Syd Arthur: from Canterbury to LA
Syd Arthur have made a name for themselves recently: they’ve won a Prog Award, toured with big names and have a certain connection with Kate Bush. Now they're back with their fourth album.
Put yourself in Josh Magill’s shoes.
Back in 2014, his brothers’ band Syd Arthur were in the US, touring their name-making third album Sound Mirror, playing with Sean Lennon’s The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger. Midway through the shows, their drummer Fred Rother developed a terrible case of hyperacusis, a chronic hearing condition that renders higher sound volumes unbearably painful. This drove the poor guy out of the band, and, out of the blue, Josh was drafted in to replace him. Josh had to commit to a two-month tour, learn the set in five days, and – the kicker – he was to playin front of not hundreds, but thousands of people: the band had won the opening slot on Yes’ American tour.
“It really was a baptism of fire,” says Magill, who’s had two years to get comfy on his stool. “I’d followed the band’s progress, of course, so one element was learning the music, then another was actually performing it to 6500 people at Radio City in New York! I didn’t want to let anybody down, and that whole Yes tour was frightening until the last show, at The Greek Theatre in LA.”
Los Angeles would later become a notable pin on Syd Arthur’s world map. But for now we catch up with all four members in Detroit. The Magills (Josh, singer/guitarist Liam, bassist Joel) and keyboardist/violinist Raven Bush (his auntie is Kate) have just played the city’s Majestic Theatre, another date on their US/Canada tour opening for hip young indie minstrel Jake Bugg. Along with the clubs they’ve hit the festivals too, including one in Portland at – of all places – Oregon Zoo. “There were elephants just to the right of the stage,” says Joel Magill. “The subwoofer kicked in and their ears were going crazy. There was a volume limit, but apparently they do like the sound, they sort of dance. And right before we went on, there was a falconry display! It was weird, but cool.”