Prime are a British rock band, hailing from the East Midlands. Comprised of lead vocalist Lee Heir and bass guitarist Chris Munton, Prime was formed in 2015. During this short time the band have gained quite a substantial following, with their track ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ gaining over 105,000 streams on Spotify – absolutely insane!
Lee Heir and Chris Munton spoke for the first time in 2013, via a mutual friend. Despite Heir always knowing the avenue he wanted to venture down musically, it seemed to take him a considerable amount of time to come up with a suitable band name. Heir realised very early on that he wanted to create music within the notable indie rock sub genre. Describing their sound as ‘energetic, throwaway and powerful’, Prime, was in their eyes, the perfect fit.
‘We needed a strong name, as we started out doing heavy, funky, punky indie rock music, so it felt that Prime was a good idea – before we found out Amazon Prime existed… I wanted something strong like T Rex, who I was massively influenced by in my early days. Was there a dinosaur called a Primeocerotops? I’m not sure. Maybe it could destroy Amazon warehouses…’
Despite BBC Midlands reporter Dean Jackson previously stating that Prime are ‘influenced by Joy Division, Bowie, The Clash, QOTSA and James Brown’, the group seem to like being a little more unconventional nowadays. They prefer the idea of branching out, getting their musical drive from a wide variety of artists and thinking more and more outside the box as they go. ‘It varies,’ states Heir. ‘I’m not just influenced by one genre or set of artists. I’m influenced by my surroundings.’
Like every musician, Heir approaches writing songs with a particular mindset in the studio. Some creatives get a total thrill from working alone, whereas Heir has noted that he gets that artistic buzz thriving off the energy of his bandmate, Hunton. ‘It tended to be myself and the guitarist of that time sitting down and composing music, getting good riffs together and a vocal harmony, and then tightening up lyrics later on my own. I never usually start with the lyrics, as I like the music that my bandmates play to inspire what I write. Also, especially in our early days, jams in the studio with the band were very productive and ended up with some of our most well-travelled songs, such as ‘IOU’, ‘Bye Bye’ or ‘To Be Or Not To Be’.’
Heir is very familiar with the elating highs and the jaw-clenching lows of being a musician. From having the once in a lifetime opportunity to tour around Europe to then hiring unassumingly unexperienced musicians for semi-acoustic sets, Heir would not recommend emerging bands to follow in his footsteps. ‘Look at how Prime did it, and do it differently!‘ Heir chuckles. ‘Seriously, you have to learn from your mistakes, and quickly, is probably my best advice. Our band is finishing up now, but had we learned from mistakes quicker we would be in an even stronger position now.’
Prime have previously supported names such as Electric Six and Space, as well as eccentric San Diego natives The Schizophonics on the road. Despite all of their touring successes, Prime’s Heir has stated that ‘he doesn’t think he wants to tour again’. However if the opportunity arose, he mentioned that ‘it could be cool if someone like (American painter) Julian Schnabel could work with me on set designs or visual backdrops for a show.’ Continuing on from this, Heir clearly still feels like he hasn’t quite run of gas in his musical tank yet. He mentions that in the future he ‘would like to collaborate with a local rapper or grime artist, or a great soul singer. I don’t particularly have a dream artist. Maybe backing vocals for Elton John…’
Heir undoubtedly has a select few Prime tracks that he prefers to play whilst out on the road. He says that ‘Teen TV’ was a song that I always used to enjoy opening up with as it had a blunt, punky vibe. We also had a song that worked in that spot called ‘Silly Billy’, that my friend from New York keeps requesting, despite us not featuring it for many years! Most of the time we ended the set with our first single ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ which had a great false-stop finale to it.’ However, there is only one song that predominantly outshines the rest for being closest to his heart. ‘Our third single ‘In Summer’ is the most personal to me, because it is about overcoming adversity, betrayal and disappointment and coming out of it all in a happy and defiant place. So for that reason, I see it as a feel good song.’
We can all agree that the way that music has been integrated into our lives has changed a lot in recent years, adapting heavily to the current Internet crazed climate. The use of social media has really boomed, meaning that artists and promoters find it much easier to market themselves and create a fanbase than ever before. Prime have not necessarily found the Internet a useful tool though, stating that ‘it’s a help to a degree, but it never beats people getting to see what we’re all about in a live setting!’
Following their six year long stint as Prime, both Lee Heir and Chris Munton feel like their time in the band has well and truly past its expiration date, yearning to explore pastures new; ‘Now that Prime is finishing up, it would be nice to have a break and then just work on some songwriting experiments and get back into the studio maybe after a year out.’
Photography : Shot By Taz for The Public House Brand