London based Bengal Lancers consist of Charlie, Max and Harry. Having met and formed at university, the trio have now relocated to London to pursue their music. Their influences include Two Door Cinema Club and The Maccabees. Having recently released their single Morning Light, the boys are heading back into the studio to create the next Bengal Lancers chapter. We recently caught up with Harry (H) and Max (M).
Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?
Hey there, I’m doing good thanks! Just sat struggling with the typical 9 to 5 but got the new Royal Blood album on in the background keeping me sane. Charlie’s been nagging Max and I to listen to it; it’s an absolute beast of an album!
To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?
We’re quite rhythmic but with a lot of bite. We’ve got quite a mixed sound spanning from shoe-gaze to disco. We get compared to Foals, Maccabees and Bombay Bicycle Clubs later work quite a lot.
What’s the story behind your name?
H: The name comes from when I was watching “The Darjeeling Limited” round a friend’s one morning after a night out. At the end, the three main characters leap on a train called “the Bengal Lancer” whilst the Kinks are being played on the soundtrack. It really stood out.
How do you write songs? Does one of you take the lead or is it a collaborative process?
M: Sometimes Harry’s written an entire song and we just play it, but generally someone writes a riff or chord progression, then we get together and experiment with it until a song comes together. Harry then writes lyrics and that’s it!
H: Max is being far too generous here! I’ll end up sending a riff over to the boys that I’ve had stuck in my head, but by the time we get in the studio and play together it’s something else entirely. Charlie’s bass lines are a massive game changer with stuff like this. He makes some insane licks and by then Max and I have both have totally changed what we were playing. Max then does something and yet again it moves about.
M: Yeah, sometimes we’ll have been playing a song for months and suddenly someone will change what they’re playing, and the whole song will be completely different.
Where do you find inspiration?
M: Most of my lyrics are kind of depressing, generally about negative things that have happened to me, or I see happening to other people. I can’t write songs when I’m happy!
H: I like to think I write about personal experiences, a lot of my recent stuff has been dealing with moving back to London and getting back into the swing of being back home in the capital.
How do you work around a lack of inspiration?
H: I usually end up looking back over old ideas that have picked up dust to see if there’s anything in them or go back to learning other tracks by other bands. I’ve started learning some Ben Howard and it’s done wonders for my finger-picking/creativity!
M: I like writing songs that sound like they’re about something deep, but are actually about mundane things. You can make a song about going to Tesco remarkably angsty if you want to! In terms of guitar, just writing a huge volume of riffs normally turns out something good. Although I’ve only recently started trying to write stuff for the band, so nothing’s been grabbed yet!
What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?
H: Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American: This was the album that got me into playing guitar, I remember hearing the solo to “Get it faster” in the car and going “This! This is what I want to do!” The whole album is perfect from start to finish.
Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight: I’m an absolute sucker for the Scottish rock scene; We were promised Jetpacks, Biffy Clyro, Twilight Sad are all fantastic, but Frightened Rabbit stole the show. This album opened my eyes to them. Everything about this blew me away and I’ve been a huge fan of the Frabbit ever since.
Queens of the Stone Age – It’s hard to pick an exact album for these guys; “you think I ain’t worth a dollar…” on ‘Songs for the Deaf” still stands as one of the most explosive intros to an album I’m ever heard. The presence these boys have on stage is something else. Josh Homme is a Demi-God.
Interpol – I’d be lying if I didn’t include Interpol up here: the ambient guitar work on “Turn on the Bright Lights” has massively influenced my sound as a player in the past few years. It’s great to hear them stepping up the game in El Pintor this year. Bank’s solo work as Julien Plenti is fantastic as well.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver: This album really made me start thinking about songwriting. The honesty of the whole thing and the sheer simplicity of it gets to you. This is one man bearing it all and it’s an absolute masterpiece.
Who would you most like to go on tour with?
M: Definitely Bombay Bicycle Club. Music style fits and they just seem like a nice bunch of guys.
H: Have to agree with Max on this one, I saw them at Sziget and they seemed to have a great time on stage, would be awesome to join them!
What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?
H: I’ve been listening to a lot of Death Cab for Cutie at the moment, they’re great albums to travel with. I can tell you 100% that we’ve all been listening to Royal Blood. I still can’t understand how two guys can make that much noise!
What are your guilty listening pleasures?
M: I really love all the remixes of the One Pound Fish song. Outstanding.
H: I’m (not so secretly) a big fan of Katy Perry ‘Dark Horse’ – I’d love to re-work it for a cover.
What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?
It has to be Main stage at the Leicester O2 for our university’s Summer Ball … bagging a supporting spot with Wretch 32 and Rudimental.
What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?
H: Before Max was lumped up with us, Charlie and I were playing acoustic sets around Leicester. We played our first gig together in a student bar and it was absolutely jam-packed. To substitute a drummer I often just used my loop pedal. After layering up and getting our groove on all of a sudden everything cut out. The power to the pedals cut, stopping everything we’d layered in the process. Safe to say we stood there in silence for a while, equally as confused as every one else. We managed to get the power back, but the damage was done. I felt like an absolute arsehat.
What can we expect from you in the foreseeable future?
We have a couple of gigs coming up, and a couple more in the pipeline. The dates are Sunday 21st of September at the New Cross Inn, and the 18th October at Brixton Oxjam, but you’ll be able to find more details on our Facebook page nearer the time!
Finally, if you weren’t a musician what would you be?
I’d probably end up in Journalism. I’d love to get in to travel or gig write ups – free food, free music, free travel! That’d be the life.
Check out Morning Light below, and keep your eyes peeled for more info about their upcoming releases.