Low Winter Sun

Jonathan chats to AMP about all things Low Winter Sun and music in general.

Let’s get the formalities out of the way first. Who’s in the band and what are their roles?

Jonathan Caldwell is the band’s guitarist and songwriter, then we've got Craig Bayne on bass, Sonja Mckinnon on drums/backing vocals and Greg Simister on lead vocals/keyboards...and tambourine.

How did you come together as a band?

Jonathan was keen to start a band and met up with Craig whilst studying music and decided to form an original band with a few other like-minded individuals. Jonathan provided the musical ideas whilst Craig complemented this with his bass. The two together became the glue of the band, mainly due to unreliable frontmen and drummers, and eventually the other members were scrapped and Jonathan took over songwriting duties in general. Through a mutual friend, drummer Sonja Mckinnon was discovered and eventually after a few misfires with various lead vocalists she introduced them to Greg Simister who seemed to fit right in as frontman.

Was there a defining moment in your life when you thought, “that’s it, I wanna be a rock star”?

For Jonathan it was admiration for the likes of Robby Kreiger and John Frusciante and the destructive power of The Who onstage that drove him to write his own material rather than covers, using the guitar as a blank canvas to write songs. Craig Bayne (bassist) was discovered on the mean streets of Bebbington, and saw the band as an alternative to being a cheeky pickpocket! Sonja Mckinnon came from a samba-style drumming background and had dabbled in a bit of heavy metal before seeing the light and joining LWS. Greg Simister is a genius on the ukulele and owes a lot to George Formby (seriously). This added to his confidence on stage and willingness to sing Jonathan's tunes, which can be a rare quality in frontmen so the band have discovered along the way.

What is the creative driving force behind the band?

The sound LWS have developed tends to be very dark, sometimes sinister with a dash of electro, which they pride themselves on. Jonathan has always found unsettling music to be more interesting and bases his songwriting on tough life experiences. He likes the music to sometimes lead you down a certain path, then ferociously turns it upside down, giving the audience some intrigue and unpredictability. The music tends to bring the whole of the band to the forefront as each individual part plays a valuable role in the overall sound.

What has been the highlight of the bands career so far?

LWS are all about feedback and have had some nods of approval from various artists and important figures in the industry, one such nod coming from Nick McCabe of The Verve. But ultimately it's all about the fans, and a big highlight so far is more and more new faces appearing in the crowd.

What are your views on the current music scene and how does it vary (if at all) between places you’ve played?

Views on the current scene, especially in Liverpool where LWS are based, are that it tends to be disappointing and oversaturated with generic cover bands and half-hearted promoters. That being said, there is a dedicated few that never fail to put on shows and help original bands get their name out there, and some great original bands are still powering on through.

What are you listening to at the moment? Anyone we should keep an eye on?

The Doors.

Vinyl, CD or MP3?

Has to be vinyl....

If I was your 14yr old nephew (bare with me), which one album would you send me home with to begin my musical journey?

Anything by The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Who or The Verve, Or Bros/Wham (jokes).

What does the future hold for Black Mountain Lights, both short term and long term?

The future is open for LWS. There is a debut album in the pipeline. It's all about destiny. What will be will be. The passion for writing dark, unsettling and sinister music with the odd tinge of happiness is as strong as ever and hopefully a wider recognition and appreciation will add to an already building fan base, and bring LWS and their efforts to a bigger audience very soon.


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