In a modest mini cinema room in Sheffield, Johnny Lloyd is far from the mass hysteria that engulfed him during his days as the frontman of Tribes.

The rather unique and bizarrely placed room is acting as a makeshift dressing room for the singer-songwriter, who is preparing to perform at the intimate Picture House Social.

As a lead vocalist and guitarist for Camden indie-rockers Tribes, Lloyd reached dizzy heights. The band shared bills with The Rolling Stones, Pixies and The Kooks before splitting in 2013, but six years on, Lloyd has found satisfaction in his new life.

“My life is very, very different, but I think I’m happier,” he says.

“I have a small but quiet committed audience, but we’ll see how it goes. If it dries up and people stop coming, then I’ll stop touring.”. 

He even concedes that a year ago, he didn’t envisage embarking on a UK tour: “I didn’t think I’d be doing it this time last year! I’d completely stopped.”

His cavalier comments regarding his own solo career would lead many to believe that music is now something of an afterthought for the singer, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. He is preparing to release even more new material next year – a two-part collection of demos, an acoustic record and a rock record. 

The passion for being in the studio remains entrenched, and he is currently working on producing music for Sky Atlantic’s new comedy-drama ‘I Hate Suzie’. The new role is just one of many changes in Lloyd’s life, as he is now a father and in a relationship with actress Billie Piper.

Is his life a lot different to how it was in the Tribes days? “Fuck yeah,” he replies, without missing a beat, “It was fucking wild, that band, and it was heavy. I was in my mid-20s and we just had it all the time. But you can’t really do that into your 30s.”

Many would assume that Lloyd’s new lifestyle has influenced his sound, considering that his new album, Next Episode Starts In 15 Seconds, is a relaxed and mature showcase of honed song-writing ability.

Conversation soon turns to new music, and he recommends Demob Happy and Flyte as bands that the world should be listening to. 

His solo debut has a mellow acoustic sound, but he speaks effervescently about the punk revival and the growth of the underground from which it is emerging. High-fliers Idles and Dublin newcomers Fontaines D.C are namechecked as bands that are leading the charge. 

“There’s a great little core of bands because the lust to go to shows is always gonna be there. That’s not gone away but the marketing structures have changed, people don’t want fucking pop.

“People want something with some attitude and with some political bite, with a bit more thrust live. You don’t get that in the arena watching Rihanna, so there’ll always be a thirst for a guitar band.”

Tribes emerged and disappeared in the current decade, yet he admits that the music scene has undergone wholesale change: “I think the underground has expanded into a big thing now. I wouldn’t say Idles are a mainstream band, but they are a massive underground band.”

Politics is undeniably helping to drive the revival he speaks of, and Lloyd acknowledges how tackling issues can propel bands forward. “I don’t think The 1975 would be as big as they are if Matty (Healy, the frontman) wasn’t so outspoken,” he says.

“I think it’s a good thing. You should use your status for talking out, whether it’s in the music or your interviews. I think people are getting behind it because the politicians aren’t doing it for you. People feel less represented and it comes out in the art.”

Johnny Lloyd’s new album, Next Episode Starts In 15 Seconds, is out now and you can read a review of his Picture House Social gig here.

Image: Sonic PR


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