It may not be such an unusual sight now, with the likes of La Roux happily straddling the worlds of pop and indie, but when I first met Scarlet Soho, no one else was doing what they were doing. At a time when going to a gig always meant watching three near identical guitar bands, Scarlet Soho shunned that tired idea of what a band should be, got in a van with some synths and a drum machine and played pop music to those same audiences.
It’s hard to describe now the range of responses they received. There was a time when you could guarantee that at least one person in the audience every night would shout, “Where’s your drummer?” Like the band hadn’t noticed they were a man down. It didn’t matter that Scarlet’s fuzzed-up bass lines provided sharp grooves to counter those clinical drums, or that James’ warm, souring vocals shot over the expansive guitars. Or even that the songs these separate parts went together to create were always smarter, catchier and simply better than any of the worn-out sounds their contemporaries were making.
Some people just weren’t ready for the step forward Scarlet Soho were making. But plenty were, and the band built up a solid network of fans around the country, desperate for something different.
Influenced as much by Faith No More as they are by The Human League and Depeche Mode, Scarlet Soho have always known how to mash genres to create perfect pop. And, like those bands, they stamp their own clear sound and personality on everything they do.
The band released their debut album, Divisions Of Decency, through UK indie label Human Recordings in 2004, which brought them to the attention of bands including Razorlight, Delays and IAMX, all of whom personally requested for Scarlet Soho to join them on tours that took them around the UK and Europe. Since then, the band have supported IAMX at a sold out show at London’s legendary Scala venue, as well as headlining the very first MySpace Live event in Berlin and the Under The Sky stage at the Montreux Festival.
In 2008, they signed to Hamburg-based label Major Records, home to IAMX and Ladytron, who released the second Scarlet Soho album, Warpaint, in 2009. A definite progression from their debut, the band were more comfortable and confident in their sound and their songwriting, which is clear from tracks such as Analogue Dialogue (Kill The Beat) and the epic This Nausea.
Further touring ensued, with the band’s own headline European tour followed by UK dates with 80s legends A Flock Of Seagulls and a Europe-wide tour with Zoot Woman, which saw them playing to crowds of around 1000 people a night.
Now back in the UK working on new material for their third album, Scarlet Soho have built a strong fanbase that continues to grow with every record and every show. And just as they pre-empted the resurgence of intelligent pop, they are pre-empting its next move as we speak.
From The Railway Inn’s website