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Rixton at Birmingham's Wireless Festival & O2 Academy

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Double Brum gig for Manchester quartet
Birmingham fans of new band Rixton have two chances to see their idols perform in the city. The Manchester four-piece perform at the 2014 Wireless Festival in Birmingham's Perry Park on July 5, then headline at Birmingham O2 Academy 3 on July 8.

Double Brum gig: Rixton

Lead vocalist/ rhythm guitarist Jake Roche, lead guitarist/ vocalist Charley Bagnall, bassist/ keyboardist/ vocalist Danny Wilkin and drummer/ vocalist Lewi Morgan follow-up their Brum shows with the release of their debut single, Me And My Broken Heart, on July 13.

"We knew what we wanted—huge pop songs with soul," says Jake of the band's vision for the sound of Rixton. "We are all big fans of R&B, from the oldies right up to Usher. R&B is what we have in common. That and the fact that we all sing, so every song had to have harmonies. We also love the kind of pop that Maroon 5 and Bruno Mars do, so that inspired us too."

On the road: Rixton

The group's origins lie in Jake's decision, at the age of 16, to drop out of school and pursue his ambition of dedicating his life to making music. He teamed up with Danny, who had recently quit university for the same reason, and the two began playing covers in pubs around Manchester and spending every spare moment songwriting together.

Three years into writing and gigging the duo crossed paths with Essex-born Charley and quickly recruited him as their lead guitarist. Newly departed from the burgeoning pop-punk band Rio, Charley infused an edgier energy into Jake and Danny's pop/ R&B-influenced songwriting and playing.

The trio spent a year writing together, then asked Lewi to join as their drummer. Introduced to the group by Jake's then-girlfriend, Lewi had spent the last seven years building his drum skills by playing in a succession of bands.

In harmony: Jake, Danny, Charley and Lewi

While continuing to write and develop their own songs, the band posted covers of tracks by artists like R. Kelly, Sisqo, and Usher on YouTube to showcase their knack for harmony. It was a tongue-in-cheek rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas that prompted music manager Scooter Braun to track them down. He hooked them up with producer Benny Blanco, whose credits include Maroon 5's Moves Like Jagger and Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. Rixton joined him in New York last summer to begin work on their first album – and took the opportunity to support Justin Bieber at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

"That was insane," says Danny. "We were used to standing on stage and seeing our parents. Suddenly, we were walking out in front of 20,000 screaming girls. We hadn't even played a gig in the seven months since we'd been signed. That was our first one back – after one evening's rehearsal."

Who's Justin Bieber?: Rixton reflect on their support slot

They went on to open for Ariana Grande in Los Angeles - but also played 'pop-up gigs' in unexpected places.

"We go out in the street and play a mix of our own songs and covers to anyone who'll turn up," explains Lewi. "I play a box, the guys have acoustics and we all harmonise. The first time we did it was in New York, performing from three stories up on a fire escape. We thought no one would turn up but 60 kids came. Then it got crazy. The whole street stopped and the police had to intervene."

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Why? Two chances to see up and coming band Rixton.
When: Wireless: July 5, 2014; O2 Academy: July 8, 2014.
Phone: 0844 477 2000 (O2 Academy)
Where: Perry Park, Birmingham and O2 Academy Birmingham
Cost: Wireless Festival - from £62.50 per day; O2 Academy - £10.12
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