Fry ups and milkshakes cluttered the table when we were joined by the boys of Bath Spa band Saint Loe. We talked about crying over La La Land, the Commercial Music “bubble”, and how “the twins, as an entity, are pretty crazy to deal with.”
Made up of twins, Dan (bass, vocals) and Alex Clewlow (acoustic guitar, vocals), Ben Willingham (electric guitar, vocals) and Danny Waldron (drums, vocals), Saint Loe have been making an impact at Bath Spa University with their catchy pop rock right from the start.
“Alex is the beard one, Dan is the … attempting a beard one,” says Ben, tucking into his specially tailored fry up with no hash browns, extra toast. The boys laugh, recalling other interviews where the twins have been mixed up.
“I mean … I wouldn’t say this,” Alex says, stroking his thick beard, “is much more than attempting.” Ben raises an eyebrow. “Hmm? It’s getting quite long.”
“It’s just laziness really.” Alex shrugs.
But Saint Loe have proven to be anything but lazy. They formed quickly in their first year of university in 2015 and have since played Summer Ball, The Coffee House Sessions, headlined gigs at The Nest and Moles, as well as other events in conjunction with the university. From playing regular shows to busking on the streets of Bath or their hometowns, Saint Loe have been delivering their authentic pop rock to the masses.
“Not to be confused with American pop rock, though,” warns Ben whilst the others, as if on cue, burst into Blink-182’s ‘All The Small Things’. Saint Loe define their sound as “pop melodies, with harmonies, [and] a nice electric guitar.” Arguably, they are the perfect ingredients for catchy songs “if you say so.”
Saint Loe have no lead singer as the boys are all strong vocalists – an interesting set-up that adds variety and equal stage presence to their guitar-pop band, mixing different vocal tones and ranges. Drummer Danny, is also the lead singer of first year band Slack Traffic, but his impressive vocal range doesn’t overpower Saint Loe, it just enhances and complements them.
Before university, the twins had their own self-titled project, as did Ben. Dan and Alex talk about how they reworked a song from years ago and “with the band, we kind of revamped it.” From the boys’ other projects, they all developed a knack for songwriting – an important element for the band’s authentic and effortlessly real style. “We don’t really have a songwriting process,” says Ben. “It’s just whatever happens.” But what happens seems to work for them; their songs are nostalgic, lyrically strong, with melodies destined to be played on the radio.
“We probably get the Bublé mums,” says Dan on who the band’s main audience is. “Like at Uni we’re stuck in the 18–21 category. It’s the only people we can really gig to.” But being able to get the “Bublé mums” isn’t necessarily a negative thing – it’s a huge market that favours buying physical copies of CDs over paying for streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music – it’s lucrative.
Although Saint Loe might receive a bit of stick for not following the indie band trend, they have one of the largest fanbases out of any of the university bands, with over one thousand likes on their Facebook page.
“It’s a weird thing on our course,” says Danny. “If you look at the other bands on our course, they’re all a bit like edgy – trying to do something different. There’s a lot of grunge bands and stuff … You would’ve thought that pop is like the most common thing – it’s commercial music. We’re quite an abnormality, just compared to the bubble that is our course.”
“It’s a good thing though, because if everyone was in a pop band, we’d struggle,” Ben adds. But being an “abnormality” hasn’t stopped Saint Loe from booking gigs at music venues that are more alternatively inclined.
Currently, Saint Loe are planning their summer tour which is a requirement of the Commercial Music course. The aim is to play shows in all of their hometowns including a London show, whilst filming a tour diary and most importantly, to “come back alive.”
Saint Loe released their self-titled debut EP on May 6.
Words by Annabel Miller