The Travelling Hands are a five piece premium roaming acoustic band from London. They perform fully unplugged sets of classic tracks and modern hits at dozens of prestigious events, celebrations & private soirées across the UK and throughout Europe every year.
We’ve managed to catch them, in between their travels of course, to get behind the scenes!
How did it start, what made you think ‘we need to be a band that moves’?
The Travelling Hands began life as a duo in 2011. We performed in local bars and pubs in South West London with a rickety old sound system. We had a basic website I (Tom, band manager and guitarist) ‘knocked up’ myself and some business cards in my back pocket. It was enjoyable but also took a lot of work to get things started. I remember a specific venue in Tooting offering us £30 to play one evening (split 2 ways between us) and we accepted. We just wanted to perform and get our name known locally. These gigs certainly didn’t pay the bills but they did teach me a lot!
Within a few months we quickly grew up to five musicians performing together. Virtually immediately, this opened the door for us to play at a much wider array of events. The larger band soon became the standard size and versatility once more proved itself as such an important criteria for us to meet. We then began building our name as a fun party band performing at a large number of weddings and parties whilst upgrading our sound system and entering the corporate world.
How did you all meet? We know you work with a group of talented guys, how did you hear about one another?
Most of our musicians studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford. Some of the key friendships in The Travelling Hands were formed through their time here. We’re talking up to 11 years ago! The musical world is a very connected one and we all knew other musicians that we had studied, performed, written music or even toured with. We now have an amazing team I’m incredibly proud of. I couldn’t be happier with the musicians working in the band today.
Many entrepreneurs start their career as a solo entity – being in a team, you must be a fantastic support for each other. Do you all bring different attributes to the band?
Although I have always managed the band by myself and remain to do so today, having a mixture of personalities from our musicians without a doubt makes us a stronger unit. From composing the 6 minute medley in our latest video as a group, to new live song ideas as well as the occasional extra hours from some of the chaps at The Travelling Hands HQ, our blend of musical skills and a healthy spread of ages helps us keep moving forward with creativity and fluidity.
What was the ‘tipping point’ for your business when you knew you were onto something?
Year on year, the steps forward have increased dramatically from the last. Beginning in pubs to now regularly performing within London’s five star hotels and incredible venues across Europe. All of them have been a rollercoaster ride, it just keeps taking us to new heights and exciting places.
It’s difficult to pick only one moment as a tipping point as for us it’s been a more gradual process. Although memorable points include our first event in The Ritz several years ago – our first five star venue performance. We were also over the moon with our first overseas booking in Lake Garda. These different moments and so many more have all strengthened my passion and belief in the band, to keep making it the best that I can and to provide the best service possible to our amazing clients.
You have come so far… and so quickly! What have been the biggest lessons that you have learnt along the way?
The last 6 years have taught me a huge amount along the way. Business skills from management to advertising, record keeping to financial planning and website design to payroll. These were certainly not as demanding or time consuming in the early days! Needless to say, these different aspects of business and our internal systems are now very important to us.
“We’ve performed up to 26 times in one month as our current record and needless to say our attention to detail for every event requires a well-oiled machine.”
More importantly, our clients have taught me the FAQ’s of booking a live band. Answering these questions and taking out the stress for our clients remains paramount to me when I run through any booking details.
What do you do when you’re not performing & running the business?
From answering this, it seems that we’re a more active bunch then I may have realised at first!
My personal passion is for rock climbing. Whether indoors at climbing centres or outdoors in Margalef (Spain), Fontainebleu (France), or Harrison’s and Stone Farm (UK). Climbing is something I rediscovered a few years ago and it’s a brilliant way to take a pause from the office and feel some major adrenaline.
We have a marathon runner, a professional cyclist and daily gym goers amongst our clan too! Believe it or not we do also enjoy the good things in life from visiting a nice London pub to exploring our own musical projects too. Our musicians can be found touring with signed artists across Europe and in major theatre shows too. Every year, we take an important night off from gigs when our instruments are put down. This involves the complete Travelling Hands team all get together to watch ‘This is Spinal Tap’. Always including a takeaway, beers, good mates and a classic film – perfect!
“But this one goes to 11.”
We’ve recently spotted your incredible suits. How did the Marc Darcy sponsorship come about?
Our clients always loved the rustic acoustic and folky British side of the band. Over a period of time we were finding ourselves regularly appearing at some prestigious UK venues. From Hampton Court Palace to Claridge’s, Babington House to The Shard – the prestige of the venues we found ourselves in was on the up. The image of the band was very important to us from day one, and I felt we could enhance this further and bring even more of a wow factor for our clients and their guests.
I was looking for a distinctly British style of suit for the band. This is when I discovered the Marc Darcy designs – I just had to have them! I began conversations with the Marc Darcy team and they very generously offered to sponsor the band. Within 24 hours, they had delivered suits for all of our musicians. It was incredible and we are very grateful to this day. What’s more, to offer another choice to our clients, we’re now launching brand new 3 pieces including some very nice red velvet bow ties. We will be undertaking a new photoshoot soon with these – watch this space!
What has been one of the best moments in business so far?
Within one five-week window, we performed for Formula 1, Google, HSBC and British Airways. To get these four huge companies choose The Travelling Hands to perform at their events so close to one another was very touching and only gives me more enthusiasm and passion for our band.
Can you play more than your roaming instrument?
Yes we can indeed! Between The Travelling Hands team, we can play the following instruments:
A piano, banjo, ukulele, electric guitar, electric bass, clarinet, drums, cajon and cello – although some can certainly be played better than others!
Tell us a secret about yourselves
Our latest video-shoot took 3 days to complete in a high end filming session across London. Producing the video myself required a huge amount of planning over 12 months and a huge amount of hope upon the English weather too. On 2 out of 3 days, the weather report was fairly…..abismal. A 90% prediction of rain for every hour of filming booked was fairly worrying (a huge understatement!) The venues were all booked and so there was no going back.
Despite all our smiles and laughs (they were 3 very fun days of filming); it was a very stressful time where I was checking a new weather report every few minutes. Thankfully, by some miracle those 2 days remained completely dry. The major rainfall forecast began within 20 minutes of us leaving the boat on our final day of filming. Luckily our umbrellas came to the rescue where we needed them in the shoot!
Finally, what are your top 3 memories from The Travelling Hands events?
Firstly, in August 2017, we performed for an amazing couple at their wedding in Siena, Italy. They were incredibly generous, made sure we really felt like part of the wedding party. At one point the bride even held our heads underneath the beer taps to ‘top us up’! Needless to say our memory of the evening is a little hazy but we’ve been rebooked by some of the other guests since, so we’re pretty sure that everyone had a good time!
We recently played a personal performance of ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ to Tyson Fury at an outstanding private soiree in Claridge’s.
“He was a complete gentlemen and thankfully nobody was knocked out.”
Finally, we performed in Geneva in 2017 both at Chillon Castle and on a boat over Lake Geneva too. It was a particularly rough windy day and trying to stand up with our instruments has never been so tough. As Switzerland’s top tourist spot, Chillon Castle is understandably busy at the best of times. With our client having hired out the entire castle, we were given a private tour completely on our own for which we always remain very grateful.
“Thankfully we all managed it…..extra points for our double bassist Tom for not going overboard!”
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