Tonight’s hyped homecoming gig is just one of many dates being played on this tour before the album can be finished. With an air of expectancy encompassing the venue as the performance drew near, we were able to grab an interview with guitarist Guy Connor and new bassist Dan Taylor on the bands plans and philosophies.
NIGE: There’s been a lot of hype about the band at the moment, and you’ve been playing a lot of gigs and festivals recently, but when are we going to see the debut album?
GUY: Well we’re in the middle of recording a record at the moment but it’s not going to be out till next year. However, at the end of October we’ll be releasing a double download of ‘White Wine’ and ‘Introspection’.
NIGE: Out of the festivals you played in the summer, which one stood out the most?
GUY: For me, Benicassim in Barcelona, which is probably the obvious answer because of where it is and the weather was mint. But that’s why it stood out, because the weather was ace and swimming in the sea before the gig was the best. You don’t get that living here, plus I couldn’t get away on holiday this year. It was great though because there were a couple of big acts playing and that made it amazing.
NIGE: I’ve read a review back in 2007 and you said that “there are no radical voices in music anymore.” Do you still believe that?
GUY: I disagree, I think there are now, might not have been in 2007. I think there are plenty of radical voices now, but also radical sounds.
NIGE: What are your thoughts in general on music today and what do you make of the Manchester scene?
GUY: In general, I think it’s fucking great, really ace, a lot of new bands and artists that we’re digging at the moment. Even the mainstream acts, like Lady Ga Ga I think are ace, kind of harking back to the days of Madonna really. Scotty, our drummer is into new music so I kind of learn everything off him. On the Manchester scene, I think there’s a lot of really great bands coming out, like ‘Mazes’, we think that they’re fucking ace. There will always be that shadow over a certain few bands in Manchester that a lot of people cling onto.
DAN: I think Manchester in terms of a scene shoots itself in the foot because it always looks back to historical events, such as ‘Madchester’ and certain massive bands that have come from here. I think to look forward to the new stuff coming out you need to forget about all that. It’s never going to happen again in the same way, so why think about it?
GUY: That’s why the new stuff is really cool because it goes against all that, like ‘Mazes’ and ‘Elbow’. What ‘Elbow’ have achieved has been great; to come out of a place that is often pigeon holed and bring out something new and fresh is really good. I still have a lot of faith in the Manchester scene because we’re part of that, and a lot of great bands are too.
DAN: I think a lot of other musicians and artists from Manchester have more faith in it, more than the music fans. I think a lot fans in Manchester go out looking for something they know, the people making the music aren’t trying to sound like something that’s been out before.
NIGE: Do you think the ‘XFactor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ side of music hinders the band scene?
GUY: I don’t think it has any effect, a lot of people like to say it does but I don’t think so. XFactor is just great TV, to watch someone fuck up, cry or do really well against all odds, classic TV really.
DAN: It’s about personal choice whether you like that kind of artist or a rock band. It’s also from the person whose making the music’s point of view, whether they want to go on XFactor or join a band and slug it out in shit holes. There’s different ways of doing everything.
NIGE: You’ve obviously got quite a 60s and 70s influence, is that the type of music that inspired you?
GUY: There’s a lot of music from that era that’s inspired us. I think you’d be lying if no music from the 60s and 70s inspired you; even the source from the 50s where rock n roll and blues started. All the bands of the 60s and 70s were pioneers of that new sound. We’re also massively influenced by new bands; any record you buy that you think is mint automatically influences me.
DAN: Even if you don’t like someone you can be inspired by them, because you think I’m not going to do it that way. For example, if you’ve got someone who hates ‘The Beatles’, they’re going to go and make music in a totally different way.
NIGE: Which bands in particular from the 60s and 70s?
DAN: Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Doors for me, I love my rock.
GUY: I love Neil Young and Springsteen, who was a massive influence on me early on. You always have your romance with these artists where you go through a phase where you can’t listen to anything else.
DAN: ZZ Top. I fucking love ZZ Top, the ‘Tres Hombres’ album.
NIGE: You’re known for being very loud on stage, why do you play with such raw aggression?
GUY: It’s the music; the song dictates how you play. It depends what the songs are about, whether it’s angry, upset or sad; we play to suit. We can be quiet and soft onstage. We do ‘Vampire in the sun’ very quiet and delicate, but then do ‘Hotel of Infidels’ more rock orientated. Also, there’s adrenaline when you’re onstage so when people are watching you play things faster and harder.
DAN: If there’s rock in it, it needs to be turned up, because that’s what rock n roll’s all about. Saying that, ‘Vampire in the Sun’ is a gentle sounding song but it’s still raw. The loudness and ferocity doesn’t always go hand in hand with the rawness. You can play a gentle guitar lick and still sing raw over it, and that’s what I think Toby does on that.
NIGE: Overall, with all the songs you’ve written, is there a collective message or meanings behind them or is every song very different?
GUY: There’s no collective message, I guess that’d be a concept album if we did that, maybe we will do that someday. A lot of the songs are about genuine things. I wrote ‘Wrecking Ball’ and I still don’t know what it’s about, just a load of words that sounded cool. It’s kind of nonsense but you can get a lot from it if you want to. ‘Strangers’ is very personal to me and is about a relationship. I know Toby’s songs are very personal to him too. All of them have their different meanings, but some of them are bull shit. I’m not going to go too much into what the songs are about, I’ll pull that classic card and let people make their own mind up. Haha. I just like words that sound good and give nice images in your head whilst you’re listening to it. I love stuff like Nick Cave who is a really rich lyricist giving you loads of beautiful, fucked up and sick images to think about whilst you’re listening, and sometimes it’s that rather than the actual meaning.
NIGE: So what next after tonight’s gig?
GUY: We’ve got a lot of dates to play in the next couple of months, and we’re really looking forward to tonight with it being a home gig. We’re playing Madrid on the 29th October and Barcelona on the 10th November, so we’re buzzing about going back to Spain. After the tour’s done we’re going to get back down to finishing the record, probably lay low whilst we’re doing that until Christmas. Then we’ll tour in spring, followed by the album, then its back into festivals.
Interview by Nigel Cartner
Photos by Matt Johnston