The first day of April typically marks a somewhat impotent day in the yearly calendar, but it’s likely that today will bring a disparate significance to the members of Isle of Wight band Grade 2.
The dawn of another month in a compelling year for the boys means it’s just over four months until the group’s European Summer Tour, so we sat down with Sid Ryan who, as essentially the band leader, is basking in their newfound diversity and notoriety overseas.
The band’s latest album, ‘Mainstream View’, expands on the group’s first three releases and incorporates the deliverance of their first ever official music video. Perhaps the contemporary emergence of budding musicians is marginally more prominent in this day and age, but for three to four lads from a small island in the south of the UK to tour Europe at the delicate ages of 18, performing for a niche genre represents a colossal chunk of trust and faith that is required to give them their big break.
Grade 2 was, in my opinion, formed under very unique circumstances because it’s not a genre of music that this current generation and people our age can relate to – have you ever felt like you needed to adapt your music to suit the needs of a current mainstream audience?
“Surprisingly, we actually headed straight down into a more niche target audience. That way we were able put our music straight out to people who would actually enjoy it. I suppose from there we were able to establish ourselves more, gain a following and then branch out to other audiences as time went on.”
“Signing to Contra Records was really strange at first, we still hadn’t played any big shows and we’d only recorded four songs…”
How overwhelming was the whole experience of being an officially signed band?
“Signing to Contra Records was a really strange experience at first. We still hadn’t played any big shows, and we had only recorded four songs which weren’t really the best ever – so this label had a lot of trust in us in the real early days of writing our own material.”
Grade 2 officially formed in May of 2013, which saw them undergo their first proper rehearsal as a band. The guys had ‘jammed’ together in the music room of their high school a few times but it had never amounted to anything serious; until now.
Oi! and street punk was obviously very popular primarily in the 1970s and is considered a niche genre nowadays, so how did you become interested in this particular type of music?
“Personally, I grew up with this music being played around me on a daily basis – so for me it was just something I enjoyed and knew a lot about.
“However, as we formed the band, we had to find some common ground on the type of sound we would aim for. Originally we started by covering songs by The Stranglers, The Specials and The Dropkick Murphys – which all have a completely different sound.
“We wrote our first four songs in a real basic punk style and from there we branched out to other bands and then found the sound we have now, which is more hard hitting but still melodic with catchy chorus’.”
The band have travelled all across Europe since their formation and gradual increase in popularity. They’ve even picked up some intercontinental supporters.
Christoph, 26, from Wismar in Germany, said: “The guys are at an age where you can start changing your way of life and I’m really impressed with the music they make, especially at their age.”
Which has been your favourite country to perform in and why?
“The city of Athens was just incredible; we had some time to sightsee and see the Greek ruins of the Acropolis. Sightseeing for us is normally quite rare so when we do, we try to see as much as possible. The food over there was amazing too, myself and Jacob don’t normally expand our taste buds to foreign food… but over there it was great!
“If it wasn’t Athens, close behind would have to be the Czech Republic.”
“We’ve been speaking with promoters in Canada, Colombia, USA and Russia.”
Nickeles El Afilador, 19, from Madrid, saw the group live in the Basque Country last year and has been a fan ever since.
“They have a future because people like it and seem to enjoy what they do. However, they are quite young and I don’t know if the band will continue after members go their separate ways – but I hope they do.”
“We’ve finally written a track about our hometown Ryde, which no one seems to have heard of, ever…”
Since you’ve begun writing original songs, where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?
“We actually write about lots of different things, we try to co-operate things that have been happening in the world, our age, future plans, and even girlfriends!
“As for the next release we have finally wrote a track about our hometown Ryde, which no one seems to have heard of, ever. So hopefully we won’t have to explain where we’re from anymore.”
Where do you see the band in 3 years?
“Being honest, I have no idea. I would like to say we’ll still be playing but anything can happen. We’re doing as much as we can at the moment and I’m sure we’ll keep doing that for as long as possible.”