Born in Brazil, Norway and The Republic of Ireland, formed at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and memorably described as 'the Bee Gees on diazepam' – All We Are make for an intriguing proposition even before you've heard a note.
After a couple of years of writing and relentless touring, the trio's self-titled debut album came out early last month to a very positive critical reception. Luis Santos (guitar), Guro Gikling (bass) and Rich O'Flynn (drums) have built up a drifting mix of contemporary, soft-touch indie, and a much more old school disco-pop. They seem keen on the phrase "psychedelic boogie," though the Bee Gees thing came from Joe Wills, producer of their first single, the languidly funky Utmost Good. Either way, you get the point.
Two months on from the album's release and with a busy summer of touring ahead of them, they're keeping their feet firmly on the ground. "We've always worked hard to get to where we want to go, and that ethos has never stopped," says Rich. "We've always put pressure on ourselves," adds Guro. "We just try to keep developing on the journey."
So how's it been since the release of the album in February?
RO'F: It felt really great to release it, and it has been pretty well-received, so now we’re just continuing to work hard. But holding the vinyl for the first time in my front room was an amazing moment.
Why the vinyl in particular?
GG: It was like the fulfilment of our childhood dreams!
RO'F: [Laughing] Pretty much. The realising of our innermost desires…!
You spend a lot of time on the road now, but do you feel still feel the same connection with Liverpool?
GG: Yes, it still really feels like home, and it’s great to come back to after travelling around with the band. We still have a lot of friends here too.
You're playing a quite a few festivals this summer, including Standon Calling and the MS Dockville over in Hamburg.
RO'F: Yeah, [MS Dockville] is one we’re really excited about. We’ve had some great gigs over there.
LS: I think the Prinzenbar in Hamburg was the first day of our headline tour in Germany, and it was a really special gig. Such a special place to play. So when we heard that we’d be playing at the festival there, we were delighted to be going back!
What were the first festivals you ever went to?
RO'F: The first festival I ever went to was called Big Green Gathering down in Chepstow when I was about 18. It was the first thing I’d ever done, and the focus was less on the music and more on loads of people coming together all in the same place, and just having a lot of fun.
GG: My first festival was called Sunndal Rockefestival, and I was too young to go so me and a friend snuck in. It was a lot of fun.
Was it even more fun because you’d snuck in?
GG: [Laughing] Maybe, yeah…
RO'F: What about you, Mr Santos?
LS: Well, the festival thing is a bit different in Brazil, where I grew up, it’s not like it is here in Europe. So really my first experience of live music was when I moved over here, to Liverpool. And, obviously, I love it now. The first festival I went to was actually one we were playing at. I think it was Fusion Festival, so the pressure was really on to play a good show!
Are there any stand-out festival performances that have stuck with you?
GG: Kate Tempest has been amazing every time we’ve seen her. I think, you know, she’s a musician, and a poet, and, well – she’s more than a musician. And every time we see her she gets better and better.
RO'F: We also went and saw Caribou at Green Man last year, which was incredible – and then we went away and covered Can’t Do Without You, which turned out to be a cool little cover version to do. Maybe we'll start rocking it out at festivals this year…
LS: And I would say Mogwai at Glastonbury last year. It was an amazing performance; just so epic, and you could lose yourself in the sound and in the performance.
How would you describe the difference between playing at a festival and at one of your own shows?
RO'F: It’s completely different. People at festivals are so immersed in the music, and they’re there to have a great time. They’re always really up for it, and artists feel that and feed off it. And we feed off it, for sure.
You reckon they're more up for it than when they come to one of your headline shows?
RO'F: Yeah, fans obviously come to headline shows to see us, and they’re really into the music, but there’s just something different about festivals. Something more… raucous, shall we say?
LS: And there’s also something about a festival crowd: they’re not entirely there to see you. Some will know your music, some won’t. And in some ways there can be more pressure because of that, like you’re trying to impress them and you want them to like you. But there’s also a bit more freedom in it sometimes, because there can be less expectation, and people don't know your music inside-out.
Do you try to change your sets for a festival audience?
GG: Yeah, festival slots are normally a bit shorter than headline performances, so you have to think a little bit differently. And it also depends on the time of day, whether it’s at night or in the sunshine. And you sometimes change the set while you’re playing too, if the audience is enjoying a certain vibe a bit more.
And so what about the future – are there any particular festivals you have your sights set on?
GG: Well, to start headlining some festivals would be amazing!
RO'F: Glasto last year was pretty special for us. But yeah, headlining a few festivals would be great – that’s the next step.
GG: [Laughing] I’m not sure it’s the next step…
RO'F: Maybe if you've got really long legs!