Formation – Interview – 2017

Formed by brothers Will and Matt Ritson, Formation’s life-affirming blend of catchy grooves, punk attitude and intelligent social insight has built their phenomenal debut album Look At The Powerful People. Ahead of its release and the band’s Brighton show at Green Door Store I had a chat with Matt from the band.

Can you give us a brief history of the band and how it was formed?
Will and I started creating music as Formation in 2013. We were messing around with improvised music using just bass and drums. After a day or so we had some amazing grooves and decided to start writing songs. From there we reached out to our friends Jonny, Kai and Sash to complete the lineup.

How would you describe your music?
Our friend once said if you can’t describe your music then just put the word ‘progressive’ in front of the closest genre, so it’s progressive pop.

The new album sounds brilliant, how old are the songs and what was the recording process?
Some of the songs were up to three years old and a couple are brand new. We recorded all of them in two weeks at Strongrooms studios in London with Ben Baptie and Leon Vynehall. We did as much of it live, in the moment, as possible and spent a good few hours playing with the sounds and effects. After two weeks of hard work it was done!

Are you conscious of how the tracks will sound live when you’re in the studio?
I think we’re pretty comfortable playing the tracks so it’s always enjoyable to get into the studio and lay down a few takes. Plus, as a live band we don’t have any laptop or backing track so it’s a lot easier to translate the live show to the studio and vice versa.

There is a feeling of politics and rising up running throughout the album. In these times of tense political situations and social unrest, do you feel musicians have a social duty to broadcast their feelings in order to help influence others?
Yes. Anyone who has a platform to speak and connect with people should be doing their best to translate positive ideas and encourage a collective spirit between all people.

The album seems to have a whole spectrum of un-relatable influences running through it. Can you pinpoint specific ones?
We think that all music is relatable, for instance there are more similarities between the rhythmic qualities of Pantera and someone like James Brown than people might be aware of. Essentially, all good music has a groove, however minimal.

Is there a particular process that your songwriting goes through when crafting the tracks?
No song of ours is ever written to a formula. They come from all different places; lyrics, a bassline, a drum pattern. The aim is just to be inventive and not allowing the creative process to become generic.

What does the next 12-18 months have in store for the band?
Playing shows, travelling, we’re off to Japan in a couple of months and hopefully even more new music as soon as possible.

If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring to?Formation?
We’d love to collaborate with Max Richter. Hearing the songs with more orchestration would be amazing.

What music are you listening to at the moment? Are there any bands on your label that we should listen out for?
There’s an amazing band from Brighton called Abattoir Blues, their track sense is incredible. Also bands like Show Me The Body and Dreamcrusher are pretty exciting, plenty of noise being made!

Is there a particular ethos that drives you as a band?
Music is power.

What is your relationship with the city of Brighton?
Brighton is always a great city to play. We’ve been paying gigs in Brighton since we were about 16 with various other bands and the music scene is still as strong as ever!