Lead guitarist Johnny dropped in to speak to Jelisa Hanley following the launch of their first single, Let Me In.
From getting kicked out of Bradford hotel rooms, to teaming up with comedian Johnny Vegas, the up-and-coming rock band Stillia has proved that they are the band to watch in 2017.
Already living the rockstar lifestyle, Merseyside-raised brothers Jack (lead singer) and Matty (Drummer and Vocalist) started their band of four as teenagers. Both driven and musical in nature, with Jack studying music in college, they scouted guitarist Conner and bass player David on their school playground, with nothing but blind ambition and passion.
Jack admitted that through school they all spent a majority of their time in the musical department, and if it wasn’t for their shared interest in music, they all wouldn’t have made it through school.
Looking back in time, the rebellious four remembered their first gig. Minus the departure of bass player David, Jack, Matty and Connor described their first ever gig in St. Helens. “The first one was like playing in front of one man and his dog in a dive of a pub on a rough council estate,” says Johnny, “but it was brilliant because it was our first gig. It’s been a ride and a half since then.”
And a ride and a half it has been as they have worked their way through the North west club scene to become a staple in the St.Helens community. Without the support of their town, they probably wouldn’t have scored as many gigs as they had.
Local pub ‘Park on Club’ open their doors to them free of charge four times a week, letting them practice for hours upon end asking for nothing but a free gig every month.
The lads happily oblige, as they are extremely proud of their local roots. Johnny: “We have a lot of people who go all out for us and buy tickets to see us there.”
They were scouted at one of these local gigs by their current manager Ben, who spotted them at a local gig. Johnny admits that after being hooked up with their management things started to change; the gigs were coming in and the band became more in demand than ever before.
On the road, most of the time, travelling around the North West and to Brighton, the band have spent more time together and found they have more in common than they think.
They describe their relationship as ‘good friends with great banter’. Johnny says: “I think it’s the right type of personalities and chemistry which makes us work” – although Johnny has admitted that during jam sessions Matty and Jack will get into massive fights and Connor and himself have to break them apart pretty often.
Plus, there is the hotel situation Johnny hopes will never happen again when they go on tour: “We got kicked out of a hotel in Bradford and we had to find another place to go. I think we were just too noisy. I think we get to these hotels and people just look at each other and say ‘here we go again, these won’t last for an hour’.”
But despite the lads’ lack of beauty sleep, bonding over lager and Jack Daniels is something that joins them back together. Johnny and Connor even admitted to indulging in the odd glass of red wine. Johnny says: “It makes us feel mature when we drink red wine.”
Describing their rehearsals as laid-back jam sessions, the creative process surrounding their music is mostly a collaborative effort. Lead singer Jack has written most of the songs, including their now hit single Let Me In. The single has set the tone for the ‘feel good’ music they create.
Newcomer Johnny has also had his hand in the writing process, admitting to writing another song off the album Cold Coffee. Johnny: “Believe it or not, that song came around as a joke. I went to the café to get a coffee and came home and completely forgot about it and when I went to drink it, it was cold. I was so annoyed. For some reason I just wrote down cold coffee.
Next thing you know I was writing this song and I was just releasing a lot of things off my head, and when Matty brought in a drum pad it created this electronic sound. When he brought that in it gave it a very dark mood, especially on the first few verses which kind of made it a massive sound.” Johnny admits that it is one of his favourite songs off the album.
The band’s music has a very strong tone relating to the loss or the gaining of a woman, and when asked about that, Johnny plead the fifth. He had admitted to having his heart broken and admits that very good music can come out of heartbreak.
Yet he does admit there are some subjects the band would shy away from – mostly politics, Johnny says: “I don’t like when bands sing about politics, I don’t think public figures should be involved in that.”
Full-time city fans and part time red wine drinkers Stillia are quickly developing a wave through the Northern music scene. They even caught the attention of actor/Comedian Johnny Vegas, after supporting the bands gigs locally around St. Helens.
When an opportunity became available for him to direct a video, sparked by a tweet from members of the band, he rose to the challenge inviting the band to his home.
Over a brew of PG Tips, Johnny, his production team and the band collaborated in the creative direction of the group’s first hit EP Let Me In.
Lead Guitarist says: “The concept for the video was Johnny’s main idea. He suggested it at his kitchen table, and we all looked at each other and said, that’s the one.”
The concept for the hit music video is Johnny being an ‘obsessed fan’ of the group, following them to their gigs. With shrines of images and sketches of them on his bedroom walls, the video then ends with the hilarious kidnapping of the lead singer, Jack.
The band said collaborating with him was one of the most ‘amazing experiences’ they ever had. On the set of the video, Johnny even sketched portraits images of each individual band member which they have all kept, and even framed.
Johnny said: “I think it was the first day of shooting, and the first scene of where he is watching our old performances and trying to learn the guitar. And Matty called me over and said mate, you’ve got to see this, and when I walked in, it was like a shrine of all our old posters and images, from even before I was in the band. It was like walking into a museum, it was pretty creepy.”
Although pretty creepy, Mr Vegas’s direction attributed to the success of the bands single which has had over 52,000 streams on spotify and 10,000 hits on YouTube within its first week.
The single launch party for their EP held at Manchester’s new club ‘Jimmys’ also went down as a hit, being the first live gig to be held in the venue since the club’s opening. Jack admitted that he was surprised at the reception the band had got in Manchester, with tickets selling out in two days. “I can name at least twenty of my friends who couldn’t get in who couldn’t get a ticket.”
The new album is going to be released this year, and even though Jack says through the Summer, the band are adamant on bringing out two more singles before actually releasing the album.