Interview: Trip Westerns

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“Ooh, I have been saying recently that Rhys could probably do a lot of things. Like I think we’re saying when we were on tour who could win in a fight? And I was like, Rhys has probably got it. So I think Rhys.”  

“Cause he’s Rhys lightning.” 

“Maybe Ellis, but he’s too tall. I think the initial hand whip out of the gun would be too, too far.”

“Graham won’t drop the gun. He is nifty. He’d be practising for ages.”

Harrison Baird-Whitman and Luciano Narcisi are deep in debate, musing over who in the Trip Westerns would be the fastest gunslinger. But don’t be fooled into thinking these Brighton-based country psych rockers are one-trick ponies, as their new single ‘False Start’ showcases that the band have real talent. 

The song is hooked together by Harrison’s excellent harmonica playing, which mistakenly led me to believe it was a guitar effect: “That’s a real-life harmonica. I just picked it up a couple of years ago, sort of started taking it seriously and yeah, just practised at work. That was the first sort of riff that I’d written and been like, okay, yeah, this is going to be a song now.” The riff drives the song forward creating an irresistible groove. 

Trip Westerns are a five-piece consisting of Harrison on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Luciano on guitar, keys and percussion, Rhys Howes on guitar and keys, Graham Nunn on bass and Ellis Dickson on drums. The band are highly talented multi-skilled musicians. They met over a shared love of music, strange parties (“We went to like a vampire’s house. It was fucking weird!”) and fashion sense (“playing cowboy as a kid, you know, and I guess western culture, American history and whatnot”). As Harrison states “It all sort of came about, I think, fairly organically from people leaving and having different members come in and out and, you know, trying to find the right person.”

Harrison was previously in Psycho Relics, a guitar and drum two-piece: “We moved from Worcester as a two-piece to Brighton to get together a full band and we thought we might as well start a new project. And so we started that and I think we released a single, COVID hit and that sort of put that to smithereens and with hindsight, probably the best thing that could have happened. Cause I think that was an image that wasn’t fully realised. And I think I was maybe drawing influences from different places and they’re definitely things now that I look back at and I sort of cringe at some of the demos that I have on my laptop, I was listening to the other day or a few weeks ago whenever it was. And yeah, just awful, real bad stuff. So yeah, COVID is sort of a blessing and a curse, but yeah, that was Psycho Relics.”

When it comes to writing the songs, Harrison has been taking the lead but they are now working more in group jam sessions to develop ideas, Harrison expands on this: “Build something from nothing or building with like just very small seeds of ideas, like a guitar riff or a progression or, just bits and pieces”, Described as the “collaboration station”, the band are looking to draw up songs for an album, as Lucci states so that “we go to the moon!”.

The band draws inspiration from a wide range of influences, as Harrison discusses: “It ranges from sort of mid-century rock and roll and garage rock, rhythm and blues, country, soul, right up and through the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, maybe not. And then there’s modern psych bands and alternative rock”. A prevalent sound in the songs released so far is Western music, so it is no surprise that Harrison mainly listens to country. 

Luciano says “We were saying the other day, that everyone has their own personal influences that they bring in and it bleeds into the songs. I quite like the 60s California sound mostly, like Mamas and Papas and, Beach Boys and stuff. And then Rhys is really into like post-rock and like hardcore, Industrial math rock. Noise. Um, then Graham, I don’t know what Graham likes, he’s like a Steely Dan kind of guy, isn’t he?” “No, he’s not.” retorts Harrison with a smile. “Graham’s into Wise Blood.” “Does he love Bee Gees? I mean, who doesn’t love Bee Gees? “Ellis is very like British 70s pop. He takes influences from like Bowie and Gary Newman.”

“I think we collectively have like a type of vibe we want to go for and we’re quite good at doing that”. Luciano is right, and the mixed palette is what creates the interesting and complex sounds achieved by the band. 

The band have recently finished a mini tour of the country, playing Sheffield, Norwich, Brighton and London. Harrison is humble about how well they have been received: “It’s surprising and I guess it’s nice to have it sort of, what’s the word, reaffirmed in your mind that, oh yeah, people do enjoy what you’re doing. So yeah, it was great”.

There is a hotbed of music activity happening right now in Brighton, and Trip Westerns are part of the scene. “I’d say the best music scene in the country in terms of the comradery between bands. There seems to be no beef really, no unhealthy toxic sort of competition. Everyone is rooting for each other and we’re all friends and we all see each other and we’ll go to each other’s gigs and a lot of people are in each other’s bands. And everyone’s just in it for the success of everyone else. You’re in it for love and you want to make a living out of it at least, but yeah, everyone’s just super fucking hyped for everyone else. So yeah, Brighton’s the best.” 

There are big ambitious plans for an album ”double album. Let’s make it, let’s make it big. Let’s go for it.” “Why go for double? I’ve always said go for quads.” “Quads album, you just get like, 50 songs on there and they’re all bangers.” The bands’ humour comes across in conversation, their music videos and social media. Harrison and Luciano are fun likeable guys and their humour will help keep them sane during touring.

It has just been announced that Trip Westerns will be supporting Night Beats on a two-week tour of Europe. They are excited about touring with them: “We love them as well. Their music’s great.” after the European dates are complete they finish the tour with three dates in the UK: Glasgow on the 20th of May, Leeds on the 21st and London on the 22nd. Although Harrison has some concerns if they will make it “I’m really hoping that this interview comes out and we’re still going on it.”

But before the tour, the band has a fundraiser show for the European tour on the 5th of April at the Green Door store in Brighton “basically just to pay for the tour because touring is expensive and we ain’t made of money!” The band will have some cool t-shirts limited edition posters and handmade belts and wallets for sale. Luciano is threatening to be an auctioneer “So come on down, spend your money because we need it”. Touring is expensive for bands and it’s never been harder to make it, so if you can get yourself down to the gig and enjoy the show, Trip Westerns will blow you away! 

Words by Dave Holgado


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