Sawbridgeworth band Lock-In to Spotify success as they make most of the coronavirus lockdown
With a name like Lock-In it would be no surprise to hear an indie band formed in Sawbridgeworth are flavour of the month at the moment,
And although the five-piece band were put together before the coronavirus pandemic struck and the name came from some of the members experiencing a pub lock-in, their determination not to sit around waiting for live opportunities to arise has reaped rich rewards.
Vocalist Benjy Leak, from Sawbridgeworth and drummer Ollie Stacey, from Harlow, told me via a Zoom interview their Spotify streams had topped the 50,000 mark since releasing their first single Teenager on the music streaming service in September. And their new single Get Over It was the featured song on the goals of the week section on Sky TV's Soccer AM.
It's the result of a productive period for the band and has seen much critical acclaim in the industry with one reviewer declaring they are set to become "one of the greatest bands of their generation".
Benjy recalls how the project, which stemmed from students from Leventhorpe School in London Road, Sawbridgeworth, getting together "enjoying music", began to gather pace.
The first incarnation of the band gigged at The Thirst cafe in South Street Bishop's Stortford in March 2019, and played their last gig at their school's Lev Fest, when Ollie's name was mentioned as a drummer.
They met Hackney-based guitarist Paddy Murphy at London's Community festival in June that year and the line-up was completed, with Benjy and Ollie joined by Angus Moore (guitar), from Great Canfield and Sam Collins, (bass guitar) from Sawbridgeworth.
"The first practice [of the new band] was in September  at the Riverway Studios in Harlow and we also rehearsed at people's homes," said Benjy.
Their first official gig as Lock-In was at the Spring Sessions charity event organised by Sawbridgeworth cancer battler Maddy Kelly in February last year before the coronavirus lockdown was instigated by the Government.
Ollie, who told me he takes total credit for the name, echoes Benjy's view that the band has built a foundation through the lockdowns.
"It think the name fits in well - it's ironic that we're hitting the music scene during lockdown, but 100% it has helped us. We wouldn't be where we are now."
Ollie added the cancellation of a gig at The Horn at The Half Moon in North Street, Bishop's Stortford, just as the lockdown kicked in, although no reflection on the venue, did them a favour.
The band has spent much of the past year writing new songs and practising. "Not playing that gig was good because we've had six to seven months practising our set list," he said.
The Soccer AM airing was a particular buzz for Benjy and the rest of the band, who are all big football fans and love the show.
"It was a special moment for the boys," said Benjy. "It's a massive achievement - our first television sync and Fenners (presenter John Fendley) turned round and said 'what a tune!'"
Another moment of joy was West Ham United featuring one of their songs before a recent game, something which was a particular delight for massive Hammers fan Benjy.
The closeness and camaraderie of the members of Lock-In is illustrated perfectly by the manner in which they create songs.
"Essentially either of our guitarists will bring a melody to the table and then I write the words and Ollie will work on the drums," said Benjy, who added most of the lyrics were written from his point of view.
The one exception was Rosy Cheeks where Benjy was presented with a tune and asked if he could come up with some catchy lyrics - which he did!
While they are busy producing music in a virtual vacuum they are looking forward to headlining a gig at The Water Rats, in King's Cross, London on June 5, lockdown allowing, which they sold out in under six hours.
Although 18-year-old Benjy can find time working on promoting the band on social media in between studying for a film degree at Ravensbourne University, the rest of the band have jobs, which keeps their feet on the ground.
Ollie, 20, works as an estate agent in Harlow and although having to work on Saturdays is frustrating he's happy with how it works out.
"I get Fridays and Sundays off - I'm in a good position that I've got a job I like," he said. Both Ollie and Benjy were keen to stress that although they have the potential to go far, enjoying what they are doing with the band in crucial.
"We've all got our own aspirations," said Ollie. "But the main thing is staying together and enjoying each other's company.
"As long as we have people listening to our music - you have to enjoy what you do."
Check out the band's Facebook page for more details and to listen to their music.