Biography Making music was the furthest thing from Scars on 45 co-founder Danny Bemrose’s mind until the professional soccer player for England’s Huddersfield Town F.C. broke his foot at 21 and his world came crashing down. “I was in limbo, without knowing what to do with myself,” he says. It wasn’t the first time that fate would intervene in the band’s formation.
Danny put down the soccer ball and picked up for his father’s guitar. “I’m quite an obsessive person. I became kind of addicted,” he says. “I used to lock myself away to write songs and record on four-track recorder.”
Those early years led to creation of Scars on 45, a quintet from Leeds, England, that combines the gentle melodic intensity of Snow Patrol or Keane with the added allure of co-ed vocals. Tension, often propelled by drummer Chris Durling’s insistent beat, builds throughout the songs as the emotional ante rises. Hearts are broken and seldom rendered whole again before new wounds pierce through.
Highlights on the group’s self-titled, 10-song debut include the gracefully propulsive “Heart on Fire,” on which Danny and fellow lead vocalist Aimee Driver play out a couple’s anguished conversation. “That song came out of nothing,” Danny says. “It just seemed to pour straight out. I must have sung it 4,000 times and it feels fresh every time I sing it. I’m sure one day, I’ll fully understand it.”
On the lilting, yet melancholic, “Give Me Something,” Danny, his voice vulnerable and aching, searches for some sign--any sign--that there’s a reason to believe in a lasting love. “Everyone’s been in that situation of wanting someone and it not being reciprocated,” he says. “It just rules your entire life.”
On album opener, the piano-driven, pulsing “Warning Sign,” Danny and Aimee’s voices weave around each other to create a spellbinding story about trying to fix “the hole inside they will never see.” Crunchy guitar riffs lure the listener into “Don’t Say,” as Danny pleads with a lover not to say “it won’t get better.” On the stripped bare “Change My Needs,” Aimee quietly, but with heartbreaking resignation, wishes she could ask for less, but simply can’t.
But all of that’s getting ahead of the story. After teaching himself guitar, Danny and one of his football buddies, bassist Stu Nichols, began playing together in various bands. “We were awful,” Danny laughs, but “we were always passionate about it and had this belief that we’d probably make it some day.”
Soon keyboardist David “Nova” Nowakowski joined the pair and the trio began recording demos and playing live around Leeds. This is where Oasis’ Noel Gallagher and country legend Emmylou Harris come in. “A friend of ours who was drumming for Noel asked us if we wanted to meet him,” Danny recalls. “He said, ‘This is Danny and Stu - they’re in a band.’ Noel said, ‘What’s your band’s name?’ and we said, ‘We don’t really have one.’ Noel said, ‘A band without a name? What kind of fucking band is that?’ and walked off.”
Indeed. On search for a name, the nascent group ultimately picked Scars on 45, taken from a radio interview that Danny heard with Harris, in which she recalled her father telling her as a young girl that she better not get any “scars on his 45s” as she played them.
The trio became the axis of the band, with other members coming and going. “We must have been through at least 500 members,” Danny says. And then, amid the revolving door, the second serendipitous event occurred that firmly set Scars on 45 on its path. Danny wrote a song that required a female voice. Out of the blue, Nova heard his friend Aimee singing along with the radio to The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.” Although she wasn’t a performer and had never sung in public, he was struck by her innocent, sweet voice. She ultimately, joined the band, ditching plans for a two-year trip around the world.
“I just started singing along when Nova rushed in seeming really shocked,” Aimee recalls. “I thought his dad had a heart attack or something! He made me stand there in his living room and sing another song to him - which was the scariest thing ever at the time. At first I wouldn’t do it, but he wouldn't shut up so I just put my tea down, shut my eyes and sang ‘Rhiannon’ by Fleetwood Mac just to stop him pestering me. Danny recorded me on one of the songs and it just seemed to work. The next thing I knew I was in the band. When I told my family and friends they were saying, ‘but you can't sing, can you?’”
Then began a series of joys, heartbreaks and near misses. The band, now expanded to a quintet with the addition of Chris on drums, placed songs on A&E’s since-cancelled series, “The Cleaner,” and came close to signing a record deal only to see it fall apart at the last moment. Then came the moment they had been waiting for: “CSI: New York” selected the group’s song, “Beauty’s Running Wild,” for an extended closing scene. The music caught the attention of noted music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, who signed the band to her Atlantic Records-distributed label, Chop Shop Records.
The band recorded the self-produced “Scars on 45” on their own, first starting in “Fawlty Towers,” as Danny and Stu called their crumbling apartment, and then moving to the basement of a church that a friend has purchased to convert into apartments. “He let the congregation live there for awhile, so there was this little rock and roll band recording in the basement and we had a lot of praying going on next door,” Danny recalls. “They were lovely people.”
Although enjoyable, the studio is “the work part,” Danny says whereas the real fun comes in playing live. “Just to be able to put yourself out there and let people know who you are is wonderful,” he continues. “What I write about is who I am really. When people listen and react to one of your songs, there’s no better feeling.”
By Melinda Newman