For some bands, the road to their first album is one filled with lofty ambition, high anxiety and the sense that they could be standing on the precipice of falling into a music career that is truly life-changing. For Sorry, though, that journey seems to have been far more laid-back than most.
The North Londoners flitted through a variety of musical styles in their first few years, playing gigs together in gritty pubs all over the city. They released their music as a series of guitar-led, glitchy mixtapes as they went along, sort of like an in-progress log of a band figuring out what they wanted to sound like – or rather, if they wanted to sound like anything in particular at all. It’s perhaps not too surprising, then, that when it finally came to making debut album, 925 (named after the mark printed on silver that’s 92.5% pure), they approached it with the same relaxed attitude they’ve always had.
“I think we wanted to play music, but I don’t think we ever thought we’d do it professionally, because that’s kind of a stupid idea to think that we could do that,” Louis O’Bryen admits, sounding a little surprised at how far they’ve come. “The way that we made music never really changed. It didn’t start becoming a job. And [record label] Domino are really chilled about it and just let us do our thing, so we didn’t really feel any pressure.”
It was a project formed by Louis and his childhood friend, Asha Lorenz when they were in secondary school (later adding drummer Lincoln Barrett and bassist Campbell Baum to the mix). For a band that never really planned to do much more than play a few gigs with their friends, you could argue things have got slightly out of hand.
Asha and Louis may have grown up making music together, but teaming up with co-producer James Dring (previously behind albums from Gorillaz, Jamie T and Nilüfer Yanya) in a tiny Hackney studio, proved to be what they needed to take their music from bedroom project to, as Louis describes it, “how a proper debut album should sound.”
As a result, 925 delivers on the promise of their scrappy, weird early tracks, but delivers with a more polished veneer. They still keep the rough, experimental charm that made them such an exciting prospect in the first place, leaving you still not quite sure at any point where the album is about to veer off to next. A song can be calming one second and full of chaos the next and, lyrically, things can switch from romantic to overflowing with dread in just a line or two.
“I think we wanted to play music, but I don’t think we ever thought we’d do it professionally, because that’s kind of a stupid idea to think that we could do that”
“They still are based on personal experience, but some of the songs have characters in them,” Louis explains of their approach to songwriting. “The lyrics would mirror the style of that song or what character we thought that song’s [instrumental] sounded like. It’s kind of easier to write from a different perspective sometimes because it allows you to be more free with your lyrics.”
Sorry don’t seem to have any high-flying ambitions to their music, but rather just want to make songs that encapsulate life in all its oddity. Lucky for them, it looks like that attitude is finally paying off too.
“We’ve spent loads of gigs playing support slots where no-one is really coming to see us. We spent years doing that, but now that we’ve got an album, people are coming to see us and it’s become really rewarding,” Louis says. “We want to just keep doing what we’re doing and just carry on making good music. Then everything that we deserve from that will come naturally.”