Cord get things tied up neatly

EMMA LEE It’s make or break time for Norwich rockers Cord as they release their second single on a major label and headline a nationwide tour, including Norwich on Thursday. Emma Lee spoke to singer James Leeds.


“Obviously there's a great deal of excitement when you sign to a major label. People say 'when are you going to buy a Porsche'? But the reality is different,” says James Leeds.

Two years ago the Norwich band Cord were snapped up by the Island record label, which is also home to U2.

Famously they were leaning on the Bösendorfer piano on which Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded at a studio in Wales when they signed on the dotted line.

On Thursday they play a gig on home turf at the Waterfront and next week their first chart-eligible single, Winter, comes out.

Their debut album is pencilled in for release later in the year.

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And they were also asked to support Tom DeLonge of Blink 182's new band Angels and Airwaves at some of London's most prestigious venues.

As singer James explains: “It might seem tardy, but basically we made the record twice. We made the record with the guy who did the last Coldplay album, but we weren't massively impressed with it. It didn't have enough soul.

“So we went back into the studio with a guy called Youth, who's produced the Verve and Embrace. He's a crazy hippie guy and within three weeks we re-recorded most of the record. And I'm really chuffed with it.”

The band were formed in 2000 by James and his drummer friend Phil Davison.

Guitarist Mike Jackson and bassist Andrew Walsh were recruited and they played their first gig on Mulbarton Common.

Their first single for Island, Go Either Way, had a limited-edition release in April.

“It's pretty hard work - not that I'd want to be doing anything else. I think it's more fun than working at Norwich Union,” James laughs. “But it's very very different to what you would think and the lows are really really low.”

But there are plenty of highs too. Recently they supported LA chart-toppers Orson on their UK tour and they've been making videos (“I loved it - it's a long day. You start at 7am and end at midnight,” he says).

And hearing their songs on the radio is also a buzz.

Radio One DJ Scott Mills recently chose Winter as his single of the week.

“I was driving to Queen's Road Sainsbury's in Norwich when we came on to Radio One. It's really quite a bizarre thing,” James says.

“We've got our first proper single coming out and we're thinking is anybody going to buy it? Are we going to chart? You worry about everything.

“And when you play gigs it's a bit nerve-racking. You think 'is anyone going to turn up'? We're supporting Angels and Airwaves and they're really big shows - the Brixton Academy and the Astoria. We've never played to that many people before.”

The former Blyth-Jex student describes the Orson tour as an “eye-opener”.

“When we did the first few dates the places were half-full. They're lovely guys and they were really down about it - they were saying 'we've come all this way to break Britain and no one's coming to hear us' and paranoia set in.

“Then No Tomorrow came out and it was like a rocket going off. And their fans seemed to like us too.”

The band are not yet sure when their album will see the light of day.

“I don't know when the album is going to come out. It depends on how well we do and how high the single charts,” James says.

“As for what it sounds like, it's the million dollar question. It can't be categorised into a genre. We write about the human condition and that means a whole breadth of emotions. It's a really eclectic mix.”

His personal favourites include System of a Down, Led Zeppelin, Oasis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Although many bands re-locate to London in pursuit of fame and fortune, the Cord boys are staying true to their roots.

They're playing the Latitude festival at Henham, near Southwold, on the same bill as the Zutons and Snow Patrol next month. And they also recently did a photoshoot for their record covers in Southwold.

“There's a really vibrant scene here,” James says. “When record company people started coming to Norwich it was the first time they'd been here. They'd go all over the country to see bands, but it would be the first time they'd been to Norwich.

“I wouldn't want to move away. Certainly not to London. We've been all over the place and only York and Oxford were anywhere near as nice as Norwich.”

t Cord play The Waterfront, Norwich, on Thursday, June 16. Box office 01603 508050 or The single, Winter, is out on June 26.

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