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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 31st October 2014 at 12:00 pm
Arguably, the most famous thing that late Factory Records boss and journalist Tony Wilson ever said was, “but this is Manchester. We do things differently here”. The same can be said for bands in the North: far away from the reach, influence and trappings of London, the majority of them choose not to leave their home for the big smoke, instead making their name under their own terms, many thriving thanks to old-fashioned determination and incredibly hard graft.
Little Comets are one of the bright stars from Newcastle, though the brothers Coles and their growing families now call the Midlands (Birmingham to be more exact) home. The trio – singer/guitarist Rob Coles, his brother Mickey on guitar and Matt Hall on bass, supplemented by live drummer David “Greenie” Green – decided earlier this year to go it alone and leave Dirty Hit Records to strike out on their own The Smallest Label for all future releases. One of their great ongoing marketing plans in 2014 has been to release a series of EPs in lieu of a full album. (This will come later, in February 2015, when ‘Hope is a State of Mind’ will be released.) Monday sees the release of the third and final EP in the trilogy, ‘The Sanguine EP’, which follows ‘The Gentle EP’ (starring the brilliant ‘Little Italy’) released in February and ‘Salt’ in June. As seen with those previous records, Rob Coles’ lyrical content continues to be weighty and reflective, while the music is intelligent.
The foot-stompingly good ‘Ex-Cathedra’ begins this EP. As described by Coles himself on this entry on the band’s blog, the title comes from a Latin phrase “from the seat” that is used to describe the infallibility of the Pope’s thoughts and decisions. But ultimately, Coles wrote the lyrics to it in remembrance of his son William’s birth: the word ‘sanguine’ (frankly not used enough these days) that appears in the EP title also makes an appearance here as a sign of optimism, and the words “never let the winsome die” further this upbeat feeling.
The moniker of ‘Creeping Up Appearances’ is no doubt a pun on the BBC’s farcical tv series starring Patricia Routledge, but in some ways it’s a perfectly appropriate title if you consider Hyacinth Bucket’s primary goal throughout the series: to keep up her and her husband Richard’s appearance, things are business as usual as she continues her reign of snobbery while totally unaware of how she really appears to be to other people. While the guitars are suitably jaunty for Little Comets’ fare, the actual topic Coles is talking about is how the status quo is being maintained in Parliament while no-one is being held accountable. The overall instrumentation is restrained, allowing for the Comets’ trademark harmonies to shine bright.
With cheerful guitar noodle-y bits that sound like country western crossed with Jimmy Page’s parts in ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’, ‘Cover Your Rain’ (shown acoustically live above) is the most instrumentally interesting track of the EP. Though the two songs sound different and have entirely different purposes, I can’t explain why this song reminds me of ‘A Little Opus’, the title track of their second studio album ‘Life is Elsewhere and it’s really bothering me. Maybe it’s time for me to sit down for another chat with the lads and pick their brains again to get to the bottom of this irksome feeling in my psyche.
And while I had their attention, I’d also thank them for ‘The Assisted’. It is in stark contrast with the rest of the EP, as it is presented as simply as humanly possible, with just Rob Coles’ voice and him playing piano. He’s explained it’s about assisted suicide and not wanting to live any longer with a terminal illness. As you can probably imagine, this is quite loaded subject matter; in the wrong hands and without true consideration of the gravity of such a situation, a song like this could easily come across completely insincere and out of touch, the song equivalent of the most terrible of train wrecks.
Instead, Coles has written a truly beautiful, moving piece, showing an astonishing gentleness and cognisance of a difficult decision, and a final one at that. It’s a real tearjerker. For those of us who have had to contemplate for ourselves or for others such a fate, it’s not something that can or should be taken lightly. Even if the song doesn’t resonate with you personally, you can use it as one of many examples of the Little Comets back catalogue of their great artistry. If you haven’t figured this out already while following their story, Little Comets are a band who aren’t afraid to defy convention, to touch hot button topics like this and deal with them head on, and we should thank our lucky stars every day for this.
‘The Sanguine EP’ will be released on Monday, the 3rd of November, on the band’s own The Smallest Label. Their third album ‘Hope is a State of Mind’ can now be pre-ordered on their PledgeMusic Web site, along with the opportunity to purchase a whole series of unique and limited edition items. The album will be released on the 16th of February 2015. You can stream EP track ‘The Assisted’ below.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 30th October 2014 at 1:00 pm
Our friends at Gigs and Tours have given us something – well, 3 pairs of somethings – that are pretty cool and naturally, we’re eager to share the wealth with you, our faithful readers.
American band The Gaslight Anthem are playing two shows at the famed Manchester Apollo in November, and we’ve got 3 pairs of tickets for the show on the 18th of November to give away to 3 lucky TGTF readers. Fancy your chances? Then fill out the form in its entirety below.
First fill in your full name and your email address so we can contact you if you win. Then to make sure you really want to see the Gaslight Anthem and to test just how massive a fan of theirs you really are, tell us what the name of the band’s latest album is, released in August of this year. We will then choose three winners of all the correct entries received.
Get your entries in by noon British time Monday, the 3rd of November. We’ll contact the winners by email. Good luck! Please note: this contest is open to UK residents only who can get him/herself to Manchester for the show, and under 14s must be accompanied by an adult (this gig’s policy, and TGTF won’t be held responsible if you’re turned away at the door for being underage and not meeting this requirement). All duplicate entries will be discarded.
To read all past content on the New Jersey band on TGTF, head this way.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 30th October 2014 at 11:00 am
This is part 2 of a massive interview with Cloud Boat. Go here to read part 1.
Cloud Boat and I switched gears to discuss their latest release, this year’s ‘Model of You’, released in July. At first Tom seemed anxious about divulging his thoughts to me. “Nonspecifically, it became more expensive as we tried to have a bigger palette of sounds and expressions. We tried to explore a wider space, really. I think the first album was quite narrow in its production and its kind of sound choices. That’s not a negative thing at all…but we had more means on our second album, so we used it the best we could.” Sam explains further about their humble recording beginnings: “If we’d been able to record with a live drum kit, grand piano, a harp on the first album, we would have done it. But we had one microphone, one amp in the bedroom and that was it.”
I then asked if they were like most electronic-type musicians I’d come across, being very OCD about the way things sound and the way things come across because they’re in charge of everything behind the scenes, including all of the production. Tom disagrees: “we’re probably the opposite. We like to do things differently every time to see (what happens). We don’t need to record the vocal through the same mike, through the same pre-amps, through the same compressors every single time because it might sound better (recorded differently). I wouldn’t like to do everything the same every time in case it could have been done better another way.”
Sam chimes in: “…because we’re not producers first. When you say a lot of electronic artists, they probably started making music in their bedrooms making beats and things and have become almost scientific in their production. We could never sit at home and make a track with a mix that would sound good on the dance floor. I’m essentially someone who has grown up playing guitar and Tom has grown up singing. We have always thought of ourselves as a band, and that’s why working with a producer on the second album (Andy Savours, who has worked with My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros) meant that the science of everything was taken out of our hands, and we were just free to be creative. So in response to us having any sort of OCD, there isn’t any of that. The more happy accidents, the better.”
Tom adds, “there has to be a level of spontaneity in live music and recorded music in order for it to stay exciting, I think. If you know that everything is going to stay the same every single time, it becomes monotonous and you won’t be able to be excited about it.” Sam describes an unusual part on one of the standout tracks on the new album: “There’s a part of ‘Hideaway’ on the record, we recorded it at The Crypt in North London, which is fairly sort of renowned, they’ve got a baby grand piano in there. It was Friday night, I was just doing all the piano takes for everything, I hadn’t written any of the parts. We did four songs for which I’d worked out the parts and recorded them between 6 at night and midnight. Me and Andy went and had a massive slap up dinner at this really nice restaurant opposite. We came back and the room was freezing and I was really tired. There is a chord on the end of ‘Hideaway’ in which I kind of creak on the seat, and there’s this noise or something. Andy wanted to cut it out from the recording and I was like, ‘you’re leaving that in’. It’s really, really quiet, but knowing that, there are bits and bobs on the record (like that) when there’s a sound when there’s not supposed to be (one) there, you use that sound as a focal point instead of getting rid of it.”
Speaking of strange noises, I just had to ask them about the goat noise on ‘Portraits of Eyes’, which I’d Tweeted them about the morning of the Soup Kitchen show. “It’s actually a guitar”, Sam admits. “I’m pretty sure it’s a guitar with loads of tremolo on it? And I suppose it’s really high.” I express my mock disappointment that there was no goat onstage in Manchester. “But how would you make it go on cue? You’d have to get a goat that could mime. But I’m pretty proud now that I could make a guitar sound like a convincing goat though. We’ll try and get another animal on the next album.”
I next put the question to Tom about the origin of ‘Aurelia’, one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs on the new album, and if suicide was the theme he was going for in the lyrics. “I studied French existentialism in university and did my thesis on Camus”, he replies. “There’s a lot of that running through (the album), not suicide in the particular act, just the idea of it, not like explicitly. I like to use those themes and try and create something that sounds like a specific moment in time, a specific situation that reflects those themes. Not a situation I myself have personally experienced, but something I’ve created in my mind with those themes.”
I asked him how he felt about the majority of dance / electronic music’s lyrics being throwaway, with the primary intention for the beats to get punters out on the dance floor. For Tom, it has become a more personal thing and that has bettered him as a person too. “For me, it’s important to feel like singing the song is worthwhile, to be able to give something of myself to it. I’m not a confident person, and I’m not an outspoken person, I don’t like people to know too much about me. There is something, it probably sounds quite cliche, but there’s something very therapeutic about, whether directly or not, telling a load of strangers something about yourself.
“Whether they know it or not, telling them something about yourself you’re not necessarily comfortable with is, like, massively therapeutic and good for you. I think it’s good for you, and it’s been the best thing for me over the last however many years. It’s good for your mind, I think. People say that if you struggle with depression and whatever else, and talking about things like that directly is almost the best medicine for that. In those kind of frustrations and thoughts and existential ideas, talking to people directly about them has been really good for me…But I think the lyrics are almost cryptic enough in telling them. I know what I’m telling them, and I know what I’m thinking, but they don’t necessarily. It’s kind of selfish in that sense.”
I next ask about ‘Thoughts in Mine’, what I consider the other massive song on ‘Model of You’. Sadly, the song was not included in the set in Manchester due to time constraints. Sam considers the tune “the most biggest departure for us. We were in the first studio, writing it in Dalston. Tom had this big vibe he called ‘Little Orange Buckle’, and it had a pretty weird beat in it, and we set up all these synths and started pissing about. We thought it might be kind of fun trying to write a song that didn’t have any guitar in it, and that was sort of the challenge in that. As a result, it’s a departure from anything from the album, and certainly from the first album, and that’s why it’s later on the record.”
I query Tom about the lyrical content, citing that the first time I’m heard his words, it immediately made me think of Morrissey‘s ‘The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get’ (“I am now a central part / of your mind’s landscape / whether you care or do not”). “Yeah. There’s a Deftones song as well that has this idea, I’ve been listening to it, it’s on my phone but I forget what the title is. It has this idea like the thought of occupying someone’s mind but it sounds stalkerish, that kind of like describing being close in proximity to someone and being inside. I really loved that, because it’s obviously not actually true, but the thought of using music words to make it sound like a specific situation. It’s not so much about a specific person, it’s more about me, (in) quite a lot of the lyrics I describe myself as another person and write about myself. So that’s kind of in that song a bit. I like writing about a person that’s me and writing it from another person’s perspective.”
We then turn our attention to ‘Carmine’, which was picked up by NPR, who then went on to write several nice features on Cloud Boat’s music. “The NPR thing was great”, extols Sam. “The press team for the record were looking for the outlet with the best reputation and reach for the music, and NPR was what they decided to go with. The press side of things is something we’re not particularly comfortable with, and we are guilty with sort of letting our team get on with things, which may not be the best thing to do.”
The video for ‘Carmine’, however, is something they are more than eager to talk about. “That was done by a good friend of ours”, says Tom. “Neither of us are visually inclined”, laments Sam. “Whether it was the fonts, the artwork, the merch, the videos…we’re quite useless. So basically, our friend Chris (Toumazou) who did the video, we trusted him with it. Music videos are something we struggle with a little bit, because something you’ve spent so much time making orally, to then have someone put a visual to it and it doesn’t come anywhere near what you feel for the track, it’s quite rare, I think. We enjoy hanging out with Chris; for a serious artist, he is a fucking hilarious guy. He’s like this little clown! He had this sort of idea, and we gave ourselves to him pretty much…I didn’t really have anything in my head of what I expected the video for that song to be like before we did it. But if I had, it definitely wouldn’t have been that.”
‘That’ was the promo filmed in a working laundrette in Barbican, London, filled with actual customers. Sam continues: “It was a really surreal day. We were all really busy, and it just happened that there was just one day where we could be in the video. The laundrette was still open while we were filming, so they blacked out the curtains. There were lots and lots of old people who obviously went there every Friday to do their laundry, they would come in and find their way through this curtain…So we sort of shot the shots round so people could then use the free machines. It was really fun, it was brilliant, it was a great day. I dunno, I remember the first take, when the main lady mouthed the lyrics, we watched on in the monitor. They shot it sped up to then slow it down to get the sort of crazy movements. I remember it being really sort of powerful. I remember thinking, ‘wow, this is really good’. It wasn’t the setting I would have imagined for the song, but in trusting the director, we got a result we didn’t really expect but we were really happy with.”
As a final question, I asked the three of them if there were any band secrets no-one else but them would know. Tom says he shaves his legs, to which Sam quickly quips, “but we all knew that!” I am not sure whether or not this is true, since naturally they’re all in jeans. So I ask if they have any musical vices, to which Sam is quick to answer. “I think people would probably be surprised with the amount of heavy music we listen to, including really old shit heavy music that we liked when we were 15. I think people would think if we were to get into a van with that band for a week, they probably would not expect full-on metal…When we first started releasing music, we kind of got lumped in with serious, weed-smoking bedroom producer kind of vibe, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”
This leads into a discussion over what bands Cloud Boat do get compared to. “Almost always the comparisons are flattering”, says Sam. “We get compared to some really weird, obscure bands, like Cocteau Twins”, replies Tom. “This Mortal Coil”, Sam contributes, “but I’d barely even heard of them. I listened to Cocteau Twins and thought, ‘that’s brilliant!’…Luke, the bassist of face + heel, said some of my guitar playing reminded him of Low, who I’ve never really listened to.” Tom adds, “I’ve heard Moby, This Will Destroy You, bands that don’t sound anything like each other! Which is always good…I suppose it would be really bad if you’re in a rock band, and every night 10 people came up to you and said ‘you sound like Weezer.’…I’ve settled for electronic post-rock, and I don’t even think it’s very accurate, but for when people ask, that’s a broad enough spectrum of sounds.”
Andres, who has been pretty quiet up to this point, interrupts with, “a guy I know said we sound like Moby and Mogwai.” Then they get into an argument over what a project between them would be called. Mobwai? Mogwy? They are, however, in agreement that a collaboration between those two artists would be amazing. “I’d listen to that”, says Tom.
Many, many thanks to Tom, Sam and Andres for this wonderful interviews. Best wishes, fellas.
Belfast-born, Liverpool-landed brother/sister duo Southern have just announced another change of location, this time moving to London, as they announced this past Saturday on their Facebook page. They are also just at the end of a lengthy autumn tour of the UK, but their hectic schedule hasn’t kept them out of the studio. They have managed to intermingle their live performances with recording work on tracks for their debut LP, which is expected sometime in 2015. To that end, they are set to release their next single, ‘Cool Kid’, on the 24th of November via Marathon Artists.
‘Cool Kid’ is a newly reworked version of a track that initially appeared on Southern’s self-titled EP, released at the end of 2013. The refreshed adaptation moves slightly away from the band’s typical folk rock sound and more into pop territory, with an energetic rhythm, punchy verses and an infectious chorus, “’cos she’s a cool kid / lost and found / she’s dead when she comes and it’s tying me down / such a cool kid / I should dedicate this one to you”, that immediately sticks in your head.
The crisp black and white imagery in the song’s recently released video is the pure essence of cool. Constantly shifting shots of Thom and Lucy Southern nonchalantly strumming their guitars alternate between a shadowy foreground view and a sharp background projection screen. The mood is immediately set with the detached opening guitar riff and Thom Southern’s sullen delivery of the opening vocal lines, “he don’t wanna release her / she don’t want a kiss on the cheek / and someone keeps telling me I’m no good”. The mesmerising bridge section is a combination of lightly echoing guitars and vaguely evocative lyrics: “it’s interesting, ‘cos you dance the way you feel / now I know that you dance the way you feel.”
For the single release, Southern have paired the uptempo ‘Cool Kid’ with a brand new song called ‘Sympathise With You’. In contrast with its A-side track, ‘Sympathise With You’ is slow and introspective but with similarly reverberant guitar sounds. The guitar melodies change from sulky to sultry as Thom Southern croons the lyrical chorus, “and who are you? You’re so good, I sympathise with you / and this feeling that you want me / Is there something I don’t wanna know? That’s just something that I don’t know”.
On the ‘Cool Kid’ single, Southern display an ever-expanding degree of musical range and confidence in their own abilities, a rare combination among bands just starting their careers. If their relocation to London is any indication, 2015 could be a year of more bold moves for the Northern Irish pair. In the meantime, they are scheduled to close out this year with a headline show at London Barfly on the 4th of November and an appearance at the Whiskey Sessions Festival in Manchester on the 21st of November.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 29th October 2014 at 11:00 am
This is part 1 of a massive interview with Cloud Boat. Part 2 posts on TGTF tomorrow.
I’ve done interviews on tour buses. I’ve done interviews on outdoor festival grounds as well in indoor venues during city festivals. But I can say for sure I’ve never been invited back to the hired flat of a band to do an interview. (Don’t worry, they were on their absolute best behaviour!) Timing didn’t work out for me to have a chinwag with the chaps of Cloud Boat after their rousing set at Manchester Soup Kitchen on the 11th of October, but like them, I was in Liverpool the next night (though I had committed to see Tom Vek at the Kazimier), so we made a date to meet up after the more difficult bits of the evening were out of the way. Cloud Boat comprises Tom Clarke (vocals, lyrics, electronics) and Sam Ricketts (guitar, electronics) plus live touring member Andres Perrera, officially part of prog rock band Arkestry, and all three of them were happy to chat with me in the wee hours of Sunday night into Monday morning about their latest album, the sophomore ‘Model of You’, their UK tour and their feelings on the music industry today.
The first topic I bring up is the historical rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester that existed long before their footy teams started warring, as it just so happened that Cloud Boat played Manchester followed by Liverpool this weekend. I was curious if they could detect different vibes from the two cities, especially given their background as Southerners. “On a boring level, Saturday night in Manchester gave it sort of an edge to Sunday night in Liverpool”, said Sam. “I also thought both support bands in Manchester (face + heel and Hartheim) were really, really good. In terms of atmosphere, there’s a certain level of excitement to both cities, I think. It was only our third time in Liverpool and we’ve been to Manchester a few more times than that…There are so many great bands from both cities. We listened to the Smiths on the way to Manchester; I’m sure we would have listened to the Beatles on the way here if we’d had them on CD! But yeah, any of the big cities, there’s always a feeling of a wealth of history.”
Tom holds a different view: “I always feel like Liverpool is way more vibrant than I expect. It has quite a strong reputation for being quite a down to earth, working class city because it always has been. But it’s way more, I dunno, more exciting. It’s probably wrong for me to expect that it wouldn’t be, but when you come here, there are loads of cool different restaurants and bars and venues. And down by the waterfront, it’s all been redeveloped and it’s really cool. Every time I’ve been here I’ve been more surprised by how vibrant it is. And with Manchester, you know it’s got a solid, good vibe. Everyone’s friendly, there’s a nice community spirit there, it’s just a nice place to be.”
“We were discussing how all the venues in Manchester are great,” says Sam. “It’s sort of like as big and exciting as London but without the masses of competition.” Tom interjects, “and the drama. There’s no drama to Manchester like you would get in London. In London, there’s so much theatre involved with everything, with everyday life, but with Manchester, it’s a bit more simple, which is nice.” The singer is quick to give kudos to the promoters of the Soup Kitchen show the night previous: “And with Now Wave, the people we played for, they’re some of the best promoters going as well, it doesn’t get much better.”
Liverpool was the sixth show of their October UK tour. “We have a couple more shows, we’re home for a week, then we’re out for 3 weeks to the mainland. It’s been really good,” Sam says. “We’re doing a festival in Holland (Let’s Get Lost in Zwolle), and then there are a few shows in Germany, then Copenhagen, then back through Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, back to Germany, then to Paris.” I ask if they feel that they get a different kind of reception on the Continent compared to when they’re back home in England. “It’s a hard question to answer without seeming like you taking a slight with our audiences, but I think what we’ve found with mainland audiences are slightly more open-minded and more open to enjoying whatever is presented to them. I feel like in the UK – and I’m probably as guilty of this as anyone is – you want to know who you’re going to see and what they’re going to do. Whereas I feel like when we’ve played for audiences who haven’t known us previously, we’ve felt a sort of warmer reception in Europe. And that goes to say when you’ve got people who are more open-minded, they’re more likely to come see you again, so we’ve always looked forward to playing in Europe more than the UK. Also, the adventure of not being at home and going over there, you sort of lose yourself a little bit more and maybe play better as a result.”
Tom goes further: “The whole system allows people to be less inhibited as well. Venues are subsidised by the government and bands enjoy playing there because they get paid and they’ll get fed. And people there can afford to buy tickets. In London, or in the UK, venues are struggling to stay open, bands are struggling to play, people are struggling to afford to buy tickets to go, that’s not an environment anyone really wants to be involved in. I think it’s a big shame, and I think it’s become more like this in the last 10 years. It’s hard in the UK. Until you’re playing 1000-cap venues, where you’re given dinner if you’re lucky, the people who come in and watch you, you’ve got to be in at 7:30, out by 10:30, you’re getting frisked by security wherever you are, the toilets stink and aren’t well kept. There’s a lot wrong with the UK system.”
Sam describes an experience they had as support on tour in the Fatherland. “You can go to Germany and play in what is essentially sort of some left-wing stronghold squat with the best PA, the best staff, the best beer, the best catering, and everyone’s nice to you. They’ll have an apartment, maybe above the venue. Like we did this lovely old theatre in Leipzig when we toured with Forest Swords. We arrived late, we’d driven 11 hours, we had 20 minutes to sound check, but they were all really nice. We got paid well, we got fed well, and they were all like, ‘we’d love to have you back’. Whereas in the UK, it doesn’t feel as much like that. That’s not to say we don’t like playing in the UK. I’d hate to come across as sort of ungrateful to anyone who’s put us on in the UK, because it’s hard for them, and it’s extremely hard for promoters. I know I couldn’t be one.”
“That’s the thing. There are so many great bands and great promoters, and loads of people who care, and there are loads of great venues. It’s just the way the system works,” declares Tom. “It’s almost wholly down to the government and the arts funding. They’re just completely fucking it and they know they are, but they don’t mind because there’s a massive detachment between culture and arts and the current government, and it’s only getting worse. But that’s not to say I know the recipe to fix it.”
I ask Tom what he thinks about music piracy, as part of the music industry that has changed so much in just the last 2 decades. “I think it’s difficult, because in one sense, you want your music to be as readily available to the widest audience possible. That’s the optimal goal. In one respect, piracy and streaming and all the rest of it does that, it makes you readily available to everyone all around the world, for a very small amount of money or no money at all. So in that sense, you can become accessible to a lot of people, but in the other sense, you get paid fuck all. And if you’re getting paid no money, it’s not sustainable.”
Sam chimes in: “On top of not getting any money, I think people care less about the music. I will raise my hand and say I’ve downloaded music for free, but I would like to think (other people would do) like how I’ve gone to see a band, or bought a vinyl or a shirt at a show. But not everyone’s doing that. We all come from a background where we’ve grown up listening to hardcore and metal and screamo, the sort of bands where they just want to be able to go on tour and just make enough money to get to the next gig…Majors are worried about people downloading the Lady Gaga album for free, I’ve never done that. I can’t relate to that, really. Whenever I’ve downloaded a record, I’ve then gone out of my way to go and support that band. I wouldn’t mind if someone downloaded our discography if they came to see us every time we played in their city.”
But Tom brings up a good point about the disconnect even streaming and the advent of mp3s has caused in the business: “That’s the thing, like you said, if you’ve downloaded something, you felt like you needed to justify that by going to a show. Because of Spotify now and people buying everything on iTunes, people don’t have the sense they need to justify that kind of cheapness with buying a ticket or buying a hard copy of a record. People don’t have that sense anymore. You can just literally listen to it on Spotify and then cut it off, and you don’t need to have that attachment to a band. I think (what) a lot of people, I suppose, are missing now is having some sort of a relationship with a band.”
Sam agrees, pointing out a good alternative for smaller bands: “I think things like Bandcamp, it’s a nice way of, on a smaller level, of being direct with your fanbase…Radiohead obviously are a good example of putting ‘In Rainbows’ being pay as you want and the new Thom Yorke’s torrent-based thing. But they’re also famously anti against that platform (Spotify)…There are examples of people doing cool things, but until you break that level where you can fill rooms and sell enough (albums) so that your record label aren’t constantly pulling their hair out, which for most bands, what labels make money anymore?”
Speaking of labels, I asked how they caught the attention of the bods at R&S Records, who reactivated their Apollo imprint and released Cloud Boat’s debut album ‘Book of Hours’ on it in 2013. Sam explains: “This story goes back quite a long way. We originally knew an A&R at R&S through James Blake. He picked up a couple of tracks, which ended up on the first album, for a 10″ on R&S. We sort of became a band and never really knew how to release music or make music or anything. From having nothing, we suddenly had this release on R&S. And we had nothing else recorded. So it took us a while to take a step back and make the first album. And then Renaat (Vandepapeliere), he’s the ‘R’, he said, ‘I’d love to put this out on Apollo’. I don’t think he would have let us say no if we wanted to!…There was a wave of artists R&S wanted to put out, I think it was in 2010? James Blake, Pariah, Space Dimension Controller, Vondelpark as well.
“Compared to them, we were one of the smaller acts, but it was really exciting to be part of that. And Renaat brought Apollo back for the more traditionally ambient things, and alongside Nadine Shah and the live side of Apollo, it made sense to stay there for the second album. He’s a really passionate, supportive guy. Plus I don’t think he’d let us go anywhere else!…He’s terrifying and intense, but the guy lives and breathes music. Sits at his laptop all day…The first time we met him, I don’t think he even knew what we did or who we were, he said, ‘Any of you can call me, any time of the day. If I don’t answer, I’m making love. But call me, any time of the day.’ That completely stuck with me.”
Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview, which posts on TGTF tomorrow.
First up: ‘My Heart is Pumping to a Brand New Beat’.
Second on the bill: ‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’.
Who said indie kids were just a bunch of sweaty lads and ladies with greasy hair shouting about their heartbreaks? The archetypal ‘Girls & Boys’ of indie rock ‘n’ roll, The Subways have released their second single in the run-up to the release of their self-titled new album out in February 2015, and they’ve stuck to the tried and tested formula which has made them popular up to now.
They’re not experimenting, and I think that should at least be lauded. The three-piece have a distinct mid-’90s DIY indie-punk vibe about them, and they’re bloody good at making rowdy, simple songs which clock in at just less than 3 minutes. In ‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’, Billy Lunn and Charlotte Cooper’s vocals weave through the verses, with a toe-tappingly melodic chorus of the song’s title interjecting.
It probably sounds like more of a throwback to the earliest phases of the band due to the fact this single was borne from some “really old demos” in Billy Lunn’s words. The video mirrors this; it’s a subtle nod to where the band has come from, moving away from the sheened production of songs like ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ and back to the DIY-esque grit and edge that in 2005 made ‘Rock & Roll Queen’ such a huge indie disco hit – and why it’s still blasted out at a Propaganda near you.
‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’ is underscored by the energy that has driven this band through the last 14 years of releases and relentless touring. While the single isn’t exactly a progression, who gives a flying fuck. They’re good at what they do, and who’s to stop them from continuing.
The Subways’ newest single ‘I’m in Love And It’s Burning My Soul’ is out now on YFE Records/ Cooking Vinyl. The band’s eponymous fourth album ‘The Subways’ will be released on the 9th of February 2015.
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