5 Questions With Viva Brother Frontman Lee Newell

If confidence is half the battle, this UK quartet is well on their way to immortality.

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud


England-based rockers on the rise Viva Brother are in the midst of a bit of an identity crisis. The Slough quartet – Lee Newell on guitar and vocals, Sam Jackson on guitar, Josh Ward on bass, and Frank Colucci on drums – have been through the wringer regarding their former name (Brother), never quite settled into the doomed "Brother UK" moniker, and have finally cemented themselves as Viva Brother.


Whatever the hell they call themselves, the band are self-proclaimed purveyors of "grit-pop," mixing melody, swagger and snot-nosed sneering with a sharp pop sensibility. They were fortunate enough to align with producer Stephen Street (Smiths, Blur) for their first album, a knob wizard who approached Newell & Co. after hearing a batch of the quartet’s songs on BBC radio. Check out a taste for yourself:

After a teaser EP called Fly By Night, Viva Brother are eyeing a summer release for their debut album, Famous First Words. Their sound is a pop-rock uppercut for the digital generation, their attitudes right in line with the Oasis lads' obtuse obnoxiousness, and confident swagger indicates either supreme bullshitters or a batch of UK kids with just enough balls and delusion to win America over. 


We tracked down frontman Lee Newell to get his take on American groupies, Viva Brother's whirlwind creative process and his belief that ending it all at 30 is the way to go.


CraveOnline: Your first ever trip to the U.S. seems have reaped some powerful rewards, with your SXSW visit and following shows putting you on the map among American music fans. Have you tried our fine assortment of carnally deranged groupies?


A couple of us have. You Americans are a unique breed. SXSW was actually an important time in this bands life and looking back on it we can see that now. We just sort of turned up not knowing what was going on, living in our own little bubble as we do. We played our shows and people started talking about us over there.


CraveOnline: You got involved with Stephen Street when he heard your songs on Zane Lowe. How did the arrangement come about for you to record the album with him?


You answered your own question there. Stephen heard us on the radio courtesy of Zane and invited us round his house for a pint. So we had a chat, pinched ourselves a bit, and he showed us around. He told us about The Smiths and said we were the most exciting prospect he has worked with since Blur. We were on top of the world. Three months later we'd recorded our debut album with him. Unreal.


CraveOnline: Has the songwriting kept up in this whirlwind, or are you putting the creative juices on hold while you build on this momentum of new attention?


We're doing both, we're writing in the 30 seconds we have in between promo/shows/hangovers/carnally deranged American groupies. We want this to work and we're prepared to put the time and effort in, but we don't do ourselves any favours by going out literally every night. We're constantly coming up with new ideas and we actually just went back in with Stephen to work on something new. No rest for the wicked it seems.


CraveOnline: Any covers you play by yourself that haven't seen an audience yet?


Nothing more than a few chords from Bigmouth Strikes Again that Sam constantly gets wrong. We wouldn't waste our efforts on a cover yet, we have to get our music heard first!


CraveOnline: What band's career would you like to emulate, if you had to choose one act? Would you rather go the Rolling Stones/Bob Dylan type route, playing with false teeth and adult diapers, or have a brilliant but short lived existence? I'm not advocating an age-27 shotgun lunch, of course…


The shotgun lunch does sound infinitely more appealing. As soon as we become irrelevant we will stop. Maybe we'll stop today? Maybe we will be playing until we are 60. As long as we are pushing ourselves to moral and psychological limits then we will carry on. I doubt we'll make it past 30 though. We're 23/24…


The band's new EP Fly By Nights is now available on iTunes. Keep up with the band at their website. Their debut full-length Famous First Words will be out this Summer…