Sat in the corner of a pub opposite their rehearsal room post practice, the Rialto Burns immediately look like a band to anyone who happens to wander into the bar. Uniformly dressed without being over-conscious of the fact, the five piece have the much discussed ‘gang mentality’ that the best bands possess.

On the same wavelength sufficiently enough to finish each other’s sentences on occasion, the group are a shining example of a group as a unit, not a collection of disparate talents.

Attracting attention for their compelling songs and their stunning live shows, the quintet are one of the most talked about bands in Liverpool at present. Eschewing the usual sounds half-expected out of the city, the band operate in similar territory to classic New Order mixed with the anthemic strains of U2 and Depeche Mode. Traces of modern diviners of sound Everything Everything, the xx and Delphic can also be heard in their sonic palate. Their songs pitched perfectly between anthemic rock and gleaming electronica, the band avoid the emotionless quality that can sometimes inhabit electronic music.

Rehearsing in the rabbit’s maze of practice rooms in Liverpool’s Elevator Studios, inhabited by almost every band in the city it seems, the five piece have allowed their sound to marinade slowly before being showcased live.

"When we started out, we didn’t, without being disrespectful, want to be thought of as a typical Liverpool band," guitarist Al explains. "We got in a room, with a drum machine, two synths and guitars. It was always gonna sound like that," bassist Pottsy adds.

As he points out however, "We’re a guitar band with keyboards, not the other way round." The dual axes of Al and Cogsy are remarkably restrained, weaving melody lines and arpeggios around each other, yet are equally adept at summoning up Edge style guitar squalls.

On the subject of the band’s use of live and electronic instrumentation, Pottsy explains, "We record keys and beats and throw it on the laptop and play it back. Before Dan arrived we thought about having someone control the laptop and the drum machine, like an onstage engineer."

"It didn’t come about though. Dan joined and you can’t substitute drums, there’s more depth and more feeling to it."Live drums have yet to be bettered for sound quality, especially onstage. Meshing live and electronic drums, the Rialto Burns retain the feel of a rock band, with the precision and harsh cracking beats of electronic drums.

"We’re very conscious of not ruining the harmony in the band as well," Pottsy adds. "It’s not to say we wouldn’t entertain the idea of getting a keyboard player, but we’d have to be very careful. We’re a unit and it works for us. If you add that extra person it has to be just right." "Although the rent gets cheaper," Al grins.

Similar to Maximo Park being signed to avant-dance label Warp, the Burns’ presence on Gung Ho! Recordings, primarily a dance label, makes sense due to the persuasive thud of the group’s tracks. Primarily a fan of dance music, as the band’s supplier of beats, Dan mostly avoids listening to rock music, instead opting for the Chemical Brothers and Groove Armada.

The Boards of Canada’s groundbreaking 'Music Has the Rights to Children' LP is also cited as inspiration, the floaty ambient work heard in the band’s instrumental passages. The Cure and most recently Two Door Cinema Club, both bands capable of superlative alternative pop songs, are also mentioned as current favourites.

The anguished wail of lead singer Adam, evoking the cathartic vocals of Dave Gahan also owe their inspiration to an avowedly classic rock source, Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder’s confessional lyrics make sense when set alongside the Rialto Burns' ‘For the Asking’ with its repeated "I got the blues" lyric updates the form for a modern era, an exorcism of pain with an electro backing. Adam isn’t forthcoming about many of the song’s lyrics however, stating they’re "mostly personal."

The name of the group has provoked much attention locally, the band’s moniker a reference to the Toxteth Riots which took place thirty years ago this month. Taking their name from a headline from 'The Liverpool Echo', the Rialto was the premier nightclub in Granby, Liverpool 8. A dancehall that saw gigs by the leading Merseybeat bands of the sixties, including several by the Beatles, by the late seventies, the building was being used as Swainbanks Furniture Store. Notorious for its overpriced goods, an incongruous situation in a rundown area, the building was torched early on during the riots.

The name fits the band's output perfectly as their lyrics, evoking dark cityscapes and urban paranoia can be witnessed by the present state of Toxteth as the BBC erroneously called the area during the riots, a name which stuck.

Their much-anticipated debut album, ‘Learning to Fight’ ties all of these strands together, a brilliant distillation of the band’s sound with songwriting skills to match. The desperation of ‘Constellations’, revolving around a pleading "This is my last resort" chorus, the lyric deliberately unclear who or what the option facing the character is.

Like the melancholy side of New Order heard in tracks like ‘Ruined in a Day’ and ‘Thieves like Us’, ‘For the Asking’ shares a resigned worldview, made more compelling by obscuring what the narrator is being troubled by.

The anthemic ‘Radiate’, the band’s set closer offers hope in its "God save us all" chorus, the track perpetually building as it gathers pace. Elsewhere the swooning ‘Slow/Fade’ demonstrates superbly how the band can handle more relaxed songs just as effectively.

Despite the band utilising cold electronica for many of their soundscapes, the quintet wanted to retain the dirty, grainy feel of a rock band. The initial album sessions were rejected after the group found the work-in-progress sleek to an unhealthy degree.

"We recorded it in our room, in Elevator then mixed it to the best of our ability, ‘cos we’re not sound engineers, then took the files into Elevator Studio for two days," Pottsy explains. "It wasn’t quite right though, ‘cos of sound constraints and because it kind of changed the feel of the songs for us." "It was all professional studio processing that wasn’t originally in the sound that we’d created," Al explains. "We cleaned them up a bit too much for us we think," guitarist Cogsy nods.

Instead of upping sticks and journeying to another studio to throw more cash at the problem, the band relocated to where their sound works best. "We asked the label if they could pay for Daz (the studio’s in-house engineer) to come up to the room and mix them there. We tried to retain the feel of the original demos a bit."

After the band were completely happy with the results, the tracks were dispatched to the rarified atmosphere of the most famous recording studio in the world. "It went to Abbey Road after that," Dan explains. "It was mastered by Jeff Pesche who worked with New Order."

Before the LP new 45 ‘While You Sleep’ will soon be with us, continuing the bands run of excellent singles. Most recent single ‘For the Asking’ came as an XL value for money ten track EP including live tracks and remixes, an avenue the band are keen to explore more. "We wanted to release something that was a lot for the money and would be a good package for the second release,"Al states.

Along with the band’s sartorial sense, the artwork and the videos for the group are also handled in house by the band. ‘The video for ‘While You Sleep’ is slated to be shot with Dominic Francis Foster, a video director who has been making waves in the city with his imaginative promos for Luke Fenlon amongst others. The storyboard for the clip is being devised by the group. "We want to have as much input as we possibly can. We've taken all the artwork on board to do ourselves," Al explains.

With the band rehearsing constantly ready to head out in support of the LP in a few months, the remainder of the year will be a consolidation for the ‘Burns. The LP is scheduled for release in September, which will be accompanied by a flurry of live activity, including an album launch in their home city. The band won’t be basking in the achievements of their debut album for long though. Having honed their craft their songwriting through scores of practice room sessions the group are keen to get their new material released soon. Bassist Pottsy summing the situation up as "‘As soon as the LP comes out we’re going to be ‘Right. Next album.’" Following the release of ‘Learning to Fight’, the number of people waiting for the second instalment should be deservedly high.


The single ‘While You Sleep’ and the band’s debut album ‘Learning to Fight’ are both released next month on Gung Ho! Recordings.

www.therialtoburns.com










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