Spread around East Anglia, musical brother and sister, Lizzy and Reubes, along with guitarist Dan are Light Skies Darken. They appeared on the cover of Grapevine in December 2018 and Hayley catches up with them to see how it’s progressing.
HC: How long have Lizzy & Reubes been playing music together? What made you take the leap to create a band and start gigging?
Reubes: I think we can both safely say we’ve been playing music for as long as we can remember or at least as long as we have argued (to drown each other out haha). We’ve been in a few bands over the years but were desperate to form a lineup that we could go the whole distance with that played a style of music we were passionate about.
HC: Have you always had the same tastes in music growing up?
Reubes: We were also heavily exposed to our parents CD collection, which featured a lot of rock and prog stuff which has definitely had an effect on us. However, me and Lizzy still did have some different preferences too as she has always liked northern soul and rat pack stuff while I really found a love for Fusion and Jazz.
Dan: I grew up listening to The Darkness, AC/DC and Van Halen. Any CD’s I could find laying around with good guitar playing on it.
HC: Prog rock is a term used to describe your sound, being young, how did you come across prog rock and what did you think of it when you first heard it.
Reubes: With our parents being in a Pink Floyd Tribute (The Pure Floyd Show) it meant we spent a lot of our younger years hanging around theatres/ festivals/ gigs and being exposed to a lot of prog and classic rock which was amazing! I think what stood out for me about prog while growing up was the fact it wasn’t as predictable as other styles and that it tells a story. Lizzy is really in to her classic 70s prog stuff like king Crimson, while Dan is more of a Dream theatre man and I like anything really!
HC: Who are your influences?
Lizzy: Pink Floyd, Glenn Hughes, Deep Purple
Reubes: I’d say that the ‘Light Skies Darken’ sound is an amalgamation of our individual influences. I’ve always been obsessed with the big 60s/ 70s rock giants like Zeppelin, The Who, Rainbow and Deep Purple (something about the energy, the style and of course the drummers, really makes that musical era iconic for me). Dan has always been a pop punk and metal man although is big into his Dream theatre and Lizzy loves rock but also anything from Northern Soul to Rat Pack.
HC: What types of music do you enjoy listening to when you are hanging out? Do you hang out together?
Lizzy: On the way to gigs, or band outings we usually like to have something loud on to get us in the mood and ready to rock. Anything from Kansas to Black Country or Toto (not the commercial stuff haha).
HC: When you are not making music, what hobbies do you enjoy?
Reubes: I don’t know what a hobby is.. Music has taken over everything haha
Lizzy: Remember when you used to answer everything with ‘mayonnaise’?
Reubes: I change my answer to ‘Mayonnaise’ haha
HC: When you become famous, what will your rider be?
Lizzy: Incense sticks, Persian carpets….a Volkswagon Beetle to chill in before the show
Reubes: I like the hot pastries from the Tesco Deli Counter
Dan: Galaxy chocolate, lots of Galaxy chocolate
HC: What’s your party trick?
Lizzy: My Alan partridge impression, it’ll take you by surprise, it’s like he is in the room.
Reubes: I’ve got this weird signature dance that I do (Reuben does an awful dance that can’t be translated into words).
HC: Anything unusual happened at a gig?
Dan: The ex drummer from one of my favourite bands (Dragonforce) watched one of the shows on the tour we did last year which was amazing!
HC: You also play in other bands and have other musical projects/commitments, how do you juggle them?
Reubes: We are quite lucky to be busy but it does mean a lot of phone calls, calendars and scheduling, luckily we’ve been able to avoid any huge double bookings or anything like that. Sometimes we are able to coordinate things so several of the bands we play in are at the same event/ festival (both The Pure Floyd Show and Light Skies Darken are at Cambridge Rock Festival this year).
HC: You appeared on the Grapevine Cover in December 2018, how has the band and the music developed/grown since then?
Reubes: We were /are so appreciative to have the support of the Grapevine so early on and have been working really hard to try and keep making progress. Our first EP has had some amazing support from BBC Introducing and we’ve had tracks played on Hard Rock Hell, Team Rock and a variety of local stations.
Lizzy: Since then we have had some really good gigs (opening for Nadine Coyle at Festival Too and Praying Mantis at the Brickmakers). We also had a short interview on BBC Look East to promote the opening night of our first tour (St Ives Corn Exchange).
Reubes: I think musically we have really developed and grown. When writing the new originals we didn’t restrict ourselves to trying to write a number of ‘prog’ tracks and just worked with the songs that sounded the most natural and authentic. We are still very much ‘prog’ but there are some elements that could be considered almost POP/ metal and funk on the new record!
HC: Tell me about how your band name came about?
Lizzy: I think Light Skies Darken was the one we all had the gut feeling to pick. We were on the way to West Suffolk Hospital one night and noticed the amazing colour of the sky and were shocked how quickly it had gone from being a warm and bright autumn day to a cold, dark night and ‘Light Skies Darken’ simply summed it up.
HC: How did it feel to release your first EP?
Lizzy: It was such a great feeling to finally release our first EP although after a while (when we started writing new music) we realised we were much more ‘prog’ than the tracks we had included on it. We didn’t have a chance to gig any of the songs very much before we released it where as the new album has evolved through gigging.
HC: What musician, other than yourself, have you ever wanted to be?
Lizzy: I’ve never really wanted to be another musician but i’ve always loved players like David Gilmour and Roger Waters, it seems I only have male inspirations haha.
Reubes: When I was younger I used to be obsessed with Mike Portnoy from Dream Theatre, he is such a fantastic drummer and has a cool blue beard, who wouldn’t want a blue beard!
HC: When did you last remember a dream?
Lizzy: Last night I had a dream about Tarrot cards telling me to love myself more.
Reubes: and your bandmates rightt?
Lizzy: No! These are my tarot cards, about me loving myself, stop getting involved in my dreams man haha!
HC: What artist/group would you like to support?
Reubes: We’ve been lucky enough to open for Praying Mantis (legends on the NWOBHM scene) and it would be amazing to support some of the other bands we have grown up listening to. Uriah Heep and Dream Theatre would be two groups i’d love the band to open for.
HC: What’s your favourite sandwich filling?
Reubes: Well my hands down, favourite sandwich is the Subway steak and cheese melt
Lizzy: I knew you were gonna say that. Um… I’m addicted to strawberry jam and butter but you can’t go wrong with beef and horseradish.
Dan: Just cheese. A solid cheese sandwich with butter.
HC: What’s the least cool thing you’ve done recently?
Reubes: I stayed at home and watched Saturday night television the other week, that was not cool at all.
HC: What’s your favourite word?
Lizzy: I hate lol. I hate that so much with a passion. Why, can’t people just laugh when someone says something funny
Reubes: I like the world tangible
Lizzy: That is a good word to be fair.
HC: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Lizzy: On my own from Les Mis
Dan: Stare into the sun by light skies darken because i’m still learning the harmonies.
HC: Have you met a famous person? Who was it and what were you like?
Reubes: Lizzy and I were invited to a private album launch where we had the opportunity to chat with our hero Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree singer and solo artist) about Light Skies Darken. It was amazing to be able to talk to him about the band and music (a bit of a crazy experience considering we had been to see him at the Royal Albert Hall not so long before hand)!
HC: Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Reubes: I really admire some of the elder musicians on the circuit such as Sir Tom and Tony Bennet as they still go out and put on great shows with the same amount of enthusiasm and passion as they ever have!
Lizzy: I’m a big fan of Frank Sinatra and Brad Paisley. I have to say though that I love the musicians in Pink Floyd as i never get bored of their music.
HC: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Reubes: It’s all about enjoying it so just try your best to have as much fun as possible. The audience are watching you and not playing on the stage themselves and as much as you may be worried about them judging any mistakes, they are there for the same reason (to have a good night).
HC: If you could only eat one thing for a whole week, what would you choose?
Lizzy: Chicken, you can make a lot of meals with chicken haha.
HC: What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
Reubes: I love the connection you can generate during a live show between the band and the audience. To be able to be having so much fun and to see that the audience are enjoying the music too is an unbelievably special thing.
HC: What do you hate most?
Dan: I don’t like changing strings, I really hate changing strings.
HC: What’s your biggest vice?
Lizzy: Milk, I love milkshakes.
HC: Light Skies Darken had a summer tour in 2019, how did you find touring together? What’s next for you in 2020?
Reubes: It was such a hilarious experience and an amazing learning curve for the three of us. We had the opportunity to play some great events and there is nothing that can beat the feeling of playing music you have written to an audience. We learnt a lot about crafting and refining a good live show and it was brilliant to meet so many other musicians and people in the industry.
Light Skies Darken
This interview first appeared on GrapevineLIVE.