ICYMI INTERVIEW // Introducing The Illicits

Words by Hannah Ryan


The Illicits are a four-piece band from Blackburn, newly-signed by Alan McGee to his Creation 23, are the vital, essential guitar band the UK music scene has been waiting for, creating what Alan McGee has described as “terrace punk”.

With their blistering live shows, The Illicits are bringing people together, speaking to their peers in the north and documenting life in the post-industrial northern towns and cities. The band’s euphoric take on punk rock is instilling confidence and swagger into the northern music scene, and increasingly resonating with kids up and down the country as word spreads.

ICYMI catch them for a quick chat whilst they're on tour with, the one and only, Liam Gallagher.

You’ve been described as “gritty punk fused post-Britpop”, would you agree with this? How would you describe your sound? 

Not necessarily, we think there’s definitely and element of punk in our music. Punk tends to transcend a lot of music, but Brit pop is its own scene... sort of similar to what we’re trying to achieve. We want to make a bit of our own scene.

You were signed by Alan Mcgee’s label, Creative 23, earlier this year - how has the journey been so far? 

It’s been great. We’ve loved every minute, when you’re in a band all you want to do is get out there, gig and release new music and that’s what we’ve been doing. Growing up in Blackburn, was there much of a scene and how did you manage to ‘break’ the mould?

In Blackburn and the surrounding areas there are a few bands knocking around so there’s definitely a local scene. One night we were playing a gig in Sunbird Records (a local music venue) when our now manager Gary Aspden saw us play. He loved the gig and got in touch, following that he passed our music onto Alan McGee and he signed us to creation23. So from there that’s how we’ve managed to break through. 

What main influences have  inspired The Illicits sound?

We’re all into slightly different music and that’s what’s influenced our sound. Our drummer Matt is into heavy rock/metal which definitely shows in his drumming style. Our guitarist Brad is into the pistols hence his guitar style and our bass player joe is really into his psychedelic music. Being that we write songs together all of this tends to come out in our own songs.

You're currently on tour with Liam Gallagher, how has it been so far? How did the process of joining as support happen? 

The tour with Liam has been brilliant, we’ve been well looked after and we’ve loved every minute. We got asked to join the tour after Liam had heard our first single ‘In What World’ through Gary, he liked what he heard and gave us the opportunity to come on tour with him.

You've also joined the likes of DMA’s and The Zuton’s on tour. How does it feel to be backed by other respected bands?  

It feels great to be in and amongst these bands. We work hard to write, rehearse and be the best we can be. So it’s always nice to get recognition from people that are in the same boat as us.

Who would be your dream act to join on tour and why?

We are grateful of the opportunity to do support slots at this stage but our ambition is to continue building our following and to be headlining  our own shows.

Your next single Left Behind is due to be released on the 29th of this month, tell us a bit more about what we get from the record?

Well the single itself is something we’re really proud of. We recorded it with Bill Ryder Jones in West Kirby before Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols got in touch and said he’d love to play a solo on the track and as expected he did a brilliant job. Bill produced the track and did an equally great job, we love the way it’s come out. The single also features a special AA side track, we have been performing Underworld’s Born Slippy as a live track for a while and it’s always been a crowd favourite. So it felt right to record our own version of it and release it alongside Left Behind.

Followed by the new track, you then have your own headline show in Blackburn on the 21st of December, what do you have in-store for the crowd?

Being from Blackburn ourselves, I think over the last couple of months it’s felt like a lot of good things have been happening in the town. With the release of the Blackburn Spezial trainer and the exhibition, alongside all the great gigs and charity work that came with it there’s been a sense that something is happening for the town and that there’s a chance to be a part of something. So I think our gig falls into that. On the night the crowd can expect to not be let down, it’s gonna be high energy along with some good new music.

With all the touring, when do you have time to be in the studio? When can we expect an album?

We always find time to get into the studio. It’s a good way to work things out in new songs and it helps with writing songs going forward. There’s no plans for an album as of yet. But when the time comes we’ll be ready.

When you’re not on tour, or recording. What do you do in your free time? 

We work constantly, we all have full time jobs so during the day we tend to be there. And then when we’re not at work we’re rehearsing or writing songs. Although the rehearsing and writing doesn’t seem like work to us because we love it. That’s the way it is when you’re trying to break through, we want to make the most of every opportunity so we’re working as hard as we possibly can.

So, whats 2020 got in store for The Illicits? 

More music and more gigs! Hopefully as much as possible. 

The lads are back on tour in December as they head to Scotland to support Primal Scream before wrapping up the year with what will be an immense night, a homecoming gig at St George’s Hall in Blackburn on 21st December.

All live dates below:

Mon 18th Nov         FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield w/ Liam Gallagher

Weds 20th Nov        Manchester Arena w/ Liam Gallagher

Thurs 21st Nov        M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool w/ Liam Gallagher

Fri 13TH Dec        The Ironworks, Inverness w/ Primal Scream

Sat 14th Dec        Aberdeen Music Hall w/ Primal Scream

Sun 15th Dec        Perth Concert Hall w/ Primal Scream

Tues 17th Dec        Barrowlands, Glasgow w/ Primal Scream

Weds 18th Dec        Barrowlands, Glasgow w/ Primal Scream

Sat 21st Dec        St George’s Hall, Blackburn – Headline show

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