Little Comets are an indie alternative band from the Tyne and Wear region of the north of England, famed for their unique “kitchen sink indie” style and their surprise performances in bizarre locations including a supermarket and a metro tram.
|Origin||Tyne & Wear|
|Label||The Smallest Label|
Robert Coles – Vocals, guitar
Michael Coles – Guitar
Matthew Halls – Bass
Nathan Greene – Drums
Little Comets formed in 2007 when brothers Robert and Michael struck up a conversation with Matthew in the corner of a room at a party. The band members have illustrious backgrounds such as a Cambridge University graduate and a particle physicist.
In an interview with Narcmagazine¹ they commented of their humble beginnings: “One of the first things we did when we managed to get some money was buy a microphone and learn how to record our own music.” They then took to playing gigs in weird and wonderful places, including on a metro train, the bread aisle of a supermarket, university lecture halls, beaches and people’s front rooms, much to the delight of passing fans.
2008 – 2012: In Search Of Elusive Little Comets
The band developed not only a reputation for being fun, lively and spontaneous but also for being hands on with their music. They took on writing, producing, creating music videos, organising the tour and even band artwork all themselves and were notably upset when their label, Columbia Records, had different ideas.
Prior to signing with Columbia, Little Comets released their first single in 2009, One Night In October, which brought them to the attention of BBC Radio 1 DJ’s such as Zane Low, Sara Cox and Huw Stephens who gave the band positive endorsements. The single peaked at number 3 on the UK Independent Singles Chart and allowed the band to showcase to the world their unique brand of music.
(Taken from In Search of Elusive Little Comets, 2011)
Little Comets then signed with Columbia Records and released their second single, Adultery, in October of 2009, going on tour with the likes of The Twang and Hockey as a means to promote the single. However, all was not completely well with their relationship with Columbia as the band felt the record label meddled too much in the areas they felt were solely their responsibility such as having full say over producing.
In an interview with Sabotagetimes², the band discuss how their creativity was compromised during this period: “When they started tinkering with the music side of things we were like, ‘Hang on, if you can do that I can send you back one of your press releases that’s got shitloads of errors in.’ And they really didn’t like that.“ Columbia then terminated the bands contract in 2010.
In late 2010, the band announced that they would be releasing their debut album in January the following year and, shortly after the announcement, they released the song Joanna. Their debut album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets, was released on 17 January 2011 which threw them on to the UK music scene radar.
The album featured all three previous released singles as well as a host of feel-good, dancey indie tracks including Darling Alistair, Dancing Song and Mathilda. Dancing Song was used in a Radox advert in 2012 which garnered them much public attention. However, shortly after their debut album was released, drummer Mark Harle announced he was leaving the band.
(Taken from In Search of Elusive Little Comets, 2011)
2012-2014: Life Is Elsewhere
In May 2012, Little Comets released the EP, Jennifer and Other Short Stories, with the song Jennifer as the main track, which would go on to appear on their next album. In October 2012, Little Comets then released their much anticipated second album, Life Is Elsewhere, which peaked at number 70 in the UK albums chart.
The album represented a maturity in their style, whilst they retained a vibrant, upbeat theme, they added much more political and social commentary in the form of their lyrics. The song Is Violence Out Tonight is a reflection on sexual violence and women’s rights, including lyrics such as ”all this protracted by a state in which the poor conviction rate for rape can often leave a woman feeling more at blame than able”.
In an interview with Narcmagazine¹, the band discussed how radio shows refused to play Is Violence Out Tonight whilst giving lots of air time to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. The band commented: “I do get wound up when important issues get no interest in the media: domestic violence against women is at an average rate of one in four in their lifetime, which is an insane statistic, but why isn’t that being spoken about? A lot of issues nowadays are completely blatant, they’re in your face and you can’t ignore them.”
(Taken from Life Is Elsewhere, 2012)
Life Is Elsewhere was a key milestone for Little Comets as it confirmed to fans their consistency, with this album perhaps being one of the most underrated of 2012. This of course is partly due to record label fall-outs and having to settle for smaller scale operations, but this gained them somewhat of a cult following as they made it clear that Little Comets are not just a one-album band.
During this period the band had a few minor crises including having their tour van robbed of all of their instruments and belongings, which they managed to recover by tracing the tracks of the offender to a council estate and finding the items in a dustbin all just before they were due to perform that evening¹. Furthermore, a few hours before a major European tour the band managed to lose a passport in the North-Eastern woodlands which they had to search for whilst gunman Raoul Moat was at large in that area. Suffice to say they found the passport and managed to perform all of their shows on their European tour.¹
(Taken from Life Is Elsewhere, 2012)
2014-16: Hope Is Just A State Of Mind
Little Comets started off 2014 by releasing a new EP, The Gentle, before later that year releasing two more, Salt and The Sanguine. In February 2015 the band then released their third album, Hope Is Just A State Of Mind, which achieved their highest UK Album chart position of 31, perhaps a reflection on the strong following they built up from their previous two albums and their endless touring. The album didn’t appear to cut it as much with fans and music critics however, receiving mixed reviews.
There were a lot of familiar themes on the album that suggested fans may have felt slightly disappointed by a lack of new direction or further invention with their sound. Notable tracks on the album include My Boy William, Little Italy and Salt. Despite the release of their third album and their many European tours, Little Comets received a very underwhelming amount of coverage or attention from the media during this period, but their fan base did not waver.
(Taken from Hope Is Just A State Of Mind, 2015)
In September 2016 Little Comets broke a world record after becoming the first band ever to complete a gig whilst running the Great North Run. The band managed to sing and play guitars for the entire 13 miles for the charity Cardiomyopathy UK in honour of their friend who has severe dilated cardiomyopathy.³ That appears to have kept them busy for much of 2016 as they released no new music during this period, working solely on their next album. However, in March 2017, the band released their fourth album, Worhead, which reached number 83 on the UK albums chart.
In an interview with Narcmagazine¹, lead singer Robert Coles explained the album name: ”it was around the time Trump got elected, and the renewal of Trident was being debated. I do not understand why you’d want to put however many billion into a weapon that is purely to kill, instead of education or health. For two weeks after Brexit, I was just looking at people in the street questioning what we’ve collectively done, and all I could think about was warheads, and the ‘wor’ came from Geordie slang – we have to get that in somewhere!”.
Worhead received much more positive reviews for some of the new twists they have tried out on their existing style. The opening track (also called Worhead) bursts into life with jangly guitars, energetic rhythm guitars and lead singer, Robert, showcasing his impressive vocal range. The album represented a return to the spontaneity fans had come to expect from a Little Comets album.
(Taken from Worhead, 2017)
Little Comets toured the album in February and March of 2017 in the UK, as well as shows supporting The Pigeon Detectives in October 2017.
2011 – In Search Of Elusive Little Comets
2011 – Worry EP
2012 – Jennifer and Other Short Stories EP
2012 – Life Is Elsewhere
2014 – The Gentle EP
2014 – Salt EP
2014 – The Sanguine EP
2015 – Hope Is Just A State Of Mind
2017 – Worhead
As well as their reputation for playing gigs in bizarre locations, Little Comets used kitchenware on set of their live shows, often dangling pots and pans from a washing line across the stage. They would then incorporate the sounds of pots and pans in to their performances as they went along.
In 2010 the band released a video of the whole band playing One Night In October on one guitar. To date the video has nearly 600K views.