They’ve grafted themselves a niche in the music industry. Fresh from a sold-out UK tour, I chat with Murray Matravers, frontman of the group that’s on everyone’s lips.
Every kid who’s saved for their first electric guitar and scribbled tortured song lyrics on the back cover of their English exercise book, turning their finger pads sore practising chords has probably dreamed of achieving the kind of success enjoyed by local band, Easy Life.
They signed off their sold-out UK tour with a rammed gig at Nottingham’s Rock City on Friday night. With their material almost entirely written, produced and recorded in Notts, this was something of a homecoming.
Easy Life defy the human preference for labels and don’t slot neatly into genres. A little bit dance, a bit of hip-hop, a brass section any Northern Soul outfit would boast about and an array of instruments so diverse there were some I couldn’t name. Instead, they create their own alchemy that had the venue pulsing with energy.
Their lyrics resonate. Lead singer, Murray, turns the autobiographical stories about stuff we all stress over, the life events and challenges we’ve all been through, into conversational poetry. The crowd knew every word of every song and often belted them out with such joy, in anthems like Nightmares and Pockets, that Murray became just another member of a massive, raucous, gospel choir.
I first saw Easy Life at The Cookie in Leicester during the summer of 2017, where a small audience of mainly friends and family watched the boys perform 6 songs then retire to the roof terrace for drinks and a smoke.
It’s been quite a ride since 2017 with appearances on Jools Holland’s ‘Later’ and at virtually every UK festival, as well as a headline slot on the BBC Music ‘Introducing’ stage at Glastonbury. They’ve also bagged a major record deal with Universal Music.
When chatting with Murray, I asked: “What has been your high point of 2019?”
“It’s hard to choose a specific moment in amongst all the madness,” he admits. “Going to California and playing Coachella was literally the craziest thing I’ve ever done, so would have to choose that, but only because it sounds the best!”
And that is telling. Easy Life are happiest with their family of fans, friends and relatives. Their mums turn up to every local gig. I stood next to one who sang along with everyone else, word-perfect, including the four-letter ones. One of the Easy Life family, Rumi, had flown over from Korea for the tour, turning up to every single gig and joining the band on stage for the encore in Nottingham.
The crowd at recent gigs, though, has morphed into a different beast. With a regular 2000 turn-out, it’s developed a notorious undercurrent. Friday’s riptide spat Murray back onto the stage after a bit of a gnarly ride, winded and minus one shoe. It didn’t stop him diving back in again later, though, because that’s what the family want.
“I hate it,” he told me of crowd surfing. “I’m always terrified. It’s just something that’s expected of me so I make it happen.” It feels like their rise has been rapid, although the boys have all put in the hard yards in other bands, income earned from part-time jobs, every spare moment spent writing, rehearsing. I wondered how Murray had coped then and how, when you’re suddenly everyone’s ‘Next Big Thing’, you avoid getting sucked in by the hype.
“Hmmm. My real friends will always be there. Everyone has a handful of people in their life they can turn to and they always help you stay grounded. Nothing ever changes with those people, it’s very important. Staying in touch with what’s real is easy when those special people are about.”
Up next for Easy Life is the Junk Food tour, with dates in North America and Europe and there are already a couple of UK gigs announced for March 2020. They are also planning to write and record their debut album. As Murray puts it, “Exciting times ahead!”
So, what, I wonder, would Easy Life say to the kid posing with their new guitar in the bedroom mirror? Are they wasting their time dreaming of life as a musician? I think they’d tell that kid to go for it. To play to a handful of friends and family if that’s who turns up and to take the part-time job to pay the bills so they can keep on performing, honing their art. And ignore those that tell you not to mix your genres, to get in on the first rung and work your way up, not to get back into the surf after a bad wipe-out.
When asked what piece of advice he’d give his 16-year-old self, Murray is clear, “Don’t care as much, no-one else does.”
What it is that makes these boys special is hard to define. There’s something elusive that sets them apart, that makes you sit up and pay attention. Whatever that thing is, I’m confident in a few years I’ll be able to boast that I once saw them play a gig for 80 people and then sat and had a drink and smoke with them on the roof terrace when they were just starting out.
Don’t take my word for it, check them out for yourself.
Words: Bobby Twidale
Photo Source: Wikipedia