21 May 2016

Meet the New Kids on the Block: Pavey Ark

Hull is full of musical talent and Pavey Ark are setting pretty high standards.

Quite frankly, the music is gorgeous. Their alternative acoustic sound is incredibly addictive and flows in a beautiful way – so it comes as no surprise that these guys have been confirmed for this year’s Glastonbury Festival.

The group started out with guitarist Neil Thomas’ solo work which drew inspiration from Beck, Nick Drake and The Walkmen. Mixing together finger picked guitar with loop pedals and drifting vocals, Neil’s music received national airplay through multiple radio stations including the BBC and was even nominated for the Best UK Act in the Pure M magazine awards 2015. Neil’s move to Pavey Ark, an idea which he says ‘had been brewing for a while’, will finally take the music to the next step and ‘allow the songs to be played properly live’.

After meeting Johnny (bass/guitar) at the open mic night at Union Mash Up on Princes Avenue, Hull, Neil asked if he fancied joining straight away. Having heard of Sam (drums) through his father-in-law in Hornsea, Neil headed to the University of Hull to seek out violinists. Once he’d added music students Chris and Kathryn to the mix on violin, the lineup was complete.

‘They’re all such great musicians’ Neil says, ‘we’ve achieved an incredible sound together and can’t wait to play together over the summer.’

Luckily for the group, the songwriting process is something that Neil feels just falls into place. ‘It usually starts with a tune in my head or on guitar. The lyrics usually come last. My best songs mostly all come out in a day-ish, then I’m just adding/tweaking lyrics afterwards’. It’s not always so simple though, as Neil’s own dreams are a huge source of inspiration too: ‘Sometimes I wake up with a tune in my head and rush to the guitar to quickly record it before it fades away. It’s ace when that happens. It’s like someone else has done the work for me. I remember one of the dreams involved a group of German businessmen singing.’

The group’s atmospheric, melodic and folky sound has been recognised with one of music’s greatest accolades – an invitation to perform at this year’s Glastonbury festival. For the band, it still hasn’t fully sunk in. ‘It came about from a folk night I played in London’ Neil explains, ‘A guy from a local radio station was there, we got talking and he mentioned the producer at his station had a small stage at Glastonbury. So I messaged him a few weeks later then honestly just forgot about it because I thought it was such a long shot.’

In addition to their slot at Worthy Farm, the group are also set to play on 1 June at London’s legendary venue The Bedford along with Hull’s own alt-country folk four-piece The Mighty and the Moon.

Their first debut promo video filmed at Spurn Point Lighthouse highlights just how well the band play together, an idea originally suggested by Sam. ‘We contacted a guy called Andrew at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust who runs the lighthouse. Luckily for us he is a massive music local music fan and was really into the idea. He went out of his way to make it happen so we can’t thank him enough.’

We got there for sunrise and it was absolutely freezing! We travelled down to the lighthouse in a Land Rover as the road was washed away during heavy storms. We were really chuffed with the end result considering the acoustics were pretty challenging in the lighthouse. We also recorded a second song up in the top of the lighthouse which we haven’t released yet. We played with just guitar, bass and violin. It was a gorgeous sunny day. As I was playing, I looked out the lighthouse could see for miles, it was very surreal but a very special one off experience.’

The band are happy with their current line up, but Neil still feels there’s room to explore. ‘It would be good to try some cello. Maybe some slide guitar here and there. Johnny has even threatened to learn the trumpet.’

Clearly, 2017 can only bring great things for Pavey Ark. Neil feels the band will benefit through Hull’s thriving music scene which will only continue through to next year. ‘There’s enough songs in the pot for an album so we’re planning to start recording after this Summer, hopefully for release early in 2017.’

Keep a good look out for these guys.


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