For Lazy J, 2005 was a strange but significant year. As they stood on stage receiving Kerrang’s Unsigned Band of the Year Award at Rockingham Castle it would seem that all was well, but in truth the band was struggling to hold itself together due to a host of changes in personnel that in recent months had threatened the existence of the group.
Ten years earlier when school friends Dave Cotterill and Marc Plant had started what would become the foundation of the band, things had been a lot simpler. Drawn together by a common interest in music the boys became firm friends, and although they both had quite opposing tastes they were drawn together by the discovery of the great blues rock bands of the 60s and 70s.
Upon meeting drummer Richard Garrett, a new band was put together under the name ‘Shindig’ and the band began to write songs mirroring the riff laden, hard rhythmic styles of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Cream and Jimi Hendrix.
After recording a live EP that attracted interest from various local record labels the band started to forge a reputation as a solid live act. Despite this, the boys struggled even then to hold down a regular line up and the role of bass player seemed to be in a constant state of change.
The problem was solved with the introduction of Lloyd Birch, a long time friend and guitar player who shared the band’s influences and ethos. He was able to switch from six to four strings with effortless ease and was soon contributing a new, more funk driven bass sound.
With the band members now settled, Shindig began to grow in reputation, playing gigs around the country and recording at every available opportunity. However, as the band prepared to sign a management and production contract with Earth Studios, drummer Rich was struck down with a serious illness that left him unable to continue playing with the band.
With Rich’s blessing the boys decided to continue, but under a new name. A mysterious drunken evening saw Dave and Lloyd devise the title ‘Lazy J’, and though Marc was (and apparently remains!) less than convinced, his inability to think of anything better saw the name sticking.
The next year saw the band continue to work hard. Joined by Ken Hans the band now embarked upon creating a more hard edged rock driven sound. They continued to gig extensively but the shock departure of the new drummer again left the band in a state of disarray.
The trio continued to play acoustically but this never sat well. They decided to hit the studio and called upon long time friend and studio owner Nick Burrows to play drums for a collection new tracks they had decided to record.
In all truth, these tracks could well have been the group’s swansong. Upon finishing the vocal tracks, Marc left to spend the summer working in Canada uncertain of what the state of the band would be upon his return. However the recordings exceeded everyone’s expectations and the stand out track ‘Mad Note’ began to gain local radio play and vital support from the late Rob Dentith, a DJ from Kerrang Radio that re-ignited interest in the band.
Nick continued to help the band complete a host of live performances but weekly exposure from a host of Kerrang Radio preseters was meaning and increased workload that he was unable to commit to. During this period Andrew Forsyth, another longtime friend and musician, stepped into the drummer’s position to help hold things together.
The band received funding to again go into the studio and along with producer Chris Smith they were able to record the EP ‘Extracts from the Jake’, which helped to promote the band on both the radio and internet.
Upon being voted for by listeners to appear in the final of the aforementioned Kerrang’s Unsigned Band of the Year competition, once again the future of the band was bought into doubt. Lloyd had decided to make the move to California to be with his long time girlfriend. His last gig saw the band voted winners, but his departure seemed to spell (once again) the end of the band.
Jason Guest who had played in various local bands with drummer Andrew Forsyth stepped into the breach for a short time. However, the new line up failed to gel and after an amicable split, Dave and Marc were back in the same position in which they had been in years earlier.
The gap left by Lloyd in particular seemed impossible to fill. His ability to add a complex mixture of bass patterns to the music was a hard act to follow, in fact in previous years the band had only seen one bass player who shared the ability to play funky hard hitting slap laden sounds. Luckily the person in question, Rich Goodall had just dissolved his own long term band ‘The Sneekys’ and was looking for a new challenge. It took one phone call and five minutes of rehearsal for all parties to agree that position of bass player had now been filled.
Now for the drummer. Despite knowing many musicians from the local area an answer remained elusive. For the first time the band advertised the position at local rehearsal studios and took down the numbers of drummers looking to join a new group. Two people were auditioned, the first without success. The second walked in and took an age to set up his equipment, but after playing along with a handful of new songs it was obvious that Phil Peters’ flamboyant, creative ability as a drummer was more than enough reason to invite him to join the band.
For the first time in years the band was a fully functional four piece and writing began in earnest. The band now displayed a distinct funk edge and each member found it comfortable to work in unison and bring ideas to the table. They began to piece together songs that would first manifest themselves in the ‘Innercity Funktion EP’ before growing into the first studio album ‘Kick The Spin’ and the single 'She Says', both released in late 2008.
Having received strong reviews and sales for the album, the band continued to work hard. They played a host of gigs and began writing with a broader scope of musicians and ideas. Gauntlet Chamberlain was brought in to give a slick attacking saxophone sound to live sets and songs were being crafted with the intention of layering a larger array of instrumentation and sound.
When the band hit the studio for a second time they had developed their ideas. This time Chris Smith would not only produce the sound, he would also add keyboard and piano to the tracks, which along with the addition of female backing singers Clare Cotterill and Emma Brady gave a new rich soulful texture to the songs and complemented the band’s sound perfectly.
Their second album ‘Dysfunctional’ gives a perfect reflection of a band who have never been concerned with following trends in order to fit in or gain recognition. The ethos has always been to write music that they enjoy and a mixture of influences can be seen in every song.
Lazy J plan to continue playing and writing, and have already began to piece together new material for what will hopefully become their third effort. Not many independent bands can boast such an achievement, but for the boys in the band it’s always been the enjoyment of making music that has kept them going, so there seems no reason to stop.