What drew each of you to music and how did you get into it?
I (Tom) wanted to learn the drums at an early age, but my parents were less enthusiastic about the idea! I settled for learning to play a guitar that my dad had tried to learn in his youth and begun to learn some songs with some school friends of mine. From there, I began playing in local bands, writing my own songs and here we are, some 17 years later! Sarah’s dad is a musician, and has been playing music since before she was born. She taught herself guitar and piano which led to learning to harmonise along with The Beatles and playing solo gigs. Toby took an interest in folk music very early on and began to learn the flute as a first instrument. He was invited to join some of his folk heroes onstage at a young age and has forged a career as a session musician for many big names in the folk world.
How did the group form?
The band we were previously in had more members and a different sound. Our writing evolved into what it is now and our philosophy about being a band with real messages and intent came to be. The definition of ‘in earnest’ is to improve something that is already in motion, to pursue it more seriously and sincerely, which is exactly what we intend to do with our music.
How would you describe your sound?
We half-jokingly call it ‘sad indie noise’. It’s a light-hearted dig at ourselves for only wanting to write sad and emotional songs. We just love it.
What’s the creative process behind a song?
Usually, either myself (Tom) or Sarah will write a complete song that we are happy with, bring it into band practice and give the other two band members the opportunity to input their ideas for improvements and further instruments and parts to include in the full-band arrangement. We spend quite a lot of time communicating our ideas, so that we can try to get into the headspace of a particular song, to know what it’s about and then it becomes much easier to understand what is required of each of us.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
As a band, we cite Phoebe Bridgers, Dodie, Noah Gundersen, Julien Baker, The Beatles, Glen Hansard and a plethora of black metal bands as big influences! Haha.
What is the story behind ‘in between’ ?
‘In Between’ was a song that I (Tom) had in mind for our previous band, but we never got around to it. As part of a late night songwriting session, I took some of the lyrics that I liked and completely wrote new music for it to be something that would be suitable as an ‘in earnest’ song. It sounds cheesy and overdone, but it’s a song about not giving up on your dreams. In my particular case, it’s a song about being addicted to music and not giving up wanting to pursue original music as a career.
Your songs capture very intimate stories, with some focusing on mental health. Why is this an aspect you chose to write about?
Sarah has lived with anxiety and chronic depression for over ten years now and we feel like music and songs are an amazing way to not only find catharsis for ourselves, but also to begin to encourage openness around difficult topics such as mental illness. We have experienced much of the stigma that is attached to it and if we can inspire someone else to open up about their struggles or to feel less alone in them, we see that as such an important way to use our art.
If you could be a support act for any artist who would it be and why?
I think we’d all love to open for Phoebe Bridgers, Bon Iver or Big Thief. Not only would they be big shows, but we’d also love to support artists that are such big influences on us and so many others.
Favourite concert you’ve been to?
We’ve seen Glen Hansard multiple times over the years and he never disappoints. In fact, we always find ourselves in tears when he plays ‘Bird Of Sorrow’. He has a crazily dynamic show that can literally take your breath away!
Favourite show you’ve played?
Due to Covid-19, we’ve only been able to play live a couple of times! The standout was our first proper show at The Finsbury in London, where we had an amazing, unexpected turnout.
What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?
Hopefully amazing! We love recording and working on new stuff in the rehearsal room, but nothing beats performing live shows. We really try to create an intimate, emotional experience on our records and we can’t wait to feel that translation between us and our audience in a live setting.
Any future musical plans after the EP?
We’ve just finished up recording EP #2, which we don’t particularly have a plan for just yet. Though we estimate a 2021 release for that – hopefully in correlation with some live shows or a tour! Fingers crossed.
Where would you like to be in a year’s time?
Onstage, working on new ways to move an audience and to address whatever it is that we’re going through at the time with our new music.
If people want to find out more about you, where should they go?
The easiest place to visit is www.inearnest.co.uk, but you can also find us (@inearnestband) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on Bandcamp at www.inearnest.bandcamp.com.