Government Name: 404 Guild's Ever-Evolving Creativity
It’s the calm before the storm for 404 Guild. While the majority of the nation are for some reason baking banana bread in isolation, 404 Guild are cooking up new material to make the most of the post-lockdown celebrations.
Made up of four friends – Sonny, Eliot, Devenny and Bathwater – 404 Guild are a collective who come together to share ideas and skillsets, often appearing under different monikers within the Guild to release music.
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We catch up with the Guild over Zoom (naturally) – with Sonny and Eliot in Tottenham, Devenny in Peckham and Bathwater in Blackheath. We begin back in Eastbourne, where the four first met as teenagers. “I think I initially met Brendan on a bus to some sort of beach gathering when we were 16,” says Devenny. “He had an iPod and I asked him for an ear – it sounds like an American teen film but that’s really what happened”.
For Sonny and Eliot, the seeds of a creative future were sown at their after-school book club. “I think we then met Brendan at the school basketball club”.
Teamwork, collaboration and sharing underpin everything 404 Guild now do – maybe formative years are called formative for a reason. “I wouldn’t have said there was an Eastbourne scene really. It was just like any sleepy seaside town where culture doesn’t really exist – you make do with what you have. You’re forced to be either outside with your friends or inside being creative,” Devenny says.
Despite not being rooted in a bustling music metropolis, 404 Guild have been inspired by a host of disparate music types. Pinning 404 Guild’s sound down to one genre in particular is challenging – advice to the listener is to expect the unexpected. “I guess our sound comes from all of us sharing very different music with each other,” says Sonny. “All three guys have shown me music that I’ve got into – artists as diverse as Kid Cudi, Godspeed and Kate Bush. I think there’s quite a big desire to join the dots between all the different things we like”.
Devenny agrees: “We quite enjoy people not really knowing what it is that we are – you can’t really put your finger on it. That’s what makes it fun and interesting – constantly trying to shake off a buzzword”.
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When it comes to the method behind the positively perfect storm, again, collaboration is key. Each of the four go away to work on individual ideas, which they then upload to DropBox for other members to dip into: a musical pick 'n' mix that’s become 404’s modus operandi. “That’s what’s special about the Guild,” says Sonny, “We can go off and bury ourselves in our own things, and every time we come back together we’re strengthened. It’s like we learn what’s happened on everyone’s travels through using DropBox as a virtual scrapbook”.
The outcome of this process is, to use Sonny’s words, “joyous”. Our interview comes off the back of the huge success that has been ‘Pebbledash’ – Elison 404’s (Sonny and Eliot’s) debut release. Take a cursory glance through Google, and you’ll find critics across the board in high praise of ‘Pebbledash’ – touting it as one of the most exciting releases of the year so far.
“We can’t believe the reaction to it – we’re like is this real? We had this big archive of stuff and by looking back over it all recent ideas came together super quickly. For us it captures a lot of things we were trying to do for a very long time; we made an album when we were between 16 and 18 and I think you can hear a lot of that in it,” Sonny explains.
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The album also came about during a period of intense upheaval for the Guild – with lead member, Mina, having just passed away. “In a sense ‘Pebbledash’ is trying to record and archive experiences so we can make sense of them,” Eliot says. “We made it in a very dark time, we’d just lost Mina, so we were grieving. And then we were getting evicted from our flat, these songs were coming together as we were surrounded by packed up boxes.”
‘Pebbledash’ is their phoenix rising moment – the product of the close-knit friendship that has brought the Guild to where they are today. For Devenny and Bathwater, an album is also in the making. ‘Paradise Drive’ will be on the way in the summer, with the lockdown offering an ideal time to finalise visuals. “It really is a dream come true making it,” Devenny tells us, “the individual records we’ve been working on for so long have all of a sudden taken on a life of their own, and it’s come together into this cohesive thing”.
So what’s the plan for when Boris lifts restrictions? A tough question to answer with certainty, but a party is inevitably on the cards for the Guild. “We still want to do the residency in Hackney we had planned if we are allowed to,” says Eliot. “If anything we want to make it bigger, we want it to be a place where people can come and let loose”.
We know 404 Guild want to do away with buzzwords – but if there’s one way of describing the Guild and all they stand for, it’s “joyous”. On that note, we’ll end on Eliot’s uplifting prophecy for these dark times:
“There’ll be a lot of things that’ll change in the future and we’ll need to adapt – but we will play live again and we will convene with friends again. It’s going to be momentous.”
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'Pebbledash' is out now.
Words: Sophie Church
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