Meet Me In St Louis - post hardcore lovelies

Hardcore: Paul Phillips, Oliver Knowles, Tobias Hayes, Lewis Reynolds and Ben Llewellyn

Hardcore: Paul Phillips, Oliver Knowles, Tobias Hayes, Lewis Reynolds and Ben Llewellyn

First published in What's On by

January is a time of new beginnings for everyone - and that includes rock stars.

Only yesterday, Amy Winehouse was snapped drinking nothing more harmful than a cup of hot chocolate. Progress indeed, even if rumours she is renewing her wedding vows with hubby Blake Fielder-Civil suggest that it is one step forward, two steps back.

But, as fresh starts go, they don't get much bigger than that of Meet Me In St Louis, who are on the lookout for a new singer.

The Guildford post-hardcore lovelies - whose national tour brings them to Kingston next week - are currently playing sans frontman after Tobias Hayes bowed out at the end of last year to concentrate on his fledgling record label, Run for Your Life.

Guitarist Oliver Knowles, 25, says. "The tour's going to be instrumental. But the shows have been going all right. We have someone in mind to replace Toby."

So no Babyshambles-style cameos from the crowd, then. Not that MMISL is short of volunteers. The band's fans are famously loyal, even helping to fund last year's debut album, Variations On Swing, which impressed with its schizophrenic time changes and lengthy song titles.

The band first formed in 2005, a part of the revved-up Surrey music scene that sees Guildford and Kingston as its epicentres. But it was in London that they first won over Mike Diver, of influential indie forum Drowned In Sound.

"We had just recorded our first EP and were playing at the Water Rats the same night that Mike was DJing," recalls Knowles. "Previous to that, he didn't like our stuff but then he watched the gig and thought we were really good. And ever since he has written overwhelmingly nice things about us. It has really helped."

And it is not just Diver. "If you want your life to be complete, you have to see this band live at least twice," advise NME, and Knowles agrees that the band is at its best on stage rather than in the studio, as anyone who was at Tobias's farewell gig at The Enterprise in Camden last autumn will testify.

This month's tour will be the last in a while for the band who, by their own admission, have spent the best part of three years gigging constantly - including three times in one month in Kingston.

Next time you see them, it won't only be with a new singer but with some new songs, too. "We're just looking forward to writing again," says Knowles. "We were under a lot of pressure last time round and the recording process was hectic. So we are not giving ourselves too close a target for the second album, or forcing it in any particular direction. I guess we will just see how it goes."

Meet Me In St Louis with support, The Fighting Cocks, 56 Old London Road, Kingston, January 15, 8pm, call 020 8974 6469, visit the-fighting-cocks.co.uk

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