This talented trio from Tunbridge Wells have gone from being a local covers band to one of the brightest young things in the indie music world – in the short space of just twelve months. Eileen Leahy caught up with The Bay Rays to find out how they came to be performing on the BBC Introducing stage at this weekend’s Glastonbury festival
Playing at what is easily the world’s most famous music event is no small feat for any group. But for one that was touring pubs around Penshurst and Chiddingstone as a covers band only a year ago The Bay Rays’ ascent into the cool world of indie rock music is nothing short of remarkable.
“We didn’t start writing our own material until last autumn,” reveals the band’s bassist Anthus Davis, 25.
“Max Oakley our drummer and Harry Nicholl, guitarist and lead vocalist, did a trip along Route 66 in the US and decided they wanted to start playing music as a band again.”
When the boys returned to Tunbridge Wells they recruited bassist Anthus who had to ‘learn about 30 covers in a day’ before their first gig.
Once the boys were regularly playing music together they decided to drop doing other artists’ material and start penning and performing their own songs.
But first they had to find a name for themselves and inspiration came courtesy of the veteran indie band the Dead Kennedy’s whose guitarist is called East Bay Ray. The trio cite him along with The Clash, Iggy Pop, Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles and John Cooper Clarke as big musical inspiration for them.
With a few songs under their belt The Bay Rays performed their first official gig at The Forum earlier this year. “I think there were about 15 people there – and half of them were our mums and family!” jokes Anthus.
“The Forum can feel very empty when there aren’t many people there” says Max, 24, who also runs the Ninety One Barbers in town. “But it was fun and it was nice not playing a load of covers. We’ve played there twice now. Recently we supported Slaves there for a charity gig for Nordiff Robbins.”
What did it feel like when they first heard themselves on the radio? “We were in shock and it was a bit odd. Abbie McCarthy at BBC Introducing in Kent helped us get exposure by playing our very first demo on the radio. We all huddled around a car stereo in a pub car park before playing a covers gig. That was a fun night!”
So to go from a relatively tiny musical platform to the industry’s biggest one down at Worthy Farm in Somerset this weekend courtesy of being spotted by BBC Introducing will surely be a pinch yourself moment for the band?
“Glastonbury is the best festival in the world, it is legendary,” says Harry. “To be asked to play is an honor as so many acts who have played on the Introducing stage have gone onto bigger things.
“We’ll be playing Leefest at the end of July but most of our time this summer will be taken up with a Sunday residency at the Sussex which starts on July 22nd . We’ll be there once a month until September. Then we’ll be writing and going back into the studio with our producer Jolyon Thomas to record our first EP which will be released later this year.”