Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impact. A simple love song by Nottingham lads Junction 25 caught my ear and there was no turning back from there.
Singer and guitarist Lewis Hall and guitarist James Atkins craft delightful melodies that would play just as well with a full band (they are looking for a bassist and drummer to complete the lineup).
“Wait For Me” is one of those songs I just fell in love with immediately — more than a year ago, I saw a YouTube video of Lewis playing it by himself on an acoustic guitar. The new version is so much bigger, fleshed out with percussion and more guitar, but every bit as heartfelt and lovely and sweet as the original. I can’t wait to hear it on the coming EP.
“Big Blue Eyes” is a wistful joy ride of a tune. It is so bouncy and energetic, it just begs you to sing along. Perfectly placed guitar runs and Lewis’ lively vocals make this tune a true charmer.
I was excited to finally after all this time have a chance to sit down and chat with Lewis about Junction 25 — from how he started in music to where he hopes to go. (I will chat with James before the EP is released).
Enjoy the conversation.
Tell me how and when did you get started in music?
Lewis: Back when I was 18 I got the Oasis album “Don’t Believe the Truth” for Christmas, so after listening to that I really got in to rock n roll music and oasis and brought the rest of their albums. I also brought an acoustic guitar because of it all and had a go at writing my own music as a hobby, until people started to like the first few songs. I thought I would take it more seriously and do a few open mics and then from there it turned in to gigs at local pubs and bars.
Did you study music at school at all?
Lewis: Yes, I did music at school but wasn’t too into it. Back then, I could only do basic keyboard, nothing more than that.
Did you sing then?
Lewis: At school I couldn’t sing, well, I never really tried until I got my first guitar.
It just seemed natural to try to sing with the guitar? What was the first song you learned to play?
Lewis: Yeah, I always thought there was no point playing guitar if you weren’t going to sing, as I loved the idea of being a front man in a band. First song I ever learned was “Cocaine Blues” by Johnny Cash, as it was an easy one to learn with only three chords in the song.
And Johnny Cash is classic! How long did it take you to find the courage to play in front of anyone?
Lewis: It must have taken two years to learn a few songs and write one or two for a live performance, but I was more excited than nervous to play for the first time at a local open mic.
That’s great! Was there a large crowd? Lots of family and friends supporting?
Lewis: From what I can remember there must have been around 25 people there watching and I went down with a few friends and my brother so I got to play in front of a friendly crowd that all supported me very well.
That sounds like a perfect debut! And it just grew from there?
Lewis: Yes, I did I loved the feedback from everyone that night and I could see that things could gradually get bigger and better.
Also, it gave me that confidence to push further and write more music.
How many songs have you written as of now?
Lewis: 18 songs at the moment with many half-written songs that need to be finished off when I find the right words for them.
Oh wow! So you have lots of material to work from. Is Junction 25 your first band?
Lewis: Yes, loads of material to be released on albums in the future and many more to come. Yes, Junction 25 is my first proper band. Before that, I was just doing solo gigs for around two years playing originals and covers.
Right now you are just a duo, with James, right? But you are looking to create a full band?
Lewis: Yes, that is right. We are still looking for a bassist and a drummer.
Are you advertising yet?
Lewis: Yes, a little bit, not constantly, as we are more focused on recording our album and releasing our EP too. The EP should be out before August, so I am looking forward for that.
Me too! You have a couple of songs on it I’ve not heard, and a few I love, especially “Wait For Me.”
Lewis: Yes, the two you haven’t heard yet are “Sunshine” and “Should’ve Known from the Start.” I’m sure they will not disappoint.
So, “Big Blue Eyes” is your latest release – plans for a video?
Lewis: We are considering making a video for it, but it will not be till later this year when we have a full plan of it.
When is the single officially released?
Lewis: It’s available now on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.
What sets you apart from other musicians?
Lewis: I would say other musicians tend to want to be like another band or singer, but I wouldn’t want to be anyone but myself and write and sing the way I do.
Very good! Originality is key. I have trouble trying to classify your sound … It has a retro quality, but yet it’s a very fresh and modern sound … It’s not emo or folk either … How would you describe it?
Lewis: Yeah, it is hard to describe, but I would just say upbeat indie, but then there will be others saying it isn’t and hear the music in a different way.
It’s definitely upbeat, not dark or moody in the least. Who are your musical inspirations? Aside from Oasis, whom I think everyone chooses …
Lewis: Well, I try to make every song different in its own way, so some of my songs on our album we are going to release that will be upbeat and jolly then some heavy and there will be some soft ones and dark ones too, so it’s a right mixture. My influences come from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Mumford and Sons, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis and Johnny Cash, so again, a big mixture of artists from different genres.
And different eras, it’s a great mix! Were some ones your parents listened to?
Lewis: Yes, they were big fans of Fleetwood Mac so I would always hear their songs in the car or on stereo when I was young.
Were you the kind to sing along to the radio in the car?
Lewis: Not at all … more humming than anything.
What is it about performing live? What does it do for you?
Lewis: I like the adrenaline of it and I feed off the crowed also the self-satisfaction I get when the audience really get into the songs — that’s what I love about it.
I’m sure having the audience song your songs back to you is a special thrill. It means you are reaching someone directly.
Lewis: Yeah, and that’s what makes me keep writing and doing more gigs.
Have you gotten any good advice about the music business?
Lewis: Not much really, we keep plodding along by ourselves.
If you weren’t playing music, what would you be doing?
Lewis: Full-time work. I’m currently working at the moment, but I don’t really think it is what I will be doing, as I know I will always be making music.
How is the music scene in Nottingham?
Lewis: It’s not bad. There’s music going on most nights, so you will always find a place to play there.
Where are you wanting to play?
Lewis: I don’t mind playing anywhere. It would be great to travel around the country and get gigs in all cities and the big dream is to do the same over in America.