The Enemy on the fast track to fame

EMMA LEE Young, intelligent and restless, Coventry trio the Enemy are one of 2007’s must-see bands.EMMA LEE spoke to bassist Andy Hopkins, as the band prepare to headline the NME Rock and Roll Riot Tour, which calls at UEA, Norwich, on Thursday.


When Andy Hopkins, bassist with the Enemy, answers the phone he's barely audible. Eardrum-piercing sirens are shrieking in the background.

“Yeah, I've just robbed a bank and I'm on the run,” he chuckles. “Not really,” he adds, just in case I thought that he might genuinely have a sideline in grand larceny.

It's been a fantastic year for the Midlands trio so far. Their debut album, We'll Live and Die in these Towns reached number one, they've wowed crowds at all the major festivals, they've sold out some of the country's most prestigious music venues and they've even had time to fit in a little spat with skinny-jeaned TV presenter Alex Zane, who's banned their records from his radio show on the indie radio station XFM.

And now singer Tom Clarke, bassist Andy Hopkins and drummer Liam Watts are on the road again, headlining the NME's Rock and Roll Riot Tour, alongside the Wombats and Lethal Bizzle.

Not bad going for a band who have existed for little over a year.

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The Enemy are the voice of the clone towns - places where boredom rules, the high streets all have the same identikit chain stores and the nightclubs are part of franchise chains.

Hailing from the West Midlands, they've got cheeky charm, Gallagher swagger and are fond of the kind of sportswear that's likely to get you banned from your local shopping centre.

As Andy explains, the band came together because of a lack of other distractions and finance.

“Me and Tom would go out every night and we were spending more than we were earning. This one night we had no money and we ended up going round Liam's house - and we ended up starting a band. I couldn't even play the bass. We wrote 40 Days and 40 Nights [the song which became the first single] at the first practice.”

Their rise has been a dizzying one - at the beginning of the year they were tipped by the NME as one of 2007's acts to watch, and they haven't disappointed.

Their influences include the Clash, the Jam, the Ramones and Blur - and the result is a self-assured, urgent and infectious growing back catalogue of tracks, such as Away From Here, which was one of the summer's festival anthems.

There have been high-profile support slots with the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Ash and Kasabian and they're accompanying Stereophonics on their arena jaunt later this year. And before that there's the small matter of their own NME-endorsed headline tour, which Andy says he's really looking forward to.

“It's going to be brilliant,” he says. “Lethal Bizzle has supported us before in London, and he is amazing - he had the place going mental. I haven't heard the Wombats before, but hopefully they'll be a laugh.”

So what have his highlights been so far?

“There's no time to sit back and relax and that's good because it keeps us on our toes,” he says.

t The NME Rock and Roll Riot Tour calls at the UEA in Norwich on Thursday. Tickets have all been sold.