Interview: THE GOA EXPRESS talk surviving lockdown, new band hype and dream festivals

I caught up with James Clarke from the anthemic Manchester band who've been getting hyped from Radio 1 to 6Music.


Hailing from Manchester, THE GOA EXPRESS are one band I've more than had my eye on over the last couple of years. I first came across them on Steve Lamacq's BBC Radio 6 show through their explosively infectious track 'Be My Friend' and they've released a number of similarly excellent songs since.


Describing themselves as "a fuzzy wall of diverse sound, becoming harder to pin down with their constantly evolving, psych-umbrella'd rock and roll", they're a band with a bright future.


As a summer of summer gigs and festivals approached, I caught up with vocalist James Clarke to discuss their inspirations, origins and dream festival lineups.

 

Firstly, tell us about the name, where did you get The Goa Express from?

James Clarke (JC): The band name came from a carton of soup which used to be sold in Morrisons and eventually became what we ended up with after many bang average names.


The soup is no more, but the band name remains!


I've mentioned you guys a couple of times on my website over the past couple of years and tried to spread the word! Tell us about how you guys got together to form the band?

JC: We all started the band to have something to do, and that was it really.


With all of us hanging around and not doing much, it made sense for us to use our time a little better, a little more productively. Idle hands, etc.

I can't imagine how frustrating it must've been for musicians during the pandemic. How did you find it being an emerging band during lockdown?

JC: Luckily, we had a little hideaway spot just outside the centre of Manchester where we could ignore everything happening outside.


Yup, it sucked to lose out on certain opportunities, but we come back stronger than ever.

I became absolutely obsessed with 'By My Friend' after hearing it on Steve Lamaq's 6 Music show a couple of years back. It has a really infectious quality and the video looked so much fun! How did you find the reaction to that song and was it a turning point for the band?


JC: Releasing any new track is always a bit of a turning point. Both the video and the track allowed people outside our lives to see what we were doing and what we were up to: busy doing nothing.


Obviously, the Manchester sound has been noted as an influence, was it your main inspiration?

JC: It’s all too easy to note a Manchester influence in our sound when we have all been living in the city for a long time. Manchester as an inspiration? I’m not too sure.

What bands or scenes were you into growing up that inspired you to join a band?


JC: When we were young it was largely rock and roll and psychedelic music from the 60s. Anything that seemed vibrant, colourful and catchy. Anything that kept us up and awake on a night out.

How's the support been for your singles over the past couple of years?


JC: The support for our singles has been great and has gathered in momentum. It’s important for us to enjoy our own music first though and if we maintain and stick to that, things will progress in the right direction.


There's been some excellent single releases to date (the recent 'Everybody In the UK' is a banger), how does the rest of 2022 look for The Goa Express?


JC: Fun. We all head on tour in a weeks time and will be all over the country for around a month. It’s much needed and will take us nicely into the summer months. This time, however, we will try and look after ourselves a little better!

You're just about to embark on a UK tour, where are you looking forward to playing the most?


JC: The Great Escape in Brighton will be good fun because it gives us an excuse to catch some other bands and to hang with some other familiar faces. Who doesn’t like to spend some time on the beach?


What's been the highlight of your touring experiences so far?


JC: Argh, there have been and will be so many. Every day a show provides us with a number of highlights. Because we’ve been hanging out for nearly ten years it’s always good fun, regardless of what we are doing.

And finally, you're headlining your dream festival and you’re also selecting the lineup for the day, what bands/artists (current or former) are playing the festival with you?


JC: Ahh, a tough one but to keep it good fun, we’d just have all of our mates' bands: Working Men’s Club, Lounge Society etc etc