Sunday 25 February 2018

'They had everything going for them' - Viola Beach's record label and friends pay tribute after tragic accident

The four members of Viola Beach who died in the crash, in an image taken from the Twitter account of John Olsson. Photo: PA
The four members of Viola Beach who died in the crash, in an image taken from the Twitter account of John Olsson. Photo: PA

Friends, fans and those who worked alongside Viola Beach reacted with shock after the band died when their car plunged 80ft into a canal in Sweden.

Ian Grimble, the band's producer, who has worked with the likes of Mumford & Sons said: "I first became aware of Viola Beach through their single Swings & Waterslides and was very taken by the energy and vibrancy that jumped out of the speakers.

"Upon meeting them for the first time, along with Craig their manager, I could soon see why, their exuberance and determination to scream out to the world was overwhelming.

Read More: Viola Beach's breakthrough came after frontman 'sent song to the BBC while cleaning toilets'

"It is with great sadness that we will not be able to see them grow from the spark that they are now, into the raging fire that they so desperately desired to become."

The band's label Communion Records spoke of its "total shock and sorrow", adding that they had "everything going for them - great songs, passion, talent, drive ... everything that a band should have".

Read More: British rock band killed as car plunges off bridge in Sweden

It said: "To sit down with the band was to sit down with a group of guys whose band you wanted to be in, and to be in the presence of a band who knew just what it would take to make it.

"Kris, River, Jack and Tom were determined to go out into the world and play every show they could until the world was singing along with them, and now that dream has been sadly taken away from all of us."

Fan Travis Absolom was with his father at the band's penultimate UK gig on Wednesday at Sub 89 in Reading and said he believed the band were "going places".

The 16 year old from Reading said: "I fell in love with them instantly - their music was brilliant.

"We were speaking about seeing them again and they mentioned festivals they were playing and what they had lined up in Sweden and Guildford after.

"They said how excited they were to play Scandinavia.

"It's such a shame because they had so many gigs and festivals lined up."

Trevor Absolom, Travis' father, added on Sunday: "Viola were excellent, great sound and enthusiasm, opened up with Like A Fool and ended with Swings & Waterslides.

"We chatted with them at their merchandise stall after they played, my son chatted about a mutual love for Catfish and the Bottlemen - top blokes.

"I bought him a limited edition T-shirt off their Facebook page last night, and woke up to the news today.

"Desperately sad."

Matthew Kershaw was a close friend of Craig Tarry, who managed the band.

The 43 year old, who lives in Los Angeles but is originally from near Bath, met him in 2011.

They were both members of the Hollywood branch of the Manchester City Supporters Club, which Mr Kershaw set up.

He said: "Craig was an absolutely wonderful lad. Very gregarious and outgoing, he really was living life to its fullest, chasing his dreams.

"He was much loved by all of us, and all those that ever came in contact with him, and we are devastated for his family, and for his friends, who are truly all around the world."

In a tribute on Facebook he said: "He stood up for us ... he helped members get tickets to games in Manchester, and became a close friend to many of us.

"Thanks Craig, for everything. We will miss you."

The principal of Priestley College in Warrington, where three of the band members were educated, said it was a very sad day for the college, which had received many messages from past students and staff after the news.

Jack Dakin and Kris Leonard attended the college between 2012 and 2014, and River Reeves between 2013 and 2015.

Mr Dakin studied a B-tech in sport, Mr Leonard studied film and media, and music performance, and Mr Reeves did an extended diploma in musical theatre and A-level drama.

Matthew Grant said: "We were all very sad to hear the news and our thoughts are with them and their families.

"They had really bright futures ahead of them.

"It is a very sad day for Priestley and for Warrington."

Press Association

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