If the past couple of year’s have been rock’n’roll’s radio iceage, right now our toes are teetering on the brink of a lush new dawn. The question is; beyond the shit-storm of supposed saviour bands whose name-drops christened the New Year, which of the lauded gangs of axe-wielders are the genuine sculptors of tomorrow? Well, of the few promised Next Big Things, none have actually earned their hype more than Camden’s Tribes. “When you’re a kid you want to be cool, so you make experimental weird music. But for us, I think there just came a point where we couldn’t be bothered messing around anymore,” prophesises singer Johnny Lloyd. “I realized that there’s no point being in a band if you’re not gonna be one of those life-changing bands. Not the one’s you stroke your chin too, the one’s you beat your heart plate to.” It’s this unabashed manifesto of anthemia that’ve taken the rag-tag four-piece from prodigious debutant slots opening for idols The Pixies, to relentless grassroots grafting of the UK’s dives, to being christened “The future of rock’n’roll” by fanboys The Mystery Jets, a sentiment chimed by everyone from NME to Radio 1′s Huw Stephens and Zane Lowe, the latter of whom named their debut single Hottest Record In The World amidst an airwave airstrike that saw it tear through most of the BBC and XFM. They’re a shining testament to the blood, sweat and tears so many buzz bands seem to bypass these days, at their peril. Joining the dots between Nirvana and The Libertines, their debut album, including lead single ‘Sapho’ is a fittingly heart-racing call-to-arms for a generation left crying out for band name worthy of being Tip-Ex’d onto a satchel.
Tribes once consisted of two opposed bands, or as one could say, erm, tribes. Johnny Lloyd and Dan White on one side of the naval-gasing Radiohead-obsessed track, and Miguel Demelo and Jim Cratchley on the other. Although they’re quick to sniff off any lazy suggestion that the name was birthed there. “When we arrived in Camden, we think for some reason we were expecting some vague fragments of a indie band culture or something,” the frontman says, shaking his head. “But I actually remember looking around us and realising we were in the supposedly indiest place on planet earth and there were literally no bands. Jim mentioned the name Tribes as it part of the name of a book he was was reading, and it just seemed very apt for our setting and state of mind.”
The boys set about they work with the same scurrilous drive and rambunctious soul that’s defined their rise to become Britain’s most talked about scene savers. After it took Frank Black but a single gig and a single demo to invite them out to support, it took only few more pub efforts for the Mystery Jets to invite them undo their wing and onto a road-testing psychedelic voyage of the nation several times over, including climactic slots at the Somerset House and resulting in literal riot scenes when the band’s own tour wound up at London’s XOYO. 2011 has seen their show-stopping first headline tour, winding up with a predictably sold-out headline set at Camden’s legendary Dingwalls, ogled by a Sex Pistol. It’s no rare sight to witness homemade t-shirt sporting Tribes fans trawling three dates, vaguely nearish to their pocket of the country; bleary-eyed, delirious, emptying from the backroom. When the band took to the rooftops near their fabled locks to shoot the finale scenes of their first promo video in characteristic rallying form, the subsequent gridlock and police shutdown was case in point to the old fashioned way the boys had emerged into the lives of indie starved kids across the country.
New single ‘Sapho’ is showcases Tribes’ emphatic musical blueprint: thundering rhythm section and brimstone guitars, giving way to sweet woozy melodies and tales of loverlorn abandon. ‘We Were Children’ is the kind of unflinching anthem that any generation would be proud to take as an ode: all rasping chants, and raging power chords, truly the stuff the teenage dreams are made of. Since its release the airwaves have been alive with its romantic riot, a more befitting entrance soundtrack it’d be hard to find. The product of various trips up to Liverpool to visit producer Mike Crossey, of Arctic Monkeys notoriety, after he too couldn’t help but align join their cause. The radiating, warm lo-fi glow that fills the demo, available on the flipside, is evolved to widescreen new dimensions amidst a mountainous cliff-face of amplification. ‘Girlfriend’ is the kind of shaggy, rogueish punk freak-out that your mother warned you about and your uncle warned you to look forward to. A tearaway of a track with the gusto to whip up a pit and punch to floor you just when you least expect it. Then ‘Coming Of Age’ shows a band with enough end-of-night, woozy balladeering charm to ensure the wee hours will at least be spent drunken, huddled and clinging to eachother for dear life. An sublimely inevitable conclusion spent anywhere near the rhetoric and tales of a band like Tribes, the don’t come around often, but when they do they’re unmistakable.