The Hummingbirds – 20 Questions

A melodic five-piece from Liverpool – we decided to ask the group to undergo one of our customised (and very democratic) question sets and are pleased to present their responses..sound pretty bright, don’t they?

*JAY (Vocals/Guitar)

  • Your best career decision? And your worst?

My best career decision would be to actually pursue a career in music, most of my friends who started playing music with me have all stopped and joined ’the real world’ as they like to call it, I can’t say there’s a better feeling that waking up and remembering that my job today is to write a song, or to play a gig to a couple of hundred people. My worst career decision would probably have to be not bringing a towel on stage with me (I always forget). It gets awfully hot up there, and the stage lights don’t help. I end up sweating through my suit.

  • What sets The Hummingbirds apart from the pack?

We focus our songs and performance on catchy melodies and a strong 3 part harmony polished off with a smart look. I feel this leaves people who watch our performances with a strong remembrance of the band after the show which gives us that push above bands who don’t really focus on what/who they are and what they are trying to portray. Our songs are derived from everyday personal experiences mainly focusing on relationships. With relationships being a major thing in everyone’s lives it helps us connect to our fans and those who listen to our lyrics as they may be able to relate to the meaning of the song. I think all this combined gives us that edge and sets us apart from others.

  • Favoured stage guitar(s) and strings?

At the moment I play a Gibson J45 custom. I love the sound, the feel and everything about the guitar. As for strings, I’m a big fan of Elixr’s Phospher Bronze. They last longer than most other strings I’ve had in the past and find they keep their sound better also.

  • The radio is playing…what song would you cross the room to turn UP and what song would you cross the room to turn OFF?

‘Sorry Susanne’ – The Hollies’ is one of my favourite songs I’d have to turn that up, what a tune! Any X-factor rubbish would have to get turned off or preferably thrown out of the window.

*MIC (Guitar/Backing Vocals)

  • The third track on an album is often a gem – can you think of any? (artist/title/source album) – as many as you like!!!

Dan Croll – Wanna Know – Sweet Disarray

The Staves – No Me, No You, No More – If I Was

The Milk Carton Kids – Monterey – Monterey

John Mayer – Shadow Days – Born & Raised

Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings – Fear Fun

  • Name a song or instrumental that fades too early, for you (artist / title)

Dan Croll – Wanna Know – Sweet Disarray

The Staves – No Me, No You, No More – If I Was

The Milk Carton Kids – Monterey – Monterey

John Mayer – Shadow Days – Born & Raised

Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings – Fear Fun

  • Which song – any artist, any title – would have made a fine single release? IF it had been a SINGLE ! – why do you think this?

First one that comes to mind would be a Beatles song, just because their catalogue is so extensive, that the singles they released were only the tip of the iceberg, I always listen to the album songs and wonder how so many good songs were never released. I think out of the many I think should have been singles. ‘If I Fell’ I think that it’s miles better than the A side it was released behind (And I Love Her) and also, it sums up Lennon and McCartney’s writing perfectly, the contrary motion of melody, Lennon low and McCartney high, with an amazing middle 8 climax that see’s McCartney’s influence on the song shine through and George Martin’s production is spot on, there is an early demo from John Lennon on YouTube that makes this song sound completely different, almost Roy Orbison esque.

  • An acoustic gem? What song/tune and who by? What’s the appeal?

I love John Mayer’s version of Neon from his live album/DVD ‘Where The Light Is’ more than I love the original album recording. The original track doesn’t do it for me in terms of production, it’s extremely over produced with a lot of background noise, and instruments happening. This acoustic version is what the song was originally written and recorded like in his early demos and is a technically challenging song to play and sing, he does a great solo in the middle, and it’s a perfect opening number for the concert.

*RYAN (Bass)

  • Name a TV series where the theme music was better than the actual shows and do you know who created or recorded it?

I’d have to say ‘News at 10’. The news is so doom and gloom the music is the best bit, not by much though.

  • Name an album or a couple of albums where the cover or artwork could have been better, in your humble opinion….give any thoughts around this

’The Verve – Urban Hymns’ for such an iconic album they probably could have tried harder with the cover, it looks like they’ve just woken up in a park trying to piece together how they got there. Fantastic album though.

  • Your favourite chord progression on a Hummingbirds’ song? What’s the song about?

In terms of chord progressions I would say my favourite would be ‘Break Your Heart’, it has an augmented chord in the verse and in the chorus has a change from a major to seventh. It’s something a bit different which is nice. ‘Break Your Heart’ is about going out with a girl but having to let her go because you know that you’re not right for her and it won’t work out.

I am always surprised if I meet a bass player who doesn’t rate McCartney – any thoughts or favourite tracks ? ( I really like ‘Rain’..have you heard The Kaptain Kopter version, Randy California?)

I would be surprised as well, Paul McCartney is clearly such as good songwriter, it would be foolish not to try and learn from him. I believe he writes creative and different basslines based around the whole song so it doesn’t overpower other parts of the piece but is melodic and becomes a vital part of the track. A few McCartney basslines I particularly like are; Penny Lane, Paperback writer, Taxman, Come Together and a load more but I’d be here all night

*MATTY (Rhythm Guitar)

  • Which artist did you go to see perform with low expectations but ended up impressed? Where and when was this?

I went to see Jake Bugg in the Echo Arena last year. I wasn’t sure how he would go down playing in an arena as opposed to a more intimate venue as I’d only ever seen him play smaller venues such as ‘The Maze’ in Nottingham for his hometown return gig. His performance was unbelievable but what topped it for me was when he played his track “Broken” with just him and his guitar in front of the 10,000 packed out crowd. I wasn’t expecting the reception he got either. He drew everyone in the crowd into his performance which before hand I couldn’t imagine him doing.

  • Where in the world in your opinion is live music best received? What particular venues appeal?

I think it would have to be Glastonbury. Everyone who goes are there for their love of music and welcomes new bands and artists into their ‘life’ so to speak. It seems to be a main goal for probably every band to get a slot in the festival. It’s a music haven for everyone involved and allows thousands of people to share different music together in one place.

  • Has a radio DJ anywhere ( and any era) ever impressed you and if so why?

I often listen to Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2. I’m a keen country music fan and it’s rare to find a DJ who plays the kind of stuff I enjoy on the radio. It’s nice to be able to hear his stuff as opposed to all the mainstream artists which many DJ’s tend to play 24/7.

If not Bob Harris I’d listen to Kay Garroway on Smooth FM. I’ve got a soft spot for the 80’s classics!

  • ‘Tom Petty is a genius rhythm guitar player’ – discuss (and – separately -have you heard the great Mars Bonfire?)

His names up there with some of the greatest musicians to live. To even be a member of the Travelling Wilbury’s and play alongside Harrison and Dylan (who to me are in my top 5 artists) must mean he was doing something right. May this be his guitar playing or song writing skills. He influences my music and I’m sure millions of others around the world.

If you’re on about the guy who wrote ‘Born To Be Wild’ then yes. I’m not aware of much of his material as I’m sure he was writing for various artists over his career. He may be a guy I need to pay more attention to.( Try ‘Faster Than The Speed of Life’, matey – Pete )

*RICHARD (Drums/Backing Vocals)

  • Which is the best sequenced album- any artist, any genre – that you really rate and why is this ? any favourite songs or pieces on this album? ( I like the running order of Spirit’s ‘ 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus’,,by the end a lot of ground has been covered )

Jeff Lynne’s ‘ Armchair Theatre’. It’s a load of different genre on different songs with Jeff Lynne’s spin on it so you instantly know that it’s Jeff Lynne. Each song is its own.

  • Which of The Hummingbirds’ songs could (should) open a film? And in which cinematic genre?

It’s between ‘Lift me up’ and ‘September Song’

  • Stevie Nicks and Steve Miller record a song together – suggest a song and who would you would choose to be in the band

Stevie Nicks hands down!

‘Children of the Revolution’ by T. Rex. Stevie Miller taking the verses.

  • Three tips, please, for a stagebound novice drummer?

Set up/ pack down as quick as you can.

Find out the sound guy’s name as you’ll be asking him to press every button and fader on his desk.

Don’t mess about on the kit in between songs and when the band are tuning

Pete Sargeant

The Hummingbirds  new EP ‘Out of the Rain’ will be released in 2015. In addition, they will be embarking on an Autumn UK tour at the following venues:

Wednesday 14th October 2015 – The Islington, London, United Kingdom

Friday 16th October 2015 – The Zoo Bar, St Helens, United Kingdom

Friday 13th November 2015 – Telfords Warehouse, Chester, United Kingdom

Friday 20th November 2015 – KU Bar, Stockton, United Kingdom 

Saturday 28th November 2015 – O2 Academy, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Tuesday 8th December- The Barfly, Camden, London, United Kingdom

For more information visit:

(Thanks to The Hummingbirds and Fiona)