"We got in touch with Fickle Friends' Jack to help take our production up a notch."
Last autumn, alt-pop trio The UMA arrived on the scene with two solid tracks in the form of 'Wake Up' and 'Working For It'.
This led to Phil Marsh, Dan Jones and Ben Degg joining pop punk favourites WSTR on tour - and they soon built a strong following off the back of the singles and support slot.
Fast forward a few months, and like many bands, the trio are unable to play shows due to the coronavirus pandemic - but that's not stopping them from keeping up the momentum.
Today, The UMA release their fun music video for 'Wake Up' and guitarist Dan gives Lizzie the Lowdown on their story so far and their ongoing work with Jack Wilson of Fickle Friends...
Tell us the meaning behind The UMA as a band name?
We knew that we wanted our name to feel like that moment where you’re holding three drinks in your hands at a festival or sat poolside on holiday and I know that The UMA doesn’t explicitly say that but, to us, the sound of the name just felt so chilled and summery.
Describe your music to us in the style of a Tinder profile bio?
Spicy with an attitude that’ll keep you up all night.
Which artists inspired you to be in a band and why?
I think for me personally, it was the 2008/2009 emo scene with the likes of Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Panic! At The Disco etc.
I used to get the bus to school every day and do nothing but listen to music on my MP3 player.
I would always think about how cool it was that music could make you completely switch off from everything around you and something was telling me that I wanted to do the same. From there on I started watching live performance videos on YouTube and just thought about how sick their lives looked.
Something just clicked in me during this time and I was like, right that’s what I want to do.
I started learning guitar in my bedroom after school - and I mean I’d get home from school, lock myself in my room and wouldn’t leave until I was able to play something.
I think the first song I ever learned was 'Pretender' by Foo Fighters, which is pretty stupid really because it’s not exactly the easiest song for a beginner.
And it sounded awful every day for about three months.
I know that Ben had a real similar taste in music when he was the same age as me and he was the guy that always wanted to be in a band.
We started writing music together when we were 16/17 and, although it definitely wasn’t any good at that point, we always liked working together.
Phil is kinda driven by original and classic rock.
He’s mega into the likes of Mötley Crüe and Aerosmith.
He’s another one that has always wanted to be in a band, I think he comes to life when he’s writing or playing live and you can tell how invested he is in music.
Who would be your dream producer to work with?
Louis Bell (Post Malone, Taylor Swift) would probably be one of mine. He’s worked on a load of cool pop music and it would be really interesting to see how our music would tie in with his production.
I’d also really like to work with Dan Lancaster (Bring Me The Horizon, Avril Lavigne) at some point.
That dude just has so much talent. He also loves a vocoder as well so I think we’d get along. Phil and Ben are fully on the same page with this as well.
I think the two of them would like to work with Matt and George from the The 1975 as well in terms of production.
What do you want people to walk away with from your music?
For me, I just want people to use it as a way of separating themselves from reality.
I just want it to make them feel good about themselves and for them to build their memories and experiences with our music by their side.
As long as they listen to it and take away some form of happiness, or alleviate some other feelings, that’s all that matters to each of us.
You worked on your music video for 'Wake Up' with the team behind videos for Creeper. What was that like?
Yeah - we worked with Matt at Clearway Media.
He’s a really chilled, nice guy so the experience was pretty straight forward and exciting from start to finish.
We knew exactly what we wanted to achieve with the video because we wanted to make sure that the metaphors and messages from the song were clear - Matt just really helped us capture those ideas and bring them life.
We shot the video in a day - which was really good in hindsight because a few weeks later the world have turned upside down from Covid.
Matt was really open-minded to our ideas and input and I think he had a vision in his head of how it should look, so we were able to get through it real quick.
Watch: 'Wake Up':
It must be devastating as a band just starting out to be in the situation we are now, especially as you were set to play The Great Escape.
How are you planning to keep the momentum going during lockdown and can we expect new music?
You’ve hit the nail on the head to be honest.
We had such a strong start as far as new bands go - both releases went down really well and our friends in WSTR took us out on a sell out UK tour (minus a couple of dates).
There’s not many bands that get that sort of opportunity and we’re so grateful for it.
It was looking like a really positive year for us and we had a tonne of plans in place alongside a load of shows that we were expecting to play, so it’s a real shame that none of that will be going ahead anymore.
On the flip side though, I guess every artist in the world is in the exact same position and at this point, the main thing is that we’re all in good health and look after ourselves, friends and family.
We’re obviously gutted that we’re not playing TGE!
But it’s definitely kept us on our toes and put us in a position where we’re having to think differently - which is exciting!
We’ve planned to do a load of stuff ranging from Instagram Live episodes with different artists/ bands, acoustic strip-backs, rearranged covers and, of course, new music.
We’re going to be releasing plenty of music over the next few months and whilst we’d love to obviously tour around them and play shows, we’re just hoping that these releases will help people enjoy their summer as much as they can in the circumstances.
Everyone loves new music and we’re definitely not going to take that away from people.
Describe your music to us in the style of a Tinder profile bio?
"Spicy with an attitude that’ll keep you up all night. "
Is music your escape during these times?
It’s definitely one of them.
I think we’ve all just had to adjust to a completely different way of life but music has been there to help us when we’re feeling low - but equally when we’re feeling good.
It definitely takes you away from the world for a minute and helps you to put life into some form of perspective.
We’re continuing to write as well so that has helped a lot!
I think it gives the three of us something we enjoy to focus on and kinda creates a bit of an escape from everything that’s happening.
What did you learn from opening for COUNTERFEIT.?
We learned that we can say yes to playing a show the night before without rehearsing [laughs].
COUNTERFEIT. was definitely a good learning for us.
At the point we got asked, Ben was on a night out in Glasgow, Phil was probably drinking Moonshine listening to Mötley Crüe and I was in Reading.
As I said, we hadn’t rehearsed and had no idea that we’d be playing a show, but we said yes anyway.
Thankfully, it went really well and we had such a good night with everyone.
The guys in COUNTERFEIT. were great.
Their whole team were such a genuine set of people and that was really nice to see because we’ve all had our fair share of experiences with bands that haven’t been as kind.
I think if I had to sum it up, it kind of just taught us to say yes.
And it taught Ben that he probably drank too much on his night out.
"Everyone loves new music and we’re definitely not going to take that away from people."
How did you come to work with Jack from Fickle Friends?
How we met them was really out of the blue to be honest.
I’d known of their band for a couple of years and really liked their music.
We were at a point where we had a solid set of demos and were wanting to take the production up a notch.
I’d seen that Jack (Fickle Friends) had put a song out with another artist and I really loved the production.
I gave Phil and Ben a call and we decided to reach out to him in the hope of doing some stuff together.
Jack loved our songs and came back to us and from there on we went down to his studio space and started working on 'Wake Up'.
We continue to work with Jack and have become really tight friends, which is great because it’s nice to be working in a group of people that just have a laugh and write music we all love. Harry and Sam are really good guys as well.
The four of them have such a good thing going on and we’re fully rooting for them to continue having the success they deserve.
We haven’t met Nattie yet - but I’m sure the time will come.
"Our influences are different but it comes together in a weird way."
Who would be your dream collaborator?
That’s such a tough question.
I think there’s a number of people I would love to work with.
One of them being Jamiroquai.
I was brought up on his music and there’s something about his music that just makes me like, Oooooooh.
Another is probably Matt Healy of The 1975.
Ben and I first came across them when we were in another band together.
They’d just released their 'Sex' EP and from there on we’ve watched them grow into an international super band.
I think the band are really influential in just getting a point across in a way that people wouldn’t typically think of and I’d love to have a session with him.
Ben and Phil probably have different answers to mine.
I’m sure Phil would want to do something with Steven Tyler and Ben would probably want to do something with Synyster Gates (Avenged Sevenfold).
I guess that kinda highlights how different our influences are but it comes together in a weird way.
Where would you like to be in five years time?
We would love to be doing music full-time.
It’s as simple as that really, that’s our goal.
Everything else that comes with it is just a bonus.
We’re not in this for any other reason than the fact that we’re best friends who want to make a living doing what we love together.
I think the moment we walk out on the main stage at Reading & Leeds would be the moment we think to ourselves, 'Shit, we did it.'
So let’s just hope that moment comes and we can have a conversation off the back of it!