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Interview: First Time Flyers talk rejected band names, debut single ‘Happier’ & which one is going to be Ginger Spice!

Sometimes you can feel an energy, a fizz and a crackle in the air around a band. First Time Flyers, a new endeavour from some of the UK’s most talented musicians, have got that feeling about them. Debut single ‘Happier’ is out today (January 20th) and it’s a slick, uplifting combination of Lady A and Fleetwood Mac-esque vibes.

The band comprises of Tim Prottey-Jones, former founding member of The Wandering Hearts, Poppy Fardell, whose ‘Back on My Feet’ album was packed with slick Pop/Country tunes like ‘Double Denim’, Jake Morrell, a songwriter with a real knack for melody, as evidenced by his songs like ‘Freewheelin’ and ‘This House’ and Vicki Manser, a West End theatre actress & singer who has appeared in musicals such as Six, Bat Out Of Hell & Rock of Ages. Separately they have all had success as solo artists but together they are ready to fly. We were thrilled to grab half an hour to talk to them all about it.

Lovely to speak to you guys, thank you for your time. I’m so excited to see what First Time Flyers can achieve. Let’s talk about the name. Where did that come from and can you tell me what names were rejected before you settled on First Time Flyers?

(all four burst out laughing)

Vicki: We need to get out WhatsApp group up and find them because some of them were so funny!

Tim: Ok, fair enough, you’ve asked for it now.

Jake: The actual name, First Time Flyers, came after we’d gone through reams and reams of paper first! We wrote down hundreds of random words and played around with how they looked and sounded together.

Tim: (looking at his phone) I’ve found some! Oh my god, what were we thinking? ‘Peaches’ is the first one I’ve found (laughing) ‘Valley Folk’ is another!!! (he’s lost it now)

Poppy: ‘Graceland’ was another idea we had.

Vicki: ‘Mixed Signals’!! (laughing)

Poppy: ‘Broken Notes’!

Tim: There was a whole load of names that we tried to spell in an edgy way that just ended up sounding like Ikea furniture! (looking at his phone) ‘Pixels’ was another name we threw out there!

Vicki: I can’t understand why but ‘Fox Cubs’ was suggested by someone! (the whole band burst out laughing)

Poppy: That’s probably Tim’s Tinder name, Fox Cub.

So what was it about ‘First Time Flyers’ that made you go ‘that’s the one!’?

Poppy: We were fed up with all the other ideas!

Jake: I was about to leave the band before it had even started. Seriously though, I was heading back to London and was at Stansted airport watching the planes. The idea came out of nowhere to be honest. I pitched it to the guys and they didn’t hate it!

Poppy: I really like the ‘Flyers’ part of the name. We’ve all been solo artists for so long but the fact that we’ve all come together as one is really cool.

Vicki: I also like the way that FTF looks in the logos and artwork.

Tim: Gotta love the three initials thing. I’ve gone from being TPJ to FTF now!

Can you remember the first time you flew on an airplane at all? Where did you go? Obviously, not together, but can you remember you first time flights?

Vicki: I actually hate flying! It’s an absolute phobia of mine! I usually have to take valium or something to get me through them. I was OK as a kid but as I’ve got older, oh my goodness, I’m absolutely petrified.

Tim: I can remember the first flight I took without my family. I went on a school trip to go skiing. Everyone else seemed to be older than me and it was at Bristol airport, which is a weird little airport anyway. I got to the airport and cried for quite a while and the teachers had to phone my parents! (laughing)

So when you guys embark on the huge American tour Vicki’s going to be terrified and your going to be in tears!

Tim: It’ll be like a standard rehearsal then, to be honest!

You’ve all written together before, sung with each other etc. When did the initial idea to form a band happen?

Jake: It was quite an organic thing really. I had to bully Tim into it a little bit at first but then we tried some stuff together and realised it could be really fun. We pitched it to the girls and they were up for it. It felt like it was going to be a lot of fun.

Poppy: It’s not though, unfortunately.

(laughter)

Tim: We all come from solo careers and projects that utilise lots of backing vocals. We’re so used to the big sound and layered textures and singing on each other’s songs, so we had most of the parts of the jigsaw in place already and we knew what we were going to sound like.

Jake: I just needed some time to get over my own ego.

Tim: And then we just needed a star so we got Vicki in.

Vicki, you’ve obviously got a big West End background. Have you been in a band before and have you got access to therapy!

Vicki: (laughing) That’s a very good question! I was actually in a band once, back in high school. We were called ‘The Hot Three’! I did suggest that name to these guys but they didn’t go for it for some reason…..

Poppy: Because not all of us are hot…

Jake: Speak for yourself!

Vicki: So that was the last time I was in a band but it was my favourite part of school! It’s very different to being in a musical. As an actor you don’t get a lot of creative control, you are just told what to do and say by a director whereas what we are doing now is all down to us and I absolutely love that.

Tim, you’ve obviously been in a band before. Have you also got access to therapy!

Tim: (laughing) I needed that! Do you know what, these three are my therapy.

Jake: Sorry, I’m just going to vomit.

Tim: Ok then, Vicki is my therapy.

Poppy: Oh, come on, I’ve put in a shift too!

Tim: I’ve always been in bands, even before The Wandering Hearts, right back to when I was 13 years old. There’s no other feeling like it and it’s lovely to start a band with people who are genuinely close friends like these guys are.

Let’s talk about new single, ‘Happier’. It’s got a lovely mix of Lady A and Fleetwood Mac vibes. Why did you decide to lead with this song over others you’ve recorded?

Jake: Because we’ve all been miserable. (laughing)

Poppy: We had some really nice people who took a listen to some of our stuff early on and all of the songs got such a great response but ‘Happier’ felt like it was the one that was resonating the most. It feels right and feels like a really cohesive song.

Tim: Cohesive is a really good word. It feels like a safe song, safe in a good way. It feels like a great introduction to the band. You mentioned Lady A and Fleetwood Mac, that was the tone and style that we were after from the start.

Poppy: Actually, if you look at the lyrics it could be quite a sad song and so we thought it had a lot of depth to it as well.

Tim: You know when you’ve hit upon a good song when the harmonies just fall into place without even having to discuss it or work at it, you know?

In the band’s writing process, who’s the lyricist, who’s on melody, structure and so on? Do you have defined roles and jobs or does it depend on the song and is Vicki always trying to bring in these sweeping ‘Phantom of the Opera’ moments?

Jake: She’s on ‘weird chords’…..

Poppy: Weird chords, that’s Vicki’s speciality (laughing) It actually changes from song to song.

Tim: It’s so collaborative. We’ve all come in with lyrics, melodies and stuff. It sounds like we’re saying that for the purposes of an interview but it’s 100% true.

Poppy: It takes the pressure off the writing sessions in a way that you don’t get as a solo artist. When we get together everyone gives each other space to be who they are. We trust each other and different ideas and different people take prominence from session to session.

Tim: With four writers if someone is having an off day or not feeling massively inspired they can take a back seat a little whilst the others drive the session forward. (Jake pats Tim on the shoulder) Ok then, I mean me, if I’m having an off day………(laughing)

First Time Flyers is definitely a new and unique project for the UK scene.

Tim: We think so too. Baylen Leonard, bless him, who hosted our band launch in London this week, was saying a similar thing. He’s got really strong thoughts about what he thinks the UK scene needs and he seems to think that there is a gap in the market and that the scene could do with a band like ours.

I’ve been lucky enough to hear a few of your other songs. I really love ‘Heartbreak Handshake’ and ‘Gold’ too. What’s the plan going forward this year with more content?

Poppy: Everything will be released at some point!

Tim: We’re just going to release a string of songs over the coming months. A lot of the songs do differ from each other so we want to get all those different elements of ourselves out to people as much as we can. We’re excited to put more new music out and our first single isn’t even out yet! (It came out today – January 20th)

Building up to what’s going to be a very busy festival season I guess? If you could choose to play one festival this year which one would it be?

Jake: The Long Road festival.

Tim: We’ve got a real soft spot for the Long Road festival. We’ve always had good times there, great quality of music on offer too.

Vicki: Ultimately, one year, I would love to play the Isle of Wight festival. I’m going to put that down on our goals list.

Tim: Red Rocks in America would be a cool place to play too so let’s throw that one into the mix as well.

So, to finish, and thanks for your time today, which one’s Sporty? Which one’s Scary? Which one’s Posh and who is secretly Ginger?

(laughter)

Tim: I’m all of those!!!

Vicky: I was born ginger!

Tim to Vicki: Really? Keep that a secret.

Poppy: We have had a laugh thinking about this but our manager genuinely wants us to come up with genuine names and think this through!

How about Fierce Flyer, Fabulous Flyer, Flirty Flyer and Funny Flyer?

Tim: I can’t decide which one of those I’d want to be! Poppy would obviously be Flirty Flyer (much band laughter)

Poppy: Apparently my name is ‘Cheeky Flyer’ right now but we all know that I’m going to end up as Flirty Flyer! Jake would be Fabulous Flyer.

Tim: Who would be Deep Fat Flyer? (laughing) I’ve got a couple. How about Pretty Flyer for a White Guyer? Flyer Tuck? Promotional Flyer? (band laughter)

Poppy: For now we’ll let people speculate and come up with their own ideas but we will do it at some point!

Go check out First Time Flyers new single ‘Happier’ and connect with them across their social media channels for what is going to be a year of fun and great music.

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