Gig preview: Carnabells at The Wardrobe, Leeds

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“It’s not been a bad year, has it?” says Luke Thompson, reflecting on how 2014 has unfolded for his band Carnabells.

The Leeds rock ’n’ roll five-piece impressed at three major festivals, have been covered in the music press and been played on national radio.

They have also toured nationally with fellow city group Hope & Social.

“It was May time when it all got going,” says Thompson, Carnabells’ lead guitarist. “We had an email from BBC Introducing saying they wanted to puts us on their stage at Glastonbury – that’s when it started getting exciting, really.”

Arriving at Pilton, they saw the hotly-tipped George Ezra, who has since gone on to score a Number One album.

“When we walked into the BBC Introducing tent we were shocked by the size of it,” Thompson remembers. “”I thought, ‘We’re going to have to be on form.”

Fortunately the set, which was televised, was a great success and led to more doors opening. The band went on to perform on the Festival Republic stage at Leeds and Reading festivals in August.

“Having that recognition from the BBC it kind of makes you feel a bit more established,” Thompson says.” People take you a bit more seriously. As soon as we got that slot we became more than five mates who’ve been playing music from school. We feel like an actual group.”

The experience of doing things independently so far has been beneficial, he feels. “You learn a lot of the craft, how you promote yourself, doing stuff the right way, the gigs you put on, you learn a bit. It’s about more than just turning up in a room for a day and rehearsing songs.

“Before we did Glastonbury we did a couple of little tours which we put on ourselves. It gives you that experience, the type of thing you need to do in terms of graft.”

BBC Radio 6 Music DJs Tom Robinson and Steve Lamacq have given the band airtime, locally they’ve also had strong support from BBC Introducing West Yorkshire host Alan Raw.

Thompson speaks highly of their recent tour mates Hope & Social. “Learning from a band that’s done it as long as they have has been good for us. They’re amazing performers. We’ve been taking tips from them.”

This month the band play two shows at The Wardrobe – the first as headliners (“that’s kind of our Christmas, end of year do”), the second with the Pigeon Detectives. “Matt [Bowman, the Pigeons’ singer] asked us to do an acoustic set before they go on,” explains Thompson. “That’s their Christmas party as well. We thought we might as well since they’re a band we looked up to when we started out. It’ll be good to join them.”

In the new year the band will release their third single. Tour dates are set to follow. “It’s the hardest part now,” Thompson acknowledges. “Once you’ve had recognition you need to keep the momentum up. This new single we’re really pleased with it – we’re hoping it steps it up a level.”

Carnabells play a headline show at The Wardrobe, Leeds on December 12 and support the Pigeon Detectives at the same venue on December 19. For details visit