Five school friends who create emotive, cinematic music that pulls at the heart-strings and has already graced a BAFTA-nominated soundtrack
Names: David Henshaw (vocals/guitar), Joe Lawrenson (piano), Dan Fielding (guitar/bass), Dom Butler (violin), Joe Montague (drums)
Location: Leeds, England
Style: Anthemic indie-folk in the vein of Damien Rice and Bon Iver
Look out for: Debut single Here’s To My Old Friends out now, and a new EP due out in 2014
Dancing Years are five close friends who met at school and have been writing and recording music for just over a year. Although relative newcomers, with only one single release to their name, the quintet from Leeds were smart enough to recruit producer James Kenosha (Dry The River, Pulled Apart By Horses) and have enjoyed support from Radio 1’s Jen Long and Huw Stephens. They’ve already supported the likes of Dry The River and Benjamin Francis Leftwich, and completed their own tour in the latter half of 2013, but this March will see Dancing Years venture off this isle for a short European tour with Boy & Bear.
What bodes well for their success is that the band’s name is actually a musical by legendary composer Ivor Novello. “We didn’t realise this at the time,” says lead singer David Henshaw. “I was in the library and saw on the spine of a book the name The Dancing Years. We just liked how it sounded and the connotations.”
David and the band might hope to be in with a shout of winning an Ivor Novello award one day, but it’s not the only high-profile award within their grasp. “I just had a song in a film called I Am Nazareen which was nominated for a BAFTA,” explains Henshaw. It turns out they’re friends with Wave Media Productions, who write songs for film and television, and it’s perhaps unsurprising, given the latent cinematic quality of the band’s music, that he’s keen to write a film soundtrack. David admits “It might never happen, but it would be exciting,” and goes on to say how they’d love to “do some stuff with composers like Nico Muhly and spend some time writing orchestral music, like Sigor Ros.”
The band’s main songwriters are David, who started writing songs at the age of 16 – influenced by Damien Rice, The Frames and Van Morrison – and piano player Joe Lawrenson, who takes his inspiration from Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. The two either write songs individually and bring them to the band to put their parts on it, or the pair of them will sit by the piano and come up with ideas together.
One fortuitous result of their close songwriting partnership arrived in the shape of Dancing Years’ debut single Here’s To My Old Friends – a heartfelt ode to male friendship that was written when they were 18 years old. As David recalls, “Joe was going off to university and I’d decided not to go, so we were going to record a few songs and then that would be the end of our time together as a band. We wrote the song then, and it’s kind of about saying goodbye to your mates.” Ironically, the song was written about the band breaking up, when it turns out it was only really getting started.
You can watch the official video for Dancing Years’ debut single Here’s To My Old Friends below. Keep up to speed with the band’s progress and forthcoming live dates at www.dancingyears.com