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This week we’re continuing our artist insight feature – ‘NE Hot Seat’ – where we sit down with some of the region’s brightest talent on a monthly basis, shine a spotlight on their latest work and find out what they have planned next.

Next up we have Teesside garage rockers Onlooker, armed with their crunching post-hardcore riffage, who’ve already made quite a name for themselves throughout the region over the past few years. With debut album ‘Total Rest’ (listen here) arriving today via Sunderland cult indie label Serial Bowl Records, we sat down with the quartet to get the lowdown on their plans.


Tell us a little about yourself and your career in music so far?

So we have been a band for roughly five years now, and have had plenty of great gigs around the North East and were building up some great momentum before the pandemic hit. When that came, we decided to knuckle down and record our first album during the first break in the first lockdown. Our career as a band so far is still as exciting now as it was when we first started, the four of us have became great friends which makes the band practices and writing sessions really enjoyable. Bottom line is we are doing this for our own enjoyment, and seeing others enjoy the music what comes from that is an amazing feeling.

What can you tell us about your latest release?

The album is called ‘Total Rest’ and its our first full length release. The songs were all written prior to the pandemic hitting and we decided to put them all together into an album which Serial Bowl Records have very kindly had pressed onto vinyl. We are all super excited about this release as its not only the debut album for us as a band but its a huge tick off everyones bucket lists to have a 12inch vinyl with our work on it coming out. Serial Bowl Records will also be releasing the album on cassette and CD. The album is out today (Feb 25th) and available everywhere!

What inspires you most when it comes to creating music?

As a band we have a great respect and love for a lot of classic rock such as ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, Zeppelin and Creedence. In regards to more modern music our inspirations vary a lot between band members but some we agree on such as The Hives, Uranium Club, Ty Segall. Non music related inspirations come from what we do in our everyday lives, so we have a song about how mundane it is to walk around a supermarket. A song about people who don’t indicate properly when driving. You know, the thrills of life. Again though, I think the best inspiration comes from within the band, we enjoy jamming together so much that the song writing process is a real pleasure and getting those songs up to a standard to play live and record comes easily because of that.

How did you find the recording process and how did it shape your sound?

We decided to record this debut album during the first break in the first lockdown. We locked ourselves away in our lock up for two weeks and got everything done. The process was really enjoyable, and as we are predominately a guitar band we spent a lot of time switching out amps and guitars for every song searching for the right tone for whatever vibe we were going for. We have all played music in various bands for a long time now, and in Onlooker we all have a great love for good gear which makes the search for the tone a fun one. This helped shape the sound of the album as we tried to capture the true sound of the instrument to how it would sound live. We passed the recordings over to Chris McManus of Blank Studio to mix who done an amazing job and really got on board with the ideas behind the recording process of capturing our feel as a band. The songs were all written and practiced a lot before we came to record them so we were able to have a stress free time doing it. We record everything ourselves too, which took a lot of pressure off as we could take our time moving mics around and trying out new ideas without the worry of being on the lock. I’m certain we will be recording our next album the same way later this year.

What else can we expect from you this year?

This year we have some really fun gigs coming up such as Stockton Calling and Songs from Northern Britain which are two great local festivals. later in the year we are planning on recording a 2nd album and towards the end of the year a 3rd album. We have a few more gigs in the books at small venues, which always have the best vibes. For live we love being right in front of the audience, not up on a stage.

Where can we find you on socials and keep up to date on developments?

You can find us on all the popular social medias, Instagram and Facebook are both @onlookertheband
We have a twitter but its rarely updated, we might do a retweet every few months on that. The main way to follow us is Instagram, expect to see lots of dogs on that.

Serial Bowl Records are great to follow too for updates on releases.

Check out the group’s top picks from the region in their personally curated playlist below.


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