WITH a top 30 EP under their belts, 2021 is already a year to remember for The Reytons — and there’s still the small matters of a main stage slot at Tramlines and a debut album to come. Singer Jonny Yerrell spoke to Michael Upton about summer days in Clifton Park, selling out the Leadmill and his determination to put Rotherham on the map.
Q: For those who may not know all about you, can you give us a potted history of the story so far?
A: It just came together from us all being members of separate bands, projects and musical backgrounds, just meeting at open mic nights and on the local music scene.
None of us thought about anything other than just enjoying it and seeing what we could do together.
We just wanted to make music and jam together, and what came out of that was our first single, Slice of Lime.
We created a Facebook page and put up the video — and within the first week it had 100,000 views, so we quickly had to write and record some more to live up to the hype.
The first show we did was supporting Glass Caves at Plug and the next time we played there, we were headlining. It went from there to the O2 Academy and the Leadmill and selling out the main room.
The last two years have gone so fast and we’ve achieved so much.
Q: You’ve just released Antibiotics, the first single from your debut album. The album title is Kids off the Estate — the same as one of your singles. Why’s that?
A: Kids off the Estate is one of our biggest tracks — it’s special to us because when we started out, that is what we were.
Q: Kids off the Estate contains the lyric: “Clifton Park was Disneyland”. Tell us a bit about that…
A: When we were kids, we were never going to get to go to Disneyland, so when it was the school holidays, it meant the same to us to go to that park. What was the best part? It was the Helter Skelter with the doormats. That and the old paddling pool and the little train.
To have people not just from the local area coming to see us and singing back the words about Clifton Park — that puts a tear in your eye.
Everyone has their own Clifton Park. I just love to hear people singing that part.
To have people at our shows aged from 11 to 80 who are all there for the same reason — to see us — I can’t put into words what that means.
Q: You were recently spotted filming a video in Mexborough High Street. Why did you choose that location?
A: It has a really nice, nostalgic feel to it. There’s a real charm there and we appreciate how nice the people are.
We were filming the video for the second album and we started at 7.30 because we wanted to do it before the shops opened, but everyone wanted to be involved.
They were asking what we were doing and if we could get their shops in the video!
Q: You often draw on where and how you grew up in your lyrics — something which is reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys’ first album. Are you happy with that comparison?
A: Social commentary in the lyrics is a big local thing, from Arctic Monkeys to Reverend and the Makers and Little Man Tate — to talk about what you’ve seen and what you’ve done.
We’re interested in telling our story.
We do get the comment sometimes that we sound like early Arctic Monkeys but they’re one of the biggest bands in the world, so you can’t see that as a bad thing.
We’re all the same age and have been through the same things, so it’s only natural really. And if it was just as easy as ripping off Arctic Monkeys, how come it’s taken 15 years for someone to supposedly do it?
Q: Your latest music, particularly on the EP May Seriously Harm You and Others Around You (which went to No 27 on the album chart in February), is a bit heavier-sounding. Is that the direction you want to go in for now?
A: The album as a whole is more towards that sound.
You can hear the production is different from when we were starting out.
We have got more of a budget for it and have been able to work on doing different things with it.
Broke Boys Cartel from the EP was the first of our tracks to get airplay on Radio 1.
The EP, with that song and Red Smoke, showed a different side from what we have done before.
Q: You were featured in the Advertiser before when you were performing as a rapper, under the name Jay Mya. Is that something you think you’ll ever go back to?
A: When I was a kid, I grew up listening to all kinds of music, but I particularly liked hip-hop, and I think you can hear that in some of our tracks.
We might do some hip-hop on our own albums one day.
It’s good to have different musical influences in what you're doing.
Q: What was it like for you when lockdown kicked in halfway through your national tour?
A: We were on the sixth show of the tour, and we knew we weren’t going to be able to do the next one.
I wish I had treasured that moment a little bit more as we didn’t know then that it would go on this long.
It wasn’t so much a nervous time — it was exciting because we didn’t know what was going to happen next.
If it hadn’t happened, we would not have written the EP or done the album like we have.
We knew we couldn’t tour so we just wrote, to give the people supporting us something to listen to.
We put the EP out and the supporters just got behind us.
In the middle of the week, it was top 10. I knew it wasn’t going to hold that, but it stayed in the top 30.
So that was a real taste of what’s to come — and we want to go for the number one now.
Q: Now you’re going up in the world, have you got yourselves a luxury tour bus?
A: Oh yeah, we’ve got a helicopter, a private jet and a yacht! Not really, we’re toying with the idea of getting a sleeper bus when we get to tour again.
But we’re not that bothered — we just want to be together in the best van we can get our hands on. The hotels are getting nicer — but we are still the same.
Q: How do you feel about being booked to play the main stage at Tramlines? And who are you looking forward to running into?
A: It’s massive. We played the Leadmill Stage two years ago and that was phenomenal.
When you play your first festival, you just appreciate the opportunity.
But when you’ve got some credibility in your own right, it’s different — you know it’s your crowd and people are coming to see you.
Tramlines main stage — we cannot wait, but we are there for a reason.
It’s going to be a real career highlight.
Dizzee Rascal is playing the same day as us — I would love to meet him.
Q: What are your hopes for the album — and are you proud to be putting Rotherham on the map?
A: We want the number one spot! There’s a time to be modest and there’s a time to be proud.
We’re all local lads — Jamie is from Brampton, Lee is from Edlington, I’m from Greasbrough and Joe is from Broom.
We are all proud to be from round here — and hopefully people are proud of what we’re doing.