Formed in 2015, The What If Generation is a quirky alt-rock quartet from London. Using soaring lyrics, visceral guitar-playing and amusing lyrics, the group are building a strong reputation and gaining a loyal following. We had a chance to chat with frontman Lee Adaway (LA) about their new single ‘Again & Again’, the music video and whether or not dogs go to Heaven.
OSR: How did the band form?
LA: I was messing around with a few songs and was playing with some other guys in a band called The L.A. Band around 2013, but I felt that I never had the right people and was always on the lookout. Guitarists came and went, as did bass players and drummers. I had a guy called Paul who was originally a bass player but was also a drummer. He was drumming for us at the time and he mentioned a guy that he knew who played guitar. A week or so later, Pete walked in the door, plugged in and as soon as we started playing I knew he was the one! Pete just fitted right in. I remember thinking to myself I hope he sticks around which I’m glad to say he did. Not only did he bring solos and riffs, but he also helped in developing the songs with me. The first piece of the puzzle was in place.
No sooner had Pete joined than Paul left. By chance, I was talking to a relative who has been living out in Spain for 30 years who is also a musician. He spoke to his mate whose son Jamie is a drummer who had just recently came back from a year in Australia. A week or two later we met at the studio. We played a few songs with him and again immediately knew he was the one. I couldn’t believe my ears, it was perfect! He mentioned he knew a bass player called Jim who came down to rehearsal and the rest, as they say, is history.
OSR: You have been gigging around London for a few years, but ‘Again & Again’ is your debut single. Why haven’t you released anything before now?
LA: It took some time to get the lineup right and we wanted to spend some time developing the material before recording. We didn’t want to release anything until we had recordings we thought were worthy. We’d had recording sessions previously that weren’t quite good enough. Fortunately, we then found a producer called Niall Squire who helped us get the recordings up to scratch.
OSR: What can you tell us about ‘Again & Again’?
LA: ‘Again & Again’ is a song I wrote after asking does everyone see the same things that I see? Are people brainwashed into seeing what others want you to see? When I wrote it, it wasn’t really meant to have a message, it was just what I was feeling at the time. We think the combination of the song and video has a powerful message which feels very ‘of the moment’.
OSR: Does it have any special meaning to any of you?
LA: It has a special meaning to me as it reflected my take on the world at that time. Hopefully, people will be able to find their own meaning in it.
OSR: What can you tell us about the video for ‘Again & Again’?
LA: The ‘Again & Again’ video was born out of lockdown. We had just finished the track a month or two before. We decided to use the time as an opportunity to get the single and the video ready for release. We found a guy called Ian Husbands who helped us put the video together, although we were restricted in terms of what we can do due to the lockdown. I got chatting with Ian about a concept and we were pretty much on the same page, so we let him run with it and the ‘Again & Again’ video was born.
OSR: What or who inspired the single and the video?
LA: The inspiration for the song came from the craziness of the world today. The consumption double-packing plastic filled oceans and a want for a better environment and preservation of the natural beauty of this world.
OSR: What are the benefits and challenges of being an independent band?
LA: I think the major benefit of being an independent band is that it gives you total control of your output and gives you flexibility in how you operate. Obviously, you don’t have the money that a bigger label would give you, but even the majors aren’t investing as much money in new artists as they did in days gone by. Major labels aren’t generally looking for guitar bands in the current market, so I think more and more bands are doing it on their own.
OSR: How are you coping with not gigging any longer?
LA: We are trying to use the time productively. There are some musical ideas we have been working on and we did use it as an opportunity to release ‘Again & Again’, but we are all itching to get out playing again.
OSR: Do you think the COVID pandemic will affect the music industry in the future and how?
LA: The current situation has been tough on both bands who earn their living on the road and live music venues. It’s hard to predict the future, but it’s very important that the small venues are supported as without them the festival headliners of the future won’t have a chance to develop. It’s going to be tough, but I hope the live scene will return and I’m sure people will be hungrier than ever for that experience.
OSR: If you could change anything about ‘Again & Again’ what would it be?
LA: We are still very happy with it. Songs have a way of evolving the more you gig them, so I’m sure ‘Again & Again’ will change over time, but we are happy with the version we have.
OSR: What do you do when you can’t fall asleep?
LA: Count sheep. Smoke a joint – don’t do cocaine anymore.
OSR: Do you think all dogs go to Heaven?
LA: Only the ones that don’t bite your ankles.
OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?
LA: Stay safe and hopefully we will get to play for you some time down the road.