Church Village Collective – or CVC – got their name from the small town they grew up in: Church Village lies in the Welsh Valleys, about 10 miles north of Cardiff. Singer Francesco Orsi, bassist Ben Thorne, drummer Tom Fry, keyboardist Daniel ‘Nanial’ Jones and singing guitarists David Bassey and Elliot Bradfield grew up there together.
While they say they are mostly influenced by British pop from the 60s and 70s, the Welsh Valleys still clearly influence their music. “We got our name from there! There’s loads of influence. Church Village Collective – that’s our name, that’s the quaint little town we’ve come from,” Francesco says.
They call themselves a collective, not a band – it is supposed to be a democracy that anyone can join: “We’re just mates and we’re welcoming other people to join our collective. The idea of the collective is that anyone’s welcome to join the collective, you don’t have to be ‘part of the band’.” When trying to describe the sound of their music, it gets complicated: psych rock, they say, or indie sleaze maybe. “I think there’s different elements of different genres in each song. So, it’s quite multi-genre if you go down to it,” Francesco says. A “collective of genres”, they add jokingly.
Their debut album, Get Real, was released in January and is supposed to introduce listeners to their sound. Recorded in Bradfield’s living room, the album is both a local and DIY project, combining songs some of the members had written. “The album basically came from all the songs we had up until that point. We didn’t write for an album, the songs are more like sellotaped together. It’s a ‘this is us’ album,” Francesco says. The collective says they usually write about their lives – money troubles, relationships and “smoking too much weed”.
While the boys are unsure about how exactly the Welsh Valleys have influenced their music, it is clear that growing up together in a small town has made them close friends – and the variety in all their voices can clearly be heard on the album. From nostalgia to joy, the album holds it all: an album for long road trips or times when you miss being with your friends from school. I sat down with them to discuss their influences and the card game Whilst speaking to them, it becomes apparent that they write music so they can play it for people – and have a good time with their mates.
You are all from a small town – what was it like growing up there?
David: Come on! We come from a town called Church Village.
Ben: Yeah – I’d like to have kids there, cause it’s nice and “quaint” – but there wasn’t much there in terms of music. Just a couple of cover bands.
How does that influence your music? Can people hear Church Village in your music?
David: I think the South Wales valleys in general are just full of beautiful singers. So, I don’t know why we came from there (everyone laughs).
Francesco: It’s Wales in general – everyone has beautiful voices.
Ben: Nah, there is no musical influence from Church Village, is there?
Francesco: No, yeah, but the hills give you influence. The area gave us all influence.
Elliott: And the terrible weather.
David: We got our name from there! There’s loads of influence. Church Village Collective – that’s our name, that’s the quaint little town we’ve come from.
How come you call each other a collective?
Francesco: We’re just mates and we’re welcoming other people to join our collective.
David: Yeah, the idea of the collective is that anyone’s welcome to join the collective, you don’t have to be “part of the band”.
Ben: Do you want to join the band?
Sure, why not.
Ben: Tin whistle? Do you play the tin whistle?
No, sorry. I play the piano though?
Ben: Oh you can’t join the band then.
Francesco: Actually, we need a new piano player!
Haha. So, how would you describe your music to someone who’s not heard it before?
Ben: Everyone seems to say it’s psych rock, don’t they?
Francesco: Yeah. Indie psych rock, I’d say.
David: Indie sleaze maybe?
Elliott: I think everything on the album, there’s different elements of different genres in each song. So, it’s quite multi-genre if you go down to it.
Ben: It’s a “collective”.
Elliott: Yes, it’s a collective of genres.
Is that what you try to do? Do you try to include all these genres?
Ben: Nah. It just happened that way.
Francesco: It’s got lots of different influences.
What kind of music do you listen to that influences it?
David: I think all of us listen to quite different music, but I think the base of it is a lot of harmony-driven pop from before the millennium.
Ben: Yeah, loads of 60s and 70s stuff. All the album reviews have said so far that the album is basically taken from the 70s.
That’s your new album, do you want to talk about that a bit?
Francesco: Yes, it got released on Friday the 13th (January).
Francesco: We’ve just been touring it and it’s the first time we’ve played the album from top to bottom.
What’s the album about?
Ben: The album basically came from all the songs we had up until that point. We didn’t write for an album, the songs are more like sellotaped together.
Francesco: It’s a “this is us” album.
Ben: It does feature a lot of themes of money troubles, though. We’ve all grown up without any money, so a lot of it is focused on that.
David: Money, relationships and smoking too much weed.
Ben: Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
So, you’re saying money troubles, relationships – does your life influence what you write about?
Francesco: Yeah, I think that’s the best way I write, personally.
David: I think it’s the only thing you can write about, really, at the end of the day. You can only go off your own experiences.
Elliott: That’s a famous quote isn’t it, life influences art?
David: Art influences life.
Francesco: Also, we haven’t sat down to write anything together. The album’s songs were already there and we just decided to start recording stuff and an album came out of it.
You’re playing a gig tonight – what do you enjoy about playing live?
Ben: It’s probably the only bit about being in a band that I enjoy.
Francesco: Oh, come on! Don’t say that!
Ben: (Laughs) Yeah, it’s not true at all, but it is the most fun about being in a band.
Francesco: What do you mean? Being in the van is the best part of being in the band for me.
Ben: We used to have a van, in the back of the van we would play Whist. It’s a banging game. We have a league.
Francesco: It would get so competitive.
Ben: Yeah, it’s heated. The old van would have a table in the back so we could play on the way. And now we have a van with front-facing seats and we can’t play whist anymore.
Francesco: How did this question get to whist?
Ben: Everything always comes down to whist.
Francesco: What was the question?
Ben: About playing live! It does influence the live set because you get ready for the gig by playing whist.
Francesco: Yeah you get hyped up.
So you’re saying playing live is your favourite part of being in a band, why do you like it so much?
Ben: It’s being with my homies, isn’t it.
Francesco: Playing live is the best part because it’s the culmination of your hard work. You put in the hours practising, you write the songs, you record the songs, hope people listen to them and then they come hear you play live. And it’s so much better than the album anyway.
David: I think since day one, we’ve always been a “live band” where we want to influence the crowd’s energy a lot. We’re trying to bring that back with the new album and the songs we’ve got.
Ben: The next step is a laser light halftime show.
David: Oh, laser quest! Write that down.
Ben: I really want to get a t-shirt cannon, too.
Where else do you want to take the band in the future? What are your goals?
Francesco: I think it’s just to bring out another album. We are all working on the next album and recording that, then seeing how far it can take us. Fingers crossed, get to quit our day jobs.
David: Travel the world.
Elliott: Release as much music as possible.
Ben: Be able to spend as much time doing this kind of shit as possible.
Words and photo: Clara Bullock
CVC’s debut album, ‘Get Real’ is out now via the band’s own label. Stream and purchase the record via Bandcamp.