Till death do they part

In their Wigan rehearsal rooms, the Lathums say why they believe their brand of indie can take them to the heights achieved by the Killers, who they supported last year

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The Lathums enjoyed many memorable moments last year, but a particular high point came in July when The Killers twice invited singer Alex Moore onstage, first in Vienna and then in Amsterdam, to join them and perform a cover of the Wigan band’s song How Beautiful Life Can Be to thousands of screaming fans.

“We were all stood in the crowd crying. It was so emotional watching him,” says drummer Ryan Durrans.

“I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t get my words out,” adds guitarist Scott Concepcion, who can be seen in mobile phone footage beaming with pride as he watches his friend duet with Brandon Flowers.

For Moore, playing with the Las Vegas band served as affirmation of how far the Lathums have come in a short time.

“This will sound so arrogant,” says the singer, smiling as he nervously rubs his hands up and down his thighs. “But I know what we’re capable of and I didn’t feel out of place on stage one bit. And I know that if any of us was up there doing the same thing, none of us would have felt out of place.”

Moore’s confidence reflects the meteoric rise the band have undergone in the half decade since the Lathums – named after the Lancashire village Lathom and pronounced La-thums, rather than the popular mispronunciation Lay-thums – started out.

They formed in 2018 when Moore, Concepcion, Durrans and original bassist Johnny Cunliffe were teenagers studying at the Music College in Pemberton, near Wigan. It didn’t take long for their melodic indie-pop songs to attract the attention of industry executives, leading to a deal with Island Records.

“There’s a lot of music nowadays that just focuses on one thing because it’s trendy, but it’s not got any sustenance to it.”

The pandemic slowed the group’s rise but didn’t derail them and in October 2021 the Lathums’ debut, also called How Beautiful Life Can Be, knocked Drake off the top of the album charts. Now comes the band’s second studio record – a superior work musically and lyrically, knowingly titled From Nothing To A Little Bit More, which Moore believes will take the quartet to the next level.

“The first album, we just had our hearts on our sleeves and we were trying to put a bit of light out there,” he says. “We had no idea what we were doing. It was uncharted waters and it was exciting just figuring it all out. But for the second album, we’re here now.

“Bands come and go and fade away, but the Lathums are here to stay until we all die. The songs will never run dry. The drive will never run dry. This is what we were made to do and album two is just another step forward.”

His bandmates, sitting around a plastic table in the band’s spacious, cluttered rehearsal space, in a rundown part of Wigan, nod in agreement. Surrounding us are mementoes from their musical travels. In one room, there is an impressive array of instruments, neatly arranged in a circle.

The other rooms contain a well-used dart board, battered brown sofa, TV, pool table and a football goal that they used to practise their ball skills ahead of an appearance on Soccer AM. Traces of the building’s former use as a dog grooming salon can be glimpsed on the once white walls, while electric radiators are plugged into every available socket to try to bring some warmth to a freezing cold February morning. For reasons that are never fully explained, a crate of cabbages lies in the middle of the dusty concrete floor.

Despite the chilly, far from glamorous conditions, spending an hour in the Lathums’ company is good fun and it’s clear from the way that the four members interact with each other, finishing each other’s sentences and routinely breaking into fits of laughter, that they share a close bond. The only time an awkward silence fills the room is following a question about last year’s line-up change when Matty Murphy replaced Cunliffe.

“The natural world brought us together. It was meant to be,” says Moore after a long uncomfortable pause. Concepcion says: “He’s just made everything a breeze.”

“We’ve become a lot closer in the past three months because of how much time we’ve been spending together. Even when we’re not on the road, we still see each other six or seven days a week,” says Murphy, a large smile across his face throughout our interview.

“We’re a band of brothers. That’s what I like to say,” adds moustachioed Durrans, who comes across as the quietest and most considered of the four musicians, all aged in their early twenties. Moore, the Lathums’ songwriter, is the most vocal, politely apologising every time he embarks upon a meandering digression.

“I get into this mad loop of words and I forget what I was going to say. It happens far too often,” he says with a throaty laugh.

From Nothing To A Little Bit More was recorded before Murphy joined the band. Produced by Jim Abbiss, whose credits include Adele and Arctic Monkeys, its 11 songs veer from swooning orchestral ballads to surging Smiths-esque indie rock and 1950s-style pop reminiscent of Richard Hawley or early supporters The Coral.

Moore’s skill at writing knotty earworm melodies gives their tunes an instant easy charm, but his lyrics hint at darker themes. “I’m lonely at the best of times,” he sings on standout single Sad Face Baby. Other songs on the album cover bereavement, insecurity and grief, with the singer’s ongoing quest for love (and accompanying heartbreak) a dominant theme.

“I find it easier to delve a bit deeper into things now and not get overwhelmed,” says Moore. “The way I write, I just retreat into myself and take things on the basest human level. Whether that’s sadness or fear or happiness, it all derives from something real.

“If you want [a song] to mean something to somebody and help them in some way it has to come from a genuine place. It can’t just be what you think people will want to hear. There’s a lot of music nowadays that just focuses on one thing because it’s trendy, but it’s not got any sustenance to it.”

He pauses and looks intently at his three bandmates.

“And that’s why 20 or 30 years down the line, there’ll be a group of lads our age now, probably sat in a green room before playing a show, singing one of our tunes at the top of their lungs.”

They talk about a recent “mad” night out at a Brit Awards after-party in London “mooching about, speaking to Keith Lemon and seeing all these famous people off the TV”. The next day they were back “mulling about” in Wigan. “I had to do the dishes when I got in,” deadpans Durrans. Moore went food shopping.

“We’re just absolutely ordinary but in the strangest way,” says the singer. “We’re not ordinary in the sense that we haven’t got anything about us. We’re just very…” He trails off. “Relatable,” picks up Concepcion. “We’re just mere earthlings.”

To launch their second album, the group recently embarked on a tour of small pub venues that evoked fond memories of their earliest gigs. A national tour of 1,000-2,000 capacity theatres takes place next month ahead of a busy festival season that will see the four-piece play their biggest headline show to date at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl in front of 8,000 fans. Their ultimate goal is to become an arena-size act and they credit last year’s shows with The Killers for giving them the belief that they can reach similar heights.

“We’ve got the ability and the music to connect. I don’t see why we couldn’t do it. I still feel like we’re relatively in our infancy as a band,” says Moore, pointing out that Flowers’ band were “just young people, like us, who wanted to express themselves musically and look at what they’ve taken it to”.

He adds: “My true ambition is to take the music all over the world. We want to experience everything that life has to offer, share our journey and make some friends along the way with people who don’t look like us or speak like us. That’s what I buzz off. But I’d always like to keep my roots in Wigan and build from here. It’s the centre of the universe, isn’t it?”

From Nothing To A Little Bit More is out on 3 March on Island Records

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