Dorset doesn’t have much of rock heritage to speak of. OK, there’s Wimborne’s Robert Fripp and his erstwhile King Crimson colleague Greg Lake from Poole, but no-one of any notable success from recent years springs to mind. That though could soon change with the emergence of an alt-rock four piece that hail from the sleepy coastal town of Swanage: Galaxy Thief.
Galaxy Thief are George Bowerman (lead guitar), Ben Watton (drums), Rhys Messenger (vocals/guitar) and bassist Jake Trim. The band first formed back in 2014, evolving into Galaxy Thief in 2017, and have spent a good half decade refining their sound and songwriting, building a fanbase around the South Coast. Imagine the air-punching anthemic qualities of U2 and the Foo Fighters allied to the versatility and pop sensibility of peak-period Queen.
After what’s been a grim 18 months, they’re an aural tonic.
Proper country boys, they’re based out in a nearby farm, which houses their own studio. Here they have the freedom 24/7 to record and write, a scenario that most bands would sell their kidneys for. And they’ve put it to good use – a stream of self-released singles and EPs have emerged from the farm over the past few years.
(Incidentally, don’t get the idea their name is some geeky reference to Brian Cox-style astrophysics. Nope. When one band member mistakenly stole (yeah, right) drummer Ben Watton's chocolate bar, he became known as ‘the Galaxy thief’. When the dust settled, they all saw the funny side and the name stuck.)
Like any decent up and coming band, Galaxy Thief have learnt their craft through live performance. Their live debut saw them supporting nouveau glamsters The Struts at a Miss England afterparty, of all places. Since then memorable moments have included headlining Southampton’s Music In The City festival, playing a windswept and rain-sodden Bestival and stepping onto the main stage at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Last year was pivotal for Galaxy Thief, in that their original lead vocalist, Jamie Eldridge, decided to go down the sound production route; the hunt for a new front man was on. Under lockdown, it was impossible to meet replacements in person, so the group gravitated online.
Eventually, they stumbled upon Rhys Messenger, a young London busker who spent his nights doing live-streams whilst living alone on a boat and penning his own songs; during the day he entertained the pandemic-ridden Capital with live street performances. The chemistry between the boys was instant. But it was a live-stream of Messenger singing Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb – complete with an impressive rendering of David Gilmour’s famous solo – and that sealed the deal. When restrictions were eased Rhys was invited down to Dorset to work with the band and never left.
The new line up had the wind in their sails and within a few weeks received a further boost when they were picked up by Yahama Music London to be their first ever Ambassador band. This has entailed filming a mini rockumentary for the brand and support for Yahama’s Learn To Play weekend, with more announcements to come next year.
Their first single with their new frontman is Free. (The video is above.) The sound is heavier, more polished and and more expansive than their earlier efforts.
Rhys’ original song, I Need You (his audition song), has been re-worked with the band, recorded and produced by Michael Smith at RYP studios, and is set to be released next year.
And the highly anticipated debut album – watch this space.
With a sound that looks custom-built for what is shaping up to be a more hopeful, optimistic era, don’t be surprised if these pilfering South Dorsetines end up plastering their sticky-fingered hands all over 2022.
Stream Free on Spotify Buy the single. Visit the Galaxy Thief website or follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.