Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lockpickers

Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lockpickers were formed in 2008 by Jacob Lovatt following the disbandment of his previous group Uncle John and Whitelock. Seeking a vehicle for his songwriting, he adopted his mothers maiden name, Yates, and recruited former Uncle John pianist Jamie Bolland, guitarist Richard Holmes and drummer Michael Bleazard.

Without giving it much thought, and with tongue slightly in cheek, the quartet began playing live under the moniker the Pearly Gate Lockpickers. Those early performances showcased a band with an unstoppable energy, constantly teetering on the edge without ever falling off, spearheaded by an enigmatic, unpredictable, captivating frontman. Word of their raucous, chaotic gigs spread quickly, the Lockpickers became must-see, and the name inadvertently became permanent.

This original line-up recorded and released the debut album, Luck, in 2011. Lovatt’s trademark style - gritty subject matter, chastened infrequently with hints of optimism, delivered with a dose of black humour - was already fully developed here, while songs like ‘Mary Hell’ and ‘When You Left Me’ serve as early examples of his skill as a storyteller. With their own blend of blues tinged rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll, the band were able to capture the energy of their live outings and the record received widespread critical acclaim.

Shortly after this release Holmes moved to China and guitarist Christopher Haddow (Paper Planes) joined the group. Over the next few years the Lockpickers continued to play live and record sporadically before inviting vocalist Cassie Ezeji (Golden Teacher / LAPS) onboard to complete their second album, 2016’s Goths!!!.

Goths!!! retained Jacob’s distinctive, powerful delivery while incorporating a wider range of musical influences - tales of society’s seedy underbelly set to dub, personal tragedy told through folk, gospel preaching against blind acceptance, ballads that stand as manifestos for the lost and lovelorn. The album explores some uncomfortable truths, softened with chinks of light breaking through from the songs themselves.

2018 saw the lineup expand to include multi-instrumentalist Josh Longton (Rose McDowell / Current Affairs) and the release of The Hare, The Moon, The Drone. Musically there was another big shift on this album. It has the feel of a field recording of a folk band at night on a pine filled glen. There's something more earthy about the songs, but the menace and darkness remains. It’s a journey, akin to staring out the window of a bus as ever-changing landscapes glide by, offering glimpses into other people’s lives.

The latest release, Murder 24/7, sees Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lockpickers building on the dub sound found on Goths!!! and delivering their most accomplished record to date. Live performances remain rare, but worth waiting for.