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Blackburn band The Illicits are best mates who enjoy their amazing experiences so far together as they debut in Inverness supporting Primal Scream

By Margaret Chrystall

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The Illicits are a four-piece rock band from Blackburn who released their recent new single Left Behind with B-Side, their version of Underworld’s Born Slippy, already popular live. The single – produced by The Coral’s Bill Ryder-Jones – also features the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones. Since their signing to his new label Creation 23 by Alan McGee, who famously signed Oasis back in the day, The Illicits have played with Liam Gallagher and Miles Kane. Singer George Richards answers questions by Margaret Chrystall.

The Illicits from Blackburn will join Primal Scream on Friday (tonight) at the Ironworks Inverness.
The Illicits from Blackburn will join Primal Scream on Friday (tonight) at the Ironworks Inverness.

Q It’s a great band name, somehow suggests danger and wildness in just one word. What inspired it and which of you was the genius who popped it out?!

A There was no inspiration behind it really, we knew we wanted a strong name that personifies our sound.

Our bassist Joe came up with it after we’d been trying to figure a name out for a while, so genius might be a stretch!

Q I think most people know the story of how Alan McGee spotted Oasis and signed them up instantly at King Tut’s in Glasgow. He has an uncanny instinct for spotting bands with that special something. So how did he come across The Illicits?

A Alan had heard our first single through our manager Gary. He liked it and wanted to see us live. He jumped on a train and came up to see us in Blackburn and signed us backstage straight after. I think it’s the way that Alan operates, he’s a believer in music so when he hears something he likes he doesn’t hesitate.

Q How did you get together as a band? I think you are from Blackburn, maybe also smaller towns which have their own character?

A We’re all from Blackburn, a stone’s throw from the town centre. We all knew each other and were mates before we started the band. Joe and Brad went to high school together and I knew Matt through a mutual friend we have both had since we were kids. A lot of the places round here do have their own character, we’re proud of where we’re from.

Q How did you get your sound – and what music and bands/musicians did you aim at when creating your own music?

A We get our sound through having a lot of different influences. Matt (our drummer) is really into his heavy rock and metal, so that definitely comes out in his drumming, similar to Brad (our guitarist) who’s really into his punk. All our different influences bleed out into our own songs.

Q You’ve already had some incredible experiences,supporting Liam Gallagher,Miles Kane, The Zutons, also the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones playing on your single. Best memories?

A Yeah it’s been amazing, we laid the track down for Left Behind in West Kirby with Bill Ryder Jones and then Steve recorded his part in LA. It would be impossible to pick one memory as being the best as they’ve all been brilliant in their own way. We’re all best mates in the band so we enjoy everything we do together, There’s never a dull moment.

Illicits singer George Richards. Picture: JasonFerdinando
Illicits singer George Richards. Picture: JasonFerdinando

Q Most important things learned about life as a musician?

A The most important thing we’ve learned is to always work hard. You can’t slack off for a minute if you want to be successful in achieving what you set out to achieve which we hope we can do. We all work full-time jobs so we’ve learned that we need to be writing or rehearsing with every spare minute we get.

Q Where's your favourite place you've played so far and why? You are doing what sounds like an ultimate homecoming gig at St George's Hall in Blackburn in the run-up to Christmas Imagine that will be a big one for you...?

A It would be impossible to pick our favourite. We enjoy every gig for different reasons. Whether it be that the crowd was particularly good or just that we thought we sounded good. The one in Blackburn is one we’re really looking forward to, after all the work we’ve put in this year and all the incredible times we’ve had on what has been our first year on the scene, it just feels like the perfect end to what has been an amazing year for us.

Q What are you going to be up to in the next year A do you have some plans you can share yet ie recording plans and tours, dates etc you've got coming up?

A Hopefully more of the same. We want to get out there and play as many gigs and release as much music as possible.

Q Love the idea that you have already made number four in the vinyl chart and intrigued that you have stuck with physical releases which is so different from what most other people are doing - mavericks once again! Why did that seem the right path for you to go?

A We just felt like it was right for us. We wanted to try something different and hoped that we’d stand out. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing things the other way, we just saw it as something not a lot of people were doing.

Q Got to ask, have you been to Inverness before (or Scotland) or will this be a first? Friday the 13th too, in Inverness; ) And have you met Primal Scream yet and are you looking forward to the Scottish tour?

A We’ve been to Scotland before on tour and we’ve got some friends/family that live up there. We’ve never been to Inverness though! We played with the Primals in Blackburn as part of the Spezial exhibition that took place a couple of months ago, but we’re really excited to get on the road with them in their homeland.

The Illicits play the sold-out Ironworks, Inverness, with Primal Scream tonight (Friday).

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