Teenagehood, brotherhood and a love for alternative music have united THE GOA EXPRESS from the off. Hailing from the Northern industrial towns of Todmorden and Burnley before being adopted more recently by the Manchester culture carriers.

Today they return today with the insistent garage-rock smarts of “Be My Friend”, their second single proper since being taken under the wing of Rough Trade Management (Shame, black midi etc.).

Together since tender teenage years, playing their first ever shows above a vintage shop where the floor nearly caved in and inside a friend’s garage until the neighbours complained – “when there’s fuck all, you make do with what you’ve got”. This sentiment is nothing new, but in an age where artists and bands often exist as heavily constructed, pretentious facsimiles, it certainly feels new. Here instead is a band that have been allowed the required space and time to develop their sound outside of London’s media glare and arrive now a near fully-formed prospect; their last single “The Day” seeing them receive their first radio session from early champion Steve Lamacq at Abbey Road studios.

“The Day” was recorded in nearby Sheffield with the Fat White Family’s Nathan Sauodi at FWF’s own studio Champ Zone, only for the band to carry their amps all the way to the studio next door for “Be My Friend”, this time recording with Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, Jarvis Cocker, The Fall).

“Be My Friend” pushes the importance of friendship as something deeper, and to reject the falseness and flattery of the modern world. The band further describe the song’s message as being about “taking a step away from those who’re always trying to get close to you and as both a shout out to individuality and an acceptance of rejection. It’s a dismissal of the modern world’s hyper-connectivity and a return to privacy, rather than the involvement of everyone knowing everyone’s business all of the time.”

The song also captures the essence of the unfettered lifestyle the band were living at the time that they were able to capture themselves in the music video for “Be My Friend”, a video directed by the band themselves after teaching themselves how to use video editing software one evening during the lock-down:

“It’s a collection of stupid nights out and just day to day stuff that had mostly been recorded on Joey’s phone. None of these videos were ever taken with the intention of them being used in a music video.”

With influences ranging from Spacemen 3 and The Brian Jonestown Massacre to French existentialism, from Beat Literature to long hours working day jobs at the bookies and that hazy, fulfilled journey into the sunrise on the night bus home, it is their ability to be all these things at once which makes THE GOA EXPRESS a guitar band for the 21st Century. They find genuine joy in the everyday; their attitude and antics seem to hark back to the dog days of the NME, when you flicked through well-thumbed pages and sensed adventure – if they talk about a night out, you want to be there because they ooze charm and wreak havoc. This purist, old school approach to creating music through unified experiences and stimulated good times is married with the plain fact that they are very much young people of this generation, and while they see its flaws – its hyperreality, its sheep-like tendencies, they still understand the importance in the immediacy of pop music: when that riff kicks in, of a glorious chorus and how effective this can truly be.

Nothing is ever a compromise because they are so unapologetically themselves in everything they do – proud Northerners with a DIY foundation that aren’t afraid to look into the often dim future and see themselves shining brightly in it, unforgiving and unpretentious.

THE GOA EXPRESS are:

James Douglas Clarke – Guitar / Vocals
Joey Stein – Guitar
Naham Muzaffar – Bass
Joe Clarke – Keyboard
Sam Launder – Percussion

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