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Be inspired every day with Living North
March 2015
Reading time 3 Minutes

Four siblings (plus their friend Tom) make up Teesside-based band, Cattle & Cane

We caught up with one of the singers, Joe Hammill, to find out more.

If you haven't already heard of Cattle & Cane, the likelihood is you will soon. Vinnie, Joe, Fran, Tom and Helen from Thornaby make up the five-piece and since being signed at Middlesbrough Music Live five years ago they’ve performed at Scotland's T in the Park festival, taken to the stage in Hyde Park for Radio 2 Live, and were invited to do a live session at BBC Radio 2. Add to this that Dermot O'Leary featured them on his The Saturday Sessions album and you could say they've had a successful few years. This year sees the release of their debut album. So where did it all begin?

'I have always been into music and performing,' says Joe Hammill, one of the band's two singers. 'I entered a school talent show when I was seven with the Britney Spears-style mic on, the one that attaches to your ear,' he laughs. 'Helen [Joe's sister and fellow singer and songwriter for the band] is the same, she was more shy and retiring in school, she didn't perform until I got her into the band, but she loves it now. We can't get her off the mic!'  

Did Joe ever experience any shyness? 'No.You're supposed to become shy in your teenage years and not want to perform, but I was weird and liked doing it,' he says. Joe and Helen started singing in pubs when Helen was 13 and Joe was 16 ('Definitely too young to have been in pubs!' he laughs). Three years later, they decided to make the most of their extensive family and start up a band. 'We got our two brothers involved,' Joe says, 'Vinnie on bass, Fran on guitar and we just went from there. A proper family affair!' There's also Tom, a friend who just happened to be a good drummer.

So they must have musical parents, right? Wrong. 'My parents aren't musical in the slightest, it's weird,' Joe says, before quickly adding, 'Mam will kill me for that because she thinks she's got a good voice.' Their parents were big influences though, encouraging them to attend music lessons throughout their childhood. 'Our dad didn't get the opportunity to play the guitar when he was younger, so he made a big effort to allow us to play, he drove us to all our lessons.' Joe says.

‘His favourite gig was at Preston Park Museum in Stockton. ‘We pulled a few strings with Stockton Council to get the main room there. We loved it because it was an unusual venue. I went there all the time as a kid and I loved the museum, so it was ace to be playing there’

The band have a loyal fan-base in Newcastle and Teesside who attend their gigs again and again. To keep things fresh, they like to play unexpected venues. 'You need to think of new and more interesting places, as much for yourself as for the fans because it is boring to keep playing the same ones,' Joe says. His favourite gig was at Preston Park Museum in Stockton. 'We pulled a few strings with Stockton Council to get the main room there. We loved it because it was an unusual venue. I went there all the time as a kid and I loved the museum, so it was ace to be playing there. We ended up doing two shows in the same day because we sold out the first, which was really cool too.'

Another way the band like to keep interest up is through their music videos. The video for Home (a single from their upcoming album) was created with the help of film producer Ryan Geddis. 'It's a story about a young lad who runs away from home. He ends up in a forrest with loads of other kids, you find out he's dead and so are they,' Joe says, 'I didn't realise what it was going to be about until I arrived at the shoot. It's definitely not what I had in mind when I wrote the song! But look out for it. I think it's going to be really cool.'

Joe is one of the rare people who aren't scared to dream big. 'I always hoped to make a career of it. From the age of 15 I decided this is what I was going to do and I have never let go of that. The band haven't either,' Joe says. 'I have always been positive, I think if you have enough determination and you keep going, it will work. Plus we're getting closer to making it a living all the time.' 

Read More: Meet The Leeds-Based Band Doing Well: The Dunwells

In the next few years, the band are aiming to expand their profile enough to give up their day jobs. At the moment Joe and Tom work in schools, Vinnie's a joiner, and Fran and Helen do community work. 'In the next five years we will hopefully have a good profile in the UK and Europe, and have tested the water in America,' Joe says.

Being siblings, you might think there would be too many arguments to survive as a band. 'We generally get on,' says Joe, 'We all have pretty similar music tastes. Plus you can say pretty much anything to your brothers and sisters. You can say horrible things and get past it quite soon, whereas if you said the same thing to someone else I don't think you could carry on being friends.' They do spend a lot of time together though, whether writing songs or setting up for gigs, so inevitably there is an occasional clash. 'We have had fallings out before gigs but we always get it back pretty soon, you have too.' Joe says.

This is a big year for the band, as well as their debut album in September, in July they will perform at Yorkshire's Deershed Festival. 'It is a really up and coming festival, so we are delighted to be playing,' says Joe. At the moment the band are also waiting to hear back from Glastonbury. 'There was a competition to open the main stage on the Friday, luckily we have been whittled down to the last 120 out of 7000 which we are pretty happy about,' Joe says. Whether they make the cut or not, we don't doubt that there are exciting times ahead for Cattle & Cane.

Head to to find out more. The band's debut album Home will be released in September and will be available to pre-order soon.

Deershed Festival is at Baldersby Park in North Yorkshire from 24-26 July 2015.

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