01403 878 026
01903 892 899

Blue Stragglers

Published on 1st November 2023

Blue Stragglers are a Horsham-based rock band that have been performing live for more than 15 years. The trio recently signed to an independent record label and will be releasing a new EP this November. AAH met Lee Martin (vocals/guitar), Andy Head (drums) and Ali Waite (bass) to talk about their musical journey over a pint…

How did you meet? 

 Lee: Ali and I both went to Collyer’s and hit it off over our shared love of music. Later, we worked together at The Dun Horse in Mannings Heath, which became a hub for our friendship group. Andy was drumming in a good band called Kept by Casino, and we went to watch them play at venues like The Junction in Broadbridge Heath. There was a really vibrant music scene in Horsham at that time, with events like Battle of the Bands attracting dozens of entries and several pubs and bars regularly hosting live music nights. We learned a lot just by watching bands on the local circuit. 

When did you start playing together?

Ali: We became good friends with Andy and he joined us for jamming sessions in the basement of my house in Mannings Heath. We always had a good time playing together, as the onus was never on getting signed or trying to sound commercial. We played a couple of gigs and Kept by Casino were happy for Andy to play with us too, as we never took ourselves seriously. Our first gig as Blue Stragglers was in 2007 and we’ve been jamming most Tuesday nights ever since. 

What’s the secret to your longevity?

Andy: We found a rehearsal space at Golding Barn Estate in Small Dole. It wasn’t much, but it was a cheap place for us to jam. QM studios in Horsham is a great studio, but it costs money to hire and we didn’t have any! When you book studio space, it can add a bit of pressure too and if the creativity isn’t flowing for whatever reason, it can end up not being much fun. The best advice I can impart on any band starting out is to find a space where you can just go and play at any time. 

You were all also in another band…

Lee: Blue Stragglers has always been a trio, but all three of us were also in a five-piece called Tied to the Mast. The other members were Rhys Stubbs and Jim Faulkner, both good friends of ours. Tied to the Mast was perhaps a more ambitious project and swept up most of the best tunes we wrote at the time. Jim and Rhys are brilliant songwriters and penned some really catchy songs with great guitar hooks. We were playing gigs in London every week and built up a solid fanbase. 

How close did you come to being signed?

Ali: We were managed by Rick Lennox, who had a strong track record and signed acts such as Skunk Anansie. He put us in front of several labels, as we had some very good tracks including Plain Lazy, Heartbreaker and Melissa, which was played on BBC 6 Music and gained us some traction. But nothing came of it. However, we learned a lot and – in some respects – Blue Stragglers became the antithesis to Tied to the Mast, giving us an outlet to play music that was less pop-driven, more experimental, and inspired by the bands we loved.

But you’ve not had the same ambition?

Lee: We have stayed together for so long because we love playing music. If you have no expectations other than to write songs that are as good as they can be, then that to me is spiritual nirvana. That is all we want to do - write our next great tune. 

Yet, after all these years, you do have a record deal!

Ali: An unexpected but pleasant surprise! We cobbled together enough money to record six tracks on vinyl and released a self-titled EP on Spotify. A friend called Mark ‘Bomber’ Randon, who is well-known in Horsham music circles, sent the lead single to Hassle Records, an independent label in London with alumni including Alkaline Trio, We Are The Ocean and Juliette & The Licks. They liked it and came to watch us play. We selected 10 of our best tunes, but ended up playing about 20 and they gave us a chance. We have been sceptical about record labels in the past, as they can sometimes try to mould young bands towards a more commercial sound. But the great thing about this happening to us now is that we’ve been together so long that we can’t be shaped into anything we don’t want to be!  

Have you recorded anything new?

Ali: We have recorded the Fool’s Errand EP and have just released the title track as a single. Other tracks include Reactor, which has already had about 44,000 views on YouTube. We are launching the EP with a gig at The Black Heart, Camden on 8 November. It will be released online and in independent record stores (including Resident Music in Brighton) on 10 November. This might be the only time people can see us live this year. Next year, we will release our debut album, Cautionary Tales of Excess, through Hassle Records. What is great is that we’ve been able to fine-tune songs that we wrote years ago. They don’t feel long in the tooth though because we’re constantly reinventing them, and they sound better than ever.  

You are known for energetic live shows…

Andy: We have become a tight band and playing together is second nature to us.  We’ve played some great gigs in recent years, mostly in London, supporting the likes of (Australian rock band) Wolfmother at Electric Brixton, but we’ve also played local venues like The Rec Rooms and The Malt Shovel. They’ve not all been great gigs; we played on the last live music night at the Old Town Hall and were faded out! Every band has ups and downs, but we’ve never once thought about quitting. 

How does it feel to get some recognition?

Lee: For me, music is its own reward. It is not a hobby – music is absolutely what I live for. Having the support of a label is massive, as it opens doors that were closed before and we might even be able to perform at festivals too. But for me, having just one person in the crowd who has a single euphoric moment while listening to our music makes it worthwhile. And if there’s not that one person in the crowd, it doesn’t matter, as at least the three of us get that feeling from playing!  


Further information: 

The band play at The Black Heart, Camden on 8 November to launch the Fool’s Errand EP.

@Blue Stragglers 

Blue Stragglers