Two years ago today, on 13 February 2016, a tragedy occurred on a bridge in Södertälje in Sweden when the four members of promising British indie rock band, Viola Beach, and their manager died after the car they were travelling in fell off the side of the bridge. Kris Leonard (guitar and vocals), Jack Dakin (drums), River Reeves (guitar), and Thomas Lowe (bass) were only at the beginning of their journey as a band and they had already began to develop a reputation as one of the most exciting up and coming indie bands in Britian, and their death along with their manager, Craig Tarry, left music fans in the UK in a state of shock.
The band would initally come together in May 2013, with Leonard and Dakin initially being joined in the band by Frankie Coulson (guitar) and Jonny Gibson (bass), and by September of that same year their first recorded track, Daisies, would feature on Bandcamp’s The Indie Cassette Player’s (now known as The Mill Records) second compilation album.
The band would come together in it’s current iteration in 2015 after Coulson and Gibson decided to leave to focus on their university studies, with Lowe and Reeves coming on board. August 2015 would see the band release their first official single, Swings & Waterslides on their own record label, Fuller Beans. If anybody wanted to get an idea of exactly what Viola Beach were attempting to do, then this single would provide you with everything you needed. An upbeat and catchy track driven by a fun guitar riff and exciting drumming. It was immediately clear that this was a band who were simply writing fun and enjoyable songs for people to dance to.
Hype would gradually begin to generate around the band, which would see them getting invites to perform at the 2015 Reading and Leeds Festivals and to record a BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. As well as this, January 2016 would see the release of the bands second single, this time on the Communion label, “Boys That Sing”/Like a Fool”. Everything looked to be going well…
On 17 June, it was announced that the band’s debut self-titled album would be posthumously released at the request of the families of the band members who felt that it was what the four men would have wanted. The album was eventually released on 29 July 2016 and would consist of nine tracks featuring demos, officials recordings, and some live sessions by the band. The album would reach number one in the British album charts in early August, and would receive widely positive reviews.
There is a still a sense that Viola Beach were tragically deprived a long and successful career in the music industry before they even had a chance to properly pursue it. A point made by Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin, in a truly touching and heartfelt tribute by the band on the main stage of Glastonbury.
And she told me that together we could take on the world.