the band has been quite busy, having recorded with Stuart Moxham of Young Marble Giants, toured with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, been booked at three different Popfests, and performed at Indietracks. Additionally, Flowers put out singles with Cloudberry and Oddbox, and has signed with both Fortuna POP! and Kanine Records.
“[Sean Price of Fortuna POP!] had heard about our live performances from friends of his who’d seen us play. Their reports must have been good, because he signed us without ever hearing us play himself, or even hearing a proper recording,” Kenedy said. “[Meanwhile], Kanine heard about us from Kip from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, who has so kindly been telling everyone about us since we supported him on tour.”
And what’s most exciting for the band is not so much that they’ve been signed, but rather what labels showed interest in them so early on in the game.
“Fortuna POP! has always been our dream label for the UK. It just has a great ethic to it. Sean gets all sorts of bands, so it’s very eclectic, but there’s a quality to everything, and he has such legends on there, The Primitives for example,” Kenedy shared. “[And] Kanine is perfect for us in the US. Lio Kanine is the most enthusiastic person about our music, which counts for so much, and his label is fantastic. It’s not one we thought of, to be honest, but only because we never thought far ahead enough one year into our band to think about signing with a label in the US as well as at home!”
Now, with a debut album in the works, the three-piece will be recording with producer Bernard Butler. To date, the group has worked solely as a bedroom-based band, but with the full-length, Flowers plans to step things up and head into the studio.
“The writing process has been the same, because Sam and I wrote the songs in our bedroom still, but the recording process is entirely different for us,” Kenedy explained. “Bernard is really easy to work with though. He’s a consummate professional, of course, but more importantly even than that, he really understands and likes our music, so although our songs might come out a bit cleaner and more professional sounding, they still really sound like us, which is vital. Recording in the studio is more time-consuming, but it’s fun, and it’s a lot less stressful for Sam not to have the success of an album resting on his shoulders alone. And fans can expect some songs we play live, as well as some new ones, recorded. The instrumentation on the recordings is slightly different in parts to how we’d play live, but in essence we feel the sound of the recordings really sounds like Flowers.”
As for what the sound of the band actually is, Kenedy said Flowers prefers the overarching label of indie pop, in part because of the freedom the genre provides.
“What we love is contrast. We love to make a really happy song with loads of noise and distortion, or a really quiet, ethereal-sounding song about something harsh,” she said. “All the old great Indie pop bands had that ethic: The Pastels, Another Sunny Day, all those Sarah Records greats. So we draw a lot from them. But we also love pure pop music, like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, and noisier bands like Misfits and Iggy & The Stooges.”
Additionally, the niche created by fans of the music is warm and welcoming – not always the experience of every musician in a big city like London.
“The indie pop scene there is so lovely, and so dedicated,” Kenedy shared. “You always see friendly faces at gigs, and the crowd [is] very supportive and enthusiastic. We get to play some really fantastic venues there too, The Lexington in particular, so that’s wonderful.”
Of course, with everything coming up roses, there are challenges for Flowers. In particular, Kenedy admitted that the band members can feel pressure to make the right decisions in order to be able to continue what they have been doing thus far.
“We love this life and this music so much, so we always feel any decisions we need to make, with the album for example, are very important ones, because it’s very easy in music to suddenly gain criticism and lose a following you cherish so much, a following that enables us to live this dream life,” she said. “But we can’t really complain, because the reason that’s difficult is because we love it so much, which is the great thing! We all get to do our dream job every day, with the best people.”