Introducing City of Lights

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I have been a fan of the music of the band City of Lights for a while now and I thought it was about time that I showed my support by introducing you all to them. Our paths originally crossed via Twitter a few years ago after they asked me to check out their video for ‘Here, Alive’. I was surprised to see an acoustic guitar in their video considering this song had a rock sound. I really liked what I heard and I wanted to see what else they had on offer. I found more of their songs on their YouTube channel as well as their Soundcloud page. I was impressed with what City of Lights have created and from then on I was hooked.

City of Lights is result of Matt Dunwell (Guitar & Vocals), Ash Howey (Bass), Alex Humphreys (Lead Guitar) and Ben Freer (Drums) combining together to create this killer sound. These guys are no rookies either as they have been together since 2011 and earned nothing but great reviews for their music and live shows. I can confirm from their social media sites that they always like to perform live as they genuinely love what they do.

To give you a little more information about the band I want to share a chat I had with Ash from the band. He was kind enough to give us an insight into the musical world of City of Lights, about their name and a little more. This is what he had to say:

How did City of Lights come together and is there a story behind the name?

The idea of the band came about when Matt was working in Paris. He decided he’d had enough of trying to fit a band in around having to work and was going to make music a priority. The name City of Lights pays homage to the origin of where the idea first came about. Paris is the city of lights. The idea for the band happened in Paris, yeah you get it…

Songs were written, demos were recorded which then became EPs and albums, combined with relentless gigging, it all took off from there.

How would you describe the bands sound and which musicians have helped influence this?

We tend to get asked this a lot. We describe our sound as acoustic driven pop rock. Some people say we’re a rock band, some say we’re alternative, some call us pop punk. The roots of the band started as an acoustic duo, and from that the sound grew and developed into what it is now. All our songs can still be stripped back and performed as an acoustic rendition so we still stick by our sound being acoustic driven pop rock. The pop rock lends it’s self to the melodic hooks we write and the fact that we’re definitely heavier than a pop band. As for influences, we have so many. It’s impossible to say we have based everything on a particular style or movement. There’s influence from genres such as hip hop, punk, singer/songwriter, classic rock, emo, funk. It’s hard to pick out some of those influence when you listen to our songs but if you break down who is doing what, the different styles become more apparent. Generally tho, any hard working band, no matter what stage of their career they’re at are an influence to us because they’re working towards a goal, as are we.

Which is the bands favourite song from the huge collection you have written and why?

This is another tough question because we all have different preferences and all go through different stages of our lives at different times so one song may be a happy song to one of us, but another might have been having a hard time while a song was written, recorded or released so the only honest way to answer that would be to give you 4 individual answers and not a collective band favourite. Let’s say from a performance point of view, Atlas Stark is definitely a favourite live because of the energy in the song.

What can people expect from your shows?

Energy, sing-a-longs, effort and gratitude. We put everything into our live shows. We even take our own lighting rig into venues when we can afford to, to give the audience an experience over and beyond what they would expect from an unsigned band. We want people to want to come to our shows to see what happens next. We always try and engage with the room and get the crowd involved. People who come to our shows are as much a part of our band as we are so why not get them involved? We are truly grateful for the support we get and without it, we wouldn’t be a band.

What’s the future plans and goals for the music of City of Lights?

More writing, more recording, more touring. We’re actively looking to work with the right booking agent so we can concentrate more on our live show while someone can book and tour manage for us. We’re self funded, self managed and have no ties with anyone at all so there’s a lot to do. We’ve played Reading & Leeds, O2 Academy’s, toured the UK & Europe all off our own backs, now we’re looking to take the next step and take it up another gear. We have a big show coming up in Leeds in September so keep your eyes peeled for that.

In 2011 they released their debut EP called ‘Honestly’ which is currently unavailable so I can’t comment on it unfortunately. I assume that most of, if not all songs appeared on their 2012 debut album ‘Seasons Change’. This album instantly showed that this was a band that deserved respect with the calibre of music they were producing. What the guys offer is an acoustic rock sound that showcases a lyrical talent that is delivered by an equally impressive vocal talent from Matt. When you listen to my highlight songs ‘Honesty’ and Wake Me Up’ you will hear this talent that they have to offer.

Their next release arrived in 2013 with the EP ‘Don’t Give Up’ which again is currently unavailable. Don’t worry though, 2014 saw them bring us another album full of goodness called ‘Live and Learn’. This feels like a new chapter with the band as they give us an evolution in their sound. They now show us how they can rock as the title track perfectly demonstrates. The riffs and solo skills on guitar from Alex help to give a more edgy sound which Ben assists with his awesome skills on the drums. What I really like about this album is that it has a great balance as this new rock sound is joined alongside the acoustic sound from their previous album. Their song ‘Tonight’s the Night’ is a song which offers the mix of both worlds and shows that this is a band that has a lot to offer. When the band slow things down they offer music which is filled with emotion that also lets their lyrical talent shine as my favourite song ‘Wallace Hartley’ shows. This is a beautiful and delicate song that highlights a captivating vocal talent. It is used perfectly to share a great example of their lyrical abilities. The rest of the guys give a controlled performance to bring us a soft tone to mirror the emotion of the vocals and lyrics. Overall an album filled with impressive depth to the bands sound ranging from stadium rocking anthems to emotion filled songs. It also shows how much their music has grown not only in sound but within their songwriting abilities as a whole.

City of Lights have continued to create impressive music and 2015 saw their latest release called READY Aim Fire EP. This is all about the need to rock as all 3 of these songs are rocked filled, ticking all the right boxes needed to deliver this killer sound. ‘Live it Up’ is a perfect example of what this EP is about as the energy of this song along with the lyrics have a stadium anthem feel about it. Everyone brings their ‘A’ game to give us something special. Overall a great showing of how these guys rock. They may have developed a heavier sound since the earlier days but the foundations of great lyrical content and infectious sound is still there to be heard.

City of Lights are a band that have more to offer than the average rock band. I highly recommend that you head our to their Soundcloud page (click HERE) or their YouTube channel (click HERE) to understand why they are a band who’s music needs to be in your collection today!

As Ash said during the interview, they are not slowing down as they have a lot more to offer. I know from their social media sites this is true as they have more music and shows in the works. I can’t wait to hear what they will cook up next and you can expect that their next album or EP with have a cheeky mention on here in the future. If you want to find out more about the band, new music or their upcoming shows then check out their website at CityofLightsofficial.com or their social media sites at Facebook and Twitter. If you like what you hear from City of Lights then help spread the word and support their killer sound!