The Isle of Man is famous for many things, but successful bands is not one of them. With the exception of a certain Bee Gee, a quick google search for famous Manx musicians brings up a dismal offering… and I’m sorry but I’m not buying Wikipedia’s suggestion that Katy Perry and Dan Auerbach are of “partial Manx descent”.
Jack and Lilly Wolter of Penelope Isles are hoping to break the mould. The Manx siblings’ four-piece band started creating their unique blend of dreamy, surfer rock whilst Lilly was studying music in Brighton, and they haven’t stopped since. Their first EP ‘Comfortably Swell’ was released in 2015 with 7 songs that will make you feel like you’re sat on a beach dipping your feet in the water (I would highly recommend Youtubing their Sofar sounds performance of the song ‘Round’). Last year they toured the UK, supporting well-known bands like The Magic Numbers, Lost Horizons and British Sea Power. Now, they are working on the release of their debut album ‘Until the Tide Creeps In’, recorded at Bella Union Studios in Brighton, which they are hoping will set them apart from the rest.
Despite being based in Brighton the Wolter’s haven’t forgotten their Manx roots, and the first stop of their album tour finds them in The Villa Marina on 30th March before they travel all over the UK and Ireland. I caught up with Lilly this week to ask her about the trials and tribulations of creating your first album.
How’s the album going??
Lilly: “The album is DONE. Has been for a few months now and isn’t out until June which feels like ages away. It took about 9 months to make and feels like our little baby. After releasing various smaller projects, it seemed time for us to sink our teeth in a little more production wise. We’re lucky enough to have Jack who produces all our own music. I think for him this was a huge step up in terms of producing music and nurturing his skill. We knew in our hearts that we needed Jack to produce the songs. That’s the only way we can truly make the songs sound like us!”
Can’t wait to hear it! So last year you were touring and supporting some amazing bands, what was the highlight?
Lilly: “Last year was a busy one indeed. It was certainly interesting finally getting to play some bigger stages with bigger crowds in a support slot for a bigger band. The most exciting part about it is when we got a great rider, but that’s because we’re a greedy little band. Touring with Lost Horizons was a blast, mainly because of the connection we all had as a huge group of musicians with so much respect for each other, plus we all loved to goof around. We also toured with bands like British Sea Power, BC Camplight, and one of our all-time favourite bands The Magic Numbers. That was really surreal. Not only because we were spending time on the road and playing gigs every night for 2 weeks with our idols, but because of how good friends we all truly became. We loved them, and they loved us! And I still can’t believe it. When you get on well and fall in love with the band you go on tour with, it can be the best few weeks of your life. Equally, if they’re wankers, it can be the worst.”
What about this year? What’s the future for Penelope Isles?
Lilly: “2019 holds a humungous bucket list tick for us all. We’re heading to the USA baby! We are lucky enough to be heading to New York for The New Collossus Festival and Austin, TX for SXSW Fest… March can’t come soon enough. I like to think it’s a combination of the beautiful team that is Bella Union and the graft we have put in over the past 3 years. For me personally, heading to America with our band is all I’ve ever wanted, and I’m very proud of us all. Aside from that, we can’t wait to come back to the Island and play our first proper show at the Villa in March, a place Jack and I have seen so many bands play whilst growing up. I already feel butterflies thinking about seeing so many old faces in the crowd.”
Do you ever miss the little Island when you’re off touring all over the UK?
Lilly: “We haven’t lived on the beautiful rock for over 4 years now, as our parents moved to Cornwall a while back, so yes, I absolutely miss it with all my heart, but unless you’re in the folk department, it’s near impossible to be productive and move forward with bands. There’s only so many times we can play in the little pubs that we love so much, and being based in Brighton makes touring and gigging a lot easier. I often reminisce about how fun it was going to a gig on the Island, everybody loved a dance. That’s something these Southerners need to work on, I reckon.”
Penelope Isles play the Villa Marina on March 30th in the Promenade Suite. If you want to remind Lilly of how much Manxies love a dance then you can find tickets here.