Interview: IOTA at The Louisiana, Bristol – 10/03/2019

From left to right: Josef Parkes (guitar), Jodie Robinson (vocals), Thomas John (drums), Mule Mattison-Spencer (bass), Dan Ashby (guitar)

IOTA is undoubtedly one of Bristol’s best up-and-coming bands right now, bringing high-energy sets to every stage they play, not only in Bristol, but all around the country. Their music is refreshing and appealing to those seeking something new, whilst still tipping its hat to some of rock n’ roll history’s finest moments. After an excellent set opening for Commune at The Louisiana, the band took the time to chat about how the band began, what they’ve been working so hard on over the past year, and what to expect from them in the coming months.

What are some highlights of your time together as a band?

Everyone: Witney Music Festival!

Tom: Mule sleeping in a Sainsbury’s car park…

Jose: He got lost on the way home, and then he slept in a Sainsbury’s car park. Not in a car, but on a bench.

Mule: No, no. It was in a bush.

Even more glamourous!

Jose: He lost his wallet…

Jodie: You should’ve seen what he looked like!

Tom: It was horrendous.

Very rock n’ roll… So how did it all start for you guys as a band?

Dan: Well Mule, Jose and I had this thing together. Every now and then we’d meet up and play some music. It was in first year. We were young and fresh…

Jose: Mule and I have, unfortunately, known each other for quite a few years now. We went to college together. So yeah, during first year at uni, we three started jamming at Dan’s place every Wednesday night until four o’clock in the morning.

Dan: We used to live next to the massage parlour and watch all the people go in there. It was really funny.

Jose: Yep… Cheering them on, like, ‘Nice one, mate!’ Haha. And then we went through about five drummers and five singers to get these two. We’re still looking, but they’re just filling in for the time being, haha. No, it just carried on from there, really.

So how long have you had this current line-up?

Jose: A year and four months or something.

Jodie: Yeah, we’ve been gigging for a year. We did our first gig at The Fleece last February.

Cool! You’ve come a long way for a band that’s only been gigging for a year. Who are your main influences then?

Jose: We all listen to really different stuff. Dan’s a massive jazz head.

Dan: Yeah, I really like jazz. Every now and then, like in our new song, I’ll get a chance to put some modal stuff into it.

Mule: He made me put some modal thing in my part.

Dan: Yeah, I made Mule put some F-sharp Lydian into one of these chords and it sounded really nice and jazzy. That made me happy.

Jodie: Tom has the worst music taste out of all of us…

Tom: I have the best music taste!

Dan: What, like Taylor Swift?

Tom: I like pop punk!

Dan: Nah. Taylor Swift. That’s Tom. What about you guys?

Jodie: Jose and I are kinda similar.

Jose: Yeah, we’ve got a pretty similar music taste. Sort of Fleetwood Mac, Incubus, Wolf Alice… Tonnes of s**t. We literally listen to so much stuff.

Jodie: And it’s quite eclectic. There’s a massive range. I’m pretty big on my indie bands, but I obviously love the classics, like Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin.

Yay, classic rock! That’s where it’s at.

Dan: Yeah, I think classic rock got all of us into music. I mean, it definitely did for me.

Jose: Yeah, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones…

If each of you had to pick one main influence, one player, who inspires you most, who would that be?

Dan: Probably John Frusciante.

Jodie: Probably Stevie Nicks.

Tom: Dave Grohl.

Mule: Probably John McVie. I like his really simple playing, you know. He never shows off. It’s great.

Jose: Probably Slash, yeah.

Jodie: Have you had a look at Jose’s Instagram posts? I had a look for the last time the other day…

Jose: They were from years ago!

Jodie: Yeah, all the captions like ‘Slash at the gig!’. It’s hilarious.

Haha, that’s great. What have you got lined up for the band within the next few months?

Jose: *Through gritted teeth* SO MUCH S**T!

Tom: Yeah, there’s a lot next month, to be fair.

Jodie: Yeah, we’re going to Cardiff, London, Great Escape, Witney Music Festival, Howlfest in Bristol.

Jose: And then we’ve also got the single release with the video we just finished filming.

Jodie: We’ve been working so hard at making it perfect, though. You get one shot to make a first impression.

Tom: And we haven’t released anything, so we’ve been holding out big time because we want it to be really good.

Jose: We had things we thought were finished, but we’ve just gone back and changed it all as well.

Jodie: We’re all perfectionists, which is good, but not…

Mule: Not very efficient.

Jose: We’re all like, ‘Ugh we want this to be out!’, but at the same time we don’t want to mess up our first impression. We’ll get there soon enough.

That’s definitely fair enough. So have you got stuff coming out soon?

Jodie: We can’t put a date on it yet, but it’s definitely going to be within the next few months. Everything we’ve recorded, in all of it, every single second has meaning. Obviously people will hopefully hook onto that and try and see what we’re doing. Yeah, it’s not just about writing down what rhymes.

Jose: It’s all been very meticulously taken apart and put back together. Everything’s been placed where it has for a reason.

Dan: It’s very emotionally intense as well, I guess. You really have to think and put yourself into this little box, trying to make yourself feel these emotions…

Tom: You’re giving me anxiety over our own songs, Dan! You’re overthinking it. Just listen to the songs, please. Please!

Jose: They’re not out yet!

Mule: Bear with!

From what I can see, you guys are very ambitious. What’s your biggest goal right now?

Jose: To conquer the world!

Tom: World domination!

Jodie: We were actually speaking about this… What was our dream headline support that we agreed on? Foo Fighters at Wembley would be good.

Jose: Seriously, though, I think just playing big festivals like Download, and just generally playing big stages.

Tom: And being able to go on tour with other big bands as well, touring America and other countries.

Jodie: It’s not about being a millionaire or whatever.

Dan: I think we want to be in the position where we’re inspiring people. We’re all inspired by watching videos of bands live, thinking ‘F**k me, I want to do that someday.’ To be that source of inspiration would be amazing.

Tom: Yeah if doing this is all we have to do, then that’s enough. To not need to have another job aside from music is fine.

Jose: We just want to write music, tour, and play big shows

Just being able to live the dream then. If you had to describe IOTA and what the band is all about in three words what would they be?

Jose: Really, really cool. Haha.

Dan: Mule. Mule. Mule.

Tom: All about Mule.

Mule: You’ll have to scrap all these bits when they kick me out next week!

Jodie: Next week? You staying that long?!

Jose: Hmmm, maybe melancholy…

Jodie: We all disagree on basically everything so that’s a really hard question, but…

Jose: Rock and roll.

Tom: Haha I think we’ll all agree on that.

Nice one. Now my next question’s one of my favourites I always like to ask. Instrumentalists: what would each of your dream rigs be?

Dan: Probably a Fender Supersonic with a load of really nice pedals. Those are bad boys. I love those. Guitar-wise, probably an all-blue Fender Jazzmaster. Everything blue, even the fretboard. Or maybe a glow-in-the-dark BC Rich Flying V haha.

Tom: A custom SJC kit, I reckon.

Mule: A cajon?

Tom: F**K NO. I’d rather kill myself than play a cajon.

Jodie: He literally refuses to play a cajon. Even at an acoustic gig, he won’t play one.

Haha you could just do all the stamping and body percussion instead.

Tom: Nahh, I’m a great tambourine shaker.

Mule: I reckon I’d want a black Fender Aerodyne bass. They’re f***ing sexy. And one of the Darkglass pedals I used in the studio was TASTY. Also an Ampeg SVT 8×10 stack would be nice, a proper old vintage style one.

Jose: I’d probably just add a Fender Supersonic to what I’ve already got. I quite like all the pedals and stuff that I already use. I’d quite like a surf green Tele with gold hardware or something. That would sort me out.

That wraps it all up for now then! Thanks for having me interview you guys.

Upcoming Dates:

11th April: The Moon, Cardiff

13th April: The Urban Bar, Whitechapel

18th April: The Louisiana, Bristol

20th April: Howlfest, Bristol

9th May: The Great Escape Festival, Brighton

Head over to the following links to keep up to date with IOTA on social media:

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