Why South Wall Corner Club was more than just a band as they release Beauty in Fear EP 10 years on

There are so many bands from Stoke-on-Trent’s music scene’s past that we continue to mourn, from the shoegazey soundscapes of Rinse, to the alt-rock tones of Agent Blue. But there’s one band who really captured the hearts of the masses unlike anything we’ve seen before, and that’s South Wall Corner Club.

The Stoke-on-Trent outfit blended indie with alt-folk and shades of rock, performing their debut show at The Full Moon in Newcastle-under-Lyme (incidentally, the venue where I wrote my first gig review back in 2016). Nine months later, SWCC released their debut EP, Beauty in Fear, on April 10, 2014 in the form of 100 physical CDs which are now considered priceless to those fortunate enough to own one.

And to celebrate a decade since the band’s one and only official EP, they’ve finally released it digitally so it can be heard, enjoyed, loved by all – and for some, it’s the perfect opportunity to relive some of that nostalgia. 

Now, even if you haven’t heard of South Wall Corner Club – you probably have heard at least a snippet, especially if you watch The Honey Box, with one of their riffs being the soundtrack to the live streamed show. 

The band has described the release as ‘a culmination of lifelong friendships and adventures and experiences’, but for the fans, it’s all that and so much more. But why? 

South Wall Corner Club was, on paper, a four-piece band, comprising Jack Wood on drums and vocals, Dave Lymer on Keys, James Daley on guitar and vocals with Natalie Webb also singing on the tracks – but in truth, SWCC was a village. It was a community, a club that fostered a sense of belonging, a safe haven for musicians, gig-goers, misfits and kindred spirits who found themselves within the walls of the Conny – the concrete hut that was built by the group of friends’ own hands, complete with working PA system, log fire and hazy smoke filled evenings.

“Perhaps subconsciously it is some sort of closure for me, though I don’t really see it that way,” said Lee Barber, one of the not-band-members members of South Wall Corner Club. “Working with South Wall Corner Club, with the most incredible group of friends I’ve ever had, will always be some of the proudest moments in my life. It was never just a band. It really was a club that we were all part of, and being part of something so special, that sticks with you. Releasing the songs online now feels right, it feels like we’re finally giving the songs the freedom they deserve.”

The digital release features the four tracks from the original EP, recorded at UTC Studios, alongside special unreleased editions of singles Don’t Judge The Youth (their debut record) and Birds Of War, resulting in 17 minutes of ethereal harmonies, atmospheric soundscapes and a journey into the heart of SWCC.

Don’t Judge The Youth is an incredibly familiar sounding record, from the bounce of the keys to the Of Monsters and Men-style harmonies and lyrical flow. It’s the kind of song that immediately transports you back to your adolescence in the same way as finding that cosy sweater from Topshop that you lived in when you got your first proper job at the back of the wardrobe. It evokes all of those memories from your younger years with a real emotional power against a backdrop of atmospheric instrumentals. 

The bass-driven Birds of War follows, which is where we start to get a real sense of the rich and varied musical tapestry on which SWCC was woven, with echoes of bands like Gorillaz, which bleeds into Rise Above The Ashes with its hip-hop influences in parts, reminiscent of Madness in others. 

Meanwhile, 215/Passions Fire captivates with its haunting introduction that almost feels like a call to arms, recruiting more members to the South Wall Corner Club. “We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery,” Charlie Chaplin’s Final Speech echoes through the speakers. As the song progresses, it gradually builds in intensity, making it one of the most dynamic on the record, really highlighting SWCC’s musical versatility and prowess and ability to seamlessly blend genres to create a sound that is distinctly their own.

King of an Empire has a Kasabian swagger to it in the instrumentation, while the EP’s title track, Beauty in Fear, stands out with its regal aura and almost fantasy feel, with a catchy chorus and charming verses. It’s a fitting culmination of the themes and emotions explored throughout the record, and a really beautiful closing chapter for SWCC.

South Wall Corner Club’s debut EP really does serve as testament to enduring friendships and shared creativity. The decision to release the EP online after a decade feels like a fitting tribute to the band’s legacy,  ensuring that their music continues to resonate with listeners and inspire future generations of artists across Staffordshire and Cheshire. 

The EP is by no means hoping to see that ship sail once more, nor an outlandish attempt to rekindle those flames or get the band back together. For the band, it’s simply to celebrate a time when music and friendship came above all else. And in a way, perhaps serves as something tangible to remember the times by. 

Listen to the Beauty In Fear EP, from South Wall Corner Club here:

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