By Steven Robertson

After long years of playing to a handful of fans in a multitude of darkened pubs all over the country, Birmingham based band The Musgraves are about to reap the benefit of all those hours spent bouncing up and down motorways in the back of a van. This Friday evening they will be appearing on the Graham Norton Show alongside guests Reese Witherspoon, Alex Kingston and Reginald D Hunter to play their insanely catchy new single “Last of Me”.

Unfortunately, what should have been a triumphant, and career-defining, occasion was tainted as the band woke up on the morning the show was due to be recorded to the news that the van which contained all of their instruments, stage clothing and kit had been stolen.

The Musgraves: Matthew Bennett, Matt Foundling, Tom Farnell and Lesley Turner

B31 Voices speaks to Matt Foundling, pianist and Northfield native about the surreal events of that day:

Let’s start with the bad news. What happened with the van? How can people help?

The van was stolen around 630am on Monday 30th Jan from 199 Curborough Road in Lichfield. It had all our gear in for the Graham Norton Show, including our clothes! If any one spots a white Mercedes Sprinter, reg BD52 ARO, then let Lichfield police know. Or contact the band via Facebook.

Ok, on to the good stuff. How did the band form?

The singer, Matthew Bennett, and myself met at university where we worked on an album together for our third year project. We needed a drummer so I called in a mate of mine, Tom Farnell, to help us out. The three of us recorded the album and after we finished uni we wanted to continue the band as we felt it had potential. We auditioned for a violin player and found Lesley Turner. The Musgraves were born.

How would you describe your sound?

We call it Roots-Pop as we are inspired by a lot of roots music, folk, blues soul, and also love the feel of 50s and 60s popular music. We mainly use acoustic instruments but we still have a big sound and pack a punch.

How did the Graham Norton Show come about?

Graham Norton started to play us on his Radio 2 show and we started a bit of banter with him via various social networking sites. He loved our single, Last of Me, and decided to invite us onto his TV show to perform it live.

How was it rubbing shoulders with the stars?

It felt great! It was really surreal sharing the green room with such familiar faces. Everyone was so down to earth and couldn’t believe all our gear had been robbed on the morning of the show. I think they all thought it was a publicity stunt at first! It wasn’t.

Where do you see the band a year from now?

Playing more gigs than ever and recording the next album! As a band you live for the buzz you get from playing live, and it’s also important to keep the set fresh with new songs all the time.

Thanks for your time and good luck with the new single!

So there you have it, a bittersweet day if ever there was one! Hopefully things will only improve from now for this talented local band.

The Musgraves lost a guitar, violin, bass, keyboards and drums, plus other kit worth thousands of pounds. While the financial hit is bad enough, these are the tools of their trade after all, worse is the loss of instruments that were treasured friends, an extension of themselves as musicians and people.

Violinist Lesley expresses this perfectly: “I have lost a part of my heart, and my soul – I’ve played my violin since I was 13 years old and thought I’d have it when I was in my 80’s! It has been all over the world with me, it is my baby, my child, my love and it has been stolen away for no reason and by someone who knows nothing about violins, music or passion or working hard to achieve your dreams. Completely heartbroken.”

So to reiterate, if you can help in any way please contact Lichfield Police on 0300 123 4455 or get in touch with the band through Facebook.

You can check out the rather apt (and rather great) “Last of Me”, plus loads of other Musgraves songs and covers, on YouTube, and get in touch with the band via Facebook or Twitter.

The Musgraves can be seen on the Graham Norton Show this Friday, 3rd February – or if you are reading this after the event you can catch up with the show on BBC iPlayer.

Finally, if you want the chance to check the band out live before they hit the big time, they are playing this Friday at the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham.

by Steven Robertson

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