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)
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: This is me slaying it on the drums at 1 …
Aw, brilliant early start! You mind me using the pix in the story?
John: When I was in year 8. GIRLS MONEY AND THE ARCTIC MONKEYS OH AND GIRLS!
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?
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.
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!
Hmmm … Yes, best I don’t ask then, John!
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 …
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
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.
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.
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
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.