Alice’s Summerthing 2012: Scars On 45
Making music was the furthest thing from Scars on 45 co-founder Danny Bemrose’s mind until the professional soccer player for England’s Huddersfield Town F.C. broke his foot at 21 and his world came crashing down. “I was in limbo, without knowing what to do with myself,” he says. It wasn’t the first time that fate would intervene in the band’s formation.
Danny put down the soccer ball and picked up for his father’s guitar. “I’m quite an obsessive person. I became kind of addicted,” he says. “I used to lock myself away to write songs and record on four-track recorder.”
Those early years led to the creation of Scars on 45, a quintet from Bradford, England, that combines the gentle melodic intensity of Snow Patrol or Keane with the added allure of co-ed vocals. Tension, often propelled by drummer Chris Durling’s insistent beat, builds throughout the songs as the emotional ante rises. Hearts are broken and seldom rendered whole again before new wounds pierce through.
Highlights on the group’s self-titled debut album include the gracefully propulsive “Heart On Fire,” on which Danny and fellow lead vocalist Aimee Driver play out a couple’s anguished conversation. “That song came out of nothing,” Danny says. “It just seemed to pour straight out. I must have sung it 4,000 times and it feels fresh every time I sing it. I’m sure one day, I’ll fully understand it.”
On the lilting, yet melancholic, “Give Me Something,” Danny, his voice vulnerable and aching, searches for some sign–any sign–that there’s a reason to believe in a lasting love. “Everyone’s been in that situation of wanting someone and it not being reciprocated,” he says. “It just rules your entire life.”
On album opener, the piano-driven, pulsing “Warning Sign,” Danny and Aimee’s voices weave around each other to create a spellbinding story about trying to fix “the hole inside they will never see.” Crunchy guitar riffs lure the listener into “Don’t Say,” as Danny pleads with a lover not to say “it won’t get better.” On the stripped bare “Change My Needs,” Aimee quietly, but with heartbreaking resignation, wishes she could ask for less, but simply can’t.
But all of that’s getting ahead of the story. After teaching himself guitar, Danny and one of his best mates/fellow footballer, bassist Stu Nichols, began playing together in various bands. “We were awful,” Danny laughs, but “we were always passionate about it and had this belief that we’d make it someday.”
Soon keyboardist David “Nova” Nowakowski joined the pair and the trio began recording demos and playing live around Leeds. The nascent group ultimately picked the band name Scars on 45, taken from a radio interview that Danny heard with Emmylou Harris, in which she recalled her father telling her as a young girl that she better not get any “scars on his 45s” as she played them.
The trio became the axis of the band, with other members coming and going. “We must have been through at least 500 members,” Danny says. And then, amid the revolving door, the second serendipitous event occurred that firmly set Scars on 45 on its path. Danny wrote a song that required a female voice. Out of the blue, Nova heard his friend Aimee singing along with the radio to The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.” Although she wasn’t a performer and had never sung in public, he was struck by her innocent, sweet voice.
“I was just singing along when Nova rushed in seeming really shocked,” Aimee recalls. “I thought his dad had a heart attack or something! He made me stand there in his living room and sing another song to him – which was the scariest thing ever at the time. Danny recorded me on one of the songs and it just seemed to work. The next thing I knew I was in the band. When I told my family and friends they were saying, ‘but you can’t sing, can you?’”
The band, now expanded to a quintet with the addition of Chris on drums, placed songs on A&E’s since-cancelled series, “The Cleaner” and later “CSI: New York.” The show selected the group’s song, “Beauty’s Running Wild,” for an extended closing scene, and the music caught the attention of noted music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, who signed the band to her Atlantic Records-distributed label, Chop Shop Records.
Touring the U.S. for the first time, the band released a pair of EPs last year to sell on the road and introduce their music to fans. The reaction exceeded all expectation. Last summer, the title track of their Give Me Something EP went top 5 on the Triple A radio chart, placing the young group alongside the likes of Adele, Coldplay, and Death Cab For Cutie. Meanwhile lead single “Heart On Fire” was selected as the theme song to ABC’s fall season promo campaign for the hit series “Grey’s Anatomy” – the same exposure that broke The Fray’s “How To Save A Life” and Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.”
Since then, the band has been on the road nearly non-stop which suits Danny just fine. “Just to be able to put yourself out there and let people know who you are is wonderful,” he continues. “What I write about is who I am really. When people listen and react to one of your songs, there’s no better feeling.”