Spending far too much time down the pub: meet The Enemy’s Andy Hopkins

Since the acerbic sound of ‘Away From Here’ hit UK airwaves, The Enemy have continued to produce their particular brand of emotive, acid-tongued rock and roll. We talked to their bassist, Andy Hopkins…

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The Enemy

Music ain’t a beauty contest: The Enemy, with Andy on the right.

Since the acerbic sound of ‘Away From Here’ hit UK airwaves, The Enemy have been one of the most popular bands on the circuit and continue to produce their particular brand of emotive, acid-tongued rock and roll. We talked to their bassist, Andy Hopkins, just before the band play at the Y Not festival in Derbyshire, to find out just what makes The Enemy into the group that they are.

How do you feel about playing the Y Not festival?

AH: Literally can’t wait – it’s probably going to be one of the best festivals that we do this year. The line-up’s wicked and we’re supporting The Darkness. They’re one of my favourite bands and it’s literally just down the road [from us] so hopefully they’ll be a few fans down there.

In an industry that seems to be putting more of a focus on pop bands, what do you think about the state of the UK festival scene?

Personally, I think it should be about live music but an awful lot of people are into sampled stuff at the moment; which is fair enough,  but I prefer to watch people actually playing at festivals.

Is it the mainstream target audience that don’t want to see live music or that there’s been a shift in the industry to focus on sampled stuff?

I dunno, a bit of both really. I know a lot of people love live music – especially the people I hang around with! – but it’s just the way the industry’s gone. A lot of festivals that we’ve played at  this year had a lot of X Factor people there– they’re probably still talented as well, but I don’t like how manufactured everything is. Writing your own songs and then going to perform them live; that’s more my kind of thing.

Your first album, ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’, was released back in 2007. I know it’s quite a while ago,  but what made you decide to start a band?

It was me and Tom [Clarke, vocals and guitar]. Every night we were just down the pub and we were just like ‘argh, there’s gotta be something else we can do’ and then we were like ‘let’s start a band!’ We went round Liam’s [Watts] house and he can play drums so we were like ‘look!’ We’d been in bands before, but not together. So we sorted out band practice for next week, and then we went in and actually wrote ’40 Days and 40 Nights’, which is on the album, at our first practice.

Are there any bands who have particularly influenced your sound?

Yeah! Tom really loves The Beatles, David Bowie, and The Who. Liam likes jazz fusion and stuff like that as well, which I really can’t get my head round! I think that’s because he’s the drummer, he loves it! I love Green Day, The Rolling Stones, Blink-182, and stuff like that; I suppose we all put our heads together and it just turned out like it sounds.

So, out of the songs you’ve written, which is your favourite one to play?

My favourite one to play live is ‘You’re Not Alone’, but we always play that last so everyone goes absolutely mental, which is a good thing. It’s an amazing one to end on.

The Enemy’s music tends to focus on urban life…

Basically, the first album was what we knew, how we lived and about all our mates. We actually mentioned working with my dad – he worked at Peugeot and he lost his job. It’s more social commentary, but a lot of people got the wrong idea. We’re not here to be political.

At the end of the day, that reflects what’s going on in people’s lives…

That’s what happened! To me, we were just writing about us, but then as we travelled around people were like ‘ah, I can really identify with that song!’, and they kind of made our songs theirs. It’s nice to see really, we didn’t really think it would … we weren’t thinking that this would relate to everyone.

Was there any particular reason why you decided to write about your day-to-day lives and the people around you?

I don’t think it was a conscious decision. We were kind of bored, do you know what I mean? We wrote about our jobs and stuff, it was like it just happened.

Six years on from when ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ was released, what motivates you to keep playing?

We just love music, and we love writing songs, and we’re just going to carry on writing. I mean, the second album was a bit… you know what I mean, slightly overproduced for an indie band. It was definitely slower, and then we realised that actually The Enemy are about catchy choruses and upbeat playing. It’s not necessarily aggressive, but when we’re live we like to perform and put everything in.

What is it about your music that you think appeals to fans?

I think it is the upbeat, catchy choruses. With our third album, we went right back to this, and it got received really well and some people were like ‘yeah, The Enemy are back!’ but we didn’t really ever leave, its just that our second album was slightly different.

Looking back over your career, what’s your proudest moment so far?

One of the highlights was supporting Oasis when we went on tour with them; that was just unbelievable. We played the Ricoh Arena [Coventry] to all our fans, but there were 16 000 over two nights and I think that was a magic highlight for me. And going to Japan, that was unbelievable! Absolutely lush man, I need to go back over there.

Have The Enemy got any plans for the rest of the summer, and over the next couple of years?

We’re doing festival season and then we wanna get a support tour at the end of the year, hopefully with Stereophonics. We’re writing for the fourth album at the moment; we’ve demoed three songs already, and we’re quite excited about it… it’s fresh, you know? We’re going in the studio recording at the end of the year, and should have it out by April time next year, if things go to plan.

Any ideas what the sound of the fourth album is going to be like?

Its upbeat and I suppose it’s a bit less aggressive… so far, you know what I mean? We’ve got about fifteen songs for it – but that’s quite a wide guess! – and until you record it you never know what it’s going to be like until its finished.

One last question… what advice would you give, to anyone who’s sat reading this and thinks ‘I’d really like to start a band’?

I’d say do it and believe in yourself, but you have to know it’s good. I don’t like it when people – you see it on X Factor actually, a lot of ‘they’re the best, he’s been practising all his life!’ – and blah blah blah. It’s just not the way to do it… I think you’ve gotta believe in yourself, but only if its good!