The birth of High/Low
High/Low. Essex’ rock phenomena, rather unknown, but resonant and reliable in sound.
I know the story behind High/Low. I know that there’s Steve Weston on guitar, contributing vocals on every song, and Lee Yates playing bass. They are a dynamic duo, working magic on their instruments, who are, whilst performing live and recording, complemented by Neil on drums (update: David Pankhurst has joined forces with High/Low in 2014 and is the band's current drummer) . I‘ve also learned the amusing story of how they’ve met originally and grown into being High/Low. It was when Lee needed a website made and someone gave him Steve’s number (major props to this unknown conciliator!).When Lee’s check bounced they had to meet each other in person and soon found Lee plays bass. From then on they have been performing together, not under the name of High/Low at first but they moved towards it eventually. Being like-minded music enthusiasts, sharing the same visions in respect to where they wanna head musically, they became what we now know as High/Low. It worked quite well for them thus far: they are still in High/Low, they have been gigging together for some years and will do so hopefully for many years to come.
But most of you probably don’t know these things about them which is most likely why you don't know or show great interest in them being in their first album making process. That’s most likely why you haven't spared a thought yet about how they can make it a successful one, even realise their endeavor without having proper support and finacial backing. That’s why you probably haven’t helped to fund their debut album yet (what I asked you to do in my last post). I don't want to accuse you though for something that's not your fault, knowing some of you might just be unaware of High/Low's existence and that's why you haven't been involved until now. As for the the rest, I understand your reluctance. I really do and I don’t blame you (I mean, I also tend to think long and hard about whom I’m gonna show support to, lastly who I’m gonna spend my money on).
Now, I want you to get to know High/Low, if you already know them, to open up to their music a little more, and hopefully find your very own reason to fully fall in love with it, like I did. I want you to reconsider, to look deeper.
The sound of High/Low’s music
You know who High/Low are now, what’s awesome. But you probably don’t know how their music sounds like or only received a certain impression of it thus far. Hence, let’s change this, let’s make you feel connected on a deeper level.
I gotta confess, I haven’t see them perform live yet. Unfortunately. So all I can tell about their music is based on what I’ve heard whilst listening to their EPs and whilst watching live performances of them on YouTube. What I’ve exprienced - and that’s something you probably can’t dispute - is that their set is charaterized by energy and high spirit, on stage and on the record.
High/Low - Tell Me Something (@ Chinnery's 22/2/2013)
‘Tell Me Something’ (recorded version)
High/Low present their songs in a convincing manner: it’s a vivid, a passionate performance full of energy and soul. I can imagine it attracts the audience in all respect: the memorable and inviting rhythms and melodies make one move along, the up-beat compositions resonate grandly. At times even that grandly that Steve’s vocals - husky and intense in character - get lost in the vast, rousing and dynamic sound of the instrumental backing. Don’t get me wrong, the mostly guitar driven sound of the band does justice to the songs’ concepts, it stresses the vigorous and energetic nature of High/Low’s music and is well excecuted. It also brings stirring moments, deepfelt moments the audience, the listener in general, will not be able to elude.
But - in my book - Steve’s reliable and remarkable vocal performance should rather enhance the strengths of every song than to be caught up in the infectious instrumental sound, what can be witnessed at times whilst listening to the band's EPs - eventhough there are shining moments for all of the band members playing their instruments. There’s an endearing sequence, almost an encore of solid guitar riffs in ‘Forty’, there’s a reserved yet soulful and sonorous drum play in ‘Walk Away’, and there are consistent supporting, thrilling bass lines which come into picture (or better said: into sound) in every song featured on High/Low’s EPs.
Still, the band should find a more proper way to ballance vocals and instrumentals in some places - as both are exceptionally evocative and powerful.
A brief look at the lyrics. They are thoughtful and taking. They are ‘sing-along’ material, absolutely, still bearing deep message and meaning. Some are notably witty and deliberate (‘Boulder Hill’ and ‘Forty’). Deliberate for instance when ‘No one’s here to listen to your song’ sounds. It shows High/Low are well aware of the fact that that they don’t reach out to everyone with their songs - may this be due to their distinctive approach to music, may this be due to experience, the experience that a bunch of people suffer from a general lack of interest in finding out about new music, especially music by up and coming, rather unknown bands. High/Low are realistic musicians. Steve and Lee also know that what counts most is their contentment with the music they create. It’s a place for them to feel familiar, a place of belonging. Their music expresses who they are and what stories they want to tell. And they won’t change anything about their music to build a fanbase which is obviously not interested in finding what they truly sound like, they want you to feel connected to their music as it is.. High/Low are authentic musicians.
a band to care about
High/Low - a band to care about
It becomes apparent that High/Low know their music, know what they search for in songs while composing them. After all it’s not the first band project Steve and Lee have been involved in, but High/Low is the one they feel like they have finally ‘found their ground’ with. At some point they are making music for themselves, music they are satisfied with - hoping the listener will be as well, but don’t expect everyone to grow fond of it. It’s not their main concern to fit the mold, the taste of the ‘average music listener’, but to stay true to the music they create. Of course they want people to listen, to like it, but not by feigning. They strike out on their own, and they do so successfully. Surely, you can’t deny High/Low have their musical influences, and neither Steve nor Lee try to hide that fact, rather they are outspoken about it (I hope I’m not gonna cross a line hereby, but they certainly have their ‘fanboy’ (is this even a word?!) moments too. It obviously shows they are not only interested in theirs, but also in other bands’ music. Dinosaur Junior’s, whose songs they state as a major influence, and Dinosaur Pile-Up’s for instance*). Nontheless they try to make music that stands out, that differs, but they don’t risk to lose their very own connection to the music they compose . High/Low are passionate, committed and sincere musicians.
High/Low make music for the music’s sake. They let it speak for itself, not forcing anything. Not expecting everyone to like it, but hoping some will understand and acknowledge. At least this how I feel about their music.
Here’s what I believe, what I’m actually convinced of: Steve and Lee have managed and still do manage the highs and lows of being musicians quite well. It’s a matter of attitude in fact. Every musician struggles to be heard, to blend with the taste of the ‘average music listener’ whilst trying to stand out nonetheless. In some way, High/Low simply do what they’re passionate about: creating music, music of soul and recall value. They keep it raw but resonant and they cope with people not showing interest in what they are doing. They know affection can’t be forced. In contrast, they are beyond grateful for those who take time to listen to their songs. They are fully dedicated to their music as they are also fully dedicated to their fans. They obviously enjoy to interact with them, not only because they know how important it is to let the fans, the listeners and supporters be part of the music making process, but also because they care. Steve and Lee have found the perks and drawbacks of being musicians, the highs and lows. And both have learned to make the best out of it. An attitude that’s not only admirable but also recommendable for every musician.
So, tell me: how’s about helping to fund on their debut album now?
* of which I hope that they have now listened to High/Low’s music, and not left it at reaching out on twitter, stating ‘yo’. High/Low deserve better! C’mon support the little guys, find something special by digging deep(ly) ;)