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Introducing: The Family Battenberg

It's been a tough year for everyone, but that hasn't stopped Welsh newcomers The Family Battenberg from starting their new band.

Based in Cardiff, the new four-piece, consisting of Eliot Jones on vocals, Ethan Duck on guitar, Celyn Thomas on bass and Alex Pothecary on drums, have put in serious graft over what's been a hard time in the music industry.

We had a quick chat on Zoom about how they've faired during these turbulent times, what exactly their name means and the one and only Rachel Reilly.

"It started off as a bit of a recording project, we were all sort of amassing different gear, I was buying lots of microphones, everyone was buying effects pedals and stuff and it was a really good opportunity to throw everything together and see what noises we could make," begins Eliot.

"We all met a couple of years ago when we were in The Pitchforks and Sssnakes. Me and Celyn are in the same uni and Eliot’s in the year above. I ended up moving in with those pair and then we just decided to start a band. I think it was a year and a half ago, we went through so many phases. Then Alex joined," explains Ethan before Alex interjects, "Just made the band better didn’t I?"

It's clear already that the relationship between the four puts them at a solid advantage. The one thing that stands out for me, and I'm sure a lot of you will agree, is their name. The Family Battenberg. It's certainly memorable. So what's the meaning behind it?

"Basically Alex has got dog vision, instead of shades of grey he sees shades of pink and yellow," Eliot jokes. "Nah, we just put three words together to be honest," Ethan corrects.

"We're sort of borrowing from that Australian thing with not really giving a shit about it. It was funny, it sounded funny and we liked it."

It's hard to write about a band when you haven't heard any music from them but they describe their sound in an intriguing way that builds anticipation for their first release. Ethan says, "we're trying to do a merging of old and new psychedelic conventions."

"We're not gonna pretend it’s inspired by some Hungarian jazz or something. It’s very much like the Australian, American garage psych stuff. With a more rock and roll influence," adds Eliot, "It's like King Gizz, Tame Impala, Murlocs, Ty Segall. There are some Cardiff bands we really quite admire as well; Boy Azooga were a massive influence on us all. Bandicoot, what they’re doing is cool."

They talk about how the industry isn't always as straightforward as it seems as well as the hardships of starting a band during a pandemic, not being able to get together in the same room to practise, brain storm and write.

"(The creative process), it’s shambolic, it’s all over the place. In the year and a half that we’ve been doing it, we have not once been able to find like a nice, smooth process from starting a song to finishing it," explains Ethan.

"With the covid restrictions, it’s always been really heavily recorded based, a lot of it was us just trying, throwing shit at the wall and seeing what was sticking, just trying to make things that sounded like the bands we liked. In that, there was this horrible cycle of just making music that you fucking hated at the end of it and starting again the next day. I’m not going to pretend it’s been easy but it’s been good. I feel like we're finally getting there with that side of things and I think that’s probably because we can actually get in a room together now. We can play together now and see what works out. We’ve just written a new one that came from a jam we did and it’s probably my favourite one we’ve done so far because it didn’t feel so strict and regimented," adds Eliot.

The Family Battenberg have yet to release music but we're hoping to hear something pretty soon. But one thing we do know is that the entire process is contained within the band - it's all self-produced and that's certainly something special. But when can we hear it?

"Hopefully if everything goes to plan, it should be definitely at some point in the summer. Depending on how everything goes and how much we can practise and get stuff done," says Ethan. "Our biggest thing at the minute is trying to get gig ready. Obviously we don’t know when it’s coming round. We haven’t had great chance to practise because we’ve had a lot of little bumps. By the time we got Alex in the band and we were a full band ready to practise, we all had our big assignments due for uni. It’s been a bit of a mad dash the past couple of weeks."

So why music? Alex laughs, "I was shit at everything else, yeah, not great at science and I thought drums were quite cool." "I’ve always played guitar, harp, and the piano, I’ve just always kinda wanted to be in a band when I was little and I met people who also wanted to be in a band," explains Celyn. "Celyns probably the coolest one out of all of us," adds Eliot, before explaining that her parents are super cool mod DJs. "Me [Ethan] and Alex just kind of got into music at around the same time. When we were about ten, and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since." "My older brother had an iPod, filled with really obscene metal music and that was sort of my first introduction to music. It’s like ‘oo, this is a bit angry isn’t it’ then I grew up and found music where people don’t shout in it," he laughs, "then I thought 'ahh that’s cool, I’ll try a bit of that'."

But what can we expect to hear from them when we finally press play? Are we listening to experiences, fantasies or concepts?

Eliot answers, "It’s quite conceptual..."

"It’s exclusively conceptual actually," Ethan adds. "We don’t write anything palatable, it’s just odd. We’ve got a song where we manage to talk about Rachel Reilly so that’s nice. About how much I want to be on countdown," Eliot laughs.

By the end of the year things should start to look promising for the Welsh outfit; with their sights set for new music and heads filled with ideas. What exactly do they want to achieve by the time 2022 rolls around? "I want to say the front cover of Rolling Stone but that might be a reach," Alex laughs. Ethan starts, "We’ll definitely have a song out and if we don’t," Eliot finishes, "we’ve kind of fucked it." "It’d be nice to have a couple of songs out really," adds Celyn. "It’s not out of our scope, I think you can definitely expect that we will be playing shows, covid provided of course, and a single or two," says Eliot, "we really want to fuck about with Instagram and all that as well." "It’s just a bit of fun. With the name The Family Battenberg it’s only so serious you can be." "The name sort of gives us a license to do what we like because it is just like ‘what the fuck does that mean?’ And nothing we do really matters then unless we took ourselves extremely seriously. Then that would be the stupidest thing on the planet."

What I love about this band already is that their outlook is to have fun with the whole thing. Ethan finishes, "That was our big thing when we started this, we all just wanted to have a laugh with it."

So that's The Family Battenberg, Cardiff's newest psych band. Head over to social media, drop them a follow and stay tuned for new music! I know we're looking forward to hearing it.

Keep updated on all things The Family Battenberg on Facebook and Instagram.


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