As far as warm welcomes go, America’s embrace of British alt-rockers Nothing But Thieves (@nothingbutthieves) exceeded expectations. The quintet from the coastal town of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, played sold-out gigs in New York and Los Angeles in early February to celebrate the stateside release of their self-titled debut album, which came out in Europe back in October.
“We’re just confused and pleasantly surprised that we have fans in America,” says guitarist Dom Craik. “We’re still getting used to that.”
Formed in 2012 by a group of school friends and relatives, Nothing But Thieves has a substantial following in the UK and Japan. Now, thanks to building radio airplay, they’re finally getting to see the US. Starting with their last British tour, they’ve documented their travels with Polaroids, leaving the camera around where anyone in their entourage can pick it up and snap a few photos of whatever is going on. Then, they choose their favorite three from each city, label them with a Sharpie and share them with fans.
“We love how they come out a bit faded. You get a lot of lens flare and we were really keen to capture that a bit more,” Dom says. “We would just take three shots from each city, whether it was just part of the venue or landscape or us at the gig or with fans. They worked really well together, especially when you filter them all the same way.” The choice to put them all in black-and-white stems from a couple reasons: “It keeps a bit of mystery about what’s going on. We don’t like to give everything away. And it makes your skin look better.”
There’s certainly no mystery about how much fun Nothing But Thieves had last Halloween in Manchester, playing in front of 5,000 people at the Victoria Warehouse. When the organizers asked the band if they had any special backstage requests, they decided to get weird.
“We asked for a lot of grand things, like a badly drawn sunflower, which someone did. We asked for an envelope with Phil’s [Phil Blake, the bassist] name on the front with a single condom in it, which they did. And the best one was we asked for an inflatable rubber dinghy. When we turned up to our dressing room, we couldn’t find it. Then our tour manager got a message saying, ‘Nobody can move in reception because there’s a dinghy in the middle of the office. Can someone come and collect it?’ We took it in the van and took it to the next gig in Wales. That’s where that photo is from. It was fantastic.”
With tour dates booked through April, the band will soon be overflowing with Polaroids. Dom isn’t totally sure what they’ll do with their massive collection. “We’re thinking of putting them all together in a nice little frame, but we’re just too lazy and too busy to do that at the moment. If we find the time, that would be quite cool.”
—Dan Reilly for Instagram @music