Earlier this year, Into The Ark reached the final of The Voice UK, becoming runner up to Mo. Throughout the summer, they will be supporting their mentor on the show, Tom Jones on a long run of summer dates. Over the past few months they have embarked on a headline tour around the country with their recently added drummer, Adam Prosser, and have recently released their EP, Brightest Creatures. We meet them after their set at The Great Escape in Brighton to discuss The Voice UK, their headline tour and their pre-show rituals.
You’ve recently released your Brightest Creatures EP, how long did it take to produce?
Dane Lloyd – You’re not going to believe it… five days.
Taylor Jones – This is one of the dilemmas we’ve had. We’ve done so much touring and travelling, we’ve had no time to be at the studio so we literally had a five-day gap and we booked into a studio in London and wrote and recorded. It was a really big challenge. There was one song we wrote that we didn’t release because we didn’t like it, so it could always go both ways. The next plan is, after the Tom Jones tour, to actually spend three or four weeks in the studio; we haven’t had the opportunity to do that since I was sixteen and Dane was twenty-one and that was a while ago, so it will be exciting to actually get back and have the breathing space to sit there and be creative again. And with Adam (Prosser) as well now we are going to jam it out and it will be a completely different dynamic, so it’s exciting.
Dane – Yeah, it’s good.
Earlier this year, you were finalists on the latest series of The Voice UK, what was the experience like and was it everything you hoped it would be?
Dane – It was better than I thought it would be actually because I think I’ve only really watched The X Factor when I was young, kind of seventeen/eighteen and I never really wanted to do anything like that to be fair, if I’m honest. But we knew we needed to get a bit of a bigger platform and we obviously love singing so we thought we’d give it a go. They were really accommodating, they let us do all the music we like singing and it was just awesome and now we’re selling the UK tour, getting more streams online and yeah, it’s been good.
Taylor – Yeah, we didn’t anticipate getting as far as we did on the show either. We just wanted to go and get a good blind audition, get through and then just have that and then that was obviously just a bit of exposure but then to get through all these rounds as well, we did not see it coming at all! Obviously the more time you’re on television, the more people are going to see you which has only benefitted us.
Dane – And everyone was really nice and supportive as well.
You had a lot of public support during the show, how was it knowing so many were voting for you?
Taylor – Mental, I couldn’t get my head around it, because like I said, we didn’t anticipate it at all. Our goal in our heads really was to get through to the first live knockouts, so past the battles and then one performance live and then what would be would be. There wasn’t one performance that I felt truly comfortable in this situation. Being on TV, and the filming, and all the run up to it, and all the pressure as well, it’s hard to get your head around and then all this information and all this stuff to worry about, it’s just to go on and sing for a minute and a half. It’s quite a lot of pressure.
Dane – That’s why it’s so nice that people still voted for us.
Taylor – It’s cool, it’s really cool.
How did you choose Tom Jones as your coach and was it a difficult decision to make?
Taylor – No, it wasn’t at all. We just went with Tom, not just because he’s Welsh, but the fact that we’re massive fans of soul music, like a lot of the stuff from the 50s and 60s, and Tom Jones has lived through all that and still releasing soulful music to this day. The people he’s duetting with like Ray Charles, it’s all heroes like James Brown, I don’t think there’s anyone else on the panel that we would rather go with. He was such a nice guy as well, so genuine and actually cared. He spent a lot of time with us off camera as well. He wouldn’t just shoot off after his role was done, he’d stick around and he’d always make sure we were comfortable and he talked about music so much and yeah, it was an easy decision at the time, definitely.
Tom Jones has now asked you to support him on his upcoming shows, how did he actually ask you and did you immediately say yes?
Dane – He asked us on camera on the show, but it was nothing to do with ITV or anything, he just said, ‘boys, I’ve got something to tell you, we’re going on tour,’ and that was it. And then we were like whaaaaaat?
Taylor – We’ve seen what shows we’re actually going to do. There are some amazing venues and it’s just an amazing opportunity to just play in front of as many people as we can, and it was nice to know it wouldn’t be the last time we saw Tom either after the show ended. Knowing that we’re going to hang out with him over the course of the next couple of months as well is great.
What encouraged you to audition for The Voice UK over any other talent show?
Dane – I think that’s mainly just because everyone that goes on there can sing.
Taylor – There are no jokes or gimmicks or anything like that. You look at The X Factor, and you look at the final twelve out of how many people auditioned for it, and there are so many people below average or just there to take the mick. Whereas The Voice is about who is the best singer and you don’t get anyone coming on there who’s absolutely terrible like you do on The X Factor, so we just felt it was more credible to be a part of that show as opposed to Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor.
Dane – Especially when you get to know the person as well and they’re not just singers, they’re writing and recording.
Taylor – Yeah, they’re all doing their own thing.
Whilst on the show, you both went back to your old schools to perform, how did this feel?
Dane – That was wild. When I left school, I was like ‘I’ll go there next year, when I’ve done something cool’, and then I never went, and I kept saying it every year, and then obviously the first time I ever went back was when we’d been on TV so it was just craaaaazy, absolutely crazy. The hall where we used to have assemblies smelt exactly the same so it was such a nostalgic feeling. Really cool.
Would you recommend auditioning for The Voice to those hoping for a career in music?
Dane – Oh yeah, definitely.
Taylor – Yeah, we would!
Dane – Definitely, because I think any exposure is going to help in a way. If you’ve never even played a gig in your life…
Taylor – …it’s going to terrify you, I promise you that. It terrified us and we’ve done a billion gigs.
Dane – It’s just going to spark your career, I guess. There are a lot of people who haven’t done gigs before. Do some busking and some gigs first, then do the show, that’s probably the best way to do it.
You’ve gained many fans and supporters from The Voice UK, has this added more pressure to always release music and perform a lot of shows, or has it made it easier?
Dane – I think it’s made it easier.
Taylor – I think it’s made it easier too because people seem a lot more excited to see us on stage now, which is good.
Dane – There’s been some pressure though, but it’s good pressure.
Taylor – We’ve got to be good every night, so we try to go to bed earlier. Normally we would finish the show, get in the van and put on a CD and start singing the entire night, and by the time we wake up, we have no voice left. We’ve learnt a lot from The Voice.
Dane – There’s definitely added pressure but it’s also made it a little easier.
Today you are playing at The Great Escape Festival, is this your first time performing there and have you had chance to explore Brighton?
Taylor – It is the first time we’ve been to Brighton and played this festival.
Dane – We did a bit of exploring yesterday in the tipping down rain. We had an ice cream on the beach in the rain and a jam doughnut, which was nice. We had a little walk around but we are going to do more exploring today and tomorrow because we aren’t playing until half past ten in the night. We’re going to see some bands, have a look around, but we love it, it’s stunning.
Taylor – I love Brighton!
How do you find festival crowds opposed to crowds on your own tour?
Dane – This is a bit more challenging.
Taylor – Yeah, it is more challenging because obviously they are there for the festival and to see many different bands as well. They are going to watch you as opposed to watch someone else because obviously people are on at the same time, so it’s kind of like ooh…
Dane – We’ve got to be good!
Taylor – Yeah, got to be good, don’t want to waste their time. Today, the crowd were really, really nice and welcoming, it was great. I get more nervous playing festivals opposed to our own shows.
Dane – You don’t know what to expect.
You have a busy year touring, how are you preparing and do you have any pre-show rituals?
Taylor – We do power stands!
Dane – Yeah, we do power stands so we do this *stands*. You spread your legs and your arms like a starfish and you hold it for about two minutes, so that’s what we do.
Taylor – When we were on The Voice, we had a teacher and she did it and said, ‘oh you should do it’. We were freaking out and she obviously knows loads of tips and tricks, she was amazing, she was like, ‘this calms you down,’ which it did. It made me feel better about it anyway.
Dane – Yeah, definitely.
Taylor – Whatever works, no matter how silly you look!
What’s it like touring around the country playing sold out shows?
Dane – Well, this is the first time that’s happened and so far it’s been absolutely amazing. We kept asking for a headline show years before The Voice.
Taylor – We’ve seen a lot of people before; they’re still following us and kept up with us and we know The Voice hasn’t had any negative impact, so that’s the best bit for me anyway.
Dane – Yeah, I agree.
How do you choose your support acts?
Taylor – There’s this Welsh agency that helps where… to be fair, not going to lie, I don’t really know!
Dane – Unless there are certain people we meet that we really want to support us, or to help our friends, then we just tell our management. People have done the same for us in the past.
Taylor – We were on the show though, and my mind was in such a different place, I was just freaking out about the show so I wasn’t worrying about the tour.
You’ve been busking before, where would you say has been your favourite place to busk?
Taylor – I think we’ve only played Cardiff. We’ve done a little bit in London… busked outside Wembley and got kicked out.
Dane – Yeah, we got kicked out!
Taylor – It was Ed Sheeran’s gig. We love busking in Cardiff though, it’s good fun.
Dane – Yeah it was good, so I guess Cardiff.
You’ve been performing songs together from a young age, has it always just been the two of you?
Taylor – Pretty much, yeah. We met seven years ago now and I was fourteen. I was just playing covers for a charity event, and that’s where we first met and started realising we were into the same music. That’s when we started singing together but then once I got to eighteen, that’s when we formed Into The Ark and started going into the studio recording original material. Now we’ve got Adam as well, which we’re very happy about because we’ve been playing tours just the two of us and we just feel like it’s time now to start taking it up to the next level with the full-on live performance so we’re chuffed to bits Adam is drumming for us now.
Will this be a permanent fixture?
Taylor – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Do you think your style of music has changed since first getting together?
Taylor – Oh yeah, definitely. There are still elements of when we were younger but we’ve just grown.
Dane – Just kind of grown up as well with what we’ve been listening to, because when I first met him, me and him used to be the same, we were obsessed with super sad songs or loads of pop punk. Now I don’t really listen to pop punk anymore and I won’t listen to new pop punk, I’ll only listen to who I liked when I was a kid.
Who were some of your favourite artists when growing up and who do you enjoy now?
Dane – I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, Jamiroqui and just things my father listened to, and also, my brother got me into a lot of 80s rock when I was younger, so I’m a big fan of Tokio, Thin Lizzy… Metallica I liked. I went through a lot of phases because I was a skateboarder as well, so I really listened to what was on Tony Hawk’s. What about you?
Taylor – Yeah, the first kind of music I really got into was James Morrison’s first album and Paolo Nutini’s first album. I went to college and ended up being in a heavy band and all I listened to was Pantera, and all these really heavy metal bands, Slipknot and all that. I kind of fell out of that phase pretty quickly and that’s when Dane started showing me all this other music and I started getting into John Mayer mainly. It’s all the old soul stuff, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. I love The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. There’s loads of stuff.
You seem to be big fans of John Mayer, have you ever seen him live?
Dane – No, I had tickets to see him at The O2 a couple of years ago but I didn’t get to go. This is going to sound grim, but my nan was dying so I couldn’t go. I am an absolute massive fan but have never seen him live. I’ve watched a lot of livestreams though.
Taylor – You were meant to see him the other week, weren’t you? *looks at Adam*
Dane – And he had to cancel!
Taylor – But we were playing.
Adam – I was going to see him last Friday but had cancelled for this tour, but that’s all good.
Dane – You made the right decision!
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