China Rats

Based: Leeds
Genre: Rock 'n' Roll
Website: chinarats.co.uk

China Rats are a four piece rock ‘n’ roll band from Leeds who formed just last year. Inspired by a love of punks riotous guitars, 50's pop and classic British guitar bands, China Rats have burst onto the scene picking up some high-brow fans along the way including Alan Raw (BBC Introducing in West Yorkshire), Huw Stevens (BBC Radio 1) and Tom Robinson (BBC 6 Music). They also spent the week on Radio 1’s Introducing playlist, which saw day time radio plays from the likes of Fearne Cotton, Scott Mills and Greg James of their possible forthcoming single ‘N.O.M.O.N.E.Y’.

The band’s debut EP 'To Be Like I' was released on 30th April and features three tracks: ‘To Be Like I’, ‘Take No Prisoners’ and ‘She Never’. It was written, recorded and produced by the band.

Their music has been described as “an exhilarating whirlwind of teenage angst”, and this is certainly accurate but there’s also an underlying intelligence behind it. The lyrics are honest and observational and document the kind of life encounters and experiences that we can all relate to.

Live, the band have recently played at Live At Leeds and have just returned back from London Calling in Amsterdam after treating the crowds to two sets in the same day, the only band to have done that at the festival and are now set for a lunchtime slot at the Benicassim Festival. The future is certainly looking bright!

Check out the 'To be Like I' video below.

The boys took time out of their busy touring schedule to give us access to a free download of their track 'She Never' (get yours here) and have a chat with us about all things China Rats.

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

Graeme does the singing and the strumming, George does the drumming, Jedidiah plays the bass and Luke plays lead guitar. We also record and produce all our music ourselves. We've been pretty busy with that recently.

How did you come together to form the band?

We all met in Leeds. Before we formed China Rats we had been writing tunes and listening to records together for a while. The band came about after us all wanting to express ourselves by writing music we enjoy and that has energy when we play live.

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

The first time I went to Glastonbury when I was 12 was when it hit me. I can remember watching the headliners on the main stage and being in awe. The atmosphere was incredible. I'm sure it's the dream for a lot of kids that age.

What has been the creative driving force behind the band?

Our motivation is to create music that we genuinely like but also about the world we live in and our own experiences. Hopefully people can relate to our songs.

There is a definite 50’s rock ’n’ roll sound to your music and in some places, especially on ‘She Never’, an almost bluesy Black Rebel Motorcycle Club sound. Who would you list as being influences on your music?

We’re influenced by a lot of punk and rock n’ roll; some of our favourites are The Undertones, The Clash, and The Only Ones. We love the ‘less-is-more’ approach to songwriting that the Ramones had, and we’ve drawn a fair bit of inspiration from that.

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

We played London Calling festival in Amsterdam at the Paradiso recently. We were also lucky enough to play on the balcony where Ajax lift their trophies over-looking the main city square. There was a choir trying to perform in the square below and unfortunately it turned into a battle between us - who could make their voices heard more! We’re pretty pleased to say we won!

There seems to be some positive movements in the Leeds music scene at the moment, with many bands that we’ve featured coming from round that way. What are your views on the current Leeds music scene, and how does it vary, if at all, from other cities that you have played in?

It feels really raw and honest and there is a great sense of community especially around venues such as Oporto and The Brudenell Social Club. Everyone seems to know each other! When we’ve played in London we’ve felt it’s a bit different for some reason. There is some really innovative music coming out there but the scene doesn't seem as close knit. Perhaps because it's a lot bigger.

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

Soulmates Never Die from Leeds. He plays fuzz-folk and the songwriting is quality. We've also been checking Hooded Fang out since we were in holland, they have a real cool vibe.

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

‘Death of a Ladies’ Man’ by Leonard Cohen. His song ‘Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-On’ is a valuable life lesson for any young man.

What does the immediate future hold for China Rats, and what are your long-term aims?

We’ve just confirmed two really exciting shows for later this year and we will be releasing our second single as well. We want to keep writing music that’s current and keep developing as songwriters and musicians.

Thanks and good luck with everything!



Steve C

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