Family Ranks are a seven-piece band who exploded into being in 2014. United by a love of music and originality, this home-grown collective have created a fresh, unique sound which defies definition. Uncompromising in their approach, they have birthed their own vision, dipping into the genres of soul, funk, hip hop and reggae. With insightful lyrics, killer harmonies and addictive hooks, their imminent debut EP is not to be missed.

Liam Morson (keyboards) and Ruby-Ann Patterson (vocals) held back the curtain to give a glimpse into their world.

 

How would you describe your music?

[Liam] We all bring something different stylistically, and coupled with the fact that it seems to have taken us a year to find our sound – the EP has been the vehicle for this – it’s not easy to put us in a box. We will be pinprick quiet at some points and ear-bashingly intense a moment later, with a lot of electronics meshing alongside the lush, organic vocals and guitars. We feel that we have arrived at a fresh sound, primarily because it has come about naturally, rather than us ‘chasing’ a particular idiom.

Who are your influences?

[Liam] I suppose we combine the bass-led electronica of outfits like Submotion Orchestra, alongside the song writing of icons such as Erykah Badu, with smatterings of neo-soul and Wellington funk-reggae. Fat Freddy’s Drop are gods to a few of us.

What inspires you?

[Liam] Music and surprises, usually musical ones. Those moments that happen when no one is expecting them, because it’s like it has happened of its own volition, a force unto itself. That always gets us ticking.

What’s your song writing process?

[Liam] Often the vocalists will meet and work through their song ideas in an acoustic form. Then we will take the bones of this and see what happens when we throw it at the band. Sometimes it just works, easy and natural, and other times it feels like hard work, but that’s the nature of it, I suppose.

Family Ranks

Where have you been gigging?

[Ruby-Ann] We’ve been making our way around Manchester this year and people have given a very positive response, but we need to break into new audiences. So that’s the next challenge.

What are you working on at the moment?

[Ruby-Ann] We have an EP on the horizon. We are back at the studio in the Welsh mountains over autumn to rein in some of our musical energies on a possible second EP.

We are also working with some artists for our debut video – think tribal body paint and totem poles in an industrial Manchester setting. It’s all go at the Ranks HQ and we are just excited about getting it all out there to share.

What do you love about being in the band?

[Ruby-Ann] Other than creating tunes with people who inspire you musically, it’s the vibe when we are on stage and the respect we have for each other as individual artists. That’s what brings us all together. And just kicking it. Relaxing when we’re not making music. That’s cool as well.

What are the hardest things about being in the band?

[Ruby-Ann] Big personalities and big music heads, so quite a few lengthy discussions happen, trying to get across each of our opinions about parts of a song or how we think it should be played. Also, because we all have such busy music lives, the time to rehearse and get together is limited, so we really do have to work hard to ensure that happens, although mostly we end up sitting around drinking tea and eating lots of breakfasts.

Would you like to work with any other artists?

[Ruby-Ann] Working with other artists is something that we hope will come when the time permits, and the list is undoubtedly endless with seven lots of opinions to account for. I think I can speak for us all when I say Fat Freddy’s Drop – everyday.

Which other Manchester bands are you digging?

[Ruby-Ann] We are collectively loving Buffalo Brothers, Alice Gasson, Pieces of a Man, Mouse Outfit and everyone every other week at the Latin Jam at Dulcimer – amazing musicians. The sheer quality of music coming out of this city – I’m pretty certain there’s something musical in the water. Bon Jovi too.

All your songs are quality. Is there one in particular that is a band favourite?

[Ruby-Ann] It changes. I haven’t consulted the others, but it’s a track on our EP and it’s called ‘Speak Up’. Cue lengthy discussion about which track is actually our favourite…

What’s the dream for Family Ranks? What are you aiming for?

[Ruby-Ann] To perform all over, to continue to create music, to expand our audience. Record an album, maybe a second album, hopefully a third. Who knows? I guess the ultimate aim is to be fortunate enough and successful in our approach that it then allows us to continue doing what we love, and hopefully some people will like it. That would be nice.

What advice would you give to fledgling musicians?

[Ruby-Ann] There are lots of clichéd things to say, like “don’t stop believing,” or some other stuff. But, really, being a musician with humility means you will be broke. You might be piss poor for a large majority of your youth, but while you’re miserable and sad about all the parties you’ve missed and the latest trainers you can’t buy, you write your best song yet. And you do, don’t you?

What have been your best moments in the band so far?

[Ruby-Ann] Completion of recording our EP in Wales was ace. We sat in the sunken studio and had a Family Ranks sing-along style karaoke session, fuelled with wine and beer – very dodgy harmonies. We are all looking forward to doing more of that this autumn.

Full band live shows are electric. I get to share a stage with six really talented musicians and we all get to share our collective work with beautiful audiences. Moments I definitely cherish.

If Family Ranks made fortune cookies, what would be your words of wisdom?

[Ruby-Ann] Fear not the low end.

soundcloud.com/familyranks
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Anna Tuck