This band has ambition. And nothing said it louder than the massive tour bus parked outside the modestly sized Joiners in St Mary’s Street, Southampton. It caused nervous complaints from one woman, intimidated by its presence outside her shop, and inquisitive questions from a man, quietly enjoying a drink, calling the landlady by name, and after half an hour of looking at me with curiosity- I’m not a local- piped up “Who is this band that’s playing tonight then?”

It is The Glitterati. If you haven’t heard of them yet, then chances are you will soon. Because the main thing I learned from their guitarist Nic Denson, is that they won’t give up until you do. He was sitting on a beige leather sofa suite inside this bus when I met him, next to a shelf of DVDs opposite the wide screen TV and mini fridge, all skinny, long hair, dirty jeans, leather jacket, smoking a cigarette. It’s a tough life on the road. “This is better than my house,” I said, bearing in mind I live in the kind of cheap student digs that don’t even offer a living room. “Mine too,” he said, “Though this is the thing. The other bands have much smaller vans. They don’t sleep in them. They spend their nights in a hotel or just stay somewhere.” So why would their record company, Atlantic, spend the bulk of this tour’s budget on this one band? Who are they, where did they come from and where are they heading?

Paul Gautrey (vocals), John Emslel (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar), Nic Denson (guitar, vocals), Jamie Snell (bass, vocals) and Billy James (drums) have all grown up in Leeds where they’d played in various bands since their days at school. Paul, John and Bill formed Mariko but a few years down the line enlisted Nic and Jamie, starting afresh as The Glitterati, perhaps as a nod to childhood idols, Bowie,- “the man’s just pure class”- T-Rex, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, Freddie Mercury, Elvis, and basically “all the greats”. It is not their style that they want to emulate though, but their presence; “It has a bit of glamour about it and we like that but it’s not necessarily glam rock music. We just wanted a strong name. People either love it or hate it. It’s not one of those bland names. At the beginning we had loads of people saying ‘You should change your name. People hate it. It’s terrible.’ But then we had loads of people who thought it was ace. It was just something that made a statement.”

Name sorted, this new start was marked further by the band’s move to Jamie’s new city of residence, London; “It wasn’t a case of ‘Oh you have to go to London to make it big.’ We wanted Jamie in the band, that line-up, and a change of scenery. So we got a two-bedroom house between four of us. Jamie was living somewhere else. In fact we still live there now. For about three or four months we were just dead skint but it forced us to focus fully on the band. We’d do rehearsals from two until seven in the morning because it was the cheapest. The graveyard shift as it were known.”

“How long did you live in squalor for?” I asked.

“Two and a half years and counting! We were down for about four months or so before we signed a publishing deal, which gave us a bit of cash. So we spent the rest of that year touring and writing lots of songs. There was never a point where we just wanted to give it all up. It always seemed like the natural thing to do. You just kind of keep going. There’s not a choice really. This is what we do. The last single, 'You Got Nothing On Me', got into the Top 40. It’s all constantly going up. Let’s just hope it stays that way.” The video for the single can be seen on MTV2. It features the band performing somewhere dark and dingy. The girls look pretty, the boys look dirty and sweaty. The camera jumps around. It’s raw and edgy but at the same time stylised to fit its form. It’s not dirt, but make-up. Those girls aren’t fans but models. It’s a grungy kind of glamour that Nic likens to “the dirt under your fingernails. We wanted something a little edgy, a little grimy, just to reflect what we do with the music.”

Singles and videos aside, The Glitterati are hoping to make their mark with their self-titled debut album, out just a few weeks ago on Atlantic. They were fortunate enough to catch the eye of Mike Clink, producer of Guns N Roses’s 'Appetite For Destruction'. “Somehow someone in America played him some of our stuff and he rang us up. We just couldn’t really believe it. We never even considered him.” Nic said, “We went to America for two months. You only get one shot on your debut album so we set ourselves very high standards. Listening back to it I’d say it’s the best representation of our music we could have made at that time.

“The album’s generally about when we came down to London and the experiences we had starting out as a new band. There’s a song called 'Don’t Do Romance', but I reckon there’s a couple more softer kind of songs. The record we made is reasonably diverse for a rock debut album. We didn’t want to make it all over the place because at the end of the day you’ve got to come out with something that says ‘This is what we’re all about, and this is where we’re at!’”

Having supported the likes of The Kings of Leon, The Datsuns, and The Vines the band have already tasted the sweetness of popularity. When asked if girls have suddenly started to throw themselves at the band members, Nic didn’t give a lot away; “There’s been some instances.” A suspicious pause. “But Paul’s the man for that really. Being the lead singer he gets all the girls.” As for fans as a whole the response has been just as positive; We’ve had lots of people singing along to songs which haven’t even been released yet. Either they’ve picked it up from coming to gigs a lot, or there’s some illegal downloading going on. But it’s really cool. Every time we come back to a place the crowd gets bigger and bigger.”

The press’s reaction has however, not been quite as consistent. Nic said “One month we’re one of British rock’s great hopes. Then the next month there’s an indifferent review. But we’re picking up the fans from live shows, and the videos have been doing pretty well on TV. Once the album’s out everyone can have a proper chance to listen to the music and make a judgement. We’d love to be prime time on Radio 1, but they didn’t pick up on our last single. We got to number 36 in the charts without the support of those areas. Though they did get our name wrong. I think he called us Glittertie or something.” While Radio 1 chose not to pay much attention, Kerrang! misfired “a stadium rock band done garage style” as a compliment and touched all sorts of raw nerve endings; “I mean stadium rock?” he winced, “That brings up a horrible image of Status Quo to me. We don’t play stadium rock. We play rock’n’roll. But we’d like to play it in stadiums! The bigger the better.”

"Do you prefer larger venues?” I asked. At this point Nic must have realised the Joiners is the size of your average pub, because he backtracks just a little.

“No sometimes it’s really wicked playing to a really small crowd. Like tonight it’s sold out and it’s a pretty small room. Sometimes it’s wicked ‘cos it’s so hot you can hardly breathe by the end of it and it’s all a bit chaotic. It’s nice to be on a big stage and have a lot of room where you don’t have to worry about anything. Though in Sheffield one of the guys fell into his amp. He got a bit carried away. Those gigs are sometimes better, a bit more in your face, and kind of how rock’n’roll should be played.” Nice recovery, Nic.

In March the boys went to the annual highlight of the American music industry, the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Nic described the experience as “a bit weird. Everyone had little badges with their name and what they did. You could see everyone checking out the badges before deciding whether to go talk to someone, based on how beneficial it would be. Subsequently the gigs were full of these industry types who weren’t there to enjoy themselves but to decide whether they want anything to do with you. It was nice and sunny though, and there was a lot of real Texan meat.”

“Any last words?” I asked.

“I’ll tell you a funny story,” he said. “About a week ago or two ago we were out somewhere, Aberdeen maybe. We were out with The Black Velvets, just getting a bit hammered. Jamie got a bit too hammered. When we got on the bus the crew put him to bed in his bunk. About half an hour later we heard a massive thud, and Jamie had fallen off the top bunk. We were on the motorway heading somewhere, maybe Glasgow. He goes downstairs and he goes to the toilet. But the toilet door is right next to the door to the outside. Our tour manager heard him fall out of his bunk and came down after him. Jamie was basically there, unzipping his trousers, about to open the door onto the motorway, as the bus was going sixty miles an hour. Our manager pulled him back. So we nearly lost a bass player.”

It seems the future for The Glitterati is set to stay positively sunny for a little while yet. They are set to play at the Download festival, both Carling festivals, as well as a number of European events. Their aim “to try and play to as many people as possible” is unlikely to be left unfulfilled. Unless the tour manager falls asleep.











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