Introducing: The Lyricals

The musical combination of friends Josh Bovington and Dino Mensano, The Lyricals formed from a conversation in a small bar in Amsterdam, and an idea to bring funky music and anything else they stumbled upon back to the streets of their homes in London. Connect with Josh and Dino, below.

What are the origins of The Lyricals, and how long have been creating music together?

Josh: Well I had already made music before while at university, but it was really during a trip to Amsterdam that The Lyricals came to be. While walking over a bridge, Dino and myself stopped to take a picture, which looked so good we thought it would make a fantastic album cover. A pub trip after the picture was where the name came from, I think it was my girlfriend Gemma who actually came up with the name itself. Once back home we started recording very rough electronic music, which we sort of semi”rapped” over, partly in tribute to Mac Miller who had recently passed away, and partly because we didn’t really know our sound yet. They were fun, experimental days.

Dino: It’s mad to think it’s been six years. We knew we wanted to make music together as we are both really passionate about it. We just had a guitar and a keyboard but it turns out it’s all we needed to get going! Since then we of course got more equipment and we love to have fun and get creative with it.

What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe The Lyricals?

Dino: high energy and excitement! We are all about creating fun, energetic rock songs! It’s hard to define us genre-wise as we love so many different types of music but it would be in the realms of alternative rock. Different influences are definitely present in our songs, as Josh said earlier we started making electronic music and that’s still prominent in our music today as well so it’s hard to pin it down. If you’re looking for a rock band that isn’t afraid to experiment, you’ll love us.

Josh: I would describe The Lyricals as a throwback to indie and alternative rock, even grunge, but with a lo-fi and modern twist. We like to incorporate synths as well when we make our rockier songs as well as reverb pedals, and any effects to give us a signature sound. My guitar sound has been described in the past as sounding very trippy, even underwater sounding, which I like.

If our maths are correct, your very first song “Waiting For You” was released almost 5 years ago, in what ways have you grown musically since then?

Josh: That’s right yes, Waiting for You was somehow 5 years ago! A lot has definitely changed, we were only 25 when we started The Lyricals and didn’t really know what we were doing. We were also pretty limited at the time with equipment, so relied on my ropey acoustic 4-string guitar and Garageband, and although it gave us an interesting sound, we’ve really been able to refine it over the years. We’ve had a pretty interesting journey musically to get to where we are now. The pandemic hit right before we released our first album, which was particularly annoying. The upside of this was we had more time to work on music privately, so much so that we released our second album the same year! It definitely changed our way of recording once again though, as we couldn’t record in person, so we instead had to rely on pages and pages of back-and-forth emails, sending each other stems and demos we had recorded. Despite being challenging it paid off, as our track Quarantine did particularly well, racking up a lot of love online and on radio stations, and even getting featured on Polyvinyl Records playlist. I’m not even sure how they found us to be honest, but it was great to be featured by a label that had great bands like Strfkr and Kero Kero Bonito on their label.

Dino: I remember when we recorded it. It’s a very simple song and it was very much an experiment for us as we were just taking our first plunge in making music! I look back on it really fondly and it’s a great insight into how far we have come since that single. I feel now, 5 years later, we are way more confident about our abilities and the sound we want to go for! I think the great thing about us both is that we are always looking at how we can improve ourselves. We have come a long way and I feel the growth has been amazing. I love looking back at our catalogue of songs and I genuinely love everything we have put out.

Tell us about the latest single ‘Scoundrel Church’, the title for one is very thought-provoking and could mean different things to different people, what is the story and meaning behind it?

Dino: Well, from a production point of view, Scoundrel Church came from a riff I came up with that had a more punk rock feel. I came up with this really cool riff which is now the main riff you hear in the first verse of Scoundrel Church. Josh then wrote amazing lyrics and laid down some eerie synths which led to, what is in my opinion, one of the best songs we have made together.

Josh: Scoundrel Church comes from multiple places actually. So the main idea and focus of the lyrics and story of the song is running down a bitter old man commenting online and spreading lies and gossip. A situation that happens a lot on social media as I’m sure you’ve seen, but something we had personal experience with, so this was sort of our way of getting even with these types of trolls!

There’s also the main hook of the song, and other lyrics throughout, which are taken from a very very early video of myself performing a freestyle rap on my 22nd birthday while in the smoking area of the Hippodrome nightclub in Kingston (RIP). It’s very very bad as I was pretty Intoxicated, but there were a few bits that were fun to use again in this song. The video does still exist too! But will probably never see the light of day as there’s far too much swearing in it! The actual title of the song comes from a book entitled “The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ” by Philip Pullman. I’m a bookseller by trade when I’m not doing The Lyricals and so I come across a lot of books and this one caught my eye. It’s a fictional tale where Jesus and Christ are two different people who history has over time merged into one. Jesus being a noble man and Christ being more devious. I guess this links back to the original theme of the song, with these internet trolls hiding their true self behind a fake name.

What other new music are you working on?

Josh: Oh man we have so many songs on the go at the moment I can’t even keep up with it. I have a fairly scattered mind at the best of times, and music is no different, so when I get an idea for something I usually send it to Dino, before forgetting about it and having a new idea for another new song, and Dino is the same! So we have several songs on the go, one in particular is inspired by one of our favourite bands, Late of the Pier. Absolutely fantastic mid to late naughties group who are criminally underrated, so definitely check them out! We were actually lucky enough to talk with Andrew from Late of the Pier online and even got invited to his studio, but COVID stopped it from progressing, hopefully, in the future, we could revisit the idea though. We actually have 2 new producers that we will be working with soon too on a few tracks, so lots of exciting stuff for the future!

Dino: We got so many songs that we are sitting on! We want to really push out more music this year as I feel we have really got a firm handle on the kind of music we are passionate about making. Like Josh said too we have two brilliant producers working with us for our next releases which I’m sure are going to bring a whole new dynamic and level to the band. I had to actually back up my project files on two separate storage devices because I am such a scatterbrain, constantly making new riffs and songs – I do finish them though promise!

Regarding a similar audience, which bands out there at the minute do you feel The Lyricals would be best suited to open for?

Dino: Great question! There are so many to choose from that would be amazing! The Cribs would be fantastic as they are a key influence on our band – Gary Jarman and I have the same taste in bass guitars which is great. Shooting for the stars, Foo Fighters would be a dream! I do think one band that would be great to open for on the newer side would be Hot Milk. They’ve been killing it lately and I’ve been following them for a few years now. I like that they’re a duo like us and that they also are in the alt-rock space unafraid to experiment across genres. I was lucky to have met Han and Jim from the band following an intimate gig they did a while back. They were really cool – very down to Earth and talented.

Josh: It would be an absolute dream to open for The Cribs. They have always been one of my favourite bands, and I think our style is pretty similar to some of their early songs, as well as their “24 hour Rock Star Shit” album from a few years back, so I would definitely put them at the top of the list. I really love Future Islands and their use of synths with alternative rock-sounding elements is something I aspire to, so opening for them would be fun too. Brian Wilson is my musical hero, if he was still touring I would have loved to open for him, The Beach Boys Smiley Smile album and the Love You album have lo-fi and electronic elements that have definitely inspired our work.

Excluding yourself, which new band would you like to see break out and become a success?

Dino: a band called Florence Black, caught them doing a show in London and they are incredible! I can see them one-day doing arena shows, they are a must if you like Foo Fighters and Motorhead. Another isn’t a band but an Italian singer-songwriter called Francis Jupiter. He’s a talented artist – his music is fun, light and introspective. He’s a friend of mine and has been supportive of our band too, he deserves a lot more attention. He sings in English, so his music is very accessible to everyone.

Josh: There are a lot of amazing bands out there at the moment, it’s hard to think of just a few. The Great Leslie are a fantastic group who have been releasing so much great music lately, I think they will be really big in the future. He’s already an established name but Chilli Jesson and his band are amazing, his live shows are a lot of fun and he’s a nice guy too, definitely deserves more recognition. Again, already well established, but LA Priest deserves more recognition. He’s the former lead singer of Late of the Pier who I mentioned earlier, and his solo stuff is out of this world, as well as his collaboration with Cannan Mockasin under the Soft Hair name. I’ve been listening to an artist called Miso Extra a lot lately too, she’s really great and definitely worth getting into.

What frustrates you about the music business?

Josh: I think getting airplay is still pretty hard, as it’s such a minefield out there. The amount of pay-to-play radio stations and Spotify playlists out there is ridiculous, we get emails all the time promoting these services, and it really undermines the real reach of bands. If you just pay to be on a playlist, you aren’t really developing an audience, you are only really helping them coat their pockets. It’s a shame really. The last few years I’ve been running my own station called Mystery Box Radio, specifically to counteract these types of pages. We play good music at no cost, and will never charge for the privilege. Good music should be heard, and if you have good stuff, the right audience will find you without you having to pay for it.

Dino: You need to be always wary of whether someone is genuinely interested in your music or has an ulterior motive. We have had many people be interested in promoting us in some fashion but then would demand money. Music is about music. You either like someone’s music or you don’t and if you like it, there’s no way you’re gonna want money from them. Plenty of vultures put there but then it feels great when praise comes from a place of sincerity.

What are your first musical memories? And what lightbulb moment made you say “I want to do that”?

Dino: I’d say I’ve always had that kind of interest ever since I was very young but didn’t know how or where to start! I remember watching music videos on TV as a kid thinking the bands were so cool, they basically were on the same level of superheroes for me. I distinctly remember my favourites were the song Hero by Nickelback that they made for the first Spider-Man film and Avril Lavigne’s Sk8ter Boi video. I’d say the real lightbulb moment was pulling the trigger and making music with Josh, I think he just unlocked that desire I had and together we had the way forward to have fun making music together.

Josh: I’m a huge fan of the Beach Boys, and of course love their earlier songs, but hearing their Surf’s Up album was really a big lightbulb moment for me. It was so different to their previous songs and was so different to really anything I had heard before, and it really inspired me to write my own lyrics. I have a whole book filled with lyrics I wrote when I was inspired mainly by Surf’s Up, but also Dennis Wilson’s solo album Pacific Ocean Blue. It’s been nice to actually record some of the songs properly with The Lyricals, our song “Hope” was taken from that very book I wrote 14 years ago. As far as earliest musical memories, my dad is a huge fan of all music, so we would listen to everything from Chic to Steely Dan, old reggae from Trojan Records, all the way up to Pixies and Living Colour, so it was an eclectic mix, but there was always music in the house. My brother would dabble in home recordings too, so there’s definitely some early music with me on it on a dusty cassette. Technically my earliest piece of music actually came on an S Club 7 record! I was part of the school choir when I was young, and our school along with others were featured on a charity single recorded by the band. Somewhere buried in the mix of”Have You Ever” you’ll hear my eight-year-old voice.

What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?

Josh: The last gig I attended was actually with Dino, and it was the Kaiser Chiefs in our hometown of Kingston. Banquet Records run by Jon Tolley put on great shows in Kingston, and they’ve brought in a who’s who of artists over the years, including The Who! Jools Holland and Rod Stewart were playing the night before the Kaisers were. The gig was pretty good, I’ve seen them twice before.

Dino: Haha! I go to way too many gigs! As I write this I’m seeing Fightstar tomorrow as they have reunited for a one-off show at OVO Wembley. I’m very excited about that. Josh and I go to and have been to many gigs together, always the best experiences.

What current social issues are you particularly passionate about?

Dino: Ending intolerance and discrimination I’d say. While now we live in a much more tolerant world there’s still a nastiness online especially. For instance, there’s a really cool rock band called Magnolia Park and their lead singer is a POC. I’ve seen many ignorant comments on their social media that they shouldn’t be making rock but should be rapping. Or wondering why they’re making “white music”. It’s insane how someone in 2024 can make these kinds of comments…Obviously compared to even when I was younger there is more awareness but I do feel platforms should be used to support and uplift, not to divide.

Josh: Any kind of charity work is something that interests me, if there’s any way we can raise money for charity then we want to be involved. On my Mystery Box Radio show, I helped promote a homeless help charity, and it’s something I would love to do more with The Lyricals on that front. We have a platform with our music so we should use it to promote good causes. For our song “Barron Days” I wrote about a homeless man I used to know who passed away a few years ago, and no one seemed to care he had passed. He was a good man and I felt inspired to immortalise him in a song to keep his memory alive. It’s probably one of the more personal songs I’ve written, but the message within is something everyone can relate to.

The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?

Josh: The Best of Kylie Minogue has some absolute bangers on it and I’m not particularly ashamed to admit that! The same goes for Madonna’s greatest hits. Not things I would listen to all the time, but I’ll have a good time listening to them once in a while.

Dino: Childish Gambino’s Kauai album, I’ve always loved this album – there are no skips! It’s definitely his most underrated album. I really enjoy Bruno Mars, especially his older stuff like Runaway Baby, Treasure, and of course the 24k Magic album. I also come from an Italian family so I was exposed to a lot of Italian music growing up and I actively listen to some Italian artists such as Zucchero and Umberto Tozzi.

Everybody is a fan of something, who or what are you a fan of?

Josh: So I’ve mentioned a few already, my absolute favourite band is The Beach Boys. I love the diversity in their music and how it’s changed over time. Their main songwriter Brian Wilson is a genius, and his first solo album is pretty great too! His brother Dennis who was the original drummer in the group, has a fantastic solo album called Pacific Ocean Blue, it’s 100% in my top 5 all-time favourite albums. The Cribs are my other favourite band. I’ve loved their music their whole career, and watching them grow as a band, they have been the soundtrack to my life at so many stages! LA Priest is my favourite solo artist, his latest album Fase Luna is a masterpiece and I’ve listened to it so many times already. It really was the perfect soundtrack on a recent trip I took to Tenerife. We were lucky enough to meet him at Rough Trade recently and he was a great guy, who took the time to talk to us for a while. The first remix The Lyricals recorded was a remix of one of his songs, which he said he still has on his computer which is cool. Metronomy is another band I love, their albums The English Riviera and Love Letters were on repeat while I was at university. I love so many bands but these are the main ones for me

Dino: As far as music goes, my all time favourite band is Foo Fighters, and by extension, Dave Grohl is my musical hero. There aren’t many musicians who have been in multiple highly successful bands like him and I find that really inspirational. His documentaries, especially when he talks about creating heavy riffs that sound massive like a wall of sound, resonated with me and I believe it’s definitely affected how I think about producing. I’m also a big fan of Linkin Park – Mike Shinoda did live streams during lockdown where he’d produce songs from scratch, these streams elevated my skills and interest in music production and I solidly believe our music got better thanks to him. Outside of music, I love TV shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Cobra Kai, and right now I’m really enjoying watching Orange Is The New Black with my girlfriend.

What new music have you been enjoying this year?

Josh: Chromeo’s album Adult Contemporary is awesome. We met them at Rough Trade this year too, their remix of Kylie Minogue’s song Tension is really funky which I love. The track Replacements featuring La Roux is my favourite of the album so definitely check that out. I also recently heard that Cola Boyy died a few days ago, he was a great artist so I’ll be re-listening to his song Penny Girl in tribute. The new MGMT album which came out this year has been awesome too, I love all their music, particularly Little Dark Age from a few years back.

Dino: Florence Black’s new album a lot, Green Day’s as well, Kool Aid by Bring Me The Horizon is probably the most insane song I’ve heard this year, in a good way! Like Josh, I have really been enjoying Chromeo’s new album, especially their single “Personal Effects” that’s a standout for me. Oh and I do have Jack Black’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time” cover on repeat a lot, it’s a masterpiece..!

What does 2024 hold for ‘The Lyricals’?

Dino: lots more music for sure, and we hope to get more live stuff going. We jammed the other day and it was fantastic so we hope to get more out there playing our stuff. I’m excited to release the tracks we have cooking at the moment!

Josh: We’ve got some cool stuff planned for 2024. We have 2 new producers that we will be working with on some tracks, and we are really excited to see what they do with our music. We also have a performance planned for the VIRTUALFEST online festival promoted by my Mystery Box Radio channel. The festival is streaming on YouTube later in the year and has performances from a lot of great artists, including Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and Blondie drummer Clem Burke, so it will be exciting to be on the same bill as legends like them. If all goes to plan, our third album The Big Ride should be released this year too! So all in all an exciting year ahead of us!

How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?

Josh: The main way of getting hold of us is on Instagram, which we are pretty active on. Feel free to give us a message and say hello over there! You can also head to all our other socials from there, like our YouTube channel. If you head to our beacons page, you’ll see a whole collection of interviews, radio spots, music videos, and live performances we have done over the years, so definitely check that out too!

Dino: We are definitely more active on Instagram and Twitter, we are planning to jump on TikTok more as well. Anywhere anyone wants to connect with us, we love engaging with people who enjoy our stuff!

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