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Interview with Country Club aka Leon Holmes

Music Writer, Matthew Jacobson interviews Country Club, aka, Leon Holmes on the release of his debut, CC0001.

COUNTRY CLUB, AKA Leon Holmes – releases his debut for Klee Music, an eight track contemporary musical odyssey which cooly commentates on 21st Century urban life. An enticing mixture of influences, coming from the likes of Massive Attack, Joy Division, The Beloved and Tricky.

CC001 is perfect sit-off listening, full of ambience and trip – hop. It carries you along on a conveyabelt of sound and voluptuous vibes and the soundtrack to eased-back reflection. CC001 is released as an 8 track Limited Edition CD, closely followed by the five track digital streaming edition which acts as the perfect introduction for the talented Leon Holmes.

I recently interviewed Leon about the early years, influences and the new release…

The early years, was the family home full of music and early inspiration?

Growing up, I’d say the key source to my interest in music was definitely my dad. Every room in our home would have shelves of CDs, Cassettes, Vinyls you name it. He was the one to get me into classic artists such as The Beatles and David Bowie and took me to my first festival which was Clapham Calling Festival headlined by Aerosmith. My family as a whole have always been very encouraging in me and my sister taking up some kind artistic endeavour. They fully supported me taking up saxophone lessons as a child (which was the first instrument I technically learnt but could never play now) all the way up to studying music in University. 

When did you begin to play music?

I took Saxophone lessons at around 7 years old, after that I never paid much attention to music for a while until I taught myself drums around the age of 14, forming a punk/indie rock band with my childhood friends. 

Leon Holmes – Photograph – Klee Music Library

Did you attend gigs around the city and do you recall any stand out gigs?

I’ve been to more gigs than I can count at this point! I’ve been to a fair few in Liverpool, the biggest ones being Stereophonics, The Killers and The 1975. I love going to smaller intimate venues in Liverpool and discovering artists I would have otherwise never listened to. As I studied music in University of Liverpool, I made a lot of very talented friends and seeing them perform in venues around the city is always a standout time for me. I find it very inspiring seeing them bring their musical ideas to life with very little help from others. 

Your influences are The Beloved, Joy Division and The Cure what was it that separated those bands from others?

Those artists have always stood out to me in a number of ways. I’m a big fan of melancholy lyrics in songs, and I feel Joy Division and The Cure are experts in this field along with other artists like The Smiths and The Strokes. I find these kinds of lyrics and themes very reflective and make you think about the songs more deeply. It’s even more impressive to me when an artist combines an upbeat sounding tune with reflective lyrics, a skill I really want to develop. As for The Beloved, I love the vocal style of Jon Marsh, kind of like a whisper/soft spoken style. I’ve heard it done with many other artists that I take inspiration from like Gorillaz, David Bowie and Pulp. 

Did lockdown halt inspiration or provide time for inspiration?

I actually uploaded the first track I made to Spotify during the first lockdown, so for me personally it was a great opportunity to really get started on my musical journey. It’s given me plenty of opportunities to write songs and come up with ideas. I think the overall pandemic has exposed a lot of people’s true feelings about certain aspects of society and life which has given me a lot of inspiration in terms of the themes I want to write about in my music. I’ve benefited from lockdown greatly but I know it has hindered a lot of artists into getting further in their career especially without the ability to perform live.

Country Club –  CCOO1

Congratulations on the EP, CCO01, full of ambience and trip – hop. It carries you along on a conveyabelt of sound and voluptuous vibes. Tell us more about the EP and the recording process?

Recording an EP without any form of studio set-up has been interesting to say the least. The only tools at my disposal recording this EP was my laptop, a guitar and a keyboard I’ve owned since I was 15. My recording and producing knowledge was also at a bare minimum, every song on the EP is essentially a time stamp of me learning how to produce as I went along making each song. It’s been fun learning how to produce more and more and I’m considering CC001 as the first entry in a musical diary that I’m hoping to improve on with each project I release. 

The tracks commentates on 21st Century urban life – what is it about urban life that makes you write about it on record?

I’ve always been interested in writing about my surroundings. I’ve never been someone who likes to write about my personal life in songs. It’s something i’ve definitely noticed more in British artists such as Arctic Monkeys, The Streets and The 1975. They tend to write more about observations in life as opposed to keeping it intimate. I think it’s a way to make songs more relatable as people can identify with what others are experiencing and seeing as opposed to a rockstar consistently speaking about their own unrelatable life. 

And what next for Leon Holmes?

The next step for me is to finally set up a bedroom studio (which I’ve made massive progress with) to start making my music sound more ‘professional’. I also want to start figuring out how to get Country Club live for next year, so watch out for that! 

With thanks to Leon and Klee Music…

Best wishes to all

Matthew Jacobson

Explore Liverpool

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