Music interview: James Mainwaring on RIIB’s new single for Come Play With Me

RIIB's new single Conveyor Belt was inspired by a documentary of the US farming industry.
RIIB's new single Conveyor Belt was inspired by a documentary of the US farming industry.
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James Mainwaring is, by his own admission, a musician who has “done a lot of juggling” in the last few years.

Having played saxophone in the Mercury Prize nominated jazz-rock group Roller Trio, he’s gone on to tour with art rockers Django Django and worked with Matthew Bourne in the experimental outfit Tipping Point.

His latest project, RIIB, began life as an outlet for his solo work but has morphed into a four-piece, whose song Conveyor Belt is featured on the new release from the Leeds-based singles club Come Play With Me.

“It just started as a solo thing, I’d go out and perform on my own with a guitar and some effects pedals,” says Mainwaring, a graduate of Leeds College of Music. “Then I started working with a producer and he suggested ‘Let’s get a band together’ so I got Luke [Wynter] and Luke [Reddin-Williams] from Roller Trio and an extra guitarist Matias [Reed]. Then Luke [Wynter] moved down to London and it got too difficult to keep it going so we got a new bass player called Will [Stock].”

Conveyor Belt was originally a solo composition but it has evolved with the band’s input. “For example the bass riff wasn’t there until I got together with the band, and the drum beat. Basically everybody’s just added their own thing to it. The structure of the song and the lyrics and the melody and the harmony didn’t change but people brought their own contributions to it.”

The lyrics address the state of the American farming industry. Mainwaring says the words came quickly after he watched a documentary called Food Inc. “It gives you a good insight how screwed up everything is. It’s not that different over here, I think. The more I look into the subject the more it seems we need to change the way we eat and the way we farm everything.”

The more I look into the subject the more it seems we need to change the way we eat and the way we farm everything.

James Mainwaring

RIIB have been working on a full album at Chairworks studio in Castleford. “It’s my new favourite studio, it’s great,” reports Mainwaring.

“I wrote a song recently about the Grenfell Tower [disaster] and we’re going to demo it. I thought basically let’s record it as soon as possible and try to release it as a charity single then when we’ve got Conveyor Belt out we’ll start working towards that.”

RIIB will launch Conveyor Belt with a gig at Hyde Park Book Club on July 18, with a show the night before at The Social in London. They also play a free show at The Old Red Bus Station, Leeds tonight.

Mainwaring is full of praise for the Come Play With Me label, run by Tony Ereira. “I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing for the Leeds scene in general. It really means a lot that there’s someone like Tony who’s investing in up and coming bands and really helping them develop. The music industry now is kind of until you reach a certain point you don’t really get any help, you’re own your own and obviously that’s quite difficult if you don’t really know what you’re doing.

“They’ve been great like that. Because I come from a jazz background, which is slightly different, there’s already an audience kind of waiting there for you and it’s easy to start making money straight away after you graduate from uni because everything subsidised, it’s easier to get Arts Council funding and that kind of thing, which is strange because it’s a much smaller industry than the industry that RIIB would be involved in, but it’s harder to start making money at the start of a rock band, so it really means a lot that somebody is as into the project as I am. I’ve got a lot of help from the Come Play With Me guys and our producer that I’m working with as well [Tim Bazell], he’s doing it as an investment rather than charging us a day rate. It’s really nice that we’ve got people helping us out.”

Conveyor Belt, backed with Another Fable by Furr, is released on July 14. http://cpwm.co/