The Mancunian Band to Watch: Larkins on Their History and the Politics Behind New Single, “TV Dream”

This feature was originally posted on Highlight Magazine in March 2019.

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As one of the most buzzed about acts to come out of the Manchester music scene, indie rock band Larkins have already stolen the hearts of thousands, playing their biggest show to date at Manchester’s renowned Albert Hall just last week. They have over 70,000 monthly Spotify listeners, their latest single “TV Dream” racking up almost 120,000 streams in less than a month, have headlined tours around the UK and, best yet, they haven’t even released an album.

With their unique take on rock meets pop, fusing together infectious pop beats with cleverly written lyrics, Larkins are fresh, new and may just be the thing rock music needs. We recently caught up with vocalist and guitarist Josh Noble to talk about Larkins’ history, their newly released single “TV Dream” and their massive plans for 2019.

Forming together while at school, Noble and guitarist Dom Want met when they were just twelve and thirteen and began meeting in the school’s music department while their classmates were outside kicking around a football. As Noble describes, it was both their similar music taste and upbringing around music that brought the two of them together.

“We’d listen to music we loved, usually inspired by our parents’ record collections and then play at charity events and practice in his family’s converted garage after school.”

After years of garage practices and charity event gigs, Noble and Want tossed around the idea of forming a band together one day in their college English class, an environment that also inspired the band’s name, taken from famous poet and fiction writer Philip Larkin. From there, Noble and Want connected with Henry Beach (bass) and Joe Stott (drums) to form Larkins.

Although it often lurks in London’s shadow, Manchester has been a music mecca for decades, helping to produce bands such as The Smiths, Oasis, The Stone Roses and, most recently, The 1975. It is both the city’s impressive music history and ability to uplift so many acts in recent years that the members of Larkins find comforting.

“I guess being based in Manchester, we couldn’t have felt more at home trying to break onto the circuit. We love the city and music is engrained in the ethos of everyone here. The amount of artists that have grown out of the Manchester scene is extraordinary. It must be in the water.”

Coming from a city with so much music history could be daunting for some, but Larkins seem to be taking everything in stride, growing rapidly in popularity since they released their first song “Hit and Run” back in 2015, slowly releasing singles every year since while headlining tours around the UK.

Their rapid growth over the years is something they attribute partly to social media, an aspect of working in music Larkins have managed to do so in a creative and authentic way. Between sharing behind-the-scenes videos and images that represent each member’s funny, and even lovable, personality well, their social media platforms have also helped form a community of core fans and listeners.

“We’ve managed to create a community of fans and listeners that engage with us and I think it’s helped us relate and connect with audiences. I love speaking to people who like the music we release, it’s super surreal and humbling.”

Projected to be their biggest year yet, Larkins started off 2019 with the release of “TV Dream”, a massive pop-rock tune that has been warmly received since it was released just last month, already accumulating over 120,000 Spotify streams and 150,000 views on YouTube. Originally taking inspiration for “TV Dream” from his grandparents after observing their “ability to innocently talk about romance without any hidden agendas”, Noble soon found his writing inspiration changing entirely.

“I found myself writing about what I heard and saw on the TV, whether it be rape culture on the news or the way in which excuses are made by men in attempt to excuse appalling behaviour, especially towards women. I know the song sounds like a happy pop song, but hopefully the meaning behind it hits hard in that romance and poetry aren’t dead yet, but the attitude of some people in our society needs to change.”

Larkins’ ability to create these incredibly infectious pop songs with underlying meanings that are not obvious after the first, or even first few, listens is a quality that helps Larkins stand out from other bands within the genre that may have a similar sound, but falter when it comes to the quality of their written material.

With just one new song out so far this year and so much momentum behind them already, where Larkins will take their sound in 2019 as they prepare to release more new material is constantly in the back of their minds.

“We want our music to be loud and definitely bass driven. It’s hard not to turn the bass up when you have someone as talented as Henry in the band. I’d like to think we can still achieve some beautiful moments in our music as well, we love to rise and fall throughout playing live as I think it gives a more enjoyable experience rather than just going through the motions of songs. All of my favourite artists and albums have done that [so]hopefully our album will be similar. That’s how it sounds in my head anyway.”

Along with the potential to release new music this year, Larkins will also be doing the UK festival circuit this spring and summer, having recently announced their slots at Live at Leeds and Y Not Festival alongside acts including Sundara Karma, Tom Grennan, The Libertines and Catfish and the Bottlemen. Larkins will also be heading to SXSW in Texas for the first time, a music and industry festival known for putting up-and-coming acts on the map. 

Very rarely does rock music ever see such buzz and hype around an act that has only a handful of released songs to go off of. With hundreds of thousands of streams and thousands of tickets sold around the UK, Larkins have the numbers to back them up. Above all, however, their unique take on the genre and ability to craft beautifully written songs, as shown with “TV Dream”, help elevate them above all other artists rapidly coming out of Manchester these days.

To put it simply, Larkins are the Mancunian band worth paying attention to.