Nothing But Thieves, Conor Mason

28 October, 2016

“I do find our music quite strange at times…”

That’s Conor Mason, singer with Essex five-piece Nothing But Thieves, who dropped by BIMM Brighton for a fun, full-on Masterclass with Music Journalism Course Leader, Jacqui Swift.

‘Strange’ is proving a perfect route for the band – their single Trip Switch, released  in the summer, is climbing towards 2 million YouTube views – while in October their debut album reached No. 7. (The driver whose cab they were in when they found out got a shock when five lads went crazy in the back …)

Conor’s Dad was a singer who introduced him to Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Led Zeppelin, but it was hearing AC/DC’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer’ that really hit home for Conor, and gave him an ambition to perform. A more abiding influence on his work has been Jeff Buckley, whose vocals, lyrics and songwriting have all impacted on Conor’s.

Nothing But Thieves are a classic hard-working live band, and Conor shared stories from their rite-of-passage ‘toilet tour’ where they encountered fellow up-and-comers like Slaves and Royal Blood. Our students were interested in the live aspect of band life. Conor described how festivals are their favourite setting with the added thrill of trying to win a crowd, but live work is unpredictable, especially if you’re into crowd surfing (Conor hurt his back in a failed crowd surf in Manchester…)

Conor shared some great advice, like the importance of good vocal warm-ups, and to stay polite in interviews even if you’re bored of questions that haven’t been researched! Retaining creative control has also been important to NBT, for instance choosing RCA over Island rather than re-shape the band in the label’s image.

Conor stressed the importance of contacts and networking, such as meeting bands who you can tour with, and of listening:

“Don’t be afraid to get advice from friends and family. Sometimes you need a second pair of ears. Listen to your peers. Show people what you have, don’t let it stay inside.”

As for forming your band, Conor advised that getting along is crucial, but after that, pick the best players:

“Being in an environment like BIMM is brilliant. You’ve got the pickings!”


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