“Roads for travelling souls” may have been a Whitman romanticised notion, but every now and then, on a Saturday night, on a windswept road in Kilburn, the notion becomes a rhythm. A clatter of pots and pans and a cheap bass amp. This is the stuff that Beat dreams are made of: a German-born street-urchin, a wandering Italian drummer and two self-empowered buskers from Dublin. Midnight street busking and flasks of whiskey only add to the Kerouac-inspired escapist mix. “For me, there’s a big difference between on the road and the Liverpool Carling Academy to the Wolverhampton Carling Academy.” Singer and bass guitarist Ned Crowther explains over his stewed expresso. “It’s not really being on the road. The surprise is the unknown…”
Surprise in the unknown has inspired the 747s since their humble beginnings in Dublin, where Ned and founding guitarist Oisin Leech met at Trinity College. “We knew we had something good going on,” Ned recalls. After instantly bonding over the purchase of Morrissey tickets, the two formed a band, Fluid Druids (cut the sniggers at the back). Motioning the importance for music over style, they began busking to crowds coming out of late night nightclubs. Prompted by a desire to escape Dublin and a need to experience new things, Ned and Oisin packed up their kit-bags and headed to Naples. It was there that they met jazz enthusiast Massimo Signorelli, who was soon to be signed up as their drummer: “We met Massimo in a left wing organisation, an occupied building run by a co-operative. Very political but it offered a space for young people.”
The experience of busking is something that cements the four members together. Their wisdom lies in the stripped down experience of their days spent jamming on street corners. “You learn so much,” guitarist Freddie Stitz glints from his Zorro-inspired hat, “because you’re so confronted by them. Performing. The people. They’re all around you, and that’s the only way we’re truly happy.” Freddie, the last inclusion to the 747s was first spotted busking on Church Street in Liverpool, upon their return from over 14 months spent travelling and performing in Italy and Sicily. Or “the summer before Freddie” as the rest of the band like to refer to it as. “Freddie’s like Ron Wood,” Oisin jokes, “he was in the band before he realised he was.”
The sound of 747s lies in this multi-cultural appreciation of music’s past: the sound of old traditions and memorable melodies: The Band, Paul Simon, Robert Johnson and Ian Dury. As we cram round a Neapolitan inspired table in a lively patisserie merely doors down from The Luminaire, I point out the similarities between 747s track ‘Equilibrium’ and Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady Lay.’ “Well spotted,” Oisin enthuses, “we actually busked outside one of his gigs in Sicily. Mount Etna was erupting.” As anecdotes go, it wins hands down. As Freddie quietly muses, the philosophy of the band is perfectly summed up: “Everyone now is the next ‘new’ thing, like no-one you’ve ever heard of. We’re like everyone you’ve ever heard of. Everyone you’ve ever loved.”
Their wisdom lies in the stripped down experience of their days spent jamming on street corners.
This is the road of the 747s. What’s yours?