Willow Shields
Willow Shields

Music photographer and journalist based in South London.

In this edition of Life in London; you join me, lost in the middle of Hackney, not knowing which way is up. I call the now familiar number of Volleyball‘s charismatic lead singer Rudi for maybe the 4th time, who then meets me and leads the way to the band’s studio, where they’ve been tirelessly laying down bass tracks all day. I am met with Hugh (guitar/ keys/ general sound wiz) and Tom (bass/ cool guy) and when they all sat in front of me, and I do not exaggerate in any way, dear reader, I could swear that they were all straight out of the 60s. You know when people just have faces to match decades? Get those boys in brown suits and dagger collars, you’d think they stole a time machine!

When the questions finally begun I ask them where they’re from, where they grew up, they said “We are from all over the place, Hugh’s from York, Rudi hails from Guernsey, Tom grew up in Kent and Thom from Staines. Hugh is still in the process of growing up, but has made significant progress in the past few months.” To begin the London bit of this Life in London interview, I ask them where they’d go out for breakfast, “I have to say Grow in Hackney Wick. It’s one of those places that feels like a secret entrance – if you didn’t know about it and the internet didn’t exist, it would seem like you’re walking to the back of a carpark, then you emerge into a Hackney paradise. They are really up on sourcing their produce ethically and sustainably, it’s got a mediterranean / middle eastern type vibe.” 

To carry on the day from breakfast..Morning walk, where? “Tower Hamlets cemetery is great, so quiet it doesn’t feel like you are in London. Or out towards Hackney Marshes.” In the vein of greenery in the big smoke, I go onto ask them their favourite park, “Victoria Park is a goodun, such a vibe on a sunny day and a great place to take the dog for a walk plus they have some great festivals there. There are a few good sit down spots that score top park marks.” And the best place to spend a sunny day? “In a basement studio recording. We tend to come out when it rains.”  

Volleyball‘s answer to my all time favourite question of ‘Best Supermarket’ is a helpful tip/ recommendation, specially for you: “…there is [a supermarket] called simply fresh in bethnal green which does amazing deli stuff and massive tubs of hummus and refillable wine. Not for a big shop…but it’s pretty wild.” They also have another recommendation in the form of their favourite hidden gem: https://www.window-swap.com/Window.

By now, I’m sure you’re burning to know the way that Volleyball get around the city and luckily for you, I have the answers. “Bike! We all tend to cycle everywhere, quicker, greener and better sights than any of the above. It is pretty great getting on a long train journey and zoning out looking out the window. We were chatting yesterday in my house about how we all read less because we are travelling to less places. Train reads are sickkkk.” And when it comes to the iconic London tube, I ask what their favourite line is and they say, “It’s definitely not my regular central line thats for sure. I like a quiet overground westbound, heading into the setting sun. Although, Surely the DLR when you get to sit at the front.”

What is Volleyball‘s favourite London borough out of the equally beautiful and charming 32? “Our hearts lie in Hackney/tower hamlets. Where we all met and now most of us live, VB central.” The bands favourite beer garden happens to be at almost the opposite side of the city “The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham has an incredible garden and they usually have DJs playing bangers or jams round the fire.” But to see live music, the band prefer an outdoor setting, “I miss live music in fields. Weird places for live music are so great. I went to a gig on a beach once, which had the favourite position potential but it was freezing and the music wasn’t great.” And their favourite night out is not a place, it’s “One that is unplanned and unexpected.”

And finally, Volleyball‘s place that they want to go but have never been is: “The future.” Which just screams 60s giant park love-in conversation, doesn’t it? The band’s newest single, ‘Aloosh’ is now out on all streaming platforms and you can listen to it in all of it’s floaty, wavy glory. And if you want to find Volleyball, you’ll find it a lot easier than I did, because they have a website! Check it out at here!

Listen to Volleyball’s ‘Aloosh’ here: