‘There’s something just so addictive and energising about playing in a room together’
by Sara Seddon at The Bucket Playlist
Widnes four-piece and appropriately named The Racket are gearing up for the release of one of their next singles, ‘The White Ace’.
The band comprises Callum Codd (vocals and guitar), Dom Eaton (drums), Mikey Smith (rhythm guitar) and Colby O’Sullivan (bass). Codd, Eaton and Smith know each other from playing football as kids and a friend of Smith’s introduced them to O’Sullivan. ‘I don’t know why we called ourselves that,’ Codd said, looking genuinely puzzled. ‘We just like bands with “the” in front!’
Last month, they released ‘Take Me Home’, an explosive and energetic track which has musical nods to Arctic Monkeys and The Jam: ‘I’ve always been excited about this song, I wrote it a few years back trying to pen something joyful about the banal routine the world around me lives in,’ Codd said. ‘I wrote it on the acoustic guitar, I like “la la’s” and ‘woah woahs”, we play it towards the end of a set.’ Eaton jumps in: ‘They make it more hooky,’ he said.
One of their next singles will be ‘The White Ace’: ‘It’s our fans’ favourite song,’ Codd said. ‘It sounds really good, it has to be a summer song. The name’s from a cider, what tramps drink, what we used to drink (laughs). It’s not good, you’ve got to put blackcurrant in it. It’s a metaphor about that, about opposites.’ Smith describes it as a ‘classic’. ‘This is probably our catchiest, or dare I say it – ‘poppiest’ song. It’s upbeat and happy, it has a great drum beat and I know people are going to love it,’ Codd added.
I mention that I’ve seen a clip on YouTube of them playing their track ‘A Radio Friendly Song’ and how much fun they all look to be having, especially Eaton who is grinning all the way through. ‘I’m just a simple man,’ he joked. ‘I really like to play the drums.’ Typically, Codd says he writes the melodies, chords and lyrics before taking them to the band.
‘It’s about a girl and being miserable, working a rubbish job when I want to playing guitar in The Leadmill every night’
‘I Need More’, which they released as a single in July, has a completely different feel, with a very Beatlesey melody and chords and could almost be a lullaby. ‘I really like that one,’ Codd said. ‘We didn’t have any songs recorded, so I did it at home as a demo, then went back and remixed it. It’s about a girl and being miserable, working a rubbish job when I want to playing guitar in The Leadmill (a venue in Sheffield) every night.’ Eaton agrees; ‘I used to work at Amazon, it was the worst job I ever had, I hated it. The song’s about not settling. I work at Asda now (laughs).’ Codd is laughing as well: ‘We all work at Asda, don’t we? You can see us driving around in those ASDA vans!’
Shaking it up sonically is something they have excelled at. ‘Stripes and Lines’, which came out in May, has a punky feel to it and has the hilarious line “You look so handsome but so hideous, four keys down and he’s so ambiguous”: ‘I wrote really young when I was 17,’ Codd said. ‘That one’s about people doing naughty things.’ I say that I assume from the title that he means drugs. ‘Yeah, drugs, it captures the moment of naivety. You can’t move too far away from that energy you have at the start. There’s something just so addictive and energising about playing in a room together and it’s definitely the thing we are best at. Our rehearsals are genuinely like a workout and I always walk out sweating (laughs). We always aim to capture this in our recordings, so I think this song is a great example of this. My favourite thing to do is to write songs, there’s never an agenda. I never sit and aim to write a pop song or a riff etc., I do whatever I feel like doing in that moment and let it just come out. It’s a strange thing, I don’t know where songs come from and it’s impossible to make one happen, sometimes they come really easy – other times it can be a struggle that can last for days. But I guess that’s what I enjoy the most – the craft and the chase – not the TV show!,’ Codd said.
Smith says that ‘I’m Just Coming Down’ is his favourite song of theirs. ‘It’s not out yet and it’s a slow one,’ he said. Codd agrees: ‘It’s the most melodic,’ he said. ‘It’s definitely passed the old grey whistle test on this tour, everyone’s been whistling it around the corridors (laughs). It’s like with Tin Pan Alley in New York (the name given to a collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated popular American music in the late 19th century and early 20th century), songwriters would play a new song to the janitors and if they could whistle it back, they knew it would be a hit.’ O’Sullivan picks ‘Take Me Home’: ‘It’s good for the crowd, it’s got a bit of a bounce to it,’ he said. Eaton weighs in: ‘I’ve always loved ‘The White Ace’, it’s the most poppy thing we’ve got, it’s really fun for me to play.’
Last month, they undertook an 11 date tour as main support for The Lottery Winners, which they loved: ‘It’s been unbelievable and such a laugh, we’ve had the time of our lives,’ Codd said. ‘Playing to a sold out room every night has certainly taught us how to perform and interact with a crowd. The best moment was the O2 Ritz. Standing in front of over a thousand people and hearing them sing my words back was an unforgettable experience that I just can’t put into words or explain.’
‘John Mayer, he brought blues music to the masses’
Musically, they have a broad range of inspirations: ‘I like The Beatles, I’ve been inspired the most by The Kinks, The Jam, Ray Davis, Weller, they’re my favourite songwriters,’ Codd said. ‘They can make something joyful out of something miserable.’ Smith has different influences: ‘I love early Neil Young and blues, Delta blues and John Mayer, he brought blues music to the masses.’ I say given his blues influences, can we expect to hear a harmonica in one of their upcoming songs and they laugh: ‘I’m up for that,’ Codd said enthusiastically. ‘I play it, so does Mikey.’ Eaton, for his part, grew up listening to punk such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols as well as Led Zeppelin and The Stone Roses: ‘Reni (Reni Wren, The Stone Roses’ drummer) is the best drummer I’ve ever seen live,’ he said. ‘I love the fact that it’s just so unpredictable. I also love how versatile his playing is, he can really make something feel upbeat!’
They’ve had some hilarious moments as a band, including ending up in a music video for rapper Big Shaq when they attended an after party for a Louis Berry gig at a club in Sheffield in 2018. ‘We went back to our hotel afterwards and Colby threw me out of the window on the top floor,’ Codd said matter-of-factly. ‘It’s ok, luckily there was a ledge!’ He seems more relaxed about the whole ordeal than I feel listening to it.
If he could collaborate with anyone, Codd goes with Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys: ‘I love their bluesey stuff,’ he said. Eaton wants to work with an old school legend: ‘Someone like Weller or Paul McCartney,’ he said. Smith seconds Weller and adds John Mayer. O’Sullivan picks Justin Timberlake: ‘It would be hilarious, I’d make sure Dom is dancing with him in the video!’
(Photo from left to right: Dom, Callum, Colby and Mikey.)
This story first appeared on: https://inthebucketplaylist.com/ on October 19th.