nothing but thieves interview
photo: Jack Bridgeland / press

Nothing But Thieves

Southend five-piece Nothing But Thieves have dropped their much-anticipated third album Moral Panic, which delves into emotive themes that hold a mirror up to the current world while simultaneously offering something far more personal.

With a constantly evolving soundscape and a narrative that muses on everything from climate change and politics to mental health, their latest offering is as free-flowing as it is intentional. Boasting a bottom line of “expecting the unexpected” – a line of thought that fits perfectly with the world as it is now – the quintet is keen to keep pushing boundaries as artists while finding pride and contentment in who they are as people.

What can people expect from your album Moral Panic?
The album began with taking inspiration from a time in our– and my life– that was just full of mental health problems, and this record was kind of being a part of the lunacy that was going on around us. It then became reflected very naturally what’s going on in the world with climate change issues, Brexit, and Trump. I think it just naturally evolved into an outward, reflective, politically charged jazz record. That’s where it stands in terms of the sense of the story there. Musically we just kind of let things happen but at the same time, I think we now have a kind of creative leniency to do what we want.

How would you say you’ve evolved? Going forward, how do you envision the Nothing But Thieves sound evolving?
When we started this band, we started from a from an old school kind of rock and roll staff know what we listened to growing up and, and as we’ve grown as artists with all sorts of different influences and I think this record, pushes those boundaries is more or less what you should expect. Expect the unexpected again. That’s it.

Speaking of making music, what would you say is the best part of the process? What would you say is like, the most frustrating part of the process?
I think the best part is when you feel like you have to write that something free-flowing I think that’s the best kind of writing, it’s so powerful, and it’s so real. Those tracks that are written in half an hour because they’re so simple, and I’ve already got the hook in my head are the best. On the flip side, trying to sit and try to write sometimes when you’ve had an idea, but you lost it or needs to be changed. Then you can slog it for like a week or two weeks, and that’s when it becomes difficult.

What kept you guys motivated especially with the pandemic and lockdown?
This kind of stagnant life is something I really have never experienced that in my life, we’ve been on the road, and we’ve been just going for like seven years. It was difficult to get used to but when I got used to it, and I had a routine, to do little things like going to the gym, or meditating or reading a book, I found myself being really creative because it was in those moments of nothingness that creative ideas would come.

I also think lockdown has been amazing, to me personally, in terms of that, tapping into who I am, more as a writer, as an artist, and even as a person because I think sometimes we forget that music isn’t everything in the world. This lockdown taught us how important it is for me to just be a human being and become who I wanted to always be. I really enjoyed slowing everything down personally a distraction pushing away. I’ve also been able to write more about things I’ve always been too scared to think about opening up.

Did you discover something about yourself that you didn’t previously know?
Yeah, I think the biggest thing I’ve discovered is knowing what is important and what isn’t. Everyone is living their life as fast as possible, and it’s always to run away from something. I think everyone is so scared all the time, of one being alone, while not being who they think they should be held to be. I’ve discovered that I am so happy being just being me without anything to do with the band, anything to do with anyone else. I’ve always relied on other people, I’ve always needed people to love me, I’ve needed people to give me confidence. Now I’ve gotten to that point where I can be awfully happy, just being me. And I think I do think that has made my writing better because it’s truly honest.

Has your writing always been introspective? Where do you take your creative inspiration from?
I think it depends – you just write what you know and also depends on your in your life at a particular point in time. This record is just chatting about what is going on in the world and the lunacy of it all and this is definitely more reflective of the world than introspective.

From the album, do you have a personal favorite track? If so, which?
“Free If We Want It,” is really special to me because it’s a track that I delved into a very emotional place in my heart. It explored my feelings in a way I haven’t really done before and I gave it my all so that’s definitely a personal favorite.

If listeners could take away one message from your music what would you want it to be?
Don’t listen to anyone or anyone thinks you should be, or even who you think you should be, you just need to be who you are. I think I’ve really found that myself as well as like, really ignoring what people think you should be expected to be, and just being who you are, I think that’s the most important thing in life.

If you had to describe you know Nothing But Thieves career in three words like from the beginning to now, what would they be and why?
Expect the unexpected. We never want to do the same thing twice. The pleasure of listening to us is that you don’t know what we’re going to release. And I love that too. I love that whenever I try to write with the boys, I have no idea what’s gonna come out.

Finally, what’s one question no one asks you in an interview you wish you were asked?
How are you doing? People forget that musicians are humans too, we aren’t just money-making robots. So being asked how you’re doing is pretty important.