If you want your tunes jam-packed with attitude and gritty, relatable tales of rowdy night outs and heartbreak, look further than rising Essex trio Bilk.
The Louis Tomlinson-approved act are quickly making a name for themselves with their spiky brand of alternative pop-punk and rap that's earned them praise from a host of music outlets.
Today Bilk, consisting of frontman Sol Abrahams, bassist Luke Hare, and drummer Harry Gray, play in front of 8,500 people at the Crystal Palace Bowl for the Away From Home Festival alongside The Snuts and the former One Direction star himself, who personal curated the event.
Their new EP Allow It, out now via Scruff of the Neck, touches upon an array of gritty themes including unemployment and toxic masculinity over their fierce and diverse output, inspired by everything from Nirvana and early Green Day to The Streets and hip-hop.
After forming in 2015, there's now a real buzz surrounding Sol and co. Their live shows are riotous affairs, culminating in being named as one of the six acts you must see at the Great Escape Festival by Clash Magazine.
"There’s been ups and downs", Sol told Daily Star. "We’ve had many times where we’ve felt like giving up and like no ones really paying attention but we’ve just carried on and stuck at it and people are starting to notice now."
With a UK tour scheduled for December, 2021 is set to be the year Bilk make a major dent in the UK scene and beyond.
Daily Star's Rory McKeown caught up with Sol to talk about their formation, their influences, their Away From Home festival slot, and their Allow It EP.
Hi Sol. How would you sum up the past 12 months for Bilk?
"Loads has happened. We signed our first record deal with Scruff of the Neck, we played two sold out home town shows at Hot Box on the day gigs came back, we’ve played a few festivals and in between all that we’ve been releasing new music."
You’re supporting Louis Tomlinson and The Snuts at The Away From Home Festival in Crystal Palace Bowl on August 30. How did the slot come about? How much are you looking forward to it?
"Louis has been supporting what we do for a while and then he just hit us up asking if we wanna play the gig. We thought why not and said yeah.
"Everyone’s asking us if we’re excited because it’s a big crowd and that but we’re just gonna go there and do our thing like we always do.
"Whether it’s playing to 10,000 people at Crystal Palace Bowl or in a pub playing to the sound guy and his dog, you still gotta give it all you can and mean it."
Your new EP Allow It is released days before on August 27 via Scruff of the Neck. When did its writing and recording process start?
"It’s called Allow It because it’s something I say a lot when someone’s bothering me or whatever. Allow it! you know.
"The songs on the EP all came about at different times really. Stop Pranging Out, which is a song about when I took magic mushrooms in Amsterdam, was recorded a while before Bad News, which was a song I wrote only four days before getting in the studio to record the EP.
"It was a last minute thing but we were all gassed about the song and agreed we had to record it and put it on there."
What can we expect from the EP?
"We don’t want people to expect anything with our music and what we put out. We just want them to listen to it.
"There's tunes on the EP that are inspired by old school hip-hop and then others that are inspired by 90s pop punk. One thing that’s guaranteed is it’s always gonna be real and British and true to what I experience and where I’m coming from. All I can do is tell my story, no one can tell it for me."
What are the themes running through it?
"The themes cover a load of things. Unemployment, teen pregnancy, drugs, online dating, night out violence, nationalism, drinking culture, toxic masculinity, love, heart break, friendships.
"I think there’s a lot of people that can relate to the stuff I’m talking about. I wanted to start writing and making my own voice heard as I couldn’t relate to a lot of the stuff I would hear on the radio. I thought, I’ll just do it myself."
Tell me more about how you formed. When was it? What have been the landmark moments in your journey so far?
"I formed the band when I was just leaving school so maybe like 2015. Since then there’s been a few different members coming and going and now we have us three, me, Luke and Harry. We’ve been going for about four years.
"There’s been ups and downs. We’ve had many times where we’ve felt like giving up and like no ones really paying attention but we’ve just carried on and stuck at it and people are starting to notice now."
You’re from the Essex suburbs. What’s the scene like there and how has it moulded you as a band?
"There’s no real scene in Essex. It’s dead for music here. I think Essex not having a scene is a good thing though because it sets us apart from any other band or artist at the moment.
"We’re different to everyone else and maybe it’s because we’ve never been a part of a strong scene and we’ve always been a bit out on our own. We’re not trying to jump on something that’s already being done anyway, we’re trying to make our own wave and our own movement."
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You’re embarking on a UK tour in December. How much are you looking forward to getting back on the road? What can we expect from a Bilk show?
"The UK tour is gonna go off. We’re going to a load of different places from London to Dublin.
"There’s always bare energy at the shows. Crowd surfs, mosh pits, stage invasions. The last tour we played someone lost their shoe in the mosh pit. He got it back eventually but still can’t work out how he managed that."
You released the single and cautionary tale I Got Knocked Out The Same Night England Did back in June to coincide with England’s Euro 2020 bid. Are you football fans? What did you make of England’s performance this year?
"To be honest I don’t really care or know too much about football. Harry’s into it a bit but it’s not like you’d catch us at the matches any time soon. It’s funny because a lot of people got the idea that we’re football lads after that song and video dropped but they just got the wrong end of the stick.
"It’s just a song about how I got beaten up on a night out whilst England were playing football and England lost, hence the name "I Got Knocked Out The Same Night England Did."
Who are your main influences and inspirations – either musically and personally?
"Nirvana, early Green Day, The Jam, The Streets, John Cooper Clarke and a lot of hip-hop music too. I like the simplicity and attitude of punk and hip-hop and I’ve always loved being able to take the normality of the everyday and make it into something exciting in my music."
Do you have an ultimate goal?
"Just to make our mark on music and be us."
Bilk are performing at The Away From Home Festival today (August 30).
Their EP Allow It is out now via Scruff of the Neck.
Follow Bilk on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
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