GQ Magazine by Thomas Barrie
With a first album on the way and support dates for Neil Young and Bob Dylan among the 700-odd gigs they’ve played, Hardwicke Circus have exploded out of Carlisle to take the UK by storm
Way back in the murky past that was the 2014 Brit Awards, the Arctic Monkeys won the award for British Album Of The Year and Alex Turner sauntered up to the stage to collect the trophy, followed by his three grinning bandmates. Clutching the mic and gesticulating a little too much, he delivered a paean to rock’n’roll. “It just won’t go away,” Turner declared. “It might hibernate from time to time and sink back into the swamp. It seems like it’s fading away sometimes. But it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
To look at Hardwicke Circus, you’d think Turner was pretty much bang on the money. If Turner made his name as the musical – or, more specifically, lyrical – flaneur of a night out in Sheffield, the Cumbrian six-piece are trying to do the same for their hometown of Carlisle. “If you drive into Carlisle,” says frontman Jonny Foster, “the first roundabout you’ll hit is Hardwicke Circus. Whenever we’d travel anywhere, I’d say, ‘We’re from Carlisle,’ and the response would be, ‘Where the fuck is Carlisle?’ But there are no excuses now.”
As lockdown loomed in March, the band booked a farmhouse “at the top of a Yorkshire fell” and set about writing for an album that comes out later this month. Their original plan was to stay a week, says Foster, but with lockdown announced, the owner wouldn’t let them leave. “She had this strange idea that we couldn’t leave her home, so we were stranded on this farm for another two weeks! We got a lot of work done, but it was just like Withnail And I.”
In a sense, the whole thing was a welcome break from touring. Foster estimates that the band has played “four shows a week” for the last three years, or “well over 700 gigs”. They’ve played pubs, clubs and universities, but also prisons, canal boats and biker rallies, with their biggest date yet coming in support of Bob Dylan and Neil Young at London’s Hyde Park last summer. “It was a real pinch-me moment. [Growing up], we spent every spare moment learning how to play Bob Dylan songs. His music is the Holy Grail.”
It’s unsurprising to hear Foster talk in such glowing terms about Dylan, and not just because, well, he’s Bob Dylan. Perhaps more than many other young bands these days, there is a deliberate low-fi, almost traditional rock’n’roll feel to the band’s music and aesthetic; Foster himself has drawn comparisons with Mick Jagger in the press, while others might look at the mops and leather jackets and immediately think of The Jam. Foster names fellow three-chord enthusiasts Sam Fender and Fontaines DC as contemporaries he admires. And in keeping with their post-punk-meets-Brit-Invasion mien, the band’s vehicle of choice has, until now, been an old riot van. Now, they’re looking to upgrade to a double-decker bus, Foster confides, to give them a permanent, mobile base they can live in on the road. The plan is to have a built-in stage that can be erected anywhere, at any time, letting them tour until their hearts are content (and, one imagines, providing a great backdrop for photoshoots).
If previous videos and promotional materials have leaned heavily on the band’s local roots and pride, and their commitment to an aesthetic and sound not influenced too heavily by trends – not for them emo rap or streetwear collaborations – then the video for latest single “Addicted To Your Love” is little different. A black-and-white video sees the band interspersed with various couples dancing and generally showing each other a lot of love, in a swaggering, upbeat three-and-a-half minutes. Hardwicke Circus, of course, shot their bit in Carlisle.
“Addicted To Your Love” by Hardwicke Circus is out now.
Turtle Tempo Magazine: Hardwicke Circus, by Elly Bailey
Five-piece band Hardwicke Circus - whose members include a saxophone and keys player - are paying homage to the great bands of the past. They take influences but they don’t copy, and the result is a unique sound, soul-infused classic rock ‘n roll.
Having gained a large internet following, and fans all over the UK through playing countless shows, they are quickly gaining a reputation as the next rock band set to take over the music industry. Watching them live only enforces this belief.
Lead singer and guitarist Jonny Foster will entice you with his smooth, confident vocals, but also his unpretentious swagger. With a Jagger-esc vibe about him and the looks and clothes to match, he makes the perfect frontman for the band, managing to keep his voice heard amongst the instrumentation played, all whilst making it look easy.
The potential of this band is huge, and being hindered by a detail as frustrating as travel is not something that these boys are going to let happen. They have cleverly taken matters into their own hands, having recently secured a residency at The Hope & Anchor in Islington. Definitely a set of shows that you should check out if you’re in the area!
Cool, young and talented, Hardwicke Circus are a band that are making waves, creating something different, and standing out in the sea of similarity in the music industry. 100% ones to watch.
Where The Music Meets Magazine
Ready for some modern old-sounding indie-rock? Hardwicke Circus, a.k.a. the most styled kids on the block have just surprised the hell out of us here at WtMM. Already reaching a lot of consensus around the Web, these guys bring all the guns to every song they make. The latest one is probably the best example of their power.
Please Don’t Try This At Home, is an unpretentious rock anthem that sounds like an homage to the great great bands. The vocals sound a bit like Jagger. The amount of band power does not shy away from The Doors or the guys that play with Bruce Springsteen for hours and hours. And there are definitely abundant amounts of The Who all over the song – just listen to those epic entrance guitars! But the best of it all is the amount of feeling put into the song. It sure shows these guys are having fun doing it. Makes impossible to stay still while listening. And very easy to fall in a sort of bro-love with this seven guys.
And if you feel this might be one-in-a-million, try to stay indifferent to their previous releases: the ingenious sun-set starter Why You Looking For Love?, the gunny When The Chips Are Down, or the Springsteen sounding Nowhere Left To Run. All of them released in under a year.
Their forthcoming EP entitled Hot Moves comes out on 13th October. We should expect for a show-maker, party-starter, heart-warmer of a disc.