It’s been almost a year since the Staves were last in Nottingham. Sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla wowed a small audience at the Bodega Social last October whilst opening for Keane side-project Mt Desolation and despite rave reviews, little has been heard of the trio since.
However, all that could be about to change. Sitting at the back of the Glee club, it turns out that the band have been busy this year, with this short tour supporting American singer songwriter Willy Mason just part of a busy autumn.
The trio are clearly excited about what the near future might bring and have clearly been hard at work. “Doing the album has taken up most of our time this year. We’ve also done some gigs, some recording and some more writing, which has been cool.
“We’ve basically finished our album but we don’t know when it’s going to come out yet – hopefully around spring. We also have an EP later in the year – probably the end of October.”
For those unfamiliar with the Staves, think the Fleet Foxes but with female vocals. Soaring harmonies, gentle acoustic guitar and some high quality songwriting mean that mainstream success is surely only a matter of time. Especially, I wondered, with a general resurgence in interest in folk-pop acts?
“I think there’s more interest in the singer/songwriter genre – there was Damien Rice back when that huge record came out – and then there’s people today like Willy Mason, Laura Marling – classic songwriters of today. It’s the simplicity of someone with a guitar – there’s no frills, just them and the music, their voice and their guitar.
“You can connect to that sort of music much better than with the glitz and glamour of stuff like the X-Factor and it’s definitely reassuring that people like to come out and listen to this kind of music.”
While their existing recordings give a taste of what to expect from the band – the beautiful Mexico and Facing West appear in their set – only by hearing the girls live can you truly appreciate the genuinely spellbinding nature of their harmonies. And, the reaction to their live performances seems to be almost universally positive.
“You don’t really get many harmony groups without a big band behind them, so perhaps it’s something that people haven’t seen much of.
“It’s nice when people come up to you afterwards and say that they enjoyed the show, but obviously you’re not going to get that many people coming up to you telling you that they didn’t enjoy it! We don’t have people walking out of our gigs or throwing things at us….
“You can kind of gauge it by the reaction of the audience – when people are quiet and listen, especially when you’re a support band that people aren’t there to see – they don’t owe us anything.”
It’s been a long road for the Staves to even get this far – indeed the trio freely admit that it’s only relatively recently that they made the decision to take the music business seriously.
“We’ve always sung together around the house, in the car. One summer, a friend cajoled us into doing an open mic night at our local pub, so we did some covers and really enjoyed it. We then did a gig of covers and enjoyed that – it has been a very slow process as one of us was always at uni and so it would be a ‘one gig a year’ thing.
“A couple of years ago we thought we should actually try to do this properly. We didn’t take it very seriously at first but then started writing some songs and it went from there. This is our life now – it’s definitely what we want to do. It would be amazing to be able to make a living from this and to do it as long as we wanted to make music together. That’s the aim.”
I wondered that considering recent spats between members of sibling bands – think the Gallaghers and the Followills – whether the Staves also had their family moments.
“Being sisters is a blessing and a curse! We fight all the time, but as we’re sisters you can fight and it’s all OK. There’s no grudges held – it’s very honest. We don’t fight in the sense that we don’t get on, we just spend a lot of time together. We end up squabbling in the car, just like when we were kids – about which CD we want to listen to…
“We can’t imagine doing this with anyone else, though – it’s definitely our thing.”
If you think the Pierces had the ‘sibling acoustic singer songwriter’ market sewn up, you should think again. After the haunting Winter Trees and the rousing new song What Good Am I? rounded off another superb show, a respectful and generous audience seemed to register what many already know; that the Staves are a band going places.
“As for conquering the world, we don’t know. We just want to make music that people feel a connection to, that they enjoy listening to and that we like.”
The Staves’ new EP is scheduled for release in late October.
Listen to Facing West, Mexico and The Fire at: http://www.myspace.com/thestavesmusic