York’s alt rock songsmiths, Bull, have recently dropped their debut album, Discover Effortless Living. After forming a decade ago, this is a hugely exciting moment for the band. With this new release we’re treated to 13 indie bangers that will take you on such a wild ride. Formed in 2011 by vocalist and songwriter Tom Beer and guitarist Dan Lucas, Bull’s mission is to just make music they want to listen to.
We caught up with Tom Beer to find out more about the band and to get the lowdown Discover Effortless Living.
Your debut album, Discover Effortless Living is out now. If you could describe it in three words, what would they be?
Discover Effortless Living – naa probably tight loose rock.
It’s always a hard question, but do you have personal fav off the album?
I personally like Love Goo the best as I think we recorded it nicely and it sounded very fresh when we did it. It’s also the youngest song on the album which I’m sure plays a part. I think Dan likes Serious Baby and Kai likes Shiny Bowl.
You’ve built an impressive following with an intense amount of gigging, what have you missed most about live shows?
Mostly I’ve missed the feeling I get from playing every night, which we were starting to do for the first times in Bull’s rock history before Covid hit. It feels like every night we build on the night before and the tiny nuances in the music, room for improvisation and consistency of the sound improve every time. I’m looking forward to getting back into this rock rhythm.
What can fans expect from the September tour?
We’ll be playing DEL [Discover Effortless Living] for the most part, as well as a fair amount of new songs which we have, plus older ones still in our repertoire. I hope they can expect a safe and welcoming atmosphere and to enjoy some muuusic.
It’s been a decade since you formed, what have been the personal highlights?
I’ll do these chronologically. One of the first highlights was our first European tour where we travelled on the megabus and did a fair amount of busking. That was really fun. Also our self-released album launch gig at Dusk in 2014. (that’s chronology out the window). Freedom festival in Hull on the main stage. The Montague Arms at the end of our first ‘tour’ of London in 2015. Our trip to Hamburg and Berlin and meeting Canshaker Pi and Spiral Stairs and Remko. A memorable gig and night in Whitby. SXSW and camping in America. The day we announced our signing with EMI & Young Thugs. Playing the album on EMI’s roof.
Tom Gabbatiss and Kai West joined in 2017, what’s the story been from then to now?
Once Tom and Kai joined, we immediately went to France and then Germany and continued touring a lot, which definitely smoothed the transition process and made us tighter as a band. From that point we made some reasonably daring moves like going to America, recording the album in a foreign country (The Netherlands) and buying our own van. I think we were all committed and helped each other to make leaps of faith and continue working hard together. We also had a lot of fun and drank over 100 beers.
Bull has received some great praise from the likes of Declan Mckenna and Elton John. What does that feel like? What’s the best praise you’ve ever had?
That has been amazing, it was very strange and exciting to hear that people like that liked the music. Joyous really! The best praise we’ve ever had…we just got a five-star review which was nice! There was a review in Gigwise which I really liked, which I think described us in a really complimentary way and seemed to understand it a bit better than perhaps I had haha. So that was cool, reading something that tells you something about yourself/the band/the songs, it’s always nice to receive praise. One of our friends in a band from York, from Perspex described our album as an ‘instant classic’. That got me going.
Are you big fans? What are your favourite tracks of theirs?
We are! We always loved the film Almost Famous and the scene with Tiny Dancer. I quite like Levon off that same album. My mate was obsessed with Bennie and the Jets for some time. I think he seems like a nice guy. Declan Mckenna I hadn’t heard before he got in touch to kindly let us know he liked our song Love Goo. But I’ve seen loads of great stuff from him, and he looks to be a fantastic guitar player and cool bloke! I like his song Rapture.
If you could give your album to any artist to listen to, who would it be?
I don’t think I’d be able to do that haha! I’d certainly be happy to hear any artist I respect had listened to our music. Bob Dylan has always been my musical hero but I wouldn’t dare give him a record. Maybe Courtney Barnett? But no I still wouldn’t dare!
When you listen to the album from start to finish, it feels like a wildly cool ride of genres, where did that inspiration for your sound come from?
I find it difficult to say, I think the inspiration for the sound always comes from the songs. But where does the inspiration for the songs come from? I don’t believe in it, I talk about it a bit on Bonzo Please haha. But no, I’m glad you see the album as diverse and distinct, we are big music fans, so like to use sounds and tricks from all over the musical map which live dormant in our memories!
“I tend to look at songs as individual pieces of art. Self-contained sort of things, that take a snapshot of myself/what I’m trying to say or how I’m feeling.”
Was there a story you wanted to tell with this album?
No not really, we just enjoy making music, recording music, and playing music live, there isn’t really a narrative or call to action or anything that ties it together. I tend to look at songs as individual pieces of art. Self-contained sort of things, that take a snapshot of myself/what I’m trying to say or how I’m feeling. This album is really a collection of songs, the only thing that ties it together in my eyes is that the four of us played on it and Remko produced it. But I suppose if I was looking for a theme, I saw somebody wrote it had ‘growing pains’ which I think is a nice way of putting it, like some of the self reflection contains pain but it’s part of trying to grow as a person or whatever. Sorry this isn’t a very good answer!
There’s such an art in ordering tracks for an album. If you’re listening to a new album, do you listen start to finish or put it on shuffle?
I would always go start to finish. The way I tend to listen to albums is on vinyl, which I think is one of the nicest ways to do it. I love that you can have a favourite side too, which gives it another dimension and splits it. I like how when you know an album really well, you hear the next song start to play in your mind when you hear the end of one. I listened to our album (only the first side) on vinyl for the first time today and was pleased with the order. But at some point you just have to embargo regrets and stop thinking of what you might have done. I’m happy with it.
– I also listen a lot of songs by streaming and enjoy making playlists. Again, I like songs as self-contained things that can be appreciated based purely on their own merit. So, I’m often just searching for the best song for my current mood/fancy.
What track would recommend we listen to, to help us get through the current lockdown situation?
I love Everything But The Girl’s cover of The only living Boy in New York, originally by Simon and Garfunkel. I’ve loved this song my whole life and I also adore the video. It’s so calm and the song is very moving and I’ve always always loved it.
Have you got anything else in the pipeline we should know about?
We’ll be releasing the live footage (including drone footage) of us playing on EMI’s roof. It’s the album in full 🙂 We’re also going on tour and playing all round the country in September / October. We’d love it if you’d come and see us play and we can’t wait to play live. Thanks for having us!
Discover Effortless Living is out now to listen in all its glory with the band back on the road in 2021, with a full UK tour starting in September. Tickets are on sale now!
15th Sept – The Horn – St. Albans
16th Sept – Ramsgate Music Hall – Ramsgate
17th Sept – Green Door Store – Brighton
18th Sept – Heartbreakers – Southampton
19th Sept – Craufurd Arms – Milton Keynes
21st Sept – Portland Arms – Cambridge
22nd Sept – Boileroom – Guildford
23rd Sept – Brudenell S.C. – Leeds
24th Sept – The Crescent – York
25th Sept – Gathering Sounds – Stockton
26th Sept – Hug & Pint – Glasgow
28th Sept – Record Junkee – Sheffield
29th Sept – The Lexington – London
30th Sept – The Louisiana – Bristol
10th Oct – The Cookie – Leicester
22nd Oct – The Scene – Lincoln
23rd Oct – A Slow Education – York
Listen to Discover Effortless Living: