Luna Bay arrive surprisingly fresh faced, as they have all assembled in London from various parts of the country, their guitarist having stepped off a train from Wales moments before. They are a four piece band consisting of front man Connor O’Mara, lead guitarist Rye Milligan, Sammy Penniston on bass and Alex Ross on drums.
They all met during their foundation year at the Chelsea branch of BIMM Institute Music School, when asked how the band started, Conner defers to Alex, “It was all his idea! I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in a band, I had been writing but, I didn’t know if I wanted to be a front man.” Alex explains, “I was sort of homeless, waiting to move into my place, so I stayed with Connor. He said he had been writing some music. I realised it was actually really good. I suggested we try the songs and start a band. I knew Sammy and thought he would be good.”
For the final piece of the puzzle came Rye, he met Connor at a party, he recalls, “I had just bought my guitar that day. I was showing it off and Connor said I’m starting a band, I was like I’ve got a guitar, I’m ready.” This is the charm of Luna Bay, they are all ready and on the cusp of great things. Their studies at BIMM have proven a great place to start, former alumni of various branches include Tom Odell, Marina Diamandis of Marina and the Diamonds, Izzy Bizu, The Kooks and George Ezra and James Bay.
Current single Colours has created all the necessary buzz a new band needs, with a catchy pop chorus and beautiful shimmering melodies. For such a young band, only one year in, they sound established. Just one single has been enough to give them a reputation as a band to watch. When asked how their growing success has been received by their fellow students, they all agreed they’ve been met with support. Alex points out, “They’re all doing their own things, they have their own projects so they’re too busy working on those.” Connor agrees, “There are some really successful people on our courses, I don’t think there’s time for any bad blood.”
As they are all music students, are they all multi-instrumentalists? Connor admits to a range of musical talents, “I play some piano, guitar, I drum and, of course, I sing.” Sammy also plays a range of instruments, he casually lists, “I play bass, piano and drums” Rye, perhaps less confidently hesitates as he says, “I… ‘dabble’… but I play the guitar.” Alex shrugs, “I just play the drums, you know, I can hit things!” So how do these components come together when they write songs, and where does a song start? Rye explains, “Sometimes Connor will have written some lyrics, in which case we will try to put down some music for it and work together to finish it.” Rye expands on this, “ Other times we’ll have worked out a riff or a groove and Connor will start to add the lyrics over the top.” Connor sums it up, “It all starts with a great hook.”
They have been playing live together for a year, being students of music and performance, playing live comes naturally. One highlight of their recent shows was joining some huge names on the line up at Y Not Festival, where they played the Arnie’s Stage. They’re looking forward to their next date in October, knowing every gig brings them more recognition and experience, not just for themselves, but as part of the London music scene. Connor nods enthusiastically, “I’ve had a look at the line up for the show on 10th October and I’m looking forward to hearing all of the acts.”
So what’s the grand plan for Luna Bay? This amuses them slightly, Alex is honest, “We have no idea!” Connor smiles, “Ask our manager!” Good response. They truly do seem like seasoned professionals already. One final question comes to mind, which they should only have to answer once in their career, where does the name come from? They all glace at each other like conspirators trying to cook up a story. Connor starts, “Well Luna was the name of a song I wrote when I was 14.” Alex interjects, “Doesn’t it have something to do with Spain? It is an actual place, but none of us have been there.” Sammy gestures to Rye, “He’s from a bay.” “Oh yes, Rye is from Cardigan Bay in Wales so that’s the Bay bit!” confirms Connor. Alex teases, “That and when we got together James Bay was doing quite a bit, so we thought we’d have some of that.”
New single Smoke and Mirrors is out soon.
You can catch Luna Bay live, headlining the RockShot-curated Blogtober Festival night on Monday 10th October at The Finsbury, 336 Green Lanes, London N4 1BY.
Find more information on Blogtober night at The Finsbury here.
To pick up your free tickets, go to here.
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Interview by Sarah Sievers, Photography by Kalpesh Patel
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate