Proof that stage presence and musical stature has nothing to do with physical size Loz Campbell is fast becoming a giant on the UK independent circuit while simultaneously defining the word petite. When you see her play live you wonder where that big voice all comes from. Make no mistake though Campbell is a powerhouse on stage, as are her band mates. Here she talks to Gary Trueman about her early days, music/life balance and why she’s taking her time making her album.
Let’s start off with your early years. What was your gateway into music and how old were you at that point?
“It was like every other kid. I picked it up at school. I found that I liked writing my own songs and I was about 14 when I did my first gig. I got into doing open mic nights every Tuesday, I loved them. People said I should do a proper gig so I did one locally in Wakefield and then got booked for a festival there. I started out on my own with an acoustic guitar. I have always been a fan of rock music so I wanted to eventually get a band together. I think nine years in I’m now playing the sort of music I always wanted to play.”
What about early influences, who did you start listening to first?
“Again like every teenager, everyone has their copy of Nevermind by Nirvana, and Soundgarden, Skunk Anansie and I’m a massive fan of Korn as well.”
What about newer music. Are there any bands that have come through recently that you’re listening to that you think are cool?
“I do try my best to follow the local scene but Wargasm blew me away at Download last year. They are absolutely phenomenal. I’d never seen them before and I was walking across the field and thought who the hell is this? I thought wow!”
Your writing has a base in hard rock really but with other influences as well. So do you write the music first and fit the lyrics in or write the words first and the music to suit the mood?
“I try to get a strong melody that’s memorable. Usually it’s the chorus that comes first. I do sometimes struggle with the verses to be honest, when you have a big chorus and you’re filling the gaps in.”
What about the subject matter for your lyrics?
“Just life in general, something that annoys me and happy things as well. I’ve tried to put a couple of happier tunes on the forthcoming album.”
Where are you with the album? Is it all written, have you got any of it recorded?
“We’re quite near the beginning. I don’t want to rush it. I want all the songs to be equally as good. We’re two tracks in at the minute. We’ve self funded for the recording of those two. We’re trying to gig as much as possible and sell as much merch as we can so we can get back into the studio and record a couple more.”
You say we. Obviously you go out as Loz Campbell but you are a band. So introduce our readers to the rest of the guys.
“We’ve got Steven Pickles on the bass, Alice ABomb on guitar and Tom Kirby on drums.”
How do you book your touring? Do you simply book the gigs as they come if everyone is available or do you all take time out from day to day life to do a run of dates?
“A lot of the gigs generally do fall on weekends. But at the start of this year we did take a week out and toured from Scotland to London. I think when we do the album it’ll be a similar sort of thing, a week or maybe two.”
Do you find it difficult to manage a life/band balance and then as you get more popular and more pressure to play more often and commit more, then some decisions will have to be made? Whether it does becomes full time or it remains running alongside another job as well?
“Every band struggles with this. You have to make sacrifices which we all do. We all take it seriously, like we might give up a holiday to do a week’s tour. We just crack on with it because it’s what we want to do.”
There’s been a lot mentioned about how things have changed in the music industry in fairly recent history. You have streaming which is nearly impossible to make any money out of, so artists rely on merch sales almost exclusively. Is that what you’re finding?
“Merch is best and we find it does well at our gigs. Streaming has its pros and cons. People can find you that might not have found you before, so I don’t want to dis it completely, but buying a hard copy is better for the band.”
Has streaming changed the way bands write albums? Because now you can pick and choose individual tracks and make up playlists. So filler songs aren’t really viable any more are they?
“Yes, like I mentioned before with our album, making sure every song is as good as the last. You do get cracking albums. It’s pushed people to be better.”
You are a band of original songs. Do you have any covers lurking in your set list?
“We do one which is special to us because we played with Cherie Currie from The Runaways and I got to play Cherry Bomb on stage with her. We were playing Cherry Bomb before we went on tour with her but now we keep it in the set because it’s special for us.”
What are your immediate future plans?
“We’re going to just continue to write the album and we have plenty of festivals booked for 2024. We’ve got Firevolt and some more I can’t mention by name yet.”
You’re pretty young still but if you could go back in time and give a 16 year old Loz one piece of advice what would you say to her?
“I’d say enjoy all the highs and lows, and success will come eventually. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.”
We talked about merch previously and walking through the bar it’s full of people wearing Loz Campbell hoodies and t-shirts. You obviously have a very supportive fan base. So do you have anything you’d like to say to those people?
“It is a cold night so that’s why they’ve probably dug all those hoodies out. Just a massive thanks. To be playing tonight in Cambridge which is three hours from where we’re based and to see so many that have travelled from all over is amazing. It’s what we as kids dreamed of. So a massive thanks to the fans for backing us.”