Narrow Margin are one of the freshest young acts on the vibrant Manchester music scene – but don’t expect typical “Madchester” sounds. With big things forecast for Narrow Margin in 2020 we caught up with the band to find out a bit more about the enigmatic new kids on the Manchester music block.
The band released their debut single Kids Don’t Dance on January 10th via 42’s Records to great critical acclaim and have been described by the legendary Clint Boon as: “Proper rock stars. The spirit of punk really shines through in their music.” They turned heads in 2019 with their raw, energetic and entertaining live shows, including a support slot to the K’s at Academy 2 and a sold-out headline at the Deaf Institute. Kids Don’t Dance is already a firm favourite and dancefloor filler at their record label’s ‘sister’ nightclub, 42nd Street, AKA “42’s” in Manchester.
What made you want to get into music?
Ian Spiller (Vocals / main lyric / song writer: From an early age my dad played me loads of music and that got me very interested in playing and performing. I got my first electric guitar at 9 from that, I first started playing properly, but by the end of high school I’d become slightly disillusioned with the idea of a music career; it was only when I was asked if I wanted to join Narrow Margin that saw the opportunity for the ambitions of my younger self to become a reality.
Ben Etches (Lead Guitar, Vocals, songwriter): My dad plays guitar, he has an Epiphone dot and I always wanted to be able to play.
Jake Etches (Drums – Twin brother to Ben): – When we we’re kids me and Ben were always listening to older styles of music, for example Elvis, the Who, The Beatles etc so then we decided to pick up instruments and give it a go at the age of 8/9.
What inspires you to write?
Ben: Songs I hear, new music I get into, life in general – I like writing about other people instead of my own personal experiences and putting myself into someone else’s shoes.
Ian: Like Ben, at the heart of it lies other people’s music. I often hear a song and think “I wish I’d written that” or, “I want to write something like that”. I’m also inspired by personal and social relationships and more significant world events and historical events for instance the Spanish Civil War or French Revolution.
Who has had the most influence on your music?
Ian: Again – my dad. He brought me up listening to the music he loved. The first band I saw were The Men They Couldn’t Hang which is why I think a lot of my music is what it is. My first favourite band were The Jam who my dad introduced me to at an early age. A great deal of the music I still listen to is music my dad also listens to. The difference now is that some of it, I’ve introduced to him.
Ben: Just like Ian, my dad had the most influence, showing me different artists and songs that he liked and now I often return the favour.
Jake: I think we all have influenced each other in certain ways too, like Ian brought in the wordy punk side of what we do and me, Ben, Danny (rhythm guitar) Herbie (Bass) brought in the more “indie” side of us.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far?
Ian: I can’t really say anything so far has been particularly difficult compared to challenges many people face in life but finishing off songs that you’ve already started is always pretty tough, because you can very rarely recapture the initial mood / inspiration. The big challenge I guess is how to get bigger as a band but if any of us had a straight answer for that question it would be an awful lot easier to make it in music.
Ben: Yes, the biggest challenge is just trying to get yourself heard over the noise of the Manchester music scene and all the other bands in it.
What has been the nicest thing ever written about you?
Ben: It was a Facebook post by a guy called Terry McGarry.
Ian: Yes, that affirmed in my mind what we are trying to do as a band – it’s simple but really made me smile and feel like what we’re doing is worthwhile, he said:
“Much as I’ve loved the gigs I’ve attended this year, last night was something else and I watched in awe as the kids enjoyed themselves in a way that I’ve not seen for a very long time. Just pure joy and excitement. This wasn’t a boy band gig or Beyoncé type shit but a bunch of very talented lads who can play their instruments and can connect. Fantastic band, fantastic fans and I can’t wait to see Narrow Margin again. This night opened my eyes.”
What has been the best and worst gig you’ve ever played?
Ian: The one we always cite as our worst was a first gig in Manchester at a venue that shall remain nameless. It’s safe to safe that most of the things that could go wrong, did go wrong, but it was useful as a learning experience and did mean our next gig was much more polished. Best is harder to say, but I think the top slot has to go to our gig supporting ‘the K’s’ at a sold-out Academy 2 last January. That really felt like something special.
Ben: That was a great night, but for me it was topped by our sold-out Deaf Institute headliner a few months later – to sell out that venue on our own was a great achievement.
Ian: Our next gig is a main support slot at the sold-out K’s gig at the Ritz on 25th of January, so we’re hoping that becomes our new best ever gig.
If you could support any band who would it be and why?
Ben: The Rolling Stones.
Ian: Manic Street Preachers in their Generation Terrorist’s era. Partly just to be able to witness one of those gigs live but also because their crowds were amazing; politically aware and willing to go mental, what more could you ask for?
What other bands do we need to be checking out right now?
Ian: The K’s’; music as exciting as theirs hasn’t been done, in a long time. It just has an energy that elevates it massively above the generic indie we get an awful lot of. Also Whenyoung: I discovered them in 2018 and have listened an awful lot since; very atmospheric but to be experienced to their full potential you’ve got to see them live they’re captivating to watch.
Ben: The Modern Business, Room D, The Claremonts, Dirty Laces.
Jake: The top 5 bands for me on the scene right now are (in no order) – The Modern Business, Saytr Play, The K’s, Callow Youth, and Room D.
Give us a few hints on what’s in store next for your band…
Ian: Lot’s more new music being released and finding a wider audience.
Ben: Taking what we do to other towns and cities around the UK, maybe into Europe.
You can find out more about Narrow Margin over on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. The band support The K’s on the 24th of January at The Ritz in Manchester, and headline The Bread Shed, also in Manchester, on the 27th of March.