Rolling up his trouser leg and hoping for some sympathy, Brooke sheepishly presents his shin to the room. The drummer from Exlovers is sporting a grim looking graze from where he tried, and failed, to jump onstage moments earlier. Somewhere between my arrival and trying to find our way upstairs at the Joiners in Southampton, which took no more than three minutes, Brooke has injured himself.
They say bad luck comes in threes. After a broken van stopped them from reaching the first night of their headline tour, reports of a broken iPod, and now Brooke’s minor shin injury, it looks like it’s time for their luck to change.
Exlovers are one of my favourite bands; they’re being played on the radio and the blogs love them, but the music press so far seems to have overlooked this five-piece from London. “We’ve had a lot of radio play considering we’ve only released two singles,” says Pete, who writes all the music. The singer continues: “I think that’s where most people have come to hear us, because we haven’t had much press; we’ve just been getting on with it ourselves and touring a lot.”
Their music has gained comparisons to the Cure, and is best summed up as girl/boy vocals over jangly, sometimes frantic guitars and gentle drums. The music they’ve released generally sounds like upbeat pop songs. Pete assures me that Exlovers have a darker side too; it’s just that they haven’t had the chance to play those songs, until now.
Pete and Chris, the guitarist, both met in Cornwall. After moving to London and being introduced by mutual friends, Exlovers “decided to make a band when we were told we had a tour in a couple of weeks,” says Pete. Whilst Laurel, who also sings, says living in London has its advantage for any young band, Brooke says that’s because the capital offers more places to play and record. “I think as long as everyone’s in the same place it doesn’t matter,” says Pete.
If you catch Exlovers live, or even listen to them on MySpace, aside from falling in love with their original songs, you’ll also be blown away by their cover of ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaak. As Pete is telling me that Exlovers chose to cover the song because “we started playing it a lot in rehearsals,” Laurel interrupts to explain they recorded the song for a blog. “There was someone who said to us ‘you need to do a cover for this video blog’, but they didn’t like it,” she says. “It had to be a hip hop song but it wasn’t hip hop really.”
Quite why Exlovers remain unsigned is a mystery to me. They’ve got that perfect mix of musical talent that translates into gripping live sets, backed up by the most stunning songs I’ve heard in a long time; they’re an interesting and likeable group of people; and they’re completely marketable – surely every label exec’s idea of money-making heaven? They manage to straddle the world of mass appeal with their catchy music, and remain credible, backed up by their musical talents and well crafted songs. “Hopefully someone will sign us,” says Pete, “and we’ll do an album. If they don’t, we’ll still do the album.”
Pete tells me that if they don’t get signed they’ll keep working part-time to support the band; Laurel and Brooke work in a call centre and bassist Danny works as a graphic designer. “He’s actually got a good career,” teases Laurel.
Of all the festivals Exlovers played last year, the Isle of Wight festival really made an impression with Brooke. “It’s V festival, just on the Isle of Wight,” he jokes. “It has a great line-up, but it’s weird though; it’s like people aren’t even bothered about watching music. Even when the Pixies were about to start we literally could get right to the front.” “Latitude was probably a similar size,” says Laurel, “but I think the whole atmosphere of Latitude was more of people going to watch bands.”
Before I leave the band to prepare for what has accidentally become the opening night of their tour, I ask them a final question: where would they like to play this summer? Brooke says he really wants to play the Green Man festival, but he’s not so keen on returning to V. “God - no V festival please,” he says, before joking: “If I give you our email address, can you send this interview to our agent?”