As Tribes return with new record Rabbit Head, their first album in 10 years, the indie group have discussed their grand return and how major life changes affected the creation of their third record.
The London band, led by frontman Johnny Lloyd, released their latest album on August 18 – some ten years after the arrival of their second record Wish To Scream.
Their initial split in 2013 came mere months after that album’s arrival, with the group previously explaining how being dropped by Island Records and internal conflict led to their decision to call it a day.
But after six years on their own paths, a second chapter first looked on the cards when the group went to see bassist Jim Cratchley performing with UK rockers Dinosaur Pile-Up. After that initial meeting, they began to tout the idea of regrouping for an anniversary show where they would play debut album Baby in full.
“You go from having this intense experience together in the band to falling out and not speaking at length for the best part of a decade and then there’s the possibility of doing a Tribes show,” said guitarist Dan White.
While initially planned as a one-off endeavour, the band began to consider the possibility of a third album when that planned show at London’s Lafayette sold out in a matter of seconds.
“We initially put tickets on sale and we thought the site had gone down,” White said. “But when we called our promoter and he said, ‘No, you sold it out in seven seconds’.”
When the group eventually played an upgraded date at London’s O2 Kentish Town Forum, Lloyd realised that the varied make-up of the crowd was a sign to make new music with the group.
“We suddenly realised that all of those people were still there 10 years later and older, but they had got married and had kids and some of them were at the show! There was also younger people there who never got to see us before but had found our music, so that was really exciting,” said Lloyd.
The resulting album, Rabbit Head, is arguably the band’s best to date. ‘Hard Pill’ shows that the band’s knack for mosh-rousing anthems remains intact, but the candid ‘Dad I’m Not A Tough Guy’ shows off a new-found sensitivity too.
“Johnny and I had been doing a lot of writing for other projects, but I moved down to Dorset to be near him and make this album,” explained White.
“What quickly became apparent was that being back in Tribes allowed us to write in a way that other projects don’t. We can be ourselves and be playful with the way we do things.”
Lloyd added: “The thing is, me and Dan will always be Dan from Tribes or Johnny from Tribes whatever you we do and it’s either ‘I’ve heard your band’ or ‘I haven’t. There’s no in-between, but the people who love us are really intense. When you’re writing with fans like that, it can be a really exciting thing.
As for the record’s overall sound, the group – Lloyd, White, Jim Cratchley and Miguel Demelo – wished to provide a “snapshot” of where they are.
“We really tried to sort of push what we thought the band could be and we really challenged ourselves and we had a really good time,” said Lloyd.
“A lot of it’s quite funny and some of it is heartbreaking and it feels like a really good snapshot of who we are.”
Now, they’re looking ahead to a Camden homecoming and a future back together.
“We’re playing at Koko but in a way, it’s just another show and it’s like we’re gonna play the new songs of course, but this is the beginning of that new chapter,” White said.
“We’re getting people into the new music and then sort of leaping off that into festivals next year and then beyond, it’s gonna be a big show that everyone should come to.”