Nothing But Thieves

Monqui Presents

Nothing But Thieves

Airways, MISSIO

Wed, October 18

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Star Theater

Portland, OR


This event is all ages

Nothing But Thieves
Nothing But Thieves
The sound of two car alarms going off simultaneously. Depending on what mood you were already in you'd find that pretty annoying wouldn't you? You might find it mildly irritating or it might send you into a tailspin of teeth-grinding fury, but what it probably wouldn't do is provide an Archimedes-in-the-bath eureka moment. For Nothing But Thieves guitarist Joe Langridge-Brown that's exactly what it did though.

When driving home from a hungover writing session the sound of those two clashing sirens proved to be a surprise source of inspiration. "We'd demoed this song Emergency and written the lyrics for it but we didn't have the main bit for it," recalls the guitarist. "I was driving home and heard this siren sound and I was like, 'Hold on!' I always have the voice recorder on my phone with me so recorded it."

"Joe used to deliver pizzas and he would send me voice memos of him singing bits of melody during the delivery, you could hear the car in the background," adds guitarist/keyboard player Dom Craik. "I'd try and fit chords around it and we'd throw it back and fourth around us to see what would work."

From bits of graffiti they've spotted, scenes witnessed on the walk home from a night out to the oppressive claustrophobia of a packed tube train, Nothing But Thieves take snippets and snapshots of life in 2015 and weave it into the patchwork of their intoxicating, skyscraping hybrid. It's music that can crunch like a jackhammer, twitch with glitching electronics, leap into an elastic groove or gently shimmer soulfully like the dying embers of a late night camp fire.

Nothing But Thieves story starts at school in Essex when singer Conor Mason spotted Langridge-Brown and knew the budding guitarist was someone who Mason should be making music with. "When I met him he was the typical rock kid," remembers Mason. "No one else had long hair or a Gibson guitar and it was like, 'I wanna be in a band with this kid, he's cool,'. And then I realized he was a bell-end [laughs]."

Though the pair had both been playing music and jamming in various other bands, it was the discovery of the spellbinding power of Mason's voice that made them realize they need to sculpt something suitably unique around the singer's vocal chords.

Mason's is a voice that can float angelically, swoop skywards with an emotional weight that belies his young years or let loose in a full-throttle wail. It's a voice that's been compared with Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy but has a soulful intensity that is entirely his own. When Craik met Mason at college a few years later he fell under its spell too, bringing his older cousin Phil Blake into the nascent group on bass. When they poached friend and drummer James Price from one of their early support bands Nothing But Thieves as we know it now came together.

Though they had an idea of the music they wanted to create the group conceded that "they weren't good enough to put into onto paper yet". So instead of continuing to gig in and around Essex they hid themselves away, intensely writing and experimenting to try and transform the sound in their heads into a reality. Saving up money from a string of menial jobs they self-funded an inspiration-sourcing trip to America in late 2012 where their managers hooked them up with producers in LA, Nashville and New York. Thought he trip proved to be invaluable it was perhaps for different reasons than the band had intended.

"It was probably a bit too formulaic and we like to experiment," thinks Langridge-Brown. "In a way it showed us what not to do. It obviously worked because we came back and pretty much immediately wrote the songs that made up our first E.P."

After the self-release of the spellbinding Graveyard Whistling E.P. in December 2013 the songs just kept coming and coming, the band amassing dozens and dozens of tracks that refused to be pigeonholed.

It's that irrepressible desire to create with no imposed boundaries which makes Nothing But Thieves an album that's impossible to pin down. From the face off between pummeling Zeppelin-sized riffs and ricocheting grooves on 'Ban All The Music', 'If I Get High', anguished melancholy to the album's spine-tingling centre piece 'Lover, Please Stay' which is built around little more than a tour de force vocal from Mason, it's a record that defies the play-it-safe formula of so many debuts. Indeed, if most bands wrote a song as good as the high voltage glam stomp of 'Drawing Pins' or the shuffling electronic prowl of 'Hostage' they'd probably fire off ten versions of the same rather than leap right into something completely different.

"I'd rather fail because we were too adventurous and too eclectic than fail because we were too safe," reflects Langridge-Brown. "At least now if it all goes to shit we tried to do something and it's come out how we wanted."

Given the strength and scope of their debut there isn't much danger of it "all going to shit" for Nothing But Thieves anytime soon.
Two bearded Austin, TX musical misfits with an affinity for D.I.Y. electro-trap production,
clever lyrical quips, and sticky alternative hooks, Missio regularly subvert expectations.
Case in point, an upbeat lullaby-esque melody about, “Throwing middle fingers in the
air” introduced the duo—Matthew Brue & David Butler—to audiences everywhere with
the aptly titled breakout single, “Middle Fingers.” At the beginning of 2017, the track
exploded on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation, and the band landed a deal with RCA Records. This
signature style stands out as the product of their unique and undeniable union as well
as years of dedication. Founded in 2014 as a side project for Matthew, longtime friend
David joined him after one studio session.
“At the time, we were both coming out of other bands,” recalls Matthew. “I called him to
play these demos I had. We were in the same spot musically, and we just related to
each other.”
“There’s no bullshit in Missio,” David declares. “It’s all from the heart and genuine. The
balance between us is perfect. Matthew is more of a classic songwriter who will sit down
and write melodies for hours. I bring my producer background. I love arranging, I love
beats, and I love sounds. The marriage of those two worlds completes a puzzle.”
For all of the harmony between them, their respective backgrounds represent
something of a Yin and Yang. Born and raised in Colorado, Matthew received classical
piano training as a child and toured the world in a choir. In Houston, seven years his
senior David “grew up in the least musical household ever” and didn’t pick up guitar until
the age of 16. David escaped the Office Space-style corporate world in order to pursue
a career as a producer and audio engineer, while Matthew spent a year living in a
remodeled 1974 Airstream, “learning how to write better songs.” They had crossed
paths many times in the Austin music scene, but their initial collaboration would prove
“When we were in the studio, we just started talking about our lives,” David goes on.
“Completely unplanned, I mentioned that my wife and I were looking for a roommate...”
“I told him that I was thinking about moving out of the Airstream,” laughs Matthew.
“We’ve been roommates for as long as the band has existed.”
David transformed the garage into a professional recording studio, ripping down walls
by hand, tearing up the floors, constructing a control room, setting up iso booths, and
designing a veritable creative hive for the band. He would handle the bulk of the
production as Matthew penned lyrics and took on lead vocals. In between their SXSW
debut in 2015 and tours with Australia’s SAFIA and K. Flay (for which David built
Missio’s light rigs), they wrote and recorded countless songs. “I Don’t Even Care About
You” landed at #7 on Spotify’s Top 50 Global Viral Chart after popping up on the Fresh
Finds Playlist. As buzz grew, their music appeared on MTV’s Scream and Finding
Carter, Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club, and in a Victoria’s Secret spot. With its keyboard
boom, handclaps, and sweeping chant, “Middle Fingers” ignited their profile, rhyming
social media-worthy lines like, “I am tired of seeing pretty people everywhere” and “I
used to drink with whisky now I’m stuck with Perrier.”
“That was actually the very first song we sat down together and wrote,” says Matthew. “I
felt like, ‘Fuck everything right now.’ When you hear something like ‘Middle Fingers,’ you
would assume it’s a fuck you to the world. It’s actually not. In a way, it’s a song about
unity. It’s not fuck you; it’s fuck this situation, which everyone can apply to their own
lives. There’s no better feeling than seeing hundreds of people from different religious
and political backgrounds forget about everything and raise their fingers together.
Flipping the bird can unite us.”
Everything encases a powerful message for the guys. In Latin, Missio translates to
“Before we started the band, I got Missio tattooed on my wrist,” Matthew continues. “I
have a history of addiction and being in recovery. It’s something I deal with every day. I
fell in love with the word, because it helped me focus on being sober and having a
mission towards that. It transitioned into this music.”
As Missio prepare their full-length debut Loner for release, Matthew and David are on a
mission to connect with listeners everywhere.
“There’s a deeper side to Missio,” David leaves off. “We both love hook-y music and
inspiring beats, but what we value most is honesty. I hope that comes across and can
be something audiences rely on.”
“As a whole, all of the songs revolve around being in seclusion,” Matthew concludes.
“There are so many people out there who feel that isolation. Being in a band with this
sort of lyrical content, it’s all about reaching listeners, meeting them at shows, hearing
their stories, and helping them feel like they can relate to someone. Maybe we can
make the world feel not so alone.”