Based out of Harlow in Essex, Don’t Worry formed back in 2014 as the duo of Ronan Van Kehoe and Samuel J. Watson, before expanding to their current four-piece lineup. Subsequently signed to Specialist Subject Records, the band released their debut album, Who Cares Anyway? back in 2018. Although birthed in the emo revival scene that gripped the UK in the mid-2010s, Don’t Worry have always pushed that genre, never more so than on their upcoming second record, Remorseless Swing, of which they state, “we’re very excited to showcase a different sound from our band, and to see where that leads us”.
As well as wanting to push their musical boundaries, Remorseless Swing also had a somewhat enforced change, as the pair were forced to work remotely, coming up with over forty demos before they even attended a studio together. The album was subsequently recorded at No Luck Audio, the Exeter based studio of Soot Sprite (and now Don’t Worry) drummer, Tom Gilbert. After the Blur recalling quintessentially British indie of the record’s first single, Crushing Weight and the Technicolour-pop meets clattering punk of Head’s Chocka, this week the band shared the third and final single from the album, Every Corner. Perhaps the record’s biggest departure, Every Corner finds the band panning the gold mine of turn of the century American Indie, bringing to mind the likes of Rilo Kiley or early Modest Mouse. The song was written at the start of the first lockdown period and taps into ideas of, “feeling uncomfortable in your surroundings“, via a claustrophobic melee of movies references, from American Psycho to American Pie, and paranoia-inducing sleep deprivation. In many ways Remorseless Swing feels like exactly what you’d want from a second record, taking the band you already loved and stretching their music in new and exciting directions, no worries here, Don’t Worry have this completely under control.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Don’t Worry?
DW: Don’t Worry is an indie rock band formed in 2014 in Harlow New Town, Essex, by Ronan Van Kehoe and Samuel J. Watson. Alex Reed has played bass and other instruments with us since 2017. Tom Gilbert joined on drums in 2021 for the writing and recording of our forthcoming second album “Remorseless Swing” – out 25/03/22 on Specialist Subject Records. We take a lot of inspiration from 90s alternative guitar music like Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, and Teenage Fanclub. But we’re also really into early pop like The Beatles and The Beach Boys. We like to think we have a distinctly British flavour to our music too, which comes from growing up listening to Blur, The Cribs, and The Streets.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
DW: Our first ever show was in summer 2014 at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane, London. Anyone familiar with this area might recognise this bar as a bit of a tourist/commuter hot spot, not necessarily the coolest place. We can’t remember who booked us. This was the OG lineup of Ronan, Sam, Jack, and Carmen. The poster just said Ronan’s name because they’d already printed them before we came up with “Don’t Worry”. There was an international languages convention taking place in the other part of the venue, everyone was wearing stickers indicating which languages they could speak. People there had free access to the show. But literally none of them came to check it out. Our audience was made up of Ronan’s friend Felix from uni, one of our girlfriends at the time, and maybe 5 other people. A guy called Joseph Coward also played on the bill, and very soon afterwards joined Thurston Moore’s new band.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
DW: We all grew up heavily resonating with music and music culture. Growing up in the 90s and 00s, the allure of being in a band was strong, especially with radio and music magazines at the height of their influence. For musicians, music is the coolest art form, the one you want to get involved with at all costs. Obviously, filmmakers feel the same about film and painters feel the same about painting. For Ronan and Sam, the now demolished music venue The Square in their hometown Harlow also played a role. It’s also where they met. Being able to see normal people both local and otherwise, creating cool live music only 10 feet away from you, made us realise that we could probably do that too. Ultimately though, writing songs and performing them is how we feel most comfortable expressing ourselves. Everyone needs a creative outlet and we were all lucky enough to develop a passion for music at an early age. We’ve always been heavily involved with the visual aspects of everything the band has done too.
FTR: What can people expect from the Don’t Worry live show?
DW: We love playing live and we take the performance of our music very seriously. But we try not to take ourselves too seriously. We’re always super grateful to anyone who turns up to see us live, and sometimes we’re genuinely shocked by the turnout, which we’ll always tell you about. Musically, we’re loud and in your face when we need to be, and we dial it back and show our more tender side when necessary too. We’ve been doing this for a long time now, so we’re good live. We keep our set up as simple as we can – just a PA, some valve amps, and a drum kit. We like to all be in tune with each other as musicians, we rehearse everything until it’s 90% bang on, and then let that last 10% manifest its self on the night. So if something is slightly faster or slower than usual, it’s all part of the visceral experience for both us and the audience. You can also expect stand up comedy that varies quite considerably in quality.
FTR: What’s next for Don’t Worry?
DW: Our second full-length album “Remorseless Swing” is out 25th March 2022 on Specialist Subject Records. You can pre-order it now on vinyl along with loads of new merch at remorselessswing.co.uk Three singles taken from the album are already out and streaming everywhere, “Every Corner”, “Head’s Chocka” and “Crushing Weight”. There’s 1 more single to come between now and the full album release. We’re touring the UK in May, hitting up some old favourite towns and cities as well as a couple we’ve never been to before at all! Our album release show is in London on Saturday 28th May at Signature Brew (Blackhorse Road) and it’s shaping up to be a very special one and our biggest headline show to date. So get your tickets now! After that, we’d love to go back to Europe again, and perhaps even properly to North America for the first time. We’ll also probably start thinking about writing more songs.
They Listen To…
Smashing Pumpkins – 1979
This is my favourite song of all time. I heard the song and saw the music video with the people in the tyres rolling down the hill at a very pivotal time in my life. Hearing the opening riff and backing vocal instantly makes me feel good whenever it comes on. – Ronan
Bad Books – You Wouldn’t Have To Ask
The song that basically started Don’t Worry. A perfect pop rock song. – Sam
Manchester Orchestra – The Gold
I’m including this song because I’ve been listening to it and playing it myself a lot recently. Lyrically, in essence, it’s about how complicated love can be, and I think that’s an important thing for everyone to learn. Musically, it’s fascinating how such a simple chord progression can become so huge with the addition of a cool riff and great production. – Ronan
John Prine – Hello In There
A beautiful song about noticing those that can easily go unnoticed. John Prine’s voice and guitar playing are both mesmerising and comforting. – Sam
Soot Sprite – Alone Not Lonely
A great song about putting yourself first and not needing someone else to feel whole and worthy. Our label mates Soot Sprite became some of our best actual mates when we toured Europe together just before covid. We all kept each other company digitally during the pandemic. Elli actually sings a guest vocal on the final track on our upcoming album. So keep an ear out for that!