2016 has not been kind to many people. I’m sure you know all about it. But as we look into the new year, Bruising offer a ray of hope. The Leeds-based, self proclaimed “sappy punx” four-piece have kicked on another level this year, with the release of their first proper single, tours with bands like Diet Cig and now a full headline UK tour. The band’s blend of punk riffs and soft, beautiful vocals has remained a shining light and, with 2017 looking even brighter for the band, I spoke to singer-guitarist Naomi Baguley to chat about how far the band have come.

The four-piece came into fruition in early 2015. “When we formed it was just me and Ben [Lewis, guitar] putting out songs,” Naomi says of the band’s early days. “A lot of the first songs we put out I’d written on my own, without being in a band before bringing them to Ben, and he worked on them. They weren’t really written for people to ever listen to or with a full band in mind.”

“I think it’s way better to be upfront with your influences”

But even from these early demos, it was obvious that Bruising had something special, so much so that shortly after Naomi and Ben put their first track online, they were contacted by Bristol DIY label Art Is Hard. Naomi says that it was “just exciting for us that they’d listened” to the track, and when the label put the band on a 12” split with Abattoir Blues and Fruit Bomb, it gave them an invitation into the DIY community: “It’s been amazing getting to be put on bills with bands like Trust Fund, and all those [Art Is Hard] all-dayers. You get to meet so many people that are in the wider Art Is Hard family.”

Bruising haven’t stood still since then, putting out a slew of great songs via another DIY label Beech Coma, including new single ‘I Don’t Mind’. The track features the band’s signature mix of harsh guitars and soft vocals, a sound that puts you in mind of Alvvays or Palehound, but is a departure lyrically from Naomi’s usual themes of, as she puts it, “feelings”; instead reaching out a hand to those in need: “I wrote the song when I felt a lot of my friends were going through a hard time at university, and in the mindset that being a supportive friend is just about being able to be there for someone.”

Bruising Interview
Photo Credit: James Birtwhistle

The band are about to embark on their second ever headline tour and Naomi tells me a few of the ways they keep themselves amused: “Me and James [bass] read Harry Potter to each other on tour, which is probably the least rock’n’roll pastime… We also play a bit of Cards Against Humanity as well which is a laugh, but means you really see the darkside in people. It’s like ‘how can you have thought of that? I thought you were a sweet and kind person?’ But no, a lot changes when you play that game.”

Remove them from the horrible world of Cards Against Humanity, and Bruising are a band that wear their hearts on their sleeves, as well as their influences: “I think it’s way better to be upfront with your influences,” the four-piece’s singer Naomi tells me. “It’s not embarrassing to say ‘I listen to this person and I want it to sound like this.’” In a time when the world seems to be collapsing around us, it’s nice that someone is willing to be transparent and honest. She continues: “I guess the music I listen to is very forthcoming with its feelings, and isn’t afraid to be sentimental or to be honest about things. Someone like Trust Fund is often painfully honest with his lyrics.”

“I feel like we’re phonies if we say our music’s punk”

She tells me that she’s listened to Pinegrove’s Cardinal, Crying’s Beyond The Fleeting Gales, and um, Kanye’s The Life of Pablo a lot this year, and it’s easy to pick up on the emotional undertones that pepper all three of those records (c’mon, listen to ‘Wolves’) in Bruising’s output.

For those still wondering quite what Bruising are about, Naomi explains their self-given tag of ‘sappy punx’: “I feel like we’re phonies if we say our music’s punk. It’s not like, hard or tough in any way… All our songs are about feelings.” ‘Hard’ and ‘tough’ aren’t needed in times like these; compassion and community are. Long live Bruising and love live sappy punx.

Bruising’s single ‘I Don’t Mind’ is out on 2nd December via Beech Coma. They play Roll for the Soul on 9th December. Check out ‘I Don’t Mind’ below.