INTERVIEW: The Utopia Strong | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Utopia Strong have been described as ‘the sound of three guys falling in love’ and you really understand why after spending any time with them. As I meet the band, they’re busy enthusing about the latest Lake Delirium album. I get the distinct feeling that if I wasn’t there, they’d probably be talking about it all night.

It’s a shared musical obsession that makes The Utopia Strong, well, so strong. Steve Davis (yes, that Steve Davis – we’ll get to that later) delights in telling me that “one of the reasons we work so well together is that we’re all on the same wavelength.” It’s a sentiment that has inspired not only the music but also the name of the band. “We came from a very solid base,” guitarist Kavus Torabi (Cardiacs, Mediaeval Babes and Gong among others) explains, “hence, Utopia Strong. The music feels like it comes from another world and as we had such a strong friendship, the name just seemed to fit.” 

There was no plan to make an album. As multi-instrumentalist Mike York delicately puts it: “we were just three mates dicking about.” In early 2018 that ‘dicking about’ turned into the start of something special. “We actually decided that we were just going to get together, mess around, have some fun and play some music.” Steve recounts. “Mike recorded it and when we listened back, right away we realised that it was the type of music that we’d go out and buy.” “We made an album almost by mistake” says Mike.

the live sets are improvised, so each one is a journey into the unknown. It’s more like a musical trip

But what a mistake. The Utopia Strong is a heady brew of cyclical electronic psychedelia mixed with a humanising free flow of acoustic instruments that ebb through each track’s sonic journey. It’s not something that you’ll get straight away (indeed it was made to be listened to several times) but like the band themselves, when it clicks, it just makes sense. 

I guess it’s time to acknowledge the elephant in the room. What exactly is the six-time World Snooker Champion, Steve Davis, doing in The Utopia Strong? For those with an eye on his career, his involvement with the band won’t come as a surprise. He’s been noisily re-inventing himself as a man of impeccable musical taste through DJing at Glastonbury and Manchester’s iconic Boiler Room. Steve’s now a serious musician in his own right and Mike, for one, is certainly won over by his talents. “He’s incredible and he’s totally got it. Any of his decisions or opinions on music, I’ve got ultimate respect for.” 

So what can fans expect from their upcoming live show at the Cluny on Tuesday 17th December? Well, don’t come along expecting to hear your favourite track off the album. As Steve explains “the live sets are improvised, so each one is a journey into the unknown. It’s more like a musical trip, like one of those old Tangerine Dream albums.” “It feels like the audience and the music become one,” Mike tells me. Kavus can’t wait. “We’re really aiming to go for it. I love Newcastle, it’s got such a great vibe.”

Who knows where this budding bromance will take The Utopia Strong next. Having felt the genuine affection that they have for one another I hope that wherever it is, they go there together. 

The Utopia Strong play The Cluny, Newcastle on Tuesday 17th December

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