City Of Thieves: Tales Of Beast Rock and Poker Faces
City Of Thieves is a hard rocking band from the UK whose debut manifesto Beast Reality has just been unleashed via Frontiers Music Srl. Jammed packed with raging tunes such as Reality Bites, Buzzed Up City, and Born To Be Great, City Of Thieves is ready hijack your world with their wickedly infectious anthems. Fans of classic bands such as AC/DC and Aerosmith will find themselves absolutely enraptured by what City Of Thieves has in store for them! Highwire Daze Online recently caught up lead vocalist / bassist Jamie Lailey to discuss te almighty Beast Reality, stories behind a few of their superbly memorable songs, a passion for the fine art of playing poker, and a whole lot more! Read on…
Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Beast Reality?
Yeah, it all came out when we finished writing and recording the album. We knew what that collection of songs sounded like. We saw that there were a few themes that ran through half of the songs that we really liked the idea of. And the idea of calling it that is a lot of the songs question received wisdom on things. They question the stuff that you’re told – they tell you to question what’s around you and to go out to get what you want to get. The idea of using the word “beast” is something that we’re always doing in the band – it’s a slang thing like “this is beast” or “that is beast” or “we’re going to beast that!” And we were using that as an idea that you can take your world around you and mold it into your own image if you want to. You can take reality and you can “beast” it – you can take control of it. Or on the flipside of that, you could be the sort of person that let’s reality get on top of you – and you could get “beasted” by reality. So it had that kind of double meaning behind it, and we sort of thought it was the kind of title Aerosmith might use – a bit more tongue in cheek as well. We wanted to use something like that – a bit ambiguous and if people asked, there would be a story behind it that would be totally random.
Select two songs from Beast Reality and what inspired the lyrics.
One of my favorites is a song called Reality Bites – which is one that we shot a video from. And the whole concept was born out of when the scene in London started to disappear a bit in terms of places to play and where you would find people to go out. We looked around and the thing that was happening was most people were happy to just sort of stay in. There’s so much you can do at home now in terms of entertainment and losing yourself in these kind of alternative realities – just sitting in front of your TV with your goggles on, playing games on X-Box live or whatever. We were kind of talking about how you could be presented stuff and you don’t know where it’s coming from, because of technology is at a point where things could be CGI or green screen – and people just have to sit and absorb it. Where trends are being morphed into this matrix style reality, where you’re just being fed whatever and you kind of don’t question it. So the whole thing about that song and that chorus is saying “Why not go out and try something for real every now and again, instead of trying to take it all in through some short of digital thing that’s being pumped into your brain?” A lot of the songs on the album explore that message and I think that Reality Bites the most aggressive way that we’ve managed to put that across. And so for that reason, that’s definitely one of my favorites.
And on the flipside of that, I suppose Something Of Nothing and Born To Be Great – those two are much more nostalgic and they’re kind of about more everyday things. Born To Be Great is about reminiscing about the longer summers you used to have when you were 18 or 19 and everything is in front of you – and you haven’t got to rush to do anything. And as you get past that, there’s suddenly the weight of everybody else’s expectations on you to achieve things or to do things. It’s kind of reflecting back on that time when everything was so easy and relaxed and straightforward. So that one is kind of my favorite lyrically.
Could we expect City Of Thieves to come over and tour here in the States?
We would love nothing more than to come over to the States. It kind of depends how things shake out with the agency side of things here and opportunities and the record label. It’s all going to be about who know who, what’s going on, how we can get on to that, sorting on green cards and things like that. It’s like one of the things that I haven’t ticked off is doing shows in the States – we all would. America is my favorite country in the world – I’ve been there so many times and traveled all around there. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to sort of, but hopefully.
The Queen of England invites City Of Thieves to play one song at a Royal Command Performance. What song would you do for Her Majesty and her guests and why?
I’m not going to go the Sex Pistols route with that I don’t think. That’s a good question! I think I would go with an acoustic version of Something Of Nothing. I just feel like it would be the best pick of everything we have – to do something that was sort of grand and respectful. I wouldn’t want to be sort of abrasive in that context. So yeah, it would be that definitely.
Totally unrelated, but let’s talk poker. How long have you been playing poker and where are some of the more unusual places you’ve played?
You know, when I was about 8 or 9, I watched the film Maverick with Mel Gibson and James Gardner. I was just sold on the film and the poker scenes. My dad had a friend of his that was going out to the States. Poker really wasn’t a thing in England back then – and a friend of my dad went to the States and he brought back a load of chips and gave them to my dad. And my dad brought them home and said “alright, we’re going to learn to play.” No one back in England was really playing at the time – we’re talking about ’94-’95, probably before it really took off over here. So we played it like a family game – a lot of American families learn that way. Years later I decided to take it more seriously – and played it in clubs and stuff. I’ve played a good few times in Vegas. I played in Manila in the Philippines on my way home from my honeymoon – that’s probably the most random place. We stopped off in Manila for one night and our hotel was right next to a casino – and I took whatever money I had left at that point – I went and sat down to run it up before the flight home. And that was a bit weird, because they didn’t understand slow rolling either – they were all slow rolling each other and it was kind if a bit disgusting to watch – especially when it was happening to me.
Have you personally mastered the art of the poker face?
Yeah definitely! I think the art of the poker face is not to try and keep it too straight. The art of the poker face is just to keep talking. Don’t go into your shell – don’t clam up. Just talk – and don’t let people try to get a read on you that way. Be the person at the table that’s having a laugh and joking with people. It’s great when you go somewhere like Vegas, because you’re English so everyone wants to get to know all about you. You could get to be chatting about anything because you’re English – because as soon as they hear the accent, that’s it. And you’re just the guy at the table that’s talking all the time…
What are the future plans for City Of Thieves and perhaps your poker endeavor?
The album is coming out on the 12th of October, so we’re trying to for as many pre-release sales as we can, because we want to make sure that we could get a chart position with the album. And then the day it comes out, we’re going down top our favorite bar in London called The Big Red. We’ve invited everyone out for a drink with us, and we’re going to do an album playback and we’re going to drink a lot of beer. And that’s going to be our launch party. And then we’re hoping to do some festivals next summer, and maybe some European dates later next year as well. And keep pushing into coming out and playing in the States. And that would be a massive thing for us if we could achieve that.
And my poker endeavor – my next goal is World Series Main Event 2020. That’s where I want to get to. If I can get out there just to do that, then that would be a bucket list. Beyond that, take it down and come home with the tax free 12 mill mate – that would be the thing. I don’t have to give 30 percent away like you guys do. My passion, outside of music, is that…
City Of Thieves is:
Jamie Lailey – Bass/Vocals
Ben Austwick – Guitar
Will Richards – Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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