Bright Tunes For Dark Times: In Conversation with Bull

Lily Obadiah

From guitarist Dan’s sister’s bedroom in York, slacker rock vanguards Bull talked Christmas gigging, getting signed to a major label, and dreams of a mighty Rock City headliner, with Impact’s Lily Obadiah.

It may come as a surprise that Bull have actually been going since 2011. Tom Beer (singer), and Dan Lucas (guitarist) are the foundations of the band and have gone through a number of changes that have got them to where they are today. This includes a quick band member swap and their successful signing to EMI, alongside a smaller record label named Young Thugs, who specifically push music up North in the UK.

Some of you may be thinking that their newest single, the enigmatic, riff-driven Love Goo, sounds a little familiar and that’s because you have already heard it. Bull previously released a number of their songs, but with their shiny new record deal, comes a chance to do things more professionally and gain momentum for their debut record release.

Bull became the first band citywide to be signed to a major record label in the twenty-first century

The underdog nature of Bull’s growing following makes their success even more satisfying. Starting as school mates living in York, Bull became the first band citywide to be signed to a major record label in the twenty-first century. Their Pavement-inspired songs should find their way to us live in April, through a tour that they are planning around the UK and hopefully the rest of the world.

Only a night away from their Christmas-themed live streamed ‘Snow Global Tour’, Lucas and Beer umm-ed and aaah-ed about a name for their very own Christmas song which they would debut at the gig. Lucas laughed as he contemplated the idea of naming the festive song, “Fairytale of York” as a nod to the Pogues’ iconic Christmas hit. The gig would include a snow-themed set, with human props to make for a comical performance.

With their plucky four-track EP out for the world to hear, we are now in the lead up to Bull’s album release, which they plan to unveil in March, and which will comprise of thirteen songs. “Its gonna be really good!” Beer assures with a grin. And for those around from day one and keen to get their hands on the old tunes that have recently disappeared from Spotify, Beer was more than offer reassurance: “I tell you what Lily, they’re all on there!”

The album will be released on vinyl and aside from some subtle differences in mixing and adlibs, with Beer and Lucas making sure to sample “oooooo la la la la,” the old songs will still embrace the band’s original style and sound. “Fundamentally the same but with a few added flavours,” the pair explain with a grin. When asked about the real reasoning behind re-releasing their old songs, Beer joked about the way that big labels like to do things; “I think they call it marketing,” but reassured that it was an idea that the band are fully behind, and offers a great opportunity to “relaunch” themselves in a fresh and vibrant way.

A frustrated Beer made sure declare his love for our most recent sprig of hope: “I love that vaccine.”

The band are eternally grateful to EMI for all of their support and encouragement, not only to progress, but to do it in their own way and maintain their unique style and flair. On a less serious note, Lucas’ theory for this creative freedom was that “they acknowledged the fact that we can’t be made like a boyband,” and Beer supported this statement by giving ode to their individuality; “were not good looking enough… our skins not smooth enough.” They couldn’t believe their ears when they were told to, in Beer’s exact words, “do whatever you want with no limits,” which is every blossoming band’s dream.

Things may have become slightly more serious now that they have deadlines to meet, but at the end of the day, the band get to make music with their friends. One of their additional bandmates, who they met through music, started off as a fan of the band and used to beg them to let him get on stage with them “and just scream” – luckily he could also play bass. Both of the boys promised that they would construct a tour of some sort in April, maybe “a seated socially-distanced tour,” declared Lucas. Like the rest of us, a frustrated Beer has had enough of the all-consuming virus and made sure declare his love for our most recent sprig of hope: “I love that vaccine.”

On the bucket list for Beer is a “never-ending world tour,” born of their band ethos of wanting to share their music with everyone without discriminating. In the past they have toured around the US and Europe and to make light of the current situation, Beer mocked that “now we just rehearse.” Although the band have managed to create an album and are on the rise in the music world, the Bull boys were not immune to the challenges posed by the pandemic. The band were forced apart for the whole of the first lockdown which made practice impossible, but this didn’t stop them, as now they are in a rigorous routine of rehearsing twice a week.

For them, this is their most organised and proactive they have ever been. For anyone looking for new music to fill the abundance of spare time that we now have, why not take a recommendation from Bull. Their favourite band at current is “a very cool band from Amsterdam” called Canshaker Pie and specifically the album Okay Decay, which accompany Beer on his quarantine runs. In true Bull style, they don’t like to stray far from their all-time favourite band Pavement, so it comes as no surprise that the guitarist from Pavement’s band, Spiral Stairs, who Bull even went on to support, is a winner for them.

Beer and Lucas emphasise the importance of being inspired by other people’s music: “It’s impossible to not be original!”

When talking about their undying love for Pavement, the boys teased the possible release of an old album that they have hidden away that is complete rip off of their idols’ music. The record included what they called “a twelve-minute album ender” that doesn’t actually last for twelve minutes, and can instead be recreated using Bull’s all-time favourite chords of D, A, and G. All rip-off jokes aside, the York alt-rockers emphasise the importance of being inspired by other people’s music: “It’s impossible to not be original.”

The band finished by showcasing their Christmas gifts which included a vintage charity shop alarm clock, Buffy the Vampire Slayer top trumps, hair clips, massage music, an Enid Blyton classic and a giant roll of thread all for under a fiver. A playful, enigmatic band with the members to match, Bull, pandemic permitting, are a band to watch out for in 2021 and beyond. 

Lily Obadiah

Featured image courtesy of Bull via Chuff Media. In-article image courtesy of Bull via Chuff Media.  Images granted to Impact by their owners.

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