Words by LUCY WYNNE (@musicblog89)

Viola Beach was a four-piece indie-rock group from Warrington consisting of Kris Leonard (vocals, guitar), Tomas Lowe (bass), River Reeves (guitar) and Jack Dakin (drums). Viola Beach were that band that was about to BLOW. They were going to be massively successful, and we all knew it. They were in the line to become the UK’s hottest new indie band after the release of their debut single ‘Swings and Waterslides’ on 27 August 2015. Everything was going their way – sold out gigs, national airplay, an album in the works and their first European tour dates booked. 

                                                                    Viola Beach

However, the future was cut short for this band, and unfortunately it has been five years since the band and their manager, Craig Tarry were all tragically killed in a car accident whilst on tour in Sweden in the early hours of 13 February 2016. The Warrington indie-rock four-piece brought about the absolute belter of ‘Swings and Waterslides’ a tune that would be played at every single indie night for years to come. 

Due to it being five years since the band and their managers death, a group of musicians from their hometown of Warrington have come together to record a cover of their fantastic debut single, ‘Swings and Waterslides’ to mark the fifth anniversary of their deaths. All of the revenue from the single’s release will be donated to charities chosen by the families of the band, and hopefully it will also reignite the legacy that Viola Beach had left. The cover of Viola Beach’s single ‘Swings And Waterslides’ is to be released on Friday 12 February 2021.

                                                                                                    Viola Beach’ Manager: Craig Terry – R.I.P

Shockwaves Through the Nation

When the news got announced; on the radio, in papers, on the TV, it sent shockwaves through the nation. Four young lads and their manager about to make it the big time – ended in an instant. The BBC reports that, “They were killed when their car plunged more than 25m (82ft) from a highway bridge into a canal.” Viola Beach fans created a campaign the week the band passed away to try and get their debut to Number 1, which well-respected and well-known musicians such as Liam Gallagher and The Stone Roses also supported. The track didn’t quite make it to Number 1 but it made it to Number 11 on the UK charts. However, their self-titled debut posthumous album released by Communion Records on 29 July 2016, eventually, and deservingly got its Number 1 on the UK Ablums Charts. Coldplay also paid an emotional tribute to the lads, covering their single ‘Boys That Sing’ while headlining Glastonbury Festival in 2016. 

The Single

The charity cover of ‘Swings and Waterslides’ is a beautiful rendition of the track, still keeping to its uplifting joyoys tone; there’s a variety of different voices both male and female reciting the lyrics to the bands legendery debut single. The instrumental has been perfected to a fine art and this cover really is such a heart-warming tribute to the band. All of the different voices plead the chorus “won’t you come home?” – which is heartbreakingly relevant. This charity cover is so well put-together with so many different talented individuals who really pulled it off. Viola Beach would be so proud.

Organisers of the Project

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 created 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.”

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.”

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

‘Swings And Waterslides’ will be released on Friday 12th February 2021 on iTunes and all streaming platforms. All sales and streaming revenue from the cover version will be donated to charities chosen by the families of Viola Beach.

Find more by LUCY WYNNE at https://www.musicblog89.com