Judas is Serious … When it Comes to Making Music @weareJUDAS

Andrew Benge Photography

The first thing I learned about Judas was … these talented lads from London are rarely serious about anything — except their music. They are deadly serious about making brilliant anthemic, high-quality kick-ass tunes. One reviewer has gone so far as to say Judas is better than U2 …

The songs of Judas are infectious in the best way … the crazy hooks and wicked grooves stick with you long after a song finishes.

Band members are John Clancy, vocals and guitar; Todd Blackmore, guitar; Sam Horvath, drums; and James Phillips, bass.

I’m not one to fall for a band based on a ballad usually, but one listen to “Love is My Enemy” and I was hooked … it’s a sweet, but not saccharine, story of heartbreak with a weepy guitar riff and a powerful chorus.

The opening of “Call Me” may be one point that draws the comparisons to U2, but it’s the rushing wall of power guitars that makes it a winner.

I was very excited to hear Judas will be playing Oxjam Leeds Takeover on Oct. 22 (http://oxjamleeds.co.uk/) and could not wait to schedule an interview with the lads. It took some doing, but I finally got John, Sam and James to participate in a group texting chat. Todd was in a class, but he did stop in for a bit. It was a riot to interview this talented band. Here is the fun conversation we had:

Ok, is everyone here?

Sam: Yea! Todd is at Uni, but me, John and James are all here.

James: How you doin’?

I am doing just fine today! Excited to talk to you lads! Tell me how Judas started …

James: Cheers, we always love interviews. We all met on Match.com actually …

John: No, he’s joking!

Haha, what’s the true story then?

John: I moved down from Liverpool about two years ago because I wanted to get a band together. I saw Sam on a band website and he joined the band about a week later. He knew James and Todd through college.

It’s been the four of you from the start?

Sam: No, we did have an old guitarist for about a year but he left, so Todd joined last October.

Now the lineup is perfect? Solid?

James: Yeah concrete.

Sam: It’s so good. We are all best mates and live together in Camden.

John: 1 team 1 dream! Haha!

Yes! Now, the name … Where does Judas come from?

James: The Bible …

Yes … Judas has a bit of a bad reputation …

Sam: Before Todd joined our old guitarist was called Tom … and James, John and Tom were all disciples … Except for me! So, the lads were calling me Judas … Then we realised it was a cool band name!

Ah, OK! There is a Samuel in the Bible too though, just not a disciple …

John: We were originally gonna be called The Disciples but Sam ruined it, haha!

Poor Sam … Where would you be without him though? You need kick ass drums …

Sam: So very true!

James: Probably be on Radio 1.

Sam: They’d be nowhere without me!

Lol! I think Sam is right, guys.

Sam: (“Happy” live action Giphy)

Andrew Benge Photography

What musical influences do you all bring to the band?

James: Natasha Bedingfield … That’s not a lie!

John: God-like vocals and hit songs.

Cool … Who else? I’ve seen comparisons to old U2 and Kings of Leon bandied about … Agree or not?

Sam: We love Tame Impala and KOL, but it varies. We had one guy who said we were better than U2. My life was made after that! A lot of Kasabian gets played in the van too!

John: We like Stereophonics and Coldplay. We spend lots of time listening to the best songwriters (John Lennon).

Did you get bumper stickers “Judas is better than U2”? I think it would be a hot seller!

Sam: Hahaha don’t give us ideas!

John: Haha, that sound amazing!

Sam: I don’t think Bono would be happy with that.

James: We have Jono though.

John: I’ve been called Jono before …

Sam: You’ve been called a lot before, John!

Psssttt … Who cares what Bono thinks, really?

John: He’s the king of all men! Watch your mouth, sister!

OK … Bono is kind of cool … I like old U2 best though …

James: They’re all old …

Hush your mouth, youngster …

John: Haha X

Sam: (Zipped lips emoji)

When did each of you start playing? What got you started?

Sam Horvath photo

Sam: This is me slaying it on the drums at 1 …

Aw, brilliant early start! You mind me using the pix in the story?


Sam: My dad was a huge music fan so he always wanted me and my bro to be musicians. Yeah, mainly girls.

Sam: Yeah use the pic if you want x


John: And boys.

James: I started when i was about 13 after I realised I’d be a virgin forever if I didn’t get my act together.

John: I just love music.

James: Bass was the wrong choice.

Sam: And how’s that going, Jay …?

Of course! At what age did you really start playing?

Sam: We all love being in a band though it’s so good being able to do music everyday it’s what we all love x

I started lessons when I was around 10.

James: I started when I was 13.

Do you play other instruments too?

John: Recorder.

Sam: Unfortunately, I do not.

John: I started that in year 1 … You can play guitar, Sam.

Sam: My singing voice sounds like a cat being ran over.

James: I play the flute.

John: I can’t play drums for toffee.

Sam: I dabble in guitar. John always wants to play the drums, but he’s rubbish.

John: My voice is an instrument … Sam, you doing backing vocals then? Lol …

James: Fuck no!

Sam: Haha, they don’t let me!

Probably best by the sounds of it.

John: No, he’s like a cat.

How does songwriting happen? As a group?

John: I write a great song they try not to make it sound worse.

Sam: John does most to be fair, always comes in my room at 4 a.m. with a new tune, haha … “Wake up, Sam, Listen to this.”


John: It’s happened again!

Are the 4 a.m. songs the best?

John: Rebecca, give us an insight into your life and I will write about you ❤️

Sam: Usually yes, because we are disoriented with tiredness, haha!

John: You bet they are!

James: I tend to listen to Marvin Gaye at 4 a.m. actually …

Sam: It’s a better vibe at night though … We often light candles and write ballads haha (Not a lie!)

John: I pretend Jay is a lost lover, and then it all comes out x

James: I am not lost. Love is always near in Judas.


Kev Williams Photography

Is there ever a serious moment with you guys?

John: I am serious now, Becky!

Sam: Not really no, haha.

James: When we’re listening to Marvin Gaye at 4 a.m. … Lol

John: And stroking my bald cat.

Sam: I am the sensible one usually.

Todd: This interview seems a lot more entertaining than my lecture …

I don’t know if I want to ask, John …

Todd: I want in!

James: He meant like Dr. Evil.

John: I meant like Dr. Evil.

Join the party, please! Interviews are meant to be fun, otherwise they aren’t done right!

John: Amen!

Hmmm … Yes, best I don’t ask then, John!

James: $$$$$

John: Don’t ask what? Fire away x

Sam: (A giph that says “I’m not allowed to say anything”)

I fell in love with you guys on the first listen to “Love is My Enemy” … It’s just brilliant! Ballads don’t usually grab me first, but it did … Tell me about it …

Yes, Sam, you may speak!

John: The clue in the name.

Sam: John had his heart broken and wrote that the next day.

Aw … Well, I’m sorry to say he writes fabulously broken-hearted …

John: Girls break my heart and I weep into my six-string, then boom … another HIT #HITmachine

James: I break his heart all the time.

Sam: It was funny though … we usually spend a few days writing and working on a song but that took about an hour start to finish. It’s simple, yet effective.

Sometimes songs just happen like that …

Sam: We are often referred to as rock star royalty.

James: Sometimes babies happen like that too ehh, Samm???

Sam: He’s joking …

Lol … I’m not saying a word …

How long did it take to record your first EP? And was it hard choosing 4 songs?

John: It takes soooooooo long!

James: Took about a week to record but a couple of months till it was all finished.

John: The songs where the best 4 we had at the time so we just recorded those x

James: It’s harder choosing the songs now since we have so many timeless hits.

Are you going to do any concept videos for them?

Sam: We’ve got some videos in the works. But it’s all top-secret until release I’m afraid …

Hmmm …

James: We actually did our own video for the Tame Impala song “The Less I Know The Better.”

John: It’s wonderful.

James: A blushing story chronicling young love.

I will look that one up … I’ve been watching the live festival footage … You did some major festivals this summer!

James: Yeah this summer was our best yet, it was so much fun.

Sam: This summer was amazing. We were lucky enough to play so many festivals.

Do you have a favorite memory from them?

James: Mainstage Leeds … Wat upppppp!

Sam: (Including Leeds main stage) *cough*

James: Represent! Main stage Leeds is amazing!!

John: Best of my life. Me and my mates being great all summer long. #yourmybestmate

James: #dudewheresmycar

Sam: I don’t have much memory of the summer. It was kind of a blur …

Haha, lol …

Sam: I loved Truck Fest though, think that was my personal fav.

James: My favourite was IOW.

Sam: Or Party in the Pines in Scunthorpe.

John: Truly a humbling experience. We are so lucky. Love you Melvin BEN IS GOD ON Earth.

What’s better, a big stage or a small intimate show?

John: Big stage 8 days a week, honey x

Sam: Different but same … I prefer bigger stages, but intimate shows are really cool as well.

James: I prefer the sweaty ones …

Do you ever get nervous, especially with the massive stages?

James: Never, we are professionals. I have a crowd when I go to the shower.

John: TBH I just love gigging to 1 man and his dog or 2 men and his dog.

Sam: Not really to be honest, mainly get nervous on the smaller shows when it’s all our mates there! Haha!

Yep, I hear that … So what can we expect to see at Oxjam Leeds? And hear …

Sam: Power. Fury.

James: Judas, hopefully.

Sam: And sweat … It’s going to be mesmerizing … Bring a mop.

James: Hypnotising … And a bucket …

John: A performance like no other! You will have to go and get your minds repaired because they are going to get blown. X

Haha … Is this the first time you’ve played this one?

James: Yeah, it’s the first Oxjam we’ve played. Played in Leeds loads though.

John: I can’t wait to play x

James: So excited to be back.

You should have some familiar faces in the crowd then.

John: I think it’s a great cause and we love doing anything we can to help x

James: Hopefully we all have a girlfriend in Leeds so if they don’t come, we won’t have anywhere to stay …

John: Yer Leeds rules … Can we stay with you, Rebecca?

James: Rebecca left the chat …

Haha, well, I’m staying at a hotel nearby … It does have a king-sized bed …. I’ll ask my husband to see if he approves. I’m sure they can find some rollaways or air mattresses too …

James: Sam and Todd usually just lie on top of each other.

Sam: Haha, we will have to sleep in the van again!

James: In the bath.

If you put out a request now, I bet you will get tons of offers.

James: Yea, baby!

So do you guys get riders yet? You know, dressing room requests?

James: Sometimes but they never get fulfilled …

What do you ask for?

Sam: As long as there’s a bottle of Jack (Daniels) we are happy.

James: Our outlandish demands still remain to be quenched.

Sam: We ask for the works.

Like …

James: Hundreds and thousands all separated by colour …

Sam: We ask for mad stuff.


James: A hundred of one colour and a thousand of all the others …

Sam: I always ask for chocolate and milk.

That’s not outlandish …

James: And a dog …

Sam: Oh yeah, we got a blow up dog once …

Oh no …

James: And Sam always loves a bit of peanut butter …

How do you get hyped up for a performance?

James: Snoop Dogg … Erryday!

Sam: We listen to G’z and Hustlas by Snoop every gig.

James: Then we do that humming thing off “Wolf of Wall Street”

Sam: And we just get in a huddle and get in the zone.

Lol …

Do you play any cover songs?

James: We don’t do any covers.

Sam: We can play “Use Somebody” and “Mr. Brightside.”

I am really glad to hear that …

Sam: That’s about it.

I like hearing original songs by a band … Otherwise, hire a DJ …

Sam: Haha, yeah there is no covers in our set x

Well, I’m going to try my hardest to see you … Will someone be taping it just in case?

Sam: I don’t know! BE there!! Once in a lifetime opportunity!

James: Don’t cheat on us, Rebecca!

I want to, but they scheduled my friend Hannah Clive at 7:45 p.m. at Crowd of Favours … I’m gutted! We will be at the brewery before 9 p.m. for Sly Antics — so we will meet! I was not consulted for the scheduling …  

Anything I missed, or did we cover it all?

Sam: Haha, I’m sure it will be recorded. Anything else you need? X

I think this is fantastic. Thank you guys sooo much!

Sam: You are very welcome x

John: Awesome thanks so much was a really fun interview. It’s been a real pleasure.

James: Thanks Rebecca, anything else you need just drop us another message and we’ll be sure to make the answer as vague as possible.

We will definitely have to chat again … When’s the next EP?

Sam: New year probably we will keep you posted x

Haha, will do! Keep in touch, for sure. Lovely meeting you guys! See ya in Leeds!!!

Sam: See you soon x


Imogen Thomas Photography


You can find Judas on the web at http://www.wearejudas.com/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WeAreJudas/, on Twitter at @weareJUDAS, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLuOKxdz8wMYoDsUBY0keAg and on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/wearejudas/love-is-the-enemy.




















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