The Molotovs are a London-based 3-piece band whose style, charisma and incendiary live shows have quickly seen them notch up well over 200 live performances, record label interest and an army of admirers that has led to them being described by none other than Pete Doherty as “Fucking Ace” !
Comprising of siblings Mathew (Vocals/guitar) and Issey Carts (bass/vocals) alongside the energetic drummer Ice, the Molotovs effortlessly mix their setlists up from their own self-penned material with a few well-chosen covers, and play with a passion and drive that more than backs up their claim that “nothing gets left in the dressing room”.
Alongside the music is the band’s love for style and clothing, and recently Merc was delighted to get them down onto a photo shoot with the legendary Derek D’Souza to showcase the new Merc Spring Summer 2023 collection.
And as with everything they do, driving rain and a heavy cold did not get in the way of The Molotovs leaving a lasting impression on all involved!
Merc was delighted to spend a bit of time interviewing the band and find out a little bit more about 3 stars in the making who we hugely advise you watch out for!!
Teenage kicks are hard to beat.
TELL US ABOUT EACH OF YOU?
Mathew: I’m the lead guitarist and singer-songwriter of The Molotovs. I would (modestly) call myself the creative force behind the band. From the off, I always wanted to be the frontman of a band and playing live is my greatest passion. I spend the vast majority of my time working with the band, rehearsing, gigging or song writing. I practice on my guitar daily and play along to whatever I’m listening to at the time. I’m always looking to improve and develop my singing, songwriting and guitar playing. I’m inspired by many of the bands and artists of yesteryear, and I’m influenced not only by their sound, but by their style and attitude. In the downtime between gigs, I spend my time with my mates going to see other young bands on the circuit or playing pool.
Issey Carts: I’m the bassist and I do vocals in the band. Like Mathew, I love performing and going out to see other bands on the circuit. Music is everything to me and if I'm not on stage preforming, I'm out watching gigs or listening to it.
Ice: I’m the drummer and backing vocalist of the band. I started off playing mainly jazz, but when I teamed up with Issey Carts, I started to get into rock n roll. She’d already joined Mathew out on the streets busking at quite an early age, and that inspired me to join them whenever and wherever they were playing. Until then, I’d never met anyone who was as passionate about music as me, but when I was introduced to Mathew, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. I listen to all kinds of music and even do a fair bit of DJ-ing in spare time. I work hard on my technique, and I’m influenced by the likes of Keith Moon who was an animal behind the kit.
WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO PICK UP AN INSTRUMENT?
Issey Carts: We always had music on around the home and in the car. I started taking guitar lessons, mainly playing acoustic, but I taught myself bass when fooling around with some mates at school.
Ice: I wanted to be a guitarist, but my Mum insisted I start on acoustic but to be quite honest, I really wanted to play electric. Anyway, I was introduced to the drums, and I found I enjoyed hitting things very hard and I guess it stuck.
Mathew: I was into Green Day when I was really young, and I was learning to play acoustic guitar. I eventually pulled my dad’s old Stratocaster out the back of the wardrobe and plugged it into an amp. Once I started hitting a few chords, there was no going back. Almost immediately, I took the guitar into school and played in front of my classmates. From that moment, I knew that this was all I wanted to do in life.
HOW DID THE MOLOTOVS COME ABOUT?
Issey Carts: Mathew was going out busking alone on Oxford Street from about the age of ten! I couldn’t believe he was doing that, but I felt quite envious. I just wished I had the bottle at the time. I met Ice playing with school mates in our break times. I’d taken on bass duties, and she was banging away on the drums. We never even looked like doing any gigs and I got frustrated by the lack of progress we were making as a fledgling band. I knew Mathew was busking and I finally summoned up the courage to join him. We were just banging out covers but making a bit of pocket money. Ice then decided she wanted to join Mathew and I and it was from there we started to take things a little more seriously.
THE MOLOTOVS IS A PERFECT NAME FOR ANYONE WHO’S SEEN YOUR EXPLOSIVE LIVE SHOWS, WAS THAT A FACTOR IN THE CHOICE OF NAME, WERE THEIR ANY OTHER CONTENDERS FOR THE BAND NAME ?
Ice: We wanted something that was incendiary and in keeping with what we are like onstage. Hopefully we live up to our reputation? As far as other names are concerned, almost all contenders are now too embarrassing to mention!
WHEN DID YOU REALISE THERE WAS SOMETHING THERE?
Mathew: I guess it was when we were offered the opportunity to support The Libertines on their Giddy Up A Ding Dong tour at the Kentish Town Forum just before Christmas 2021. It was a massive step up for us at the time but I think we handled ourselves pretty well. Pete Doherty said we were ‘f***ing ace!’.
DESCRIBE THE MOLOTOVS IN YOUR OWN WORDS ?
Issey Carts: Hardworking, explosive and determined. We all cannot think of doing anything else with our lives other than playing in a band.
YOU ALL HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT LOOK, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR INDIVIDUAL STYLES?
Mathew: We started off by wearing very similar clothes - same jackets etc. It was always our intention to loosen things up as we went along but we wanted to make sure we had quite a defined image. I’ve always liked sharp clothing and good tailoring. Issey has always been into her thrift shopping and Ice used to be into quite baggy clothes. We didn’t want to look like your typical buskers when we were playing out on the streets, so we decided to wear something more resembling a uniform. When we first started getting gigs, we were told that we were partly chosen for our style almost as much as our music - we were mainly playing covers back then! We all seemed to look good in the more streamlined mod aesthetic and it certainly seems to have worked for us up until now. We will be evolving our ‘look’ as we go along, but for now, we love what we’re wearing.
YOU’VE A REPUTATION FOR EXPLOSIVE LIVE PERFORMANCES, DO YOU HAVE A STANDOUT LIVE SHOW YOU REMEMBER?
Issey Carts: We have started our very own club night called ‘Youth Explosion’ at The Library in Wimbledon. Yep, it really is a stage at the back of a library! It’s about a 400 capacity and our first show there was an absolute sell out! As it was an all-age gig, it meant many of our younger fans were able to come and see us for the first time. The place was absolutely rocking and the atmosphere was electric! Some people came up to me and said it felt how they imagined all of those old punk gigs to have been back in ’77. We are playing at The Library on the last Friday of every month from here on in. It’ll be The Molotovs alongside two young support acts. It’s all about young bands, playing new music for young people. The next show is on Friday 28th April.
Mathew: There have been so many great, memorable gigs and it’s hard to pick the one. We played Mersea Island Scooter Rally last summer and I’d have to say, that was probably the most intense gig we’ve played. I thought we played really aggressively and the crowd went mad. We’ve been invited back to play the Saturday night this year and we honestly can’t wait.
Ice: I’ve always loved playing the Spice of Life in Soho, it’s like our ‘home ground’ despite us living in Wandsworth. We always play well there and the crowd is always up for it! Spice is really up close and personal, with the crowd almost spilling onto the stage. Shaun, who runs the night, always gets the sound perfect and we love the atmosphere the crowd generates.
SUPPORTING THE LIKES OF THE LIBERTINES AND THE VAPOURS HAS REALLY BROUGHT YOU TO THE ATTENTION OF A WIDER AUDIENCE, WHO WOULD BE YOUR “DREAM” SUPPORT SLOT?
Mathew: We would rather be headlining but if we had to go for anyone, we’d have to go for The Artic Monkeys or perhaps be on Blur’s bill at Wembley this summer.
Issey Carts: There’d be the added bonus of also backing Paul Weller as he’s supporting them too.
YOU’VE BEEN DESCRIBED AS “FUCKING ACE” by PETE DOHERTY - GOTTA BE UP THERE WITH ONE OF THE BEST ENDORSEMENTS FOR ANY BAND WITH A REPUTATION FOR A BLISTERING STAGE PRESENCE RIGHT ?
Issey Carts: Pete and Carl Barat have been very supportive - not just of us - but of many young bands over the years - and we can’t thank them enough. Being name checked in front of 80,000 people by Billie Joe Armstrong at the Olympic Stadium last summer was pretty special too. Mathew and I managed to blag our way into the mosh pit from our seats all the way at the back of the stadium, so that in itself was fun, but being spotted in the crowd as members of The Molotovs and having our band shouted out - wow! We could never have even imagined that happening! How he knew who The Molotovs are is still a complete mystery to us. You can find the clip of him calling us out on YouTube. It's pretty cool!
DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE GIG RITUALS?
Ice: We sometimes have a quick team talk beforehand. We take playing live really seriously and although it’s a cliche, you’re only ever as good as your last gig.
YOUR SETS CONTAIN A MIX OF COVERS AND YOUR OWN MATERIAL, HOW DO YOU SELECT WHAT TO PLAY FOR EACH GIG?Mathew: We predominantly play our own material these days and throw a couple of covers in at the end of the set for good measure. We have almost a forty-five-minute set of originals now, so we don’t really play many covers unless we do a party (now a rarity) or a double set. We’ll throw in a few mod classics if we play a scooter rally or something like that. At Mersea Island last year, we were going to be the opening act of the weekend and we were worried we might only have the large venue half full. Someone suggested we sound check with The Jam’s ‘Down in the Tube Station at Midnight' in the hope of pricking up a few ears. We took their advice and by the end of the song, the marquee was three-quarters full with eager punters asking us what time we were on. When we walked onstage a couple of hours later, the whole place was jam packed and we absolutely smashed it! We ended up being the most watched band on the bill.
ASIDE FROM THE MUSIC, YOU ALL HAVE A STRIKING SENSE OF STYLE AND DRESS, WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INFLUENCES FROM?
Ice: We’ve always liked the Mod aesthetic but we don’t consider ourselves a ‘Mod’ despite us being influenced style wise. I guess the more fitted clothes suit our bodies and we like to fly in the face of the many other Indie bands on the circuit.
Mathew: I’ve always been into my clothes and I’m certainly drawn to the ’Football Casuals’ looks of the early to mid ‘80s. Damon Albarn was effortlessly cool in the 90’s and I’ve always loved the dandyism of Pete and Carl from The Libertines. I also like a lot of what Paul Weller used to wear in the Style Council. That European styling really worked.
Issey Carts: I trawl thrift shops for late 60s and early 70s clothes. I am also drawn to that 1970s New York punk aesthetic that was around with Patti Smith and Debbie Harry. Finding clothes or putting outfits together has always been something I’ve been interested in. I’ve just managed to get myself a cool bowler that I wear onstage and when I go out.
WOULD IT BE TRUE TO SAY THE MOD LOOK OF MATTHEW, THE ROCK CHICK OF ISSEY AND INDIE KID STYLE OF ICE IS A FAIR REFLECTION OF YOUR STYLE AND MUSIC TOO?
Mathew: I’m drawn toward the sharper, more streamlined clothes of the Mods and the Casuals. There’s a few ideas I’m playing with but I don’t want to end up looking like the Foo Fighters or Nirvana any time soon.
Ice: I prefer to keep on message with the look of the band but add my own little twists. I’ve certainly moved on from my hoodies and baggy t-shirts but I do like a bit of red velvet - more dandy than indie!
Issey Carts: The rock chick look is definitely one I've evolved into, and I guess it's because I live and breathe music and the band. I'm often looking at style icons from the past and present, such as Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde and Kate Moss for inspiration. I like to try different looks and I think that when you're on stage people want to see something interesting and fun. It's a creative industry so why not play around with image - it's all part of it.
PETE DOHERTY ASIDE, THE MOLOTOVS ARE REALLY GETTING NOTICED, WHERE DO YOU SEE THE BAND HEADING?
Mathew: We hope we are going to the very top and I’m being totally honest when I say, we really think we are moving in the right direction. We seem to be doing a lot of the right things but we need to develop our sound and write more songs. There’s no rush, but at the same time, we don’t want to lose any of the momentum we’ve created over the past couple of years. We are under no illusions as to how hard it is to make it in this industry and we take nothing for granted. When we play live, we always say “leave nothing back in the dressing room” and I think that’ll hold us in good stead provided we deliver with our song writing.
Issey Carts: We are very ambitious and eager to progress to the next level. We realise you need a bit of luck but we can only control what we do at the end of the day. If we continue to work hard, we will be giving ourselves every chance.
WILL YOU BE RECORDING SOON?
Ice: Yes, we are going into the studio this April to record an EP. We’ve already done a few demos but it’s now time to get some of our own material out there. We’ve had a few labels sniffing around and a lot of people wanting to work with us, but we are a pretty cautious lot and we feel we need to take our time before jumping into anything.
HOW DID YOU FIND THE RECENT SHOOT YOU DID FOR MERC?
Issey Carts: It was amazing! We’ve worked with photographer Derek D’Souza on many occasions over the past year. Del’s a great guy and brilliant photographer. He really ‘gets’ us and also the Merc brand.
Mathew: The guys from Merc were also fantastic to work with and we loved trying on all the clothes. We each found loads of stuff we wanted for our own wardrobes and we can’t wait to be wearing some of it onstage. My dad told me they used to have a big shop on Carnaby Street which I thought was pretty cool.
WAS THERE ANY STANDOUT PIECES YOU WORE THAT YOU COULD SEE YOUR SELF ONSTAGE IN?
Mathew: Everything I put on I absolutely loved. To be honest, it’s the kind of clobber I walk around in anyway. The Hemmingway Blazer will definitely get more than a few outings from here on in. All of the Harrington Jackets really worked for me - I don’t own a Harrington….YET! I’ve also been looking for a Parka, so I guess I’ve finally found one.
Issey Carts: Like Mathew, I loved the Parkas and the Harringtons. My black Polo shirt worked really well as they are a ladies fit. I thought all of the clothes, including the skirts were nicely fitted and looked great in the shoot.
Ice: I am definitely going to be wearing the fitted Polo dress. It’ll be great onstage, along with a black Harrington.
FOR A YOUNG BAND YOUVE PLAYED WELL OVER 200 LIVE SHOWS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ANYONE THINKING ABOUT FORMING A BAND?
Issey Carts: My advice would be to come along to one of our monthly ‘Youth Explosion’ shows at The Library, Wimbledon and have a chat to us about getting on the bill. It’s all about getting young bands playing to a young audience and it’s the perfect place to showcase your skills. Play loads of gigs and say “yes” to everything even if you are only playing to three men and a dog. We always say “nothing’s ever a waste of time” and that’s certainly true. Be accessible to people and respect your audience. Go to gigs and support other bands. Network, get to know other musicians out there, they’ll help you.Look and have the swagger of a rock star - fake it before you make it. At the same time, be authentic and true to yourself.
Mathew: My advice would be to get out there and busk first of all. Play covers and then try your own material out. Then gig, gig, gig. Play anywhere and everywhere and don’t be too selective when you’re just starting out. Always make yourself available to your audience and spend time after gigs talking to people. Always watch the headline acts when you’re doing a support slot, believe me, we learned loads! Make sure you go and see other bands on the circuit and most certainly go and watch older, more established musicians. They have a lot of knowledge and thankfully they don’t mind sharing their experience. Work hard on your own material and get it out there. Play it to anyone willing to listen. Image is important too and it’s worth remembering if you really want to stand out from the crowd.
Ice: Get your heads down and put in the hard graft. There’s no substitute for hard work. Make the band your number one priority and don’t let outside influences get in your way. Rehearse, play live as much as you can and always be on duty. Watch other bands and learn from them.
WHATS NEXT FOR THE MOLOTOVS?
Issey Carts: We will be continuing to play live throughout the year - at least a couple of shows per week. We will be promoting our ‘Youth Explosion” shows and building a young music scene across London.
Mathew: I’ll be working on more original material and rehearsing it with the band. We’ll still be doing the live gigs and doing the summer festivals.
Quick Fire Fives
5 - Style icons
Super Hans from Peep Show, Weller, Liam, Kate Moss, Amy Winehouse
5 - items of clothing
Blazers, cravats, bowler hat, baker boy caps, knee high socks
5 - albums
Up The Bracket (The Libertines), Sound Affects (The Jam), London Calling (The Clash), Deep Down Happy (Sports Team), Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (Dexy's Midnight Runners)
5 - live artists
The Libertines, Siouxie And The Banshees, Amyl And The Sniffers, The Courettes, Starcrawler
5 - films
Get Carter, Clockwork Orange, The Godfather, Life Of Brian, Betty Blue
5 - songs to walk on stage to
Acquiesce (Oasis), Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (Ian Dury and the Blockheads), Children Of The Revolution (T-Rex), Anarchy In The UK (Sex Pistols), I Predict A Riot (Kaiser Chiefs)
Words by Richie Kyle
Pictures by Derek D'Souza