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TGTF are no strangers to Young the Giant. We featured the Californian outfit’s track ‘Strings’ in an In the Post, and I saw them live this week in London on one of their four small shows in the UK. Sameer Gadhia of the band kindly agreed to talk to us about how everything’s coming along for them as they make big steps towards touring their album globally. (P.S. They’re not a surf rock band.)
It’s been a long time since you guys formed as the Jakes and released the ‘Shake My Hand’ EP. How do you think you’ve all changed since then?
We have changed in many, many ways. I was 16 at the creation of the Jakes. Now I’m 21. I’ve travelled a bit, made some royal mistakes, loved, and lost. All of us have. This has shaped the depth of our writing. Lyrically, melodically and structurally.
The album’s been out digitally in America since late October and has just come out physically. How does releasing it in the UK feel different, if at all?
It is quite difficult to process that we are even doing an international release. We were expecting the U.S., but this is some other giant beast. I think none of us really know what to expect. In the U.S., we can analyze. We’ve been a part of that market for so long. But here, I think it’s more of a valiant stab in the dark.
Along with the release has come a selection of tightly packed shows in London which are Young the Giant’s first shows outside America. Have you got any expectations or are you just looking forward to the opportunity?
I think we are trying not to expect anything. This is our first time, and we are attempting to just get our heads wrapped around that. We love playing shows to people that don’t know shit about us. It’s novel and exciting for both parties.
Back home, there seems to have been a real movement for an almost “surf rock” kind of sound. Would you say you’ve been part of that wave or something different?
To a certain extent we could be considered some small appendage of the greater body, but I don’t think we have ever considered ourselves a “surf rock” band. Such associations have been created post-creation.
So what are the plans for the future? Summer festivals, headline shows and a lot of travelling? Any return to the UK planned after February?
We hope to be doing a lot of festivals. Sasquatch (May music festival in Washington State, in America) will be our first, and we are excited for all the craziness that is to come. More than anything, we are excited to see our favourite bands perform on the same stage as us. That is absolutely mind-blowing. We plan to return in May and August for touring, and festival-ing, so there’s much cheers to be had.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 21st January 2011 at 12:00 pm
Chapel Club have put out a great debut album, ‘Palace’, that I reviewed the first week of January. So great that I’m going out on a limb here and projecting it to be one of the best albums of 2011. Eager to find out more about them, I asked singer Lewis Bowman some questions and you can read his very thoughtful answers below. He’s quite self-conscious about his voice (I’m not really sure why, because I adore his singing on ‘Parade’) and he tells us about his dream of being ‘the Robert Frost of indie’ and the background behind one of their most evocative songs, ‘Blind’ – this is one interview you’re definitely going to want to read.
Let’s go back to the start of the Chapel Club story… (How did your band form, how long have you known each other, etc.)
We just met, as people do – through friends, through going to the same parties and stuff. It was all quite natural and organic. I mean, Mike had it in his head before he knew any of us that he wanted to start a band, but I think he’d felt that way since he was about 12. So little by little each of our orbits intersected and we all met and got along really well, we all had the same sense of humour and similar tastes and whatnot. And when he realised as much, Mike kind of lured or cajoled each of us tiny, insignificant little planets into a new course. We started to revolve around one central star, and that star ended up being called Chapel Club. And I’ll let you judge whether it is newborn and twinkling with promise or a dim red husk soon to implode.
Who plays what in your band?
Mike plays guitar, Alex plays guitar, Liam plays bass, Rich plays drums. I play nothing: the fool, perhaps, sometimes. I sing, or at least attempt it. Though these roles may be slowly changing – the others tend to fool around with other, odder instruments a lot more recently.
So I understand that ‘Palace’, the name of your debut album coming out later this month, was an early name for your band. How did you make the leap and choose ‘Chapel Club’ as your new band moniker?
We needed a new name, quite desperately: everything we’d ever liked was already taken a thousand times over. And I like religious imagery, religious language. I like the heft of biblical stories and symbolism. I’m agnostic verging on atheist, but I kind of always wanted, at the back of my mind, to be a preacher, or better yet a prophet. So I liked the associations. And the others just kind of didn’t hate the phrase. So it stuck.
‘Palace’ was produced by Paul Epworth, who is famous for producing some pretty ‘dancey’ acts like Florence and the Machine and Friendly Fires. How did you decide he would be the producer you’d work with on your debut album?
We were a paragon of democratic efficiency. We tried several producers, then we took a vote – and Paul got the gig. He’s an incredibly impressive guy and he really loved the songs – plus when you look at the bands he broke through with, Bloc Party and the Rakes, etc. – he’s no stranger to making indie records.
A lot of your tracks feature an echoey lead vocal, something I find comforting in the midst of hard pounding drums and melodic guitars (e.g., ‘Oh Maybe I’, ‘All the Eastern Girls’). Has this always been part of the Chapel Club sound or was that something that you developed in the studio and/or with Paul?
I think that was always there. We hadn’t played a lot of live gigs by the time we began recording, but when we did I was always desperate for reverb because I hate my voice: I’m not a trained (or very experienced) singer, and really I feel like I spent the last year hanging on for dear life in vocal terms. Your voice is an instrument and mine wasn’t treated very well until recently – I didn’t think there was any need to look after it. So now it’s a bit battered, and I regret that. Also, I don’t have the patience to learn to play it properly. So I just have to do everything by ear and hope for the best. On another level, I guess that a lot of the band’s influences point in the same direction: we all like a reverb-drenched vocal, the more expansive sound often seems to work better with the atmosphere of the music we make. In fact, listening to the album now, we were pretty restrained: future stuff’s likely to be much more experimental in terms of vocal sounds, effects, accents, everything.
Continue reading Interview: Lewis Bowman of Chapel Club
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 23rd December 2010 at 12:00 pm
Emile Mosseri, bassist of New York’s the Dig, kindly answered questions that I had about their debut album released this year, and what it was like touring with some big names in UK music. Read on…
The name of your debut album is ‘Electric Toys’. What does the title mean to you?
The title was taken from a lyric in the song ‘She’s Gonna Kill That Boy’ on the record. There is no hidden meaning behind it, we just felt it fit the tone of the record and we always liked plural album titles. It kind of suggests that the record is a collection of electric toys we which liked.
I like the cover art – a big yummy red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a cherry. Who came up with the idea? Is the cupcake ‘eaten’ on the back cover symbolic?
The idea for the album cover was conceived from a poster my girlfriend drew for a show a year or so back. It was a concert poster featuring a girl’s face trapped inside of a cupcake. We considered using it for the album cover before deciding we wanted to photograph it to get something more vivid and sharp, we found that little man in a hobby shop where collectors buy train sets and miniature people and recreate miniature cities. We thought that the little business man was interesting (he cost $40!)
Let’s talk about the songs in ‘Electric Toys’. Some of them have pretty ‘aggressive’ titles – ‘She’s Going to Kill That Boy’, ‘Penitentiary’ – while others sound more conventional – ‘You’re Already Gone’, ‘I Just Wanna Talk to You’. Does the Dig have two sides?
I guess you could say that. The more ‘aggressive’ titles usually belong to songs that are stories. ‘She’s Gonna Kill That Boy, ‘Penitentiary’, ‘He’s a Woman’, etc. are a mixture of stories that we invented and stories based on nonfiction. Where the more conventional titles you brought up are more straightforward songs about girls and other things.
I really like the guitars of the Dig. Who are your guitar idols? I was thinking possibly Jimmy Page…?
Jimmy Page is definitely in idol of ours. who doesn’t love Jimmy page? They don’t get any better than that. Others maybe Keith Richards, Hendrix, etc.
Do you have a favourite song(s) to play live, and if so, why?
I think ‘Just Want to Talk to You’ and ‘Sick Sad Morning’ are two of our favorite songs to play live. They work well opening and closing a show. There is certain energy to them that lends itself well to a live show.
The first time I saw you guys was as support for Editors at 9:30 Club in Washington in February. I thought you were really great! What was it like touring with a band like Editors, who have been around for quite a while and have a sizable worldwide fan base?
Touring with Editors was great. They are great guys and the shows were amazing for us. The Antlers were on that tour as well and it was great touring with a fellow New Yorker band. It was really inspiring and exciting being a part of that bill.
You just toured with Welsh band the Joy Formidable, who you’ve toured with one other time, correct? Tell me about touring with them, what’s it’s like in comparison (and contrast) with other bands you’ve been on the road with. Do you prefer touring with American or non-American bands?
We prefer American bands! Just kidding, the Joy Formidable are great friends of ours who we have toured with several times. They are a truly great band, with a huge sound and great tunes and we’ve really enjoyed traveling with them.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 22nd December 2010 at 2:00 pm
Trophy Wife is a trio from Oxford that has already turned heads on the strength of their debut single, ‘Microlite’, released on the always ahead of the curve indie label Moshi Moshi Records. I asked some questions, and they kindly answered. I inquire about the origin of ‘Trophy Wife’ the band name and they tell me about their unusually/wonderfully charitable plans for the Christmas holiday.
Tell us a little about yourselves – who plays what in the band? How long have you known each other? How did you guys get together as a band?
Jody: Sings and plays guitar and bass
Kit: Drums, Percussion, Sampler
Ben: Keyboards, Sampler, Lights
We have been making music together for about 7 years in various different forms. Us meeting each other was a case of mistaken identity; Jody pretended to be a female drummer so he could get into Kit’s post-rock band. Trophy Wife happened by accident really, we started recording dancey music late at night over a few drinks.Things grew and we set out to challenge ourselves and do something that was new to us..
At least in America, the term ‘trophy wife’ conjures up something usually not related to music, like the pretty wives of athletes. Who came up with your band name and what is the story behind it?
We’ve had the name for a while and it seemed to suit the sounds we started making. To us, it’s a name that is both glamorous and glitzy yet somehow inherently dark. In many ways this is also how we see our music; Kit had heaps of old manual photographs of these desolate, windswept English locations and we pasted the words ‘Trophy Wife’ in big pink letters onto them and we really liked the relationship between the two.
All your bios say you’re from Oxford. Is that accurate? (a lot of bands meet up after moving from somewhere else from uni, etc.) Are you still based in Oxford? How do you think Oxford contributed to your sound?
Indeed we are all from Oxford, we live there now. It has a lot of musicians for such a small city so it is very easy to start up a band here. Everyone knows each other and is aware of what is progressing musically around them. That atmosphere has certainly helped us although we’re not sure if our sound is directly linked to the city. It can feel a bit claustrophobic, it’s a universe all of its own but there’s always a lot of creative activity going on. We grew up in the surrounding suburban neighbourhoods where there’s not much else to do other than immerse yourself in your favourite music.
Continue reading 10 for 2011 Interview: Trophy Wife
By Phil Singer
on Wednesday, 22nd December 2010 at 12:00 pm
So we sent some questions over to one of this year’s up-and-comers Sunday Girl (aka Jade Williams) to find out what she’s been doing this year. Take it away, Jade…
Hello Jade, how are you today? What are you up to?
I’m good thank you, very busy but having a great time. Just general Sunday Girl stuff! Writing, drawing, blogging etc
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? You’re certainly a multi-talented star of the future, with all the creativity that oozes from your blog…
Well firstly the name ‘Sunday Girl’ came from me working in an old fashioned pet shop every Sunday for years. Nobody knew my name so I was nicknamed the ‘Sunday Girl’. I loved to sing when I was young but was so shy and had a real fear of singing in front of anybody. My mum heard me sing in my room and at 17, she took me to a hypnotist. Sounds mad but I went and then wanted to test out if it worked, so I plucked up the courage to go to a choir-thing a few times and this huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. From there I got into bands with friends doing a bit of everything from ska to jazz. I was singing in a bar in London when I was spotted by a manager who put me in with producers, who could turn my lyrics into songs. I moved to London to start a degree in set design at Wimbledon college of art and on my days off did my song writing. I did lots of co-writes but eventually found Jim Elliot who I clicked with. He’s written songs for Kylie to Ladyhawke. I have always drawn and made things and set design fascinated me. I loved the idea of creating a world that I could sit in afterwards! I like drawing and do all the artwork from the blog to singles. I like to blog what I’m making so people can have a look.
You’ve got some pretty amazing songs already. What’s laying ahead for the rest of 2010? Can we expect an album?
The rest of this year I’m going on tour with Ellie Goulding and just building ‘Sunday Girl’ and also doing some more DJaying. The album is out next year sometime.
You’ve played some pretty big festivals so far this year (Wireless, Dot to Dot) and shows (MTV Presents) – what have they been like? How’s the reception been?
I used to be terrified of performing but I’ve really broken through that this year and it’s a great feeling becoming more and more free on stage. The reception has been great and I’m loving learning to become a performer, I really want to put on a show that the audience will love.
What can we expect from the Sunday Girl live experience in months / years to come?
I can see my performance becoming quite animalistic, flitting from being shy to elegant like a deer. I want the stage set to be captivating and beautiful for me to interact with. I’d like it to be a real show but with vulnerability and awkwardness thrown in.
You’re quite an avid blogger – do you like the whole blogging / social media thing as a way to keep in touch with fans?
I haven’t quite got the hang of Twitter yet and to be honest I prefer using my blog, as I can post things that I think are interesting and can express what I’m doing with photos and I can say more on my blog. I think the blog is really personal and I hope gives my fans a real insight into my life.
What would be a cool location you’d like to do a gig at?
I’d love to do a gig at the National History Museum in one of the display cabinets with the stuffed animals.
Finally, what TV, films and books are you really enjoying at the moment?
I read lots of hippy spiritual books that I know sound pretty naff so I won’t tell you the titles haha. I want to see the new Gainsbourg film, I love Jane Birkin. I don’t watch that much TV but my favourite series recently was ‘Mary Queen of Shops’. This woman would turn failing bakers, furniture shops, hairdressers, etc. into trendy money makers. I’m getting tips for my boutique pet shop I want when I’m old.
The next Sunday Girl single, ‘Stop Hey’, will be released on 6th of February 2011, and you can watch the official promo vid for the song below.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 21st December 2010 at 2:00 pm
I sent some questions over to Daniel Land, the man at the helm of Daniel Land and the Modern Painters, the band you voted #9 on our 10 for 2011 poll. Have a read on how this band that makes ‘serious music’ can be quite silly collecting location names that sound funny, amongst other things…
Congratulations on finishing #9 in our 10 of 2011 poll of bands to watch next year. Unfortunately, we don’t have a trophy or anything to give you, but please know that it was the faithful readers of TGTF that voted to give you your place on this list. Although we risk sounding like the reporters on the red carpet at the BAFTAs, we want to know, how do you feel about this achievement?
It’s an honour, it really is. We’d like to thank our parents, our music teachers, our first pets, God, etc, etc…hahaha. Seriously, thanks so much to the readers for voting for us, we never expected to be nominated as a ‘Band to Watch’ or anything like that. It’s great.
Tell us a little about yourselves – how long have you been together, how you guys got together as a band?
We are Daniel Land, Graeme Meikle, Oisin Scarlett, Andrew Galpin and Jason Magee. We’ve been together as a band for about 3 years, but we have been making music separately or in pairs for about twice as long as that. The band really came together in 2007 after witnessing an amazing DJ set by (German musician/producer) Ulrich Schnauss at the Big Chill. Hearing him playing all this amazing new music that was guitar-based but very ambient was really inspiring and gave us a bit of a kick up the backside to get a proper band together. I think we released our first EP only 6 weeks after that – it was all very exciting.
You call Manchester home…what advantages are there from being from such a venerated place for music? What disadvantages are there?
The funny thing about this band is that none of us are really from Manchester. We met at University here, but we’re all from different places around the England, Ireland and Scotland. Manchester’s a great place to live and work in, and one of the great advantages of the place is the thriving independent music scene here, which is really open to new ideas and experimentation. On the down side, I think one of the disadvantages is all the cultural baggage from the Factory and Madchester years, which seems like ancient history to most musicians living here now. It can be a bit irksome to be compared to that. The Factory and Madchester stuff is really respected still, but I think people are generally more concerned with what’s happening now.
Continue reading 10 for 2011 Interview: Daniel Land and the Modern Painters