There is a couple of things that make me instantly inclined to invest my adoration in Luna Bay. The first? They started their gang as whippersnappers just metres away from where an 18 year old me start mine, in SW6. The second? In more than one highly respected musical publication the word “rollicking” has been used to describe their tracks.
It was back in 2015 when the four founding members of Luna Bay, Connor O’Mara, Rye Milligan, Sammy Penniston and Alex Ross, came across one another in London while attending the legendary BIMM Institute Music School. The Chelsea based BIMM has a reputation for nurturing and uniting talent, past students include formerly Noctis featured, LOUUD, The Kooks, Jordan Cook, James Bay, George Ezra, Tom Odell and Blonde.
After graduating, Luna Bay were setting their sights on the stratosphere. Beginning with tours supporting The Academic, Nothing But Thieves, The Aces and Declan McKenna 2016 saw the band land tracks ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ & ‘Colours’ firmly on the indie scene. The four-piece continued to establish themselves as one of the UK’s brightest new indie bands with the release of ‘Hometown’ and ‘Little Amsterdam’. These tracks were first played by Huw Stephens on Radio 1 and went on to make the BBC Introducing Playlist as well as the Radio X evening list. They were added to numerous Spotify New Music Friday’s including NMF USA and UK amassing a combined total of 6 million streams, a staggering achievement for an unsigned band.
When and why did you start playing/performing? Alex met Connor in London and convinced him to start a band. It all snowballed from there.
Conner happily defers to Alex saying “It was all his idea! I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in a band, I had been writing but, I didn’t know if I wanted to be a front man.” Alex’s secret motive for uniting fellow minstrels? “I was sort of homeless, waiting to move into my place, so I stayed with Connor. He said he had been writing some music. I realised it was actually really good. I suggested we try the songs and start a band. I knew Sammy and thought he would be good.” For the final piece of the puzzle came Rye, he met Connor at a party, he recalls, “I had just bought my guitar that day. I was showing it off and Connor said I’m starting a band, I was like I’ve got a guitar, I’m ready.”
How have you dealt with the growing pains that come from being students to established artists?
Nothing that major has changed since student life. All four of us are still living in London and growing as musicians everyday.
What band name alter egos have to tried out on your musical journey?
We have actually never tried that out. Yet to be discovered…
OK, where does the name Luna Bay come from?
They all glace at each other like conspirators trying to cook up a story. Connor starts, “Well Luna was the name of a song I wrote when I was 14.” Alex interjects, “Doesn’t it have something to do with Spain? It is an actual place, but none of us have been there.” Sammy gestures to Rye, “He’s from a bay.” “Oh yes, Rye is from Cardigan Bay in Wales so that’s the Bay bit!” confirms Connor. Alex teases, “That and when we got together James Bay was doing quite a bit, so we thought we’d have some of that.
What was the first tune(s) you learned?
The first song we learnt and played together as a band was ‘Colours’. This song then went on to become our first single. I remember hearing an early demo of ‘Colours’ that Connor had made at home. He was playing it to me off a phone speaker at a house party. This was the night that we met and the night I joined the band, so I’ll always have a soft spot for that track. – Rye
What is the most embarrassing song in your music library?
Babycakes by Three Of A Kind. It bangs.
How do you handle a fuck up on stage?
Look for the band member with the most guilty face.
Who or what is your ultimate influence, musical or otherwise?
There’s too many musical influences to nail it down to one. But our main inspiration would be doing our boy Will Acres proud.
What scares you most in the world?
Not selling out our headline show at Scala on the 21st November 2019 😉 😉 Go grab a ticket.
Which Spice Girl would you be?
Alex, our drummer would be Posh Spice, Sammy the bassist would be Baby Spice, Rye the guitarist Sporty Spice and our spicey frontman Connor would be Ginger Spice. Easy.
Where and when would you travel back in time to perform?
In 2016 we performed in a bar in Ipswich to one person. I’d go back and ask them if they enjoyed it or not
If I gave you an elephant where would you hide it?
In Connors hair.
If you could choose one song that you wish that you had written, what would it be?
Paris Youth Foundation – I Can’t Keep Up With Your Love. Absolute tune!
Which instruments do you play?
Between the band we play guitar bass and drums. A few of us play keys and a mean Tamborine.
If you could have anyone locked in a room so that you could torment them for a day, whom would you choose and how would you torment them?
Hmm, less on the torment but I’d like to hang out with Caleb Followill for 24hours to write some tunes. – Connor
What is the most important lesson that you’ve learnt from the BIMMites that have gone before you?
Find like minded people, keep yourself busy / productive in and outside of uni.
When asked how their growing success has been received by their fellow students, they all agreed they’ve been met with support. Alex points out, “They’re all doing their own things, they have their own projects so they’re too busy working on those.” Connor agrees, “There are some really successful people on our courses, I don’t think there’s time for any bad blood.”
Who wins in a fight, a grizzly bear or a giant squid?
What is your greatest vice?
Greggs sausage / vegan rolls.
If music is the answer, what is the question?
“What have Luna Bay got coming out soon?”
Tell me two truths and a lie…
Rye once danced on stage with Blur while dressed as a fly. (True)
Alex and Connor once played drums for Susan Boyle (True)
Sammy once out drank Flea from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Lie)
Sing me a song…
Check out an acoustic treat that I may or may not have trolled the Luna Bay boys on Instagram for… Luna Bay LIVE
Daisy Sells | WRITER