When you find yourself backstage in an arena which holds a capacity of eleven thousand people, the adrenaline is overwhelming. On the surface there is a faux calm, aided by the warm buzz of the heaters and the smooth R&B playing gently from small speakers. Yet, under the surface, you can feel the hum of electric anticipation: it is collective knowledge for concert-goers that within an hour you are all going to be participating in something extraordinary.
So what is it like to be the band performing for that gargantuan crowd, who are so ready to be transported into an otherworldly realm of musical mayhem? For Yorkshire five-piece band :PM it just feels right. After initiating their band at the age of eleven – “just because we thought it was cool” – playing their music on the stage is natural to them. Supporting The Vamps on their springtime arena tour, :PM are bringing a new sound of fresh British vocals, clean guitar music and dynamic drum beats to a huge audience. With individual influences which range from Chris Martin to Frank Ocean, their collective sound combines their idiosyncratic tastes to create incomparable songs, uniting the eclectic into one: “They’re pop songs when you strip it down, and then it’s guitar music. So it’s rock and roll, but it’s pop music.”
Whilst they may have an air of ‘boyband’ about them, they are blending pop and rock to become what bassist Joe Morley describes as “a good old smush in the middle”.
Undeniably, the smush is working for them: from their first performance at a North Eastern hay bale-infused village fair, they are now supporting internationally renowned musicians across the United Kingdom’s array of magnificent arenas. In an industry which is so overtly competitive, vocalist Dan Reynard describes the major keys to being a successful band as combining “being humble” with making “sick tunes”. For :PM, what separates their music from that of other bands is the instrumentation: “when you strip everything back… it’s a pop song that we’ve written, but then we’ve just made it into this rock and roll tune.”
It’s as uncomplicated as that: five guys playing stripped-back rock music with British pop vocals. They do what they love, and love what they do. The only query their listeners have to ponder over is what the band name :PM stands for (to which the question is met with a resounding “NO!”): only a few people know, including some fans who have supported the band for a while. Personally, they enjoy making up new stories for every time they are questioned, à la Biffy Clyro.
Whilst their current focus is on smashing their multitude of arena gigs, afterwards, they are looking forward to doing their headline tour and then dropping singles, and music videos, and continuing “doing us”. The crowds at popular arena venues are fuel for :PM when they perform, but the vociferous mosh-pits at intimate gigs also give them an opportunity to do what they love the most: “It’ll still be loud. It’ll be very loud.” Thinking big, their dream is to headline the Radio 1 NME tent; they go together every year and find the atmosphere indescribable. Well, it’s a toss-up between the Radio 1 NME tent or “playing Mars”… which funnily enough would be fabulous components for the acronym ‘:PM’.
Photograph: Sapphire Demirsöz.