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

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About mid-way through interviewing the four members of Back Into The Wild, lead vocalist and keys player Rob Griffiths casually drops a small bombshell. “Incidentally, we’re actually no longer called Back Into The Wild. We’ve rebranded to BITW.” It may not be the biggest name change in history, but their decision to rebrand is indicative of the fact that they’re finally comfortable with their identity. “We’re so far removed now from what we were when we had the original name that we just thought it was time to change.”

Originally formed as a quasi-jam band playing seven and eight minute-long tracks, BITW have evolved into a tight unit peddling some seriously catchy tunes that have culminated with the impending release of their debut EP Last Orders. Their latest single, Modus Operandi, contains crisp electronic melodies, a rolling drum beat from Michael Mather, Mykel Curran’s nifty sub-bass, some captivating vocal harmonies and a math-rock influenced guitar riff from Jonathan Lott. Also a highlight, Wanderlust features some sparkling underlying electronics in the verses and a pounding, anthemic rock chorus.

There’s a lingering question over how to define BITW though: are they electro pop or are they indie? “Apparently we’ve drawn a lot of comparisons to Alt-J,” Mather comments. “John [Martindale, from Shields] who produced the EP made comparisons to Bonobo and Wild Beasts,” Griffiths adds. “It’s not pop, I don’t think it’s pop,” Lott says. “I think you have an issue with saying it’s indie,” he adds, jokingly. “Well it’s not like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga,” Curran chips in. Griffiths tries to untangle the thorny issue: “The focus isn’t really totally on the electronics,” he says. “We think of it more as something we’ve integrated into the sound. The focus is on the harmonies, the songwriting…it’s groove-based.”

BITW have evolved into a tight unit peddling some seriously catchy tunes

The blurred lines between indie and electronica in BITW’s music means that they sound fresh and decidedly different to many of the math-rock inspired bands in the region. The addition of Lott’s guitar, which is reminiscent of Bombay Bicycle Cub’s rockier style, means they’ve landed gigs with many of the indie groups in the North East. Griffiths offers a suggestion as to why their music has been welcomed by the local indie scene: “It’s based on the rhythm rather than the cool bits we add in. So that’s the reason that I think we fit in quite well on the indie nights.”

BITW are omnivorous animals that don’t just subsist on a single musical foodstuff. Instead, their incorporation of multiple genres and sounds means they’re more likely to be noticed in a contemporary scene dominated by straightforward indie. As a result, despite their debut EP’s rather ominous title, it’s highly unlikely that this is the last we’ll be hearing of BITW.

BITW launch their Last Orders EP on Friday 31st July at the Mining Institute, Newcastle.

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