New Leeds band hoping to stand out from the crowd

By Samuel Bannister

An energetic new Leeds band are hoping their music will stand out from the rest of the local scene.

Heavy alternative duo Raw Optics formed this year, in the wake of singer/guitarist Joe Wray’s previous band, Flash Bats.

“We’re taking a bit of a heavier route with this band,” says Wray. “In the last band, we based ourselves around garage rock and punk, and we’re going along the same kind of lines, but a bit heavier.”

The heavier sound comes from new drummer, Reece Cockayne.

“He’s a top notch drummer,” states Wray. “His influences stem from metal. The way he incorporates his style into the kind of music we play works really well.”

Raw Optics take their name from an Oh Sees song, a band that Wray hails as one of his prime influences.

“The stuff we play doesn’t sound like Thee Oh Sees, but obviously they’ve had a big influence on the kind of music that I play.”

The band are hoping to play at local venues in Leeds and Wakefield in the coming months. There could even be plans to release music this year.

“We’ve recorded one or two tracks,” he confirms. “We’re sort of in the early stages of them, but we’re looking to maybe get an album down; if not, an EP.”

Wray – the son of former Castleford Tigers rugby player Jon – is not concerned by potential comparisons to pioneering duo White Stripes.

“If we ever play a gig and someone compares us to White Stripes, I’ll take that as a massive compliment, because I absolutely love [them].”

The guitarist believes the Leeds music scene is “great”, but is keen to separate his band from others in the area.

“It’s definitely taken a certain direction, and it’s taken a direction that I don’t think we really fit into, to be honest. But that’s why I’m hoping we’ll bring something a bit different to the table.”

Band practices have taken place in a tight space in Wray’s house, which he believes contributes to the atmosphere of the band.

“Being right next to the drumkit means I have to have my guitar pretty loud to even hear myself. I like the whole closeness of it because you feel the energy a little bit more.”

Wray is enthusiastic about how social media allows bands like his own to get noticed.

“We’re very fortunate in this day and age with how easy it is to self-promote. At the same time, it’s a bit of a curse because everyone else is doing it and you’ve got to break through and stand out.”

He is hoping that their different musical approach will help them make an impression in a vibrant location for music.

Hear their track ‘Washboy’ here (contains explicit lyrics).

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