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An Interview with The 38s

We managed to catch up with one of The Crooked Crow Bar's favourite bands, The 38's to find out a little bit more about them. It was a brilliant excuse to be able to speak to another grown up that wasn't sat at a till or banging a saucepan on the doorstep (since lockdown our contact with the outside world has been very limited)! The interview went fantastically well, they really are a lovely group... They were the last band to play at the bar before the lockdown and we cannot wait to see them up on our stage again. Here is the full interview... 

Crow Crew: Tell us about you. What is your band name, and what sort of music do you play?

The 38s: We are The 38s, a successful cover band who play the kind of songs you know and love. We focus mainly on 60s Soul, Northern Soul, Ska and Punk while throwing in a few Rock & Roll numbers to keep the dancefloor alive. We’ve been together for 5 years now and developed a good reputation in the Beds and Bucks area where we play regularly in pubs and social clubs.

Crow Crew: What are some of your favourite songs in your set?

The 38s: For me as lead singer, it has got to be ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes, but we also love playing Blondie, The Small Faces, The Ramones and The Specials. ’It Must Be Love’ by Madness always goes down well too.

Crow Crew: What is the secret of your success?

The 38s: Practice, practice, practice. We rehearse every week. We are lucky to have access to high quality kit and instruments, which helps us to sound so professional on stage. As lead singer, it is great that I have a roving microphone, so I can get out on the dancefloor and join the audience.

It’s not easy though when you’re a band starting out – having to do the best you can with very little kit available to you. Paid gigs mean that the money is split between band members…it takes a lot of gigs to save up for an amp or a monitor.

Crow Crew: Is it all glamour and glitz performing in a band?

The 38s: Hahaha! Performing is brilliant, but what audiences don’t see is the behind the scenes ‘grunt’ work that goes on. Turning up at 7pm to set up kit, sound check, get the levels right, then after the gig finishes the work involved in packing down and loading the van takes time. A gig lasts for two hours, but the band invest over six hours to make that happen without counting the rehearsal time. Even so, it is all part of the experience and we love it.

Crow Crew: Tell us about some of the venues you’ve played.

The 38s: In our time we’ve played in some interesting spaces. Once we were wedged up near the toilets. There was a continuous flow of traffic which caused Ben our bassist to have to lift his guitar neck every time someone came by. He didn’t miss a note either! We once played a private function where we were jammed into the corner behind one of the party tables. Every time someone stood up, their chair jammed into our mics nearly knocking our teeth out. We’ve had hairy moments where I as the lead singer have had to cling on to the amp in case it fell over due to wobbly floors and an extremely enthusiastic crowd of dancers (yeah, we play some brilliant songs). We always find a way to make it work though, because we are passionate about what we do and helping pubs and clubs get people through their doors.

The challenge for pubs is that they are designed primarily for drinking and talking rather than music, so they often don’t have adequate space required to house a band and a dancefloor.

Crow Crew: Favourite venue to play?

The 38s: The Crooked Crow Bar of course! It is a music lover’s dream come true, because you’ve designed the space specifically to be a music venue. It always reminds us of the 100 Club in so far as it has a massive stage) which is clearly visible to everyone in the audience…so no having to crane your neck around a pillar in the middle of the room. There is a great intimacy to the venue, which allows genuine connection with the crowd. When you play the Crooked Crow Bar you know everyone is there for the music, a party and a good time. No band enjoys playing to an empty dance floor or reluctant audience, but there is no chance of that here. People are up and energised immediately.

We also love the fact that the design of the venue has also taken the musicians into consideration. The stage is equipped with everything a band needs in order to perform. Amps, mixing desk, microphones plus stands. All a you need to do is rock up with your instruments, plug in and go. No hefting of heavy kit, no complicated pack down, which means that at the end of the gig you can spend time talking to the audience and selling merchandise. There’s even parking right outside. How cool is that!

Crow Crew: What is the secret to getting a good crowd?

The 38s: You have to market your gigs and market hard. We have a website and we advertise on Facebook, Lemonrock, Instagram and Twitter. It’s important to get a following as this encourages venues to book you again. It is seen as utterly bad form not to work hard to get footfall for your venue. Equally it is not cool if a venue booking you doesn’t promote you.

That’s why we love playing Crooked Crow Bar so much. You all know the music business as many of the Crow Crew are musicians in their own right. You also know how to market gigs and you do it well. It feels great to walk in to the place and see a massive poster advertising your band weeks in advance…then there’s the website, which is well maintained. I’ve never played a venue where there is a queue at the door waiting to get in!

Crow Crew: What are you missing during lockdown?

The 38s: Bloody good music from a wide variety of bands! Oh and a genuinely friendly set of regulars…and the staff. We miss playing of course, but we also miss coming down in the daytime with a coffee working out setlists on your free WiFi, settling in with a bottle of wine on a Sunday afternoon listening to live acts playing acoustic sets, bringing our vinyl down on a Saturday, banter and laughter. We’re missing all that.

Crow Crew: Any advice for bands wanting to play?

The 38s: Get in touch with them via their Facebook page or their website, but you’re going to have to form an orderly queue behind The 38s!

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