Liam Gallagher, Primal Scream, Soccer AM - Blackburn band The Illicits take it all in their stride

Blackburn four-piece band The Illicits will be performing a homecoming gig at King George's Hall on Saturday, December 21
Blackburn four-piece band The Illicits will be performing a homecoming gig at King George's Hall on Saturday, December 21

Imagine this... you're a new band, with no music yet released, and you get invited to perform on Soccer AM!

And as if that wasn't enough, how about being invited to tour with your musical heroes in Liam Gallagher and then Primal Scream.

Sounds like a musician's fantasy... and yet that is exactly what happened to Blackburn four-piece The Illicits.

"It was ace. Amazing, loved it," says lead singer and rhythm George Richards.

On stage George is joined by Brad Hayes on lead guitar, bassist Joe Mitchell and Matt Cottam, who provides the drums and backing vocals.

George picks up the story: "We're four lads from Blackburn. We started the band a few years, we were all just mates who shared similar interests in music and bands, and we were all into the same bands and stuff. And through that we decided to start a band and we'd been playing on the local scene for a couple of years until January this year when Alan McGee signed us to his label Creation 23.

Lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist George Richards says supporting Liam Gallagher was amazing

Lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist George Richards says supporting Liam Gallagher was amazing

"And from there we've just sort of kicked on really. Released two singles on the label - In What World and recent release Left Behind/Born Slippy.

"We've toured with The Zutons, Miles Kane, Liam Gallagher and we're just about to go on tour with Primal Scream."

With their blistering live shows, The Illicits burst onto the scene with their euphoric take on punk rock. And their cover of the Underworld classic Born Slippy has become a firm fan favourite at live shows.

But what of their rise to fame with that appearance on Soccer AM?

The Illicits are supporting Primal Scream for five dates in Scotland

The Illicits are supporting Primal Scream for five dates in Scotland

"It sort of came about just after we'd signed for our first single but we hadn't released it yet, off the back of the signing and like a bit of talk about us and stuff.

"Fenners, the presenter of Soccer AM had heard the track through various people talking about us and stuff. He just said that he loved it and wanted us to come and play on the show.

"So we were like the first band to ever go on without ever having released anything and basically just people knowing about us through word of mouth."

Following this revelation, George casually drops into the conversation: "You know, Liam Gallagher said to us last week 'This time for you right now, there's going to be a lot of firsts - you know first gig in an arena, first time on telly.' And he said just soak up all the feelings, because it's only going to be your first time once. And it's special.

The Illicits live on stage

The Illicits live on stage

"And it felt like that when we were down there for it. You know, it was special for us and we just loved it."

Any more golden nuggets from Mr Gallagher?

"He said 'Really make the most of what's happening right now and make sure you work really, really hard because it's not going to be an easy ride so to speak, just keep grafting, and keep going the way you are doing.'"

The support slot for Liam Gallagher came about in pretty much the same way as the Soccer AM gig says George.

"Our manager Gary had been sending our music around and Liam heard it and liked what he heard. So it feels really good for us to have the support and respect of someone we look up to to like our music. It's just feels really good that he liked it enough to put us on, you know, massive gigs with him. It was amazing."

Fast forward to five gigs on tour with Primal Scream in Scotland, and finally the Illicit boys are back on home turf for a massive homecoming gig in Blackburn on Saturday, December 21.

"Obviously over the past year we've been out and about everywhere, doing various gigs, recording, writing songs, and it's sort of like our treat for the end of the year really.

"Just a big homecoming show. It's the biggest venue in our home town and so it's like the treat for all the work we've put in and we want everyone to come down and enjoy the night as much as we're going to enjoy it.

"Hopefully everyone can come together and make a real good night of it. And we represent ourselves well."

You can buy the single and other Illicit goodies online at https://www.theillicits.com/

Catch The Illicits at King George's Hall in Blackburn on Saturday, December 21. Doors open at 7pm and support comes from Ivory Wave. Tickets are £10 (£11.25 if bought online) via https://www.gigsandtours.com/event/the-illicits/windsor-suite/1446176