HATFUL Of Rain have been making music for eight years, Ahead of their show at the Old Market, Jamie Walker caught up with singer Chloe Overton and double bass player Phil Jones.

How did you end up coming together to form the band?

Chloe: I was playing some music in a duo, with my now husband and it was a mandolin and banjo combination, which was a bit weedy.

We thought that we really needed a double bass player but we didn’t know anyone who played double bass so thought we’d have to buy one and bully someone we know into learning.

Then we were playing as a festival in Shoreham and Phil just came up to us and said hi, and it was like he landed on a silver plate from the sky.

So we started having a jam here and there and we had a gig at Applefest and a gig at The Brunswick and it snowballed from there.

James our fiddle player and Fred, our guitar player, were other musical friends we knew from the music circuit who just migrated naturally into it, to help support a gig where we needed a fully sound and they all loved it so much that they wanted to carrying on doing it.

For anyone reading this who hasn’t heard you music, how would you describe it?

Chloe: I guess it’s root music, in a generalised sense; we have influences of British and Celtic folk, tinges of country.

We’re massive fans of old-time and bluegrass music so it’s kind of a melting pot of all of that.

We like to coin our own genre because what we like to do best is play jaunty, up-temp, little tunes, with rather dark and sombre lyrics. Our band mate came up with the name melanjolly.

Do you guys think that out of music and lyrics there is one that’s more important than the other?

Phil: I think we always try to make everything good to be honest.

I can think of lots of great records that I love where if I was to listen closely to the lyrics I’d think it was embarrassing.

We try to make everything important and good.

Chloe: We’re all natural fans of similar lyricists, which greatly influence us.

We’d never put a song out we weren’t happy with, to me that matters more.

Phil: [to Chloe] you’d have to be happy singing it, if you feel a bit embarrassed about singing it it’s not right.

What do you think makes Brighton such a great place to develop music?

Chloe: I suppose it’s because Brighton itself is such a melting pot of different people.

There’s lots of people who bring different tastes into the area; you can have a gig of African world music, a gig of Baltic music, people are up for anything. Then there’s a dance scene…

Phil: I think you have to work hard for an audience in Brighton.

We play little villages and you’ve got a hall of 180 people and it’s full.

In Brighton there’s going to be ten gigs on in one night. So it makes you work a bit harder, it makes you think a bit more, you can’t take it for granted, so what you do has to be really good.

Chloe: There’s also a lack of appropriate venues; yes you can play pubs when you’re starting out, obviously if you’re huge you’re going to play the Dome or the Brighton Centre, but for those areas where you want a 200 seater venue there’s not that many.

We’ve played most of the nice venues and churches that hire themselves out.

Of course our main gig this year will be at The Old Market in Hove.

Is it a venue you’ve played before?

Chloe: We’ve done it once before it’s spectacular.

There you’re able to draw on different things; you can do cabaret style with everyone seated or you can have tiered seating to get a crowd in.

Phil: They’re fantastic, they’ve got great sound guys, it’s nice to have a different sound and lighting crew and it has big changing rooms.

Do you think it’s more work being a part-time band than a full-time one?

Phil: The part-timeness really comes from the fact that we’ve got families, and that’s important.

We’re not in our twenties so we have to hand time to that.

Chloe: It’s a lot to juggle because you go to your day job, but then it’s not just rehearsing and gigging there’s a lot of administrative work that goes on behind the scenes.

Especially because our latest album, Songs of the Lost and Found, is being released on our own record label, so everything, including concepts for photos and posters, getting them done, are all down to you, in between working and cooking and looking after your family.

Phil: After Chloe had her youngest baby we were in a festival down in Suffolk and she was breastfeeding right before we went on stage.

Chloe: We’re definitely a band that multi-tasks.

What’s the reaction be to live performances of songs on the record?

Chloe: Well it’s so brand new, we’ve gigged the material on the first leg of our tour and the album comes out on the first of July. I think it’s been very positive and reviews have been great.

Phil: We had great news this week that it was played on the Radio 2 folk show, and I guess that’s the benchmark we’re aiming for.

Chloe: We’re having great fun gigging the actual material too.

So let’s give your show one final plug, why are Hatful of Rain the band to come and see?

Phil: It’s a wonderful venue.

Our material is intelligent but also accessible.

Chloe: We’re very engaging it’s quite a fun spectacle to see us all running around the mic, trying to avoid getting a violin bow in your face.

It’s also very varied, so there’s tapping, stomping and there will be a few weepy ballads as well, so there’s something for everybody.

Phil: Songs of heartache and despair mostly though.