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The Bay Rays

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There's an age-old and completely hypothetical adage that "guitar music is dead". Of course, this simply isn't true: the public's desire to explore and come to understand the world through the pulsing, electrifying sound of a live band is a necessity that will not be eradicated. And in the case of The Bay Rays, the concept of "the band" and its cultural importance is one that stands stronger than ever before. Their sound so full of energy and alive, it would no doubt continue to breathe even if it were to be placed six feet under the ground.

Made up from three members in their mid-twenties - lead singer and guitarist Harry Nicoll, bassist Anthus Davis, and drummer Maxwell Oakley - The Bay Rays have been playing together in various outfits since their early teenage years, when they met at school in Kent. Now after touring with Estrons and Slaves in the sort of cramped, drenched venues that were once frequented by luminaries like The Strokes and Kings of Leon, and headlining the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury, they're releasing their debut EP called 'Satisfaction'.

The record takes in subject matter ranging from unrequited love, the social anxieties and pressures of modern living, and above all, it captures the feeling of relinquishing that sense of unease in favour of unbridled, determinedly powerful and enjoyable music. Across the three tracks on Satisfaction, The Bay Rays form an impression that fits neatly into the lineage of the noteable, crucial bands of yore. But let's re-wind for a second: how did they get to this point?

Not so long ago, when The Bay Rays were just a speck on the horizon of music history, two of their members were caught up in the broken, exhausting toils of London. Anthus was commuting in from Kent each day to a job as a wine broker - or as he tells it, to play his part in what was "basically a ponzi scheme, mate". Meanwhile Harry was living in a dilapidated property as part of the government's Guardian Scheme. That is, until he got kicked out and had to move back to Kent, where he started to live as a lodger above a pub, taking on the odd shift or two for cash - a story that's touched on in one of the band's early tracks 'New Home'. Yet it was also at this moment where things started to come together.

"Two years of [selling wine] and you're ready to shoot yourself in the head", says Anthus. At this point, Harry and Max had come together to play again, this time in a band that played cover songs ("Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, we did a great cover of Bruno Mars") underneath the pub where Harry was living. They needed a bassist, so Anthus was brought on board. "We didn't know anyone else, really", laughs Max, as he tells the story of how Anthus learnt something stupid like 30 cover songs in less than a week.

A few months in, and the boys "started to get hungry" again. They wanted to write their own songs; and more importantly, to play them live. "The minute we started creating songs again - two and a half, three minute long tracks - I felt really happy again. I don't think there's anything now that can compare to that", says Anthus, discussing how the formation of The Bay Rays started to begin.
Somewhere between all this, Harry and Max also took in a horseshoe tour of North America's music capitals - Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Texas. And arguably, it's the culmination of this experience that finds itself sitting at the core of what makes The Bay Rays such an appealing and compelling prospect. "Being in a hick bar and seeing people sing what they wanted, in a town that didn't want to hear - it inspired us to do what we want", says Max.

Certainly, The Bay Rays live show is one that is built for losing yourself. Where other bands seem to miss something when they perform, never clicking in the right places, The Bay Rays have the advantage of long-term friendship. As a result, their live show gels into a unique form of kinetic energy. Their performances are intense, moody, but fun. They're sexy, yet daring. In some ways, witnessing The Bay Rays live recalls the exciting yesteryear of Kings of Leon, another band who were built on the foundation of friendship. At others, The Bay Rays' energy is so fiercely profound you can imagine them soundtracking the moment in a film when two lovers eyes lock for the first time across a crowded room, burning with intensity.

They've been performing like this for a while now, while spending the night after the show sleeping in the back of their van. "There was a sketchy moment in Leeds where we were staying in dogging spots", says Anthus. "When you see the sunlight, you know you've made it. You're awake, safe, and you've made it through. You can put your clothes on and go and have breakfast", laughs Max. And all of this brings us back round to the release of 'Satisfaction', which is the product of these live shows, reckless experiences, globetrotting, and the social anxieties of modern living distilled into three brand new tracks.

The first of these to be released is debut single 'Aphelion', a track that breathes the vivid emotion of longing for something that's just out of hand. "Oh, Aphelion, I'm so far away from you now", Harry sings. "It's about having a closeness with someone, but you're longing for something more", he says. Although raw in both its subject matter and verses, it builds to a luscious, almost fragile chorus that manages to bottle the weird, almost self-destructive beauty that can be found in starting to understand these feelings of desire.

Title track 'Satisfaction' is, understandably, about exactly that. Or rather, Harry says, "it's about taking drugs and wanting to escape your social anxieties. You do that to break down barriers, but then you don't like the person you're becoming". See, as much as The Bay Rays may be about striving for a sense of excitement or fun - both in their live shows or sound on their record - there's also two sides to that coin, in that each of the three songs on this record has a deeper meaning laying underneath. It's this idea that lends itself to The Bay Rays importance as a band that can help those who hear them to see their world through slightly altered, more learned eyes.

None of this is more true than on 'Integration'. On the one hand, this is a track built for the moment in a live show when all sense of inhibition becomes lost; somehow, a full pint of beer has made its way down your shirt and all over your shoes. On the other, it captures the dissonance that is rife between society and youth culture. When Harry sings "I hate this feeling", it's hard to think of a more simple yet poignant way to describe the emotion of most young people's feelings toward Britain's current political turmoil and their sense of helplessness to do anything about it. It details the feeling of being left behind.

Ultimately, it is this dichotomy that carries itself into the through the root of The Bay Rays and makes them a band to believe in. As they release 'Satisfaction' and take their live show further into the depths of the country, there is no doubt that you will hear their name on the mouths of Britain's rock'n'roll insignia. In fact, as Anthus tells it, a cultural figurehead like Liam Gallagher already knows who they are. After hearing their song on the stereo at a Pretty Green launch, his ears perked up. Then he announced: "well, who the fuck is this, then?"

The Bay Rays

The Bay Rays