INTERVIEW: Bulletproof in The Loft Portsmouth
The London quintet stopped by for a chat mid-tour
The South- London quintet, formally known as The Bulletproof Bomb, are comprised of Joel Douglas on Lead Vocals & Guitar, Thomas Butler on Bass, Robbie Cottom on Keyboard & Vocals, Mike Hendry on Guitar, and last but certainly not least, George Thompson on Drums.
Amidst the release of their latest track, ‘Little Miss London’, and a change in name, Bulletproof have embarked on a 10-date tour. Halfway through the tour Bulletproof stopped off for a gig in Portsmouth, for the first time nonetheless.
With a rapturous sound, Little Miss London, appears to be another fan favourite to add to their set list. Though most of their songs are often 3 minutes of high tempo guitars and a barrage of drums, Little Miss London is more of a downbeat, ska driven tale of boredom in a suburban club, as Joel, the lead singer, says, “It’s about a nightclub in Sutton. We went there one night and it was terrible so I wrote a song about it.”
Little Miss London first appeared on Youtube when the band played it for the first time live at Reading and Leeds on the BBC Introducing stage. Guitarist, Mike Hendry admits that, “When we first started playing it, I used to make up what the solo was and change it each time.” Singer Joel interjected with, “Don’t you still do that?” Jokingly Mike replied, “No not anymore”.
So far on the tour the band had covered the north in towns such as Sheffield and Leeds, which were both sold out, Barnsley and Stoke. The Portsmouth gig was taking place in the rustic venue of The Loft, which is situated just on top of the pub, The Kings Arms. Though they had played many stops that are usually considered staples for a band of their size; Sugarmill in Stoke, which is always a favourite of the band’s to play, and Oporto in Leeds, they probably wouldn’t have played a venue with a décor that their nan’s would be proud of.
Their newest single Little Miss London was received quite well. But it was interesting to find out that they all preferred playing different songs live. “Five Green Bottles is always good” said Robbie, to which the band agreed. There is also a new song to be released soon, “We’ve got this track called Limbo, I like playing that one.” Joel said. “I like playing Siege it’s always a bit fun” said Thomas, but George agreed with Joel, “I’m with Joel, Limbo’s a bit more groovy.”
In the least diva way, the band’s rider consisted of Chilli Heatwave Dorito’s (the best ones) and a crate of beers (requesting anything but Carlsberg). A part from that though, the only common occurrence with regards to a “tour ritual” as such was that, Mike was often late. Keyboard player, Robbie Cottom, said: “Mike being late would be one of them… He did once miss a flight”.
A pressing issue at the moment would be that of the political emergence of one Donald Trump. A sound of despair was made by the band around the table, with Joel shouting, “He’s a tosser!” But when asked for their favourite politician at the moment, Robbie sitting quietly perked up and gave an honest answer, “Bernie Sanders, he’s great”. To which the band all agreed. Showing a sense of humour again, Joel asked, “Can I say Russell Brand? He talks good doesn’t he.” Again the band laughed and started mimicking Joel’s voice.
It was a night of firsts for the band on this tour. They hadn’t been to Portsmouth before. Upon the news that there was a burrito bar only two minutes away the band seemed best pleased. Bass player, Thomas Butler, mentioned that he was going to get a “big meaty nappy”. With a distinct interest in football from half the band, they told me some of their favourite past Portsmouth players, “Jermaine Pennant, Lualua, Patrick Berger” they all exclaimed, their manager favoured Mendes. Whilst the general consensus seemed to be Yakubu, because why wouldn’t it be.
The band has recently embarked upon something of a new project. It goes under the name, Sportswear Punk, and appears to be a reflection on their outlook on day-to-day life. Ranging from clothing, through to music. Whilst their favourite sports brands vary from member to member but Reebok, Adidas, Umbro and Nike appeared to be the favourites.
Whilst in the van from venue to venue, the band listens to music that would be somewhat unsuspected. With a sound highly likened to Jamie T and The Clash, it was interesting to find out that they were most recently listening to Grimes in the van. Robbie mentioned, “Last tour we listened to Streets, Blur, Amy Winehouse”. All of which you would probably expect.
Being from the brimming music scene that is London, they were full of suggestions for bands to look out for who are currently on the up. The Big Moon, who have just toured with The Vaccines and have been heavily covered by NME. The band noted that “They’re going to be onto something big soon, them”. Another band they mentioned were Young Native who the band had played with a few times in London and elsewhere.
Even though it was their first gig in Portsmouth, the crowd absolutely loved the set. And better yet, the place was actualy quite full. Which, given the band’s welcoming attitude and fun loving demeanour, it was deserved to say the least. Bulletproof are a band that pride them selves on eccentricity. They may be loud and full of laughter, but they’re a group of really driven guys. Talented too. Indeed five members may be considered a lot, but in their case, too few cooks would spoil the broth.
Quick fire questions:
Best place you’ve taken your collective Suitcase?
Pick a number between 1-10 (Thomas picked 4) the rest guess:
What are your favourite five bottles of beer?
Thomas: London Pride
Robbie: Forty Niner
Favourite Spacemen (fictional or not)?
Favourite pair of Shoes:
Mike: Adidas Gazelles
Robbie: Adidas Sambas
Joel: Adidas Gazelles
George: Reebok Classics
Your favourite Siege (fictional or not)?