You certainly can’t knock the tenacity of The A52s. They’re not fairweather players and don’t let a downpour put them off as they proved at a recent Wirksworth Farmers Market.
They rocked in the rain as the wind buffeted their gazebo and autumn leaves fell like confetti around them.The lively music lifted the spirits of the hardy shoppers wading their way through the deepening mud and the band definitely deserved the applause which greeted the end of each number.
It was the imminent launch of their first album Joy Mining Machinery at a gig in Wirksworth Town Hall which brought four members of the six-piece band to the town for a promotional performance.
And if the reception they were getting at the market was anything to go by I suspect they achieved their aim.
They took a break to chat to artsbeat about how it all started back in 2008 when three mates sitting around a kitchen table in Parwich were encouraged by their families to give it a go.
“We all either sang or played an instrument and our wives said you should form a band. It may have been to get us out of the house I guess…” joked the artist Lewis Noble who sings and plays the guitar and piano accordian for the band.
“We started off meeting and practising together in my art studio and at first we just performed for family and friends. We were just having fun and enjoying the music,” he explained.
Chris ‘Mando Man’ Radlett, who (you’ve guessed it) plays the mandolin for the band recalled one practice session where they were actually discussing whether or not they should stand up for their first gig in a pub. “That’s how rock and roll we were back then,” he said with a laugh.
The name, they insist, was a joke which stuck and, in case anyone hasn’t got it, is in reference to the road on which they all spend a great deal of time travelling backwards and forwards from their homes to Derby and Nottingham.
Alongside Chris and Lewis the other band members are: Chad Bean who plays the recorder and saxophone, Ben Blant on fiddle and bass, Mark Simmons on drums and guitarist Mike ‘Champagne’ Hughes, who earned his nickname for once having a bottle of bubbly clipped to his mic stand during a performance.
By 2012 The A52s had gained quite a following for their music, best described as folk-tinged rock and with recognition came invitations to perform at the Y-Not and Bearded Theory Festivals.
That encouraged them to push themselves further and for the last couple of years they have focused on writing original songs inspired by living in Derbyshire.
“Eventually we realised that we had actually written enough original material to make an album and it seemed like a good idea to give it a go.
“We didn’t know what would happen but here we are. It is a really big deal for us and we are very excited,” said Chad.
The band recorded the album in the bedrooms of children who have gone to university as makeshift studios and designed the album cover using artwork by Lewis and a concept from a graphic designer friend Keith Willingham.
“The name Joy Mining Machinery is a way of saying that The A52s are a positive mechanism for enjoying life with friends, family and our audiences – all people without whom we couldn’t have done this,” added Chad.
You can follow The A52s on facebook.