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Rixton Discuss Their Bizarre Pre-Show Ritual and Treating Every Concert Like It's at Wembley
Compared to their compadres Mary Lambert and Betty Who, British band Rixton are the babies of the AmEx AIR bunch. While the female Artists in Residence are riding high on the success of their first major-label albums, the young lads from Manchester are still a few months away from the release of their full-length debut, Let the Road (which hits shelves worldwide on March 3, 2015). IThe band has only released two proper singles to date, but given the reaction to Rixton’s Oct. 20 show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg, the boys are off to a brilliant start.
A gaggle of squealing fans rushed the stage when Rixton’s pin-up-worthy members -- vocalist Jake Roche, bassist Danny Wilki, guitarist Charley Bengall and drummer Lewi Morgan –- took their positions and tore through their polished collection of R&B-flavored pop tunes, including their 2014 Hot 100 smash “Me & My Broken Heart.” Full of kinetic energy, tight harmonies, and slick frontman movies from Roche (who caused fans to shriek with delight at every hip shake), Rixton performs with the prowess of a far more experienced band. Looking at their collection of cheeky YouTube videos – clips that inspired Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun to take the group under his wing – it’s clear that Rixton enjoys having a laugh. But make no mistake: the lads take their live shows very seriously.
“We like to pretend we’re at Wembley every single night,” says Bengall before taking the stage. Roche echoes the sentiment: “Whether it’s five or five thousand people, we treat every show like it’s the last we’re every going to play and try to have as much fun as possible.”
Watch Rixton get ready for the gig (and see their bizarre pre-show ritual) in the video below, then read our extended Q&A and head to AmEx AIR's YouTube channel to watch their full performance.
Billboard: A year ago, you guys were posting covers and humorous music videos to YouTube. Now, you’re signed to a major label, the protégés of A-list producers like Benny Blanco and managed by Scooter Braun. How did this all happen?
Jake Roche: We started out posting covers of Chris Brown, Sisqo, R. Kelly, and Scooter had picked us up through those. So YouTube, through the beginning, was a big platform for us. So when we posted a video for our song “Make Out,” we took some of the biggest YouTube videos that were out there and parodied them, kind of paying homage -- but I think that was a great way to get attention.
You’ve already had a top 20 hit with “Me And My Broken Heart,” but how can this relationship with AmEx help take you to that next level in your career?
Roche: There’s not anyone who doesn’t know what AmEx is, and to be affiliated with them is an absolute honor and a privilege. Every artist has big dreams to one day be paying stadiums and arenas, and if AmEx can assist us with that and we can assist them, that’s a great thing for everyone.
Your debut album is due next year. What can we expect?
Roche: It’s an album we did with Benny Blanco. It’s hard walking away from it and letting it go into mixing and mastering. It has just been our baby since when we met 6 years ago. At the moment now, it’s just about getting a bit of buzz about it, and just working as hard as possible. I think our main thing is making sure the music spreads to as many people as possible.
What’s the best advice Benny has given you?
Roche: Don’t do drugs. Llaughs] No, but when we first signed with someone like Benny, we thought we were just gonna get tied in like, “play this, write that.” But we’ve just had free rein, and I think that’s just from him seeing our YouTube videos and knowing that we just sit down and write everything ourselves. So he lets us do whatever we want. He’s much more of a vibe guy.
Lewi Morgan: I think the fact that we were so established for years before we signed with either Scooter or Benny, they signed us for what we already had as opposed to having an idea and signing people they could manipulate to that idea. So we have a lot of creative control.
You’re not a “boy band,” but you’re certainly a young, attractive British group that gets a lot of attention from young fans. What’s your relative anonymity here in the States?
Roche: It’s less than we thought. It’s very strange landing at airports and finding people that wait for you. Like last night, we arrived really late and there was about 20 people waiting for us at the airport. We just played Wembley Arena in London last night and came straight here [to New York], we basically walked right off stage we were sweating and horrible and then hopped on a plane. I’m sure the people waiting for us were like, why do you smell so bad?
Now that you log more hours on the road, what’s on your rider?
Roche: We’re not really that fussy. We have our bare essentials that we need.
Morgan: We never walk into a dressing room and be like, “Where’s our blow-up doll?”
Roche: I also bring my best friend from home out with us, who just reminds you of the normality. He’s kind of slaying all the women for us.