Two main factors which lead to the formation of The Breaks was a collective urge to write new music and to perform live hip hop to an audience.
The precursor of the group formed in early 2005 when a number of musicians living in Barnstaple (North Devon), began working together making music. Turntablist group Mad Science (Jon Williams, Steve Kretawictz, Kieran Hennessy, Simon Williams), Hip Hop group Unknown (Jon Todd, Chris Moxey, Nathan Boyton, Will Parsley) and bass player Jamie Adam (Blue print) started to regularly meet to jam out musical ideas using cuts on turntables, samples, funky bass lines and lyrics .
After a few months the group, without a name, organised a night in the Exeter Inn (Barnstaple). The event was advertised as an evening of live Hip Hop, turntablism and freestyles. On the night Frank Rawle, a local punk drummer and a friend of the crew, was invited to play the kit. Also guitarist Leerroy Thommon joined them on stage. This gave a new dimension to the sound; gelling ideas together and adding an extra live feel to it. Moxey and Toddy worked the crowd and laid down lyrics or freestyles over a groove supplied by Jamie and Frank with extra cuts, loops and beats provided by the Mad Science crew. The night was a success, starting a small local buzz, it also resulted in Frank and Leeroy joining the band.
A few weeks later they organised another event at The White Lion (Braunton). This time saxophonist Gus Savvey joined the group to jam on stage. The band still did not have a name, on the night the crowd were asked for ideas and a sheet of paper was left on a sub at the front so suggestions could be written down.
Eventually the group named themselves The Breaks and continued to rehearse and gig locally. During the early days the band did not have any structured songs, at gigs they would just jam ideas and drop lyrics. Gradually favourite ideas and loose arrangements began to develop and soon the group had written their first tracks Fresh and Masterplan. Singer Becky Loney joined the band during a gig at The Wrey Arms (Barnstaple) completing the line up.
They continued to work and rehearse together squashed into a spare room at Kierans mum’s house which had to accommodate 12 musicians, equipment and often a few friends too. Over the following year the band built upon their local following in the South West, putting on nights and doing gigs across the area. They gained more exposure after competing in a battle of the bands competition held at the Landmark (Ilfracombe) after a band pulled out, they went in at the last minute and won. Gradually their music repertoire increased with the addition of tracks like Bollakov, The End and Where Are You. When performing live they would play these tracks whilst still jamming ideas and remixes of tunes such as La di da di, Bullet and Rappers Delight. A number of memorable gigs at Croyde village hall combined with articles in the local press helped them gain exposure and build up their local fan base.
The band signed to Cheeky Monkey Records and recorded their first E.P. They released Short Guy Long Trousers in March 2006, a collection of current tracks and some live performances. A highlight for the band at that time was supporting Courtney Pine at the Phoenix, Exeter which led to a run of support slots for other established artists. Their music appealed to a wide audience enabling the band to warm up crowds for the likes of Giles Peterson, Scratch Perverts and London Electricity. Working alongside and watching acts such as Ed Motta, Usula Rucker and Swietto Kinch, the band increased their musical knowledge as well as gaining experience in performing.
The band underwent a number of changes during early 2007 starting with them leaving Cheeky Monkey records. They continued to push out of the area gigging in Plymouth, Bristol and Falmouth as well as playing at the Mountain Board world championships (Bude). The increased workload/pressure, due to extensive gigging combined with changing attitudes within the band, led to a number of members leaving. The band was reduced to Frank Rawle (drums), Kiearn Hennessy (turntable), Jamie Adam (bass), Leeroy Thomman (guitar), Chris Moxey (vocals) and Jon Todd (vocals). The exodus of musicians proved to be a catalyst bringing about a new period of writing.
The sound of the band gradually shifted away from their earlier tunes, tracks such as £1.50, Parasites and A Little Preview had a straighter raw Hip Hop feel. Kieren started to push the boundaries on the turntable, adding samples and cuts forming the backbone of tracks like Pang and Masteredplan. The band decided to release their second E.P independently and recorded it at Big Green Door studios. Broken was released in late 2007 and was promoted through a number of local gigs. The band continued to increase their local following playing at the Potwalloping Festival (Bideford) and Goldcoast Ocean Fest (Croyde). During a gig at The Jack Russel (Swimbridge) in early 2008 the band met drummer Fraz Knapp. He started rehearsing with the band and soon became a full time member playing percussion.
Through 2008 the band reduced the amount of gigs they did and focussed their attention on new material for their debut album. They began rehearsing and writing in a nursery school at a church in Landkey. The band made a decision to produce and record all future releases thus reducing studio costs and gaining complete control of the production process. Kieran Hennessy took up the role as the band’s producer and they began recording the album in a temporary studio at Moxey’s parent’s house. The front room was transformed into a make shift recording studio and they laid down the main parts of the tracks. The new album featured collaborations with other musicians, Kat Marsh sang on Better days and pianist Jon Bangham laid down keys on a number of tracks such as Function and Issues. Jon’s keys added a new melodic slant to the band and he later became a full time member. The album was released in late 2008 and was called Finally, a play on the fact that it had taken them nearly 4 years to finish their debut album. The release party at The Riverfront (Barnstaple) was swamped with people and included a set from Kat Marsh, she also joined them on stage to jam and perform the track Better days.
In 2009 Frank Rawle took a break from the band to concentrate on other musical commitments and Fraz Knapp took up the role as the band’s drummer. 2009 proved to be a memorable year for The Breaks as they supported Toots and The Maytals as well as their heroes The Pharcyde. They proved their ability to get a festival crowd dancing when they headlined the amphitheatre at Aeon Festival, played at the Vibrophonic festival (Exeter) and closed the Friday night at Goldcoast Oceanfest (Croyde). Fraz‘s jazz fusion influence and Jon’s rhythmic melodies altered the dynamics of the band’s sound and provided the inspiration for new material. Poetry, Great Britain and Nostradammedus had a bouncy feel and combined topical lyrics from Moxey and Toddy, while tracks like Mic Check were lifted by heavy sub bass cuts and effects from Kiearan working with Jamie’s bass. During 2009 the band gigged alongside The Rural Jazz Alliance at The Jack Russel (Swimbridge). The group’s gutairist, Jules Moby, became friends and started attending rehearsals as well as occasionally joining them on stage at gigs; he eventually joined the band permanently.
Over the first 4 years, the band gradually became fed up with rehearsing at different locations and wasting time travelling, so they decided to look out for a permanent rehearsal space. In late 2009 Kieran Hennessy built Audio Arts studio in a disused mill in North Devon and created The Breaks Headquarters. During this period Fraz decided to leave the band to focus on other musical projects, Frank returned as drummer.
In 2010 the band supported Mix Master Mike in Exeter and The Noisettes at the Christmas lights switch on Barnstaple town square. Recording began for their second album at Audio Arts studio in 2010 but was disrupted when two members decided to leave. The band reorganised, Frank and Leeroy left whilst Kiearn swapped the turntable for the drums. With their new line up the band decided to release their recently recorded tracks as an E.P and then focus on a new album. Great Britain, a single from the EP was released when they headlined the Amphitheatre at Aeon festival for the second year running. The Stepping Stones EP was released at the end of 2010; it included Verbal Breakdown an instrumental track which was a forerunner for a direction the band’s sound would take.
The band began to write and record their second album at Audio arts studio throughout early 2011 and continued to build their fan base, gigging around the South West in Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Plymouth. The arrival of Saxophonist Mat Whittley in late 2010 and the fact that Jules, Jamie and Jon worked together in The Rural Jazz Alliance, led to a slightly jazzier sound and a tighter live feel, this can be heard on tracks like This Way That Way and 5/4. Audiences enjoyed these tunes juxtaposed alongside darker head nodding new tracks like The Truth and Hush. 2011 also saw the band push into the spoken word/poetry scene, performing broken versions of their tracks with Moxey and Toddy dropping accapellas. They also worked on their live show adding crowd pleasing sections such as asking the audience to write words on a whiteboard which were then used as ideas for freestyles.
In the summer of 2011, the band played at Exmouth festival. After their set they were approached by local business man Adam Houlding. He was impressed by their tunes and they began talking about working together. Adam was setting up a lifestyle brand called Rule, he saw potential in the band’s track Great Britain, especially due to the Royal jubilee and the Olympics taking place the following year. Adam became the band’s commercial manager in late 2011. Throughout the rest that year the group began planning the release of two singles in 2012 to raise money for two charities the RNLI and RMCTF. In November 2011 they recorded their first ever music videos for the tracks with local filmmaker Ryan. Great Britain and Poetry were filmed in their studio, the latter was filmed using a boat which was stored in the corridor of Audio arts.
2013 saw the group ramp up their online presence and general commercial profile, coordinated by Matt Whitley, the band played a number of high profile gigs which included Boardmasters (Newquay) and Electric beach where they had the privilege of supporting De La Soul. The band also performed on BBC Radio Devon’s morning show with John Govier, BBC introducing and gained their first T.V exposure with a slot on BBC Spotlight. They also worked with film maker Matt Biggs and Artaura productions to film a new video for their lead single Hush.
In the spring of 2013 the bands commercial manager Adam Houlding passed away and their tie with Rule ended. The group decided to release their second album independently. Photographer Thom Bleasdale worked on the front cover, each track having a relating picture. Audio Arts was released in 2013 and featured Last Child Dancing, Jax and Dan Shire Roots. This was followed with a number of videos to promote the album.
Around the time of the release of Audio Art John Bangham and Jules Moberly decided to leave the band which led to Harvey Hudson joining the group to help promote the new album. They played their first gig in Brixton (London) where they supported Finger thing.
Harvey’s guitar skills started to move The Breaks’ in a new musical direction. The group started working on new material in 2014 with the writing and recording of new tunes. 2015 saw the band headline the Bude Arts festival and play one of the final sun sessions at Maker before the amazing site was sold. The group released the single Fun In Mind accompanied with a video which was filmed during one day on a mobile phone.