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Avenue, The First Entry to Music Post-Covid

Written by Mia Gane

With new music being released and gigs booked post lockdown this group of boys are going to be “taking it by storm” in the years ahead.

“I love everything about music, I hate Covid” said Avenue’s lead singer, Pave.

Through this gloomy year of the pandemic those competing in the music industry have struggled and suffered. The time out has allowed musicians more time to practice, write and reflect on their work, which is why many artists such as Taylor Swift and Charli XCX have released more music in short spaces of time. Yet, for artists who were just starting to establish themselves, headline gigs and get notice from the right people this time has not been easy and has made the door to the music industry even harder to open. When talking to Avenue over zoom the other week I saw a sense of excitement about the year ahead and frustration about the year we have all just had.

Avenue started in 2018 at the University of Sussex, originally consisting of just two members: Pave (the lead singer) and Matthew Nicholls (guitarist and backing vocals).

Image credit: Mr Peroxide Photography (Charlie Thomas), band photographer

In 2019 they began to release music on Spotify, produced by Fraser Frengley, who then officially joined the band early 2020 as lead guitarist and backing vocalist. The most recent member of the band, Robert Bruce, joined as their bass guitarist midway through 2020. While they have only just begun their journey, even talking to them over Zoom I sensed their closeness and how driven and ambitious they are. They have already released 15 songs, and more are on the way. Matt described the change from the beginning to now as “just crazy”.

When listening to their music you hear inspiration from all over, “musically I think we’ve all got a lot of different tastes because that is what makes our music so interesting” Matt said. They pointed to bands like The Smiths, Arcade Fire, Crowded House and artists like Nile Rodgers. Pave and Matt both pointed to their love of disco and how that has influenced their music. As Pave said, “I like the lyrics in a lot of disco music […] that kind of makes the line between that poppy stuff that just kind of says what you feel”. This mixture of disco with the influence of indie and pop bands like the Beatles and Oasis can be heard in each of their songs. When I asked who they would most want to open for, after listing every artist and band they could think of, they came to the conclusive answer, the Arctic Monkeys. Fraser said, “we all listen to everything collectively” and this is reflected in how each of their top five songs on Spotify sound uniquely different.

“We write songs on the go […] something will just happen and that will just create a song,” Pave described the process of creating music, “They happen instantly, it’s never long winded.” Their songs are often written by Pave individually or collaboratively with the rest of the group, “I’ll record my acoustic demo that will never see the light of day and then we turn to Fraser to make it listenable and then Matt to make it sound good and then Rob to make it not sound like it’s got no low end and then it actually makes a song.” They record rough demos in Fraser’s make-shift studio and “take it from there” as Fraser said. All of them have a role in production somehow and then Fraser polishes it to make it a song they can release. Rob commented that “When I’m writing a song or contributing to a song, you want there to be something interesting about it […] I just want to add as much juice as possible” to which the rest of the band agreed.

Rob described the process as an improvisation: “you’re going to make mistakes anyway, along the way, you’re going to learn from doing, so you may as well make the mistakes, you may as well do something now, make the mistake, learn now.” This seems to be part of the band’s ethic in each step of them trying to enter the world of music.

“As far as bedroom studio’s go, it’s a nice bedroom studio … it’s magical, it’s amazing” Rob said when I asked about the pros and cons of all the band’s music being recorded, engineered and produced in Fraser’s bedroom. Pave commented that for a band in the early stages “the pros outweigh the cons” and how doing it all themselves gives them more control over their music and to collectively develop and “home in on the sound we want”.

Professional studio time costs a lot of money and using their own space means “money is no longer an issue” as Fraser said. Matt pointed out that for a new band being in Fraser’s bedroom means we “ have as much time as they want … we can relax in there or we can go ham”. They all had fond memories of sitting in Fraser’s bedroom for days, working on their music sustained by pizza and beer. The work and effort they put into making the space sound like a professional studio has taught them a lot about production. “Working it out in a bedroom” Pave said, “is almost more fulfilling when you release a tune and it sounds huge”.

“I feel like I’m gonna literally have arthritis by the time we play a show” Pave joked when we moved on to talk about the difficulties of being a band during this time, “It’s weird because there are actually pros and cons to it from a musicians point of view”. The negatives, they pointed out, are clear. They cannot go out, gig and get the exposure they need to establish themselves. They had a headline gig at Gigi’s Bar in Hoxton just before lockdown, which they described as the highlight of their music career as a band. But this almost made lockdown more depressing for them; having had such a great opportunity and then not being able to move forward with the clear exposure that gave them. They also cannot see each other, which makes writing and making music as a band a lot more difficult. Yet, they still have been able to do some things, “‘She’s from Yesterday’ actually came out over FaceTime between me [Pave] and Matt.” It also means they developed in the non-creative side of being a band: “we’ve worked harder in gaining an online presence,” Matt said. They have engaged more with their fans and helped their audience grow across the world. Fraser added, “It’s pushed us to work harder almost out of necessity.”

They did manage to get one gig during the pandemic, at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. The experience was strange as the audience could not stand up or dance. The members of Avenue said plainly “We didn’t like it”, it was too “uncomfortable”. However, Matt pointed out “it was nice to play” and “I would do it out of necessity.” At the moment, they want to play so badly that Fraser even suggested “I would play in front of a pub toilet”.

The music industry, without Covid, is already difficult to break into. Avenue agreed that they would get rid of the numbers of streams and listeners on Spotify as this creates “preconceptions about how big you are” as Matt pointed out. This is partly the reason they have released their music independently rather than waiting for an established label. Your music has to be out there and have streams to be even considered by a label. As Pave put it, “people won’t give you a chance because it [your music] hasn’t circulated” and Rob suggested that the need for streams “makes the music industry less about music, at least at the lower level.” Despite this, the band still agreed they loved every part of the process, “you do it because you love it”. Fraser pointed to the moment the band hit 100,000 streams on Spotify as being the highlight of the band’s music career so far.

The band are looking forward to the years ahead and are hopeful for the future. They discussed the music and albums they will release. When Covid is over they plan to gig and tour. They are bursting with ideas and excited to continue working on new songs, developing them and putting their music out there. I know I, along with many of their other fans, are excited for some more music too.

You can find Avenue’s music and more information about the band at the links below:

  • Spotify: Avenue
  • Youtube: avenue
  • Instagram: @avenuegram
  • Twitter: @tweetsbyavenue
  • Tiktok: @avenuetoks
  • Mr. Peroxide Photography: @Mr_Peroxide_

Written by Mia Gane