Liverpool resident and singer, Michael Joseph Nelson, otherwise known as the singer BANNERS, is ready to try his hand at success in the United States. BANNERS, started singing at the ripe young age of seven blessed with the influences of Coldplay and especially the Beatles.
The singer was recently signed to Island Records and it is full steam ahead for this brilliant and poised singer from England. byteclay.com sat down with him to talk about growing up Beatles, Island Records, and Jimmy Kimmel.
Robert Frezza: Who were your musical influences growing up in Liverpool? I hear a lot of Coldplay and Snow Patrol in your music.
BANNERS: I was in the choir in the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool from the age of 7 until I was 15 so a huge amount of the music I listened to was classical music. I think when you’re immersed in it to that extent from such a young age there comes a point when it becomes hard wired in you and it becomes a huge influence in everything you do musically afterwards. It also instills in you a love of performing to the best of your ability every time. And also the Beatles. I am patriotically obliged to say that.
RF: Why the name change from Raines to BANNERS?
BANNERS: I liked BANNERS because a banner literally is a blank canvas, and it’s something that you go to battle behind. I liked that metaphor. I liked the sense of immediacy you get with one word. I was never totally comfortable with Raines and Banners made a lot of sense to me!
RF: Can you take me through the process of getting signed with Island Records?
BANNERS: It’s an absolute honor being signed to Island and obviously unbelievably exciting. I think when you sign to a label with such history you are very aware of the legacy you’re taking on and that makes you determined to add to that legacy and repay the faith of the people that signed you in the first place! And that simply involves writing and recording the best songs you physically can and working harder than you ever thought possible to take such an incredible opportunity.
RF: You were recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live. What was that experience like? Did you enjoy yourself?
BANNERS: Jimmy Kimmel was great! Again, it was a total honor to be asked. As long as you forget about the amount of people watching it’s actually so much easier than playing a gig. First of all you’re not playing with other bands, so when you come to play the song on stage and the mix is exactly how you left it when sound checking. The crew was so professional… really the whole thing is produced in a totally stress free, rehearsed environment. And then you’re playing your own songs, and if there are any songs I can play well it’s my own ones! So it was great and I loved it!
RF: Is there any time you felt your music career would not work out? If so, what would you be doing now?
BANNERS: I think I had faith in myself and in my ability to take opportunities when they arose. I also think that while you’re alive there’s never any reason to give up so I don’t think there’s ever a point where it hasn’t worked out, not until you stop trying, which I never would have done! But, hypothetically, if it hadn’t worked out I’d be working in a haberdasher or shoe shop like Nigel Tufnell in Spinal Tap. “We have them in brown.”
RF: Congrats on the Sirius XM Alt Nation tour. Is this your first extensive tour? How do you prep yourself mentally and physically for such a long tour?
BANNERS: Thanks! Yes it’s the first long one. I’m 7 or 8 dates in and it’s been great. The lads in the other bands “The Moth and the Flame” and “Pop Etc” are lovely dudes and make brilliant music I genuinely want to listen to, which helps! I think you have to look after yourself as much as is physically possible. Take every opportunity to sleep! Drink loads of water, and don’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. A good warm up is essential and throat coat tea is great before going on stage. It’s not a particularly rock and roll answer but it’s the only way you can be at your best for every performance. Like I say you have to be able to take every opportunity that arises and who knows where a good gig could lead?
RF: I know you just released your EP, but is there a full length in the works?
BANNERS: I’m hoping to finish recording it in April to release it later in the year. Hopefully the summer or early fall.