London rockers Near Death Experience recently released a new song titled Underground, fitting their old school rock and roll vibes well. If you missed our review, you can find it at the end of this interview!
By Jane Howkins
You recently released a track titled Underground, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about this song and where can it be purchased?
We write a lot of songs together, but sometimes I (NDX singer, Ian ‘Lightning’ Whiteling) bring along a song I’ve written from before we formed. Underground is one of those. I was playing it when I was messing around at the start of a rehearsal session and the guys asked me what it was. I told them it was one of my older songs and they loved it and were keen to work on it.
Almost instantly, Amar ‘The Groovemeister’ Grover came up with the incredible bass line that runs pretty much through the song, while Bill ‘The Professor’ Marten joined in with his 50’s style guitar licks. And the vibe was created! We call it Subterranean Swing!
Underground’s about the coolest bar, speakeasy or club you could ever hope to stumble across and never want to leave. For the band, that could well be somewhere in South America we might come across on our travels. We hope we’ve created that feel with our Mariachi trumpets and funky Latin vibe.
How has the reception to Underground been so far?
It’s been pretty incredible. We’ve had some amazing reviews and quite a lot of indie radio play. Also it gets everyone moving when we play live. But to be honest, so does most of our set! It’s fabulous when people start dancing and singing along to one of your own songs, and Underground is one of those tracks.
Has the pandemic hindered your work much?
Well of course it prevented us from playing gigs, which is one of our favourite things to do, but it didn’t stop us recording. The Prof, who’s not only an amazing guitarist but also a fab sound engineer, worked out a way for us to record our parts separately and then send over the audio files to him. He then brought them together in his studio – the Cave.
With this system in place we recorded and released five singles during the lockdowns, all of which were really well received, plus a couple more once the restrictions were lifted. And it really helped us develop our sound.
Do you have plans to release an EP or album anytime soon?
The pandemic also prevented us from releasing our second album, but we’re now hoping to finally do that this autumn. It will be called The Release and will feature the lockdown singles – including some special extended versions – plus some new songs.
Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?
Yes, we’re currently working on a summer single called Living, which we hope to release in late August. It’s short, sharp, anthemic and really moves, with some great singalong moments. It could be our best single to date!
You’re based in London. What is the local music scene like in your part of London?
We’re based in Ealing, which is pretty much the UK’s birthplace of electric blues music, heralding bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who and more. To keep the heritage alive and support new and original bands in West London, we’ve managed to convince pubs to host NDX and two to three other acts once a month on a Friday or Saturday night under the banner of Ealing Live. It’s free entry and the bands get paid properly without having to drag people down to see them. There’s always a great vibe and it’s going well. We’re due to launch the autumn run of Ealing Live gigs in September at a great pub in the centre of Ealing called The Drapers Arms. Look out for it if you’re in the area.
There’s also a fabulous and unique new venue in Hanwell, which is West Ealing, called the Hanwell Cavern. We’re playing there on Friday 6 August.
Whilst your music is largely contained within the rock genre, I also felt there were some retro influences in there. What/who influences you most as artists? What have you been listening to recently?
Every member of NDX has their heart firmly in sixties and seventies rock, funk and soul. So everything from The Doors, The Beatles, Love, The Stones and Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, to Issac Hayes, T-Rex, David Bowie and Roxy Music. So our music is a real mix of influences from all these artists, hence the retro vibe. With respect to what I’ve been listening to recently, it’s been the Stones’ sixties and seventies albums after I watched the first episode of the new BBC documentary on the band.
You completed a benefit gig for Ukraine back in May. How did that come about? Was it successful?
We were asked by the local Ealing Oxfam shop if we’d arrange a gig in aid of Ukraine and we thought it would be a great idea. However, we weren’t happy with their choice of venue, so we went it alone and held it at the Drapers, raising over £1,500 – it was a special night!
Do you have any tour dates lined up?
No tour as such, but we’re kind of always on tour across London, playing everywhere from Ealing in the wild West to Peckham in the deep South. Also it was amazing to play Glastonbury in June on the Open Arms and New World stages! Next up we’re down at a lovely bohemian pub Skehans in Peckham on Saturday 6 August, which should be a riot if our last gig there is anything to go by! Then there’s a short break before the Brentford Festival on 4 September, Hanwell Cavern 16 September and probably The Drapers Arms on 23 September. Fun times!
Any last words for the fans?
We live to play live for all you NDXers! Thanks for your support and we hope you enjoy our summer single and new album in the autumn.