Not quite punk, not quite indie rock, BILK is a hard band to confine to one genre. Mixing a Sex Pistols attitude with a rock-leaning sound infused with modern sensibility, BILK captures the essence of British youth counterculture through hit songs like Hummus and Pita and Fashion. Made up of three mates – Sol Abrahams as the lead vocalist and guitarist, Luke Hare on the bass and the drummer Harry Gray – BILK’s success is rapidly rising. Friday marked the release of their new self-titled album Bilk, for which the band is currently touring, including a sold out show in London’s OMEARA. We’ve caught up with the band’s founder Sol to talk about life on the road, song writing process and punk attitudes.
Hey guys ! I want to start off by asking how did you all three meet? Was the musical connection instantly there?
I had the band going for a bit before I met Luke and Harry. Had different members and that. When the old bass player left to go study law, I was looking for a new bass player and remembered Luke from him being in the crowd at one of my early gigs. We then met Harry through Instagram after hearing he played drums and that was that. We had a rehearsal and after a few we knew it was a good fit. Just been doing our thing since.
Let’s talk about your band name, BILK. It’s a reference to your lead vocalist Sol’s dad being a London cab driver, and the expression “getting bilked” meaning running away without paying the fare. How did you come to decide on that name? Was it a long process of elimination or was it just like “yeah BILK works”?
My dad had come home one day from working in the cab and as I normally do, I asked him “how was work dad” and he was like “yeah it was alright. Some fucker bilked me” and I was asking what bilk meant because I’d never heard it before. He told me it’s cabby slang for when you run off without paying the fare and I just thought it sounded sick. He was like “Oi you’ve been thinking of a band name ain’t ya? Why don’t you use Bilk” and so I did.
Since there’s three of you in the band, meaning three different opinions and points of view, what does your creative process look like? Does it start off with you, Sol writing lyrics or do you all just jam in a room until something starts sounding like a potential song?
I write all the songs in the band on my acoustic guitar normally just in my bedroom. Music and lyrics. I then take a new tune to the boys and it’s normally just a case of “play along” and it’s easy cos the boys get it. They just rate my songs and know the dynamic works how it does so that’s how we do it. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, we all know our place in the band and that’s why it works.
Most of your songs could be categorised as punk rock, like Be Someone and Hummus and Pitta, but other songs such as Part and Parcel have a much more melodic and soulful feel to them. How important is it to you guys to not just stick to one genre?
Yeah I mean I don’t really think about it all too much, I just write what I write and if it’s softer that’s obviously how I was feeling at the time. I just don’t like to have rules because I don’t believe rules should be in music. It should be the opposite. Putting yourself in a box and branding yourself is pointless, we ain’t Apple or McDonald’s, we’re a band that makes music.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen BILK come out with EPs such as Allow It in 2021. Now, you have just released your first ever self-titled album, which was recorded on a farm. Tell us about that whole experience.
Yeah we recorded the album in this studio on a farm just outside of Manchester. That sort of way. There were a lot of cows about and tractors and that which was different to the sorta thing we’ve been around before. We liked it because there wasn’t any distractions or temptations to fuck off to the pub. It was good. Some songs I even wrote whilst recording the album like Be Someone for example. That one came about last minute and we all liked it a lot.
BILK, the album, features different vibes on songs like the rebellious Stand Up and the softer 10 O’Clock, a song which wishes for better times to come. If your listeners had to take away one idea or lesson from the album, what would you wish it to be?
I don’t know really. People can take what they want from it. My place is just to write these tunes and tell my reality and my truth and my life and if people relate to it, great. I’ve always thought, if you tell your truth someone else will relate to it because people are not all too dissimilar. People relate to honesty and reality, not bullshit.
In your song Fashion, Sol states “I don’t feel the need to go rock Supreme or Louis V / So I wear these old jeans and smoke rollies”. So apart from being anti-branding, how would you all describe your fashion sense?
I’m not anti branding at all. I’m anti going along with all these trends and just doing what everyone else is doing because it’s considered cool. I don’t follow fashion like that. I think it’s weird that something can be in fashion for five minutes and then the next minute people wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it. I just do my own thing, wear what I like and that’s what the song is saying. It’s saying to be yourself and do your thing and to not go along with the mass crowd just because it’s considered “cool” or “popular”. If you like what’s popular then banging wear it, but don’t just wear it because everyone else is. But yeah, to answer the last bit of your question … my fashion sense is just whatever clothes I find in charity shops that I rate normally. I’m well into clothes you know. Clothes and music are two important things to me.
Punk is obviously rooted in an anti-establishment mindset, with its rise in the UK in the 70s rebelling against systems like the monarchy and consumerism. What would you say modern day punk, and specifically BILK, is rebelling against?
I don’t know I can’t speak for modern day punk. It’s definitely not having a pink Mohawk. People think that if you dress like it and have green hair and that you’re a punk but I don’t think that’s case. I wouldn’t call Bilk or myself punk but Bilk and myself definitely have a punk attitude. I’ve had it since I discovered the Sex Pistols at fifteen, it really resonated with me. But no … Bilk are not a punk band.
If you could have a jam sesh with any artist, band or instrument player in the world, who would it be and why?
I ain’t bothered for it. I’m happy jamming with Luke and Harry, that’s my bag. I think what we’re doing is the most important thing in British band music for a long while. Fuck that … music in general!
You guys are now on the road, having just started your UK tour. How has that experience been treated so far?
Yeah we’ve just played our album launch show at Chinnerys in Southend and that went off. People crowd surfing and all that shit, just what you expect to see at one of our gigs. We played a show last night too with Banquet Records in London and that went off. It feels good to be back on the road again gigging because it’s what we’re all about through and through. We love it.
With a new album having just been released and an ongoing tour, what’s next for BILK?
Who knows mate. A second album probably. Just taking each day as it comes lately you know. Not really trying to look past next week. If the album goes huge then banging, the music is good enough and we deserve it … but if it doesn’t, I don’t care either. It don’t matter to me. I’m just focused on putting out a sick album and making good music that myself and the boys are into. If people like it then great but if they don’t then fairs, it’s not my problem.
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