As you're probably aware yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the sad passing of Viola Beach and their manager Craig Tarry, who lost their lives in a car accident whilst on tour in Sweden on 13th February 2016.
The Warrington bands reputation was soaring and the seemed to be destined to become the UK’s favourite indie bands. Everything was going their way - sold out gigs, national airplay, an album in the works and their first European tour dates booked.
The terrible accident that killed the band and their manager Craig Tarry sent shockwaves throughout the music world, and in particular, the band’s musical peers in their hometown of Warrington. Over the past few years a group of Warrington based musicians have strived to keep their memory alive by continuing their legacy.
Liam Gallagher and The Stone Roses encouraged people to get the band’s debut single ‘Swings And Waterslides’ to Number 1 in the charts, and Coldplay paid tribute to the group, covering their single ‘Boys That Sing’ while headlining Glastonbury Festival in 2016.
Now, five years on from their tragic deaths, a community of talented musicians from Warrington have come together to record a cover of Viola Beach’s single ‘Swings And Waterslides’, and will be released on Friday 12th February 2021.
The project was organised by Lee Harman, Editor of [WAM] Magazine, and supported by Viola Beach’s former sound engineer Cal Bate, who both wanted to create a suitable tribute to the band. Together the pair pulled together a band of musicians who have grown from the Viola Beach legacy to record a cover version of ‘Swings And Waterslides’, and all proceeds from the single’s success will be donated to charities of the Viola Beach’s families’ choosing.
Lee Harman of [WAM] Magazine has said of the project: “Viola Beach left their own legacy despite their short time together. They were the first of a new wave of bands who were proud to be from Warrington, and all the artists involved are honoured to be involved. We should have seen Viola Beach headlining the biggest festivals five years on but despite the pain and sadness getting easier every year, they put Warrington on the map, and we want to show they’re still an important part of the town’s culture.
“Kris [Leonard], Jack [Dakin], Tom [Lowe] and River [Reeves] have such an important part to play in keeping the Warrington Music [WAM] website active as I had all but stepped away from the blog but their tragic passing galvanised the towns scene and myself. I felt it was important to cover as much as I could about everything that was happening in the days and weeks after their tragic accident.”
Sound Engineer to the band for six months, and now working with Blossoms who had Viola Beach as their tour support, Cal Bate said: "Viola Beach are a huge part of my life, the big stepping stone to my whole career. So to be able to produce a version of one of their songs with amazing musicians from Warrington meant the world to me. I was lucky enough to hear their songs and mix them a lot whilst working with them and they were always songs which you could tell they wrote for people to dance and love forever. The boys’ legacy will live on forever and they left us some beautiful music. They will never be forgotten and they are everything to Warrington and its music scene.”
Olly Thornton contributed vocals to the track, having shared bands with Kris Leonard in their formative years, and said: "I'm really excited to be a part of something so special! This is a lovely way to remember the lads and Craig. I grew up with Kris, we were inseparable for the best part of our younger life, [and] to be asked to do something like this and to represent the teenage musical beginnings of Kris' life makes me very proud!”
Jessica Luise, who also performed vocals on the track, was able to fund the recording of her most recent single thanks to a bursary from the River Reeves Foundation - a charity set up by River’s family to provide funding to musicians from the local area - and said of the single: “I started working with the Rivers Reeves Foundation around a year ago, I love everything they stand for and think that what they do for musicians is wonderful, I never knew the lads personally but getting to experience the legacy they have left behind is amazing. It’s been an absolute privilege to be involved in this project and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
The single is being released under the name Warrington Music. A music video featuring all of the artists who contributed will also be released. The full line up of contributors to the recording is as follows
Vocals: Jamie Boyle (The K’s), Joe Banks (The A.V Club), Lucy Bell, Liam Hillyer, Jessica Luise, Calan Nickle (Sienne), Olly Thornton (Uno Mas)
Guitar: Amy Woodall (Crawlers) & Nathan Greenfield (Aligners)
Drums: Chris Peake (Filthy Tricks)
Bass: Ed Dowling (The Zangwills)
Mix: Cal Bate (Former Viola Beach sound engineer)
Artwork: Cameron Brown
My thanks to Charlotte of Petty Management for her contribution to this article.