Interview Upbringing: Minor Victories

The band’s James Lockey fills us in on just a few of his earliest musical touchstones.

As far as these snazzy supergroups go, things don’t get much better than Minor Victories. A potent combination of musicians, the band’s made up of Slowdive frontwoman Rachel Goswell, Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai, Editors’ Justin Lockey, and his film-making brother James Lockey, from Hand Held Cine Club.

As you’d perhaps expect from its individual members’ leanings, Minor Victories play music of the intricately monstrous persuasion. From the deceivingly sweet melodies of ’A Hundred Ropes,’ to the intricacy of their self-titled debut album, the whole lot reeks of dizzying ambition.

With an appearance at Latitude this weekend (14th-17th July) fast-looming, we hit up Minor Victories’ James Lockey to talk us through his musical upbringing. And with everything from Woolworths own-brand guitars, to Billy Joel in his repertoire, it’s certainly a varied bag

What was the first gig you ever went to?

The first gig I went to was The Wedding Present at the Ritzy nightclub in Doncaster, 12th October 1992, with Beachbuggy supporting. I was 15 and my older brother Jonathan got me the ticket, and persuaded my mum to let me go! I managed to get into the club, I think the Woodbine [cigarettes, as a] prop might’ve done it. It was an amazing night! Cheers Jonna!

Were there a good supply of venues in your hometown?

The most famous one was The Toby Jug, which had just closed down around the time I started going out to pubs and gigs, so we missed that one! Other then that it was The Leopard or a train ride to The Leadmill in Sheffield. But around that time, me and justin were starting out in bands, so played pubs like The Castle, The Tut, Nags Head or The Half Moon in Retford. Happy days.

What was the first song you developed an obsession for?

If we’re going right back, I’d say it was the ‘Ghostbusters Theme Tune’ by Ray Parker Jr. I had small hand-held tape machine, and played that on a constant loop. From memory, ‘Uptown Girl’ by Billy Joel was a big favourite of mine around that time as well. Takes me back!

What’s the first song you ever bought with your own money, and why?

When growing up our older brother was starting to collect 7” whilst he was at college, so we would have Wedding Present singles, De La Soul, Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays single tapes and stuff like that on rotation. I remember my Gran giving me a few quid, and I ended up buying [Stone Roses’] ‘Sally Cinnamon’ on 12” from Our Price [a now-closed chain record store]. I think it was the reissue one. I still have it somewhere!

What’s the story behind your first instrument?

It was an Audition guitar and amp - Woolworths own brand - that was given to me by my cousin Steve! I couldn’t play it at all but after a few lessons from Steve at Auntie Pat’s I was playing all sorts of Elvis covers; the first one being ‘Return to Sender’.

"I don't overthink it, really. I just play stuff that sounds good to me, and take it from there."

Go on, then, spill. What’s your worst musical habit?

Pissing around between songs, and the occasional slap line! Guilty.

What inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?

It’s hard to say, I’m quite a visual person, so seeing things, experiencing other environments and associated stories filter down at some point. I don’t see something and think oh, I’ll write a song about that! I don’t overthink it, really. I just play stuff that sounds good to me, and take it from there. I guess it’s a different approach for lyricists - I don’t write lyrics.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given as a band?

Crack on.

If you could be a band from the last two decades, which would you pick, and why?

I guess it would have to be the early version of The Wedding Present (just as Simon Smith came in, and pre ‘Hit Parade’) The reason is that the band and music meant so much to me and my brothers growing up that it pretty much got us into playing music and starting bands. That might be pushing the twenty years rule, though! Sorry.

Minor Victories will play Latitude (14th-17th July), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit for more information.

Minor Victories’ self-titled debut album is out now.

Tags: Minor Victories, Upbringing, Features

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