Stockport quartet No Hot Ashes are a young and upcoming indie-funk band. They have a raw sound producing rhythmic beats leaving listeners grooving to the beat. They’re a young band, between the ages of 18-20, who have a double life balancing education and music. I caught up with Lui Di Vuono, guitarist of No Hot Ashes, to chat about the origins of the band, their funky sound and the challenge of completing A-Levels and singles.
We began by chatting about the beginnings of No Hot Ashes and how the boys met;
Lui and No Hot Ashes drummer, Matt Buckley, studied music together at school and started the band with a bassist who later left for university so was replaced by current bassist, Jack Walsh. The current line-up of the band has been going since 2013, so starting very young with their age range back then being 15-17! Lui labelled the band becoming “properly serious” in 2014 when they released their first ep Goose.
I asked Lui how the name of the band came about, to which he sighed and explained;
“It’s off wheelie bins, it’s the worst name ever, we hate it.” Despite not being too keen on the name he described the hassle of changing it on social media; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being too complex a process.
No Hot Ashes are from Stockport, near Manchester. I wondered if being from a town where Blossoms have emerged, whether the area has a scene which has enhanced their music making.
Lui didn’t seem all that keen on Stockport describing it as “a pretty boring place.” The area has influenced the band only in the sense that they want to get out so they can, “travel about and do the whole band thing.”
No Hot Ashes are well acquainted with fellow Stockport band Blossoms who Lui informed me lived round the corner from them. “We’ve known them for a while, it’s been really good to see them push through as there’s just no bands in Stockport, everyone floods into Manchester.”
With Stockport’s close proximity to Manchester I wondered, if not the Stockport scene, had the Manchester scene had an impact on the boys.
No Hot Ashes enjoy playing in Manchester, Lui sees it as the only place for a gig when bands start out. No Hot Ashes first ever gig was in Manchester’s Night and Day Café.
In Stockport, Lui named the Baker’s Vault as the main decent venue. “But besides that there’s nothing.” So the boys seem to have a number one aspiration to get out of their home town and move to something bigger.
For those who haven’t heard No Hot Ashes’ music before, I asked Lui to tell me about their sound to which he responded with the word “Funky.”
“We like to have a dance, especially Isaac, he’s nuts. We like to look like we’re enjoying it, which we are, it’s not even put on. We just like having a dance on stage and if we can get other people to do that then great.”
The funky sound of the band is inspired by the 70s and 80s “funk and soul thing.” Lui gave a list of names who have influenced the band in their music; Nile Rogers, Chic, Earth Wine and Fire, James Brown, Parliament, and The Doobie Brothers. So the band are interested in their old funk bands and Lui defined the band as using this influence to try get that “mix between still being a guitar band but getting that dance influence into it and not following the crowd.”
Now the lyrics of No Hot Ashes have to be commended, they are cheeky and catchy which grabs the listeners attention making them want to hear more about the “Malibu queen on the cool cat scene” buying “£2 cheesy chips.” With such lyrics I was intrigued if there were any stories being them. Lui informed me Isaac, lead singer of the band, does all the lyric writing. The two write together, Isaac the lyrics and Lui the music.
“I find his lyrics really clever, he’s quite honest with them. I always like reading through them, he’s honest and just writes about what he sees.”
Earlier this year, the band released their latest single Cool Cat, a cool and jazzy song which may be their best yet. “We released Cool Cat and we were really happy with it. It’s the most come together song we’ve had. It’s a long time for us but we spent two solid days on it, usually we get two songs done in two days but this time we thought lets really concentrate and it was a really good weekend doing it with our producer Gavin.”
With this new and fresh tune, I wondered if it was a sign of more to come. Lui told me they’re planning to get back into the studio after festival season; “We get a bit stir crazy when we’ve not written in a while. We want to just put stuff out all the time but you can’t because you’d over do it and have a million songs. But yeah I think after festival season, which is finished up around August/September we’ll try get in around October and do new songs.” Watch this space.
So far the band have released a handful of songs showing off their groovy sounds, each one unique. I wanted to know if Lui had a particular favourite which he is proud of;
Lui named the song Cigs and PG Tips, which hasn’t been officially released but is a song the band play live in their set. The song acts almost as nostalgia for the band as it’s from when they first started and now the last remaining song of the old ones written. “This one’s managed to stay and personally I really love it, it’s my favourite one to play.” The band did release the song, however took it down quickly after “because it sounded shite.” But Lui told me they were definitely planning on re-releasing it. “Isaac and I were saying if we could we would love to release it again. I think we wrote it about two years ago now so to go back and do it again would be really interesting.”
With the dismal British summer arriving, I asked what No Hot Ashes have lined up for themselves this festival season.
Lui seemed to be stumped at the question saying he has to keep a list on his phone to remember them all. Off the top of his head No Hot Ashes are playing an array of festivals this summer; Shrewsbury Festival, where Happy Mondays are also playing, Down to the Woods in Durham, attended also by Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Bingley Music Live. Blackthorn in Stockport is a hometown gig for the boys, a festival where 90% of the line-up are unsigned, handpicked, local bands.
When watching the band live, you get more than just the music but a performance. No Hot Ashes appear to be really enjoying themselves as they dance and play together with grins on their faces. I asked Lui if he enjoys playing live.
“It’s definitely our preferred thing. We’re useless in rehearsal, we do 4-5 hour rehearsals but just go out on a cig break for most of it. I like to think we’re pretty good live, we play everything pretty well. Even in the recording everyone usually says we don’t sound live but still quite raw, we don’t like to over produce anything. I think the worst you can do is over produce and then not be able to pull it off live.” Lui then went back on himself; “I’m really hypocritical because we’ve got a brass section in the last one we recorded so I’ll probably take that back, don’t write that down.”
But despite this, Lui was passionate about being real when recording; “Everything else is really legit.”
Earlier this year, lead singer Isaac Taylor turned 18. For the rest of the band, Lui is 19, drummer Matt is 20 and the bassist Jack is also 19. No Hot Ashes are thus a relatively young band, some still in education and other working in apprenticeships. I wondered how the balance worked out and if music was the boys’ sole paths for the future.
“We’re all pretty realistic about it, it’s like the hardest thing you can get into, music. Isaac’s going to university in September, Matt and I are at Salford and Leeds University. I work a full time apprenticeship and Jack has done the same in car body works. I naturally thought if I get job I’ll have time for bands stuff at the weekend. Matt is at university full time and Isaac’s just finishing college.”
Lui described the balance between education/work and music as a “big pain in the arse.” It recently affected the band as they had to pull out of the Isle of Wight Festival due to Isaac having two A-Level exams. “That’s when it really hit. Isle of Wight I’ve just been having nightmares about it constantly, I can’t believe we’ve not played.”
It sounds like a difficult balance but one which they’re sensibly committing to. “It’s a good balance, it’s healthy in way because there are a lot of bands which throw all their eggs into one basket and just end up on their arses and they’ve got no money. We’re realistic about it, we all know it’s not going to come onto a plate for us, we’ve got to work but that’s instilled in us, that work ethic.”
With regards to where Lui sees the band in 5 years’ time he’d like to confidently say that they’ll still be together as a band and still doing something. “I think we’re good enough to go forward but there’s a lot more to it.”
The band have been big fans of Spring King; “Isaac and I have been massive fans of them for a while. We went to see them support the band Dive from America at Night and Day Café. I saw them and thought these guys are really good and for a support band you don’t usually expect a lot. If you do go and catch the support sometimes you’ll find someone who stands out.” For No Hot Ashes, Spring King were a band who stood out.
When they heard about the gig in Preston months ago the band tried but failed to get a slot to support but then three days before the gig…No Hot Ashes were set to support. “To most it won’t mean a lot but for a band like us, every little thing makes a difference.” It was hectic weekend for the band with a gig in Sheffield on Saturday and Preston the Sunday. A “perfect weekend” for Lui.
Lui described Spring King as “the most genuine lads I’ve met in music so far. They gave us lots of tips and advice, they’ve got their heads screwed on.”
The reminiscing drew to a close and the interview was over. If you ever get a chance to see No Hot Ashes then you definitely should, their tunes leave you tapping your toes and swaying your hips to the beat. Despite being young, the hard work and time the boys put into their music definitely shows. Keep your eyes peeled for these young cool cats as you’ll definitely be seeing more of them.