albums | articles | contact | events | gig reviews | interviews | links | mp3s | singles/EPs | search

interviews 2007


Metronomy

A sixth-former hides from another A-Level dedicated hour, armed with pen, paper and Sony Ericsson. Screw the teachings of Plato or even Shakespeare’s soliloquies- she’s got Joseph Mount, founder of rough electro-pop, on the end of the line- who needs an education when one has Metronomy. It’s been a busy year for the three boys of gothic dance, success flowing from all streams of the industry.  With a new single “My Heart Rate Rapid” being unveiled at the end of this month and a much awaited second album “Nights Out” circling a record store near you around the summer, the electro spot-light today casts light on the leader of the electro pack.   

New single coming out, how are you feeling about that, apparently mastered by all the ‘fisher-price keys that Toys’ R’ Us can afford’?
I don’t know really, I think it’s a good song, it’s weird I guess. There are no lyrics in it at all, just weird singing….fisher-price keys? That’s interesting, didn’t use one to make it but I get what they mean.  

The up and coming album ‘Nights Out’, how long did that take to get into progress?
Some of the songs on it are quite old, but there was a big gap between the first record and this one, so I wasn’t rushing it- I had quite a while to do it. It was weird as it always ends up that some of the best songs were the last ones I wrote, kind of only a few months before finishing the album.  

Any tracks that particularly stand out for you?
There’s one called ‘On the Dance Floor’ that I really like, and that’s quite an old one, that’s the first vocal one I actually wrote and then there’s another one ‘Holiday’ which is new, it’s like a disco song, its is quite a lot of fun.  

Your recent support slot with CSS grounded your original live show, how is the new album going to come across in the future of Metronomy gigs?
We’ve been playing quite a bit of material from the new album; the vocal tracks are a bit more engaging from the older stuff we used to play. What we’ve played so far has gone down pretty well, I’m hoping when people know the songs they’ll start singing along and all that; clapping at the end- that sort of thing.  

Any chance of incorporating the love-foxx cat suit?
Absolutely, I don’t think any of us would look good in a cat suit, we’d walk out and then absolutely anything could happen…if we get desperate we might have to.  

What are your summer plans? Festivals?
We’re going to do quite a few, Bestival, Benicassim which is in Spain which I hear is pretty hot, think its quite easy to die there, people die in tents…dehydration (I’ll try to avoid that). Yeah, basically just playing festivals and I’m sure they’ll be like tours coming up around the album and that kind of thing, just a lot of playing hopefully.  

5 minutes with the mastermind of a dance trio leaves us with everything from the excitement of a new album to a little bit of hope that coming to a town near you will be a cat-suit flocked Metronomy (especially for the ladies), not bad for a clueless sixth-former with a couple of questions up her sleeve- back to Shakespeare I think. 

Erin Kubicki, 13.03.08


Minus

Krummi the singer in Mínus amongst other things answered Stuart Bowen's questions for the band including how to order beer in Icelandic and what should be included on a honeymoon itinerary to Iceland.  

For the uninitiated, and in your own words, who are Minus?
Mínus are four individuals who live to create something beautiful out of nothing. 

"The Great Northern Whalekill" is your fourth album and quite a departure from how Minus sounded on your debut.  What have been the highs and lows of your journey to this point so far?
We only remember the highs so this journey has been amazing. We took some time off in 2005-2006 so we could start a family and kinda settle down. Now we're back with our feet firmly on the ground and ready to drive the Mínus art machine. The only lows were maybe trying to get sober after all these years, we are not as crazy as we were i can tell you that but don't expect choirboys! 

Joe Barresi, your producer for "The Great Northern Whalekill", has worked with the likes of Tool, Queens of the Stone Age and Melvins.   What was he like to work with, and what did he bring to group during recording?
It was very interesting working with him, we learned a lot. I personally didn't work as much with him as the boys did because i produced my vocals on my own with the help of our engineer husky. Joe is very precise and is a genius in guitar sound, amazing! It is not easy to impress him so that was very good you know to have somebody telling you the truth. 

How do you feel the departures of Johnny and Frosti will influence the sound of Minus going forwards?
After they left we have become much more experimental and we put more dynamics in our live set. We allow ourselves to incorporate a lot more psychedelia in our live set and we agree on everything because we love the same music and we're best friends. We can't wait to record our next album which will happen this year. 

Is there something that they put in the water in Iceland, as over the last few years, the music scene has become huge – how do you explain this?
We are a small country so we're not as influenced as others, we kinda try to create a new sound. We are inspired by our nature and culture. 

There´s only one scene in Iceland not you know scenes so nobody sounds the same. Basically we all look at ourselves as serious artists, so we put time and effort in our work. 

You are releasing The Great Northern Whalekill in a year that is full of other eagerly-anticipated releases.  What will you be buying / listening to this year?
I don't really buy new music that much, i personally buy vintage vinyl from the 60´s and 70´s. We will never stop listening to Captain Beefheart, Allman Brothers band you know brilliant stuff like that. 

Who has control of the music on the tour bus and what is normally playing?
Well I'm a bit of a music control freak so I'll be playing some heavy 70´s stuff and a fair share of the blues and of course some good old prog rock. 

The album art for The Great Northern Whalekill is, ummm, striking!   If the person you have gracing the cover had not been available, who else would have made your naked wishlist!?
Someone else just as striking and beautiful and we are not being sarcastic! 

My fiancée and I are getting married at the end of the year and are going to Iceland for our honeymoon!  Can you tell me one thing we must see / do while we are there, and how to order a beer in Icelandic?
You must see Jesus Christ Superstar because i myself is playing Jesus and Mínus are playing the music. You must make love at least 3 times a day and go to a restaurant and order some fresh fish. Go to the bars and drink and get to know the people. Take long walks by the seaside. How to order beer in Icelandic is "Ég ætla að fá einn bjór,takk" 

Finally, what can we expect from Minus in 2008?Will we see you in the UK this year?
An amazing live show and a new album here are our tour dates:

Mar 20 2008  Monto Water Rats, London
Mar 21 2008  Leadmill, Sheffield
Mar 22 2008  tbc,
Mar 23 2008  King Tuts, Glasgow
Mar 25 2008  Academy 2, Newcastle
Mar 26 2008  Roadhouse, Manchester
Mar 27 2008  Rock City, Nottingham
Mar 28 2008  Barfly, London
Apr 4   2008  Organ, Reykjavik


The Argonauts

On a night punctuated by curry, malfunctioning microphones and a compere who is half Superman, half Smurf, Will Columbine attempted to interview The Argonauts in the toilets of 93 Feet East - twice! Here for your perusal, enjoyment and (most likely) bafflement are the edited highlights.
www.myspace.com/theargonautsmusic 

To quote one of your own songs, “let’s take it back to where it started”…how did the band get together?
Daniel Fell (bass, vocals): I started it and then I tried to get Terry to be in it but he lived in Guildford so it wasn’t happening. 

Terry Swain (drums, vocals): I only moved down there to go to college for, like, four weeks and ended up staying down there for four years. 

What were you studying for those four weeks?
TS: Fuck knows! 

James Eaton (guitar, vocals): Dan and I bumped into each other in an East End pub and we were both like, “Hey, I like Supergrass too!” 

DF: I said “Nice glasses!” 

JE: And I said “Nice beard!” Dan suggested that we get together and play some guitar, so a year later I gave him a ring. 

What took you so long?
TS: He didn’t have any credit, did he?! 

JE: I was a student and there were better things to do. 

DF: Basically, he played his guitar on his own in his bedroom for a year until he felt he was good enough to give me a call. 

JE: And then I went round and I couldn’t play the songs. Why did you keep me on? 

DF: Because I thought you looked like the bear out of Bo Selecta!

But I thought you all knew each other at school. Were you planning the band even then?
DF: Yeah, we did. I remember playing with Terry then and stealing Jim’s guitar a couple of times and him scowling at me, and me being like, “Fuck off, Four Eyes – I’ll eat you!” 

Charming! You’ve got an album out now called “Sixes & Sevens”. Is that meant to be a comment on the state of the band? 

DF: Basically, yeah. 

TS: It should have been called “The Brown Album” 

JE: Have you reviewed it yet? 

Not yet but I will.
JE: What mark are you going to give it? 

I might give it six or seven out of ten. 

The Argonauts: Oooooooooooooh! 

TS: I think you should give it sixty seven out of ten. 

You must be aware of the recent “controversy” with the NME (*spit!*) and Morrissey over his perceived racism. If, later in your career, you got into a similar situation, what would your particular controversy be?
JE: Actual racism! 

TS: Probably graffiti or something like that. 

What would the graffiti say?
DF: “Let’s wrestle!” 

TS: “Why play music when you could become a bank manager?” 

Terry, I hear you’re a bit of a storyteller. Can you tell us a story right now? 

TS: We’ve written a new song called “Cameraman” which is about my friend who had his way with a young filly on a pool table in the desert. Some freak was taking pictures of it. It was at a toga party. Also, they didn’t have any ice so they drove twenty miles to get some. 

Rumour has it that you’d rather lay bricks than play session drums for Brian May. Is that true?
TS: Well, it’s a better fucking job! Playing drums is a mug’s game. You’ve got to lug the whole kit around…you can’t drink…when you do, you get arrested. 

Arrested for what?
TS: Drink-driving. 

The other rumour I’ve heard is that the drummer from Red Hot Chilli Peppers held a drum tutorial at your college, saw you play and said you were the best he’d ever seen. 
DF: They had a drum-off. 

TS: I beat him off! 

Ok, back to the music! You can buy the album from Amazon, is that correct?
DF: Well, you can buy it if you want, or you can just listen to it round your mate’s house. 

How long do you reckon it’ll be until it becomes available on bit-torrent?
JE: Well, we’ve got to get some fans first…so about a week. 

How many fans can you get in a week?
JE: Nine. 

That’s more than one a day so that’s not bad. But let’s say the album sells Alanis Morrisette amounts…
TS: I like the way this question’s going. 

…would you bother doing a follow up in the knowledge that you could never match that initial success? 
JE: I’d buy a little cottage in the country and become self-sufficient, forget about people, grow a vegetable patch…a few chickens…maybe a have a little studio in the shed with an acoustic guitar, and that’s what I’d do for the rest of my life. 

TS: I’d do a solo album. 

Any last words?
DF: We’ve got a single coming out called “Where It Started”. I wrote it and I sing and play bass on it. 

JE: And you play guitar on it. I’m not even on it because I was on holiday. 

DF: Lazy.

Interview by Will Columbine


Cybercide

Interviewed by Katya at Resolution, Whitby 10/07

In the decaying grandeur of the Resolution, Whitby; I corner Cybercide in their hotel room for a grilling on their renowned live show, vampires, the trouble with singers, bodily functions and being the ‘Dolly Parton’ of EBM!


S- Spike, James Marsden cloned synths player.
E- Eddie, Vocals, writer
K- Kat, free lance rock writer

The Image

K– The most amusing thing I’ve read about you guys thus far described you as ‘Two blondes fashionably dressed’.
E- (laughs hysterically) Is that running?

K– It’s like you’re air hostesses or something.
E- (Laughs more raucously that before)

K– Did you object to the image at all?
E- (continues laughing) I’ve gone red now. Air hostesses? Isn’t that Screaming Banshee Aircrew?

K– No that’s from me. But can you comment on the image because we’ve already established that you only originally spoke to Spike because he’s blonde?
E– Kind of yeah… I just heard that the way you just heard it (laughs). Considering the gay blokes he’s been hanging around with in the bar!

K– I wasn’t going to ask that but I could do…
S– What if I’m gay?

K– No but if you were bothered by all the attention?
S- No...I don’t actually get any gay attention.
E– Someone said that we’ve got a bit of a big gay following, I don’t know any big gay people (chortles). Let’s face it, I’d rather be loved platonically than hated by ‘em.

K– So you’re like the Madonna of EBM (cackles)?
E- (in a camp voice) No Dolly Parton! I bumped into Rob and the image was very striking. I had this idea at the time to do something with EBM and all the clichés and images. Hell its been done to death in pop with all trite manufactured rubbish but they had the right idea. Think about what you’re going to do at the end of the day, don’t just make it up along the way. So I asked him if he could play an instrument.
S- (interrupts) I said I could play the drums and you said that was completely useless. So I said I’ve been playing the piano since I was four…
E-So I had a keyboard player yeah. Bu the image thing we kind of fell on it by accident, it was just the idea that a lot of the clothes went together.
S– Dude, you had red hair down to about half way down your arms when I met you.
E– Yeah I know but that soon went.

The Sound

K– In the past you’ve commented on the present levels of snobbery with respect to originality. In which case why do you think you’ve been so well received?
E– I think deep down everyone actually likes the stuff that was written a long time ago. You go into a club and if someone plays early VNV it will fill the dance floor. Yet you can play some new stuff and it will be completely dead. The new Apoptygma and VNV is so far removed from what they were doing. In 1999/2000 EBM had its hey day just before it turned into future pop. It was what we all really liked and got us into the electronic scene in the first place.
It’s also because it’s melodic and you have a lot of these music scenes burning themselves out because the next thing is to be harder and louder and nastier. There’s only so far it can go before it becomes boring.

K– So are people who believe you’re trying to be VNV just stupid?
E– I wouldn’t say they’re stupid but we have the same producer...hello! There might be some similarities from that.

K– But did you seek out that sound actively?
E– Any synth you go through the presets, that just happen to be it! And the rousing chorus thing , well I did that in ‘Voices’ and every other band I’ve been in.
S– You get it in every genre, you get it in trance. I mean a lot of my stuff has to do with that since that’s what I was into originally.
E– Especially since he’s lent me some CDs (laughs). In the last year I’ve discovered trance, trance is so cool!
S– Because EBM is trance with some miserable goth singing over it!

The Album

K– Why did it take so long to get the album together?

E– Singers!
S– Singers! We’ve gone through about six singers.
E-Most of them were so short that you didn’t notice! The main one John was a lovely guy. It was disappointing that he had to leave but you can understand when you’ve got a child, you know marriage and responsibility.

K– We’re you choosing singers by height and not by hair? Or what was the criteria?
S– People who can actually sing which was the problem after John left.
E– We tried for a very long time and had gigs booked. Especially playing Carnival of Souls two months after John left.

K– When did this decision come that you thought you’d do a bit of DIY?
E– About two or three weeks beforehand. We had auditions from people who were worse than bad.
S– We had a rehearsal studio and sat there and people came in seeing what we do as a group. You know if you get someone new who can work with you.. We figured that Eddie is the worst person to work with ever...he really is. (laughter) But I manage to do it for some reason.

K– Seriously?
E– I tend to revise songs and revise songs and revise songs and revise songs. I do find that it is very much black and white. I’ll either work with someone or I won’t and I’ll usually know within the first five minutes.

K – How do you know so quickly if you don’t mind me asking?
E– I can only work with people who’ve got good talent. It’s very difficult to work with people who don’t understand what you’re aiming for at the end of the day. These bands who say we don’t quite fit into this genre, we’re a bit of this and that. It’s an incredibly arrogant thing to say ‘oh we are pioneering something’.
But I’m always open to suggestion and I admit that I’m wrong on many occassions.
(general background laughter. To Spike) This is going to be printed you know. You want to find another singer, it’s not going to help!

K- (To Spike) Can you sing?
S– Fuck no!
E– I don’t like singing and I never wanted to be the singer. The hardest bit of it is that I’m doing an instrument that isn’t mine. The amount of singing lessons I’ve had to go to. Have you any idea how stupid you feel going ‘La la la’?

K– Yeah, my experience of singing lessons involved walking around a room barking like a dog.
E– I would have paid good money to see that! I had the sound of music treatment but it was kind of if I didn’t sing at Carnival of Souls, we would have ended up falling down the toilet straight away because you can’t cancel a gig.

The Live Show

K– What are the classic ingredient to the Cybercide live show?
E– The audience. We feel like they’re our mates. We’ll have a beer with anyone who’s got the time to recognise us in the street.

K– Or pay?
(general laughter)
E– Not necessarily. Well that’s the worst bit because I’m always the one who’s driving.

K- (To Spike) I don’t believe you don’t throw up.
E– No he doesn’t throw up but you hear that head board making some odd noises when you’re in the next room! I tell you what, if you’re a drummer your rhythm is right off.
(Spike blushes)
You look like a cigarette!

K– So you don’t object to glo-stick wavers.
E– No!

K– Brilliant!
E– I’m a fucking glo-stick waver.

K– Me too!
E– We don’t care if they’re goths or if they’re metallers or if just sort of techno kids.
S– That’s why we did it really and I feed off the audience...
- (interrupts) Sorry I can’t take you seriously. You’re talking about feeding off the audience and you look like a stinking vampire!
(everyone falls about)
E– That’s quite quick! That’s how he got the nick name Spike because he looked like James Marsden.

K– Ah...we know that.

Background

K– We know that Eddie was in bands before e.g. ‘Voices of Masada’ but what’s yours Spike
?
S– I’ve played as a classical musician.

K– I’m assuming you guys don’t actually write out manuscripts?
E– Well actually we do..

K– You do! That’s amazing.
S– Playing percussion in an orchestra gave me the confidence because it’s incredibly exposed, with timpani you’ve just got one guy with huuuuuuge things going BOM BOM BOM! And one time my parents decided we going to take the timpani home and have them in the living room, scaring the hell out of the cat.
E-(raucous laugh)

K– Was it under the drum?
S– Ye..es.
(All laugh)
E– You didn’t think to look...it’s like bonfires and hedgehogs. You’re wrong man!
S– I didn’t know! I just was in BANG and MEOW! And at the next rehearsal the whole horn section did exactly what the cat did.
E– Leave the room at head height!

The Album

K– Did the funding initially come from you guys with the artwork etc?
E– We all worked really hard but we’re happy with the result. Think about it 10-20 yrs down the line when you’re sort of ugly old farts. Actually you don’t have to go that far down the line.
S– You don’t!
(Laughter)
E– But I think it’s just insulting these days as a lot of bands… I won’t name any names, who just rehash the same song for half the album. Who’s artwork is pretty poor and hasn’t been thought through and the mixing is terrible. If someone’s gonna pay £10 for a CD, well they could be earning minimum age so that’s pretty much two hours work after tax. These people are effectively your friends and are showing you a mark of respect and you owe it to them to do the best job you possibly can.
S– The other thing is that if it’s a decent CD it gives them a reason not to download it off the internet.
E– We’ve got a couple of tracks on our website for free download. The remix kit is going up there so people can have fun with it. There’s one sample at the beginning of ‘Further’ no one realises! I spent the whole morning outside my house, I’d saved up all the cardboard for about four weeks and made it really unmanageable chunks. In a long line of recycling rubbish down the street. So that the bin men could pick it up and chuck in the lorry while I’ve got a microphone there.

K– That’s fantastic!
E– Yeah…(deadpan) He said it was rubbish.

K– ‘Isolate’ sets a very different pace on the album and female vocals; are we going to be seeing more of them?
E– I think quite possibly if they fit with what we want to do.
S– It was ideas I came up with which Eddie turned into a song . As opposed to a lot of the other ones which are written by Eddie so that’s what makes it a very different feel.
E-The problem is without the vocals, it is so hypnotic and introspective, you fall asleep halfway through!
S– The bleeping itself is the drums. If you listen to the stuff that’s on the album and also when we play live; there’s extra stuff. The string stuff is basically my input to it. Listen to the other tracks, most of the stuff written is Eddie.
E– But quite a lot of them happen on guitar. They start out as sort of goth tracks and we do have goth version of the various songs that make people do a double take. You get the other snobby lot, that say ‘Oh electro music, you just push a button and it does it all for you’. Not quite and they’d probably dance to it in a club if the drum pattern underneath wasn’t four to the floor and if it was Fields of the Nephilin style guitars. What they don’t realise is that its changed from plonk plonk plonk to bleep bleep bleep.
S– If someone wants to decide whether its live or not. I will sit down at the piano and play ’Brave New World’.

Lyrics

K– Talking lyrics, who writes them?

S– Both of us, Eddie tends to do more of it because he’s much better at bad goth poetry.
(Eddie laughs)

K– The ’Ben Hur’ quote, who chose that?
E– Er...I did. The reason being the whole song ’Faceless’. The fact that when we’re dead no one remembers what we look like and I think it was the Mission who said that ’names are for tombstones baby’.

K– So what’s with the anti-war stance?
E– ‘Underfire’ is from a guy I knew who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. I won’t name him but he was telling me what happens when you shoot someone and they basically die of suffocation. It was so shocking, I actually went away and was reading a lot of the war poets from WW1. I was stunned that we’re not stupid and yet we’re allowing this to go on.

Cover Versions

K– Are you going to play ‘Rebel Yell’ tonight?

E– Originally we did it as a joke! Don’t get me wrong, we like Billy Idol, he’s a good old punk singer and he made punk quite interesting in the middle of the ‘80s and sort of brought it back to accessibility.
– That’s the thing with covers, its got to be in the style of the band that’s doing it. Else there’s no point.
E– You want to sort of set yourself apart from the busker in the street really!
S– We’re never going to do VNV covers or Covenant covers or anything like that because they’re so similar.
E– Well early VNV! They’ve all moved onto something different now.
S- I was thinking we could do some Oasis or something…
E– No! I never liked that shit the first time round.

K– How about ‘Song 2’, Blur?
S– Yeah possibly (Eddie pulls face)...Eddie doesn’t like the idea (giggles).
E– But it has to be a song we like as well though.
S- ‘Chop Suey’!
E-’Bella Legosi’s Dead’.
S– I mean if you’re going to play the original, you might as well put the CD on the juke box and walk away or jump around and pretend!
E– We know a couple of bands who do that!
S– I don’t fucking mind!
E– When he plays a bum note, the whole song turns into bum notes.

K– I’m sort of done with the questions so good luck for tonight and can you burp and fart at the same time?
S– I don’t know, can you burp and not fart?
E– I’ve been in the same room when he’s been drinking Guinness and it’s not nice!


Royal Vendetta

Will Columbine gets confused about anti-Royalism during his interview with Royal Vendetta at their show in Leeds on 5th October 2007.
Listen to Interview (MP3 1.81 Mb, 12:41)

www.myspace.com/royalvendetta


Bad Mans Dog

Bad Mans Dog produce eclectic, catchy, energetic indie, ska punk pop. Will Columbine caught up with them before their show in Leeds on 5th October.
Listen to interview (MP3 1.42Mb, 9:58)

www.myspace.com/badmansdog


Kat Vipers

Punk jazz? Punk n roll? Warped? We find out a bit more about the multi-faceted Kat Vipers.

SB: With a classical training and background, what is it that draws you particularly to the more percussive style of piano?
KV: It’s funny that you ask because I am working on some new songs I will be recording in the summer, and they are quite different from that style of playing but I still enjoy it of course, I mean it's the only way to to play piano and sound rock n roll, you’ve got to be really punchy, aggressive and raw which is what the percussiveness achieves. So basically, I still enjoy it a lot but there’s such vast territory to explore that this is just the beginning I think. 

SB: It seems to me to be a particularly energetic style - together with your often rapid vocals, I imagine your shows are actually quite physically demanding?
KV: Yeah, by the end of each gig I feel completely drained, physically and emotionally. There's too many notes to play, I need to be accurate and still move about and enjoy it. I don’t know, I suppose as my sets are getting lengthier I need to either get used to it or simplify the pieces, or start working out or something!! 

SB: yeah - some kind of training maybe
KV: ehm, I fence if that counts

SB: good for those stabbing sounds! Avant garde is a description often used to describe your music. Do you think this is fair or do you see yourself more as being part of a counter-culture or subculture?
KV: Yeah it’s a shame that people pigeonhole this as avant guard immediately, it draws a line between me and audiences i.e. so many people are put off at the sound of the word avant guard that they won't even give you a chance. Sometimes it feels like I am banging my head against the big, rigid wall of mainstream music, mainstream thinking/arts, whatever. Like I am starting to fear that my music will never make it past the underground, which I think is a shame. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? 

SB: Your style is obviously a little unusual to the average record buyer. Would you ever consider slightly compromising your ideals to open the door and ease a bigger audience into your genre?
KV: I am sticking to my guns for now. What can I say, we are all human - I mean we have to pay the rent etc.. and then I know that I have a lot to offer artistically, so perhaps bending slightly at first isn't such a tragedy. I can't believe I am saying this!

SB: Kat Vipers in sell out shocker?
KV: No seriously, I am doing whatever feels natural, so I will keep writing music I myself enjoy and can be proud of. I find myself progressively approaching what we call alternative mainstream

I know you have reviewed both Mother Superior and Summer Bloody Time; Mother Superior was such a total statement of megalomania and a bit ignorance - I mean you can't put out a debut record like that, its suicide. And then SBT felt like the only possible next step. 

SB: so as a musician, and clearly someone who believes that thinking about the meaning and nature of music is also important, how do you define success?
KV: Getting through to as many people as possible, whilst also making a serious artistic contribution. There's so many examples out there, like Bowie (the first records) and Polly Harvey, Tori Amos, the list goes on. Nick Cave of course 

SB: So in your video ‘Kat Vipers Unwrapped’ you seem to be saying that you shouldn’t try to conceal your true identity, inspiration etc just to conform. Would that be accurate or is there more to read between the lines?
KV: Absolutely. You should also be clever though. You have to adapt, that’s different from conforming. Like a chameleon. Just like what I said in the video. Think of it like this: what’s more important? Making  10 good EPs that no-one will buy (all verging on the avant guard as you called it) or perhaps put out a less difficult record, which will probably get you noticed and will give you the backing you require as an artist to eventually make those 10 super-cerebral records? 

I still haven't answered that question; I am still debating with myself. But it's clear that I am at a crossroads. 

SB: so is the kind of kooky delivery an attempt to cover up? Or conversely, an attempt to come clean about the real Kat Vipers?
KV: it's just a bit of theatre, its me being playful and flirtatious with the camera. The real Kat Vipers. What a contradiction. I suppose I just feel like time is passing and I am not anywhere near I thought I would be by now. Its just old age; it's me being harsh on myself. 

SB: So you’re currently based in London – what was the reason for settling there?
KV: I suppose I was looking for a place open to new ideas, new trends, with a considerable tradition in cultural breakthroughs blah blah and also a business/financial centre, where the ideas meet their realisation, where anything can happen…oh sorry that's America.

SB: Streets paved with gold I hear?
KV: Precisely

SB: So although practically it must be easier doing shows in London, do you also find it difficult to get shows in smaller, perhaps less illuminated provincial towns where promoters are unwilling to try something new?
KV: Yes, that's very true. I did play Bristol last night, where everyone in the audience knew the songs, I did an interview straight after the gig, the BBC was there, small crowd but so completely into it. I am playing Bath on the 26th, and I think it will be pretty awesome too. You see, it depends on the promoter. I have had the fortune of working with Big Jeff in Bristol and Gareth/Go Ape in Bath and they have both done so much plugging it's unbelievable.

And then you play London and 5 people turn up, and they don’t even know who's on. Seriously, I think I am going to stop playing London as much as I used to!!

The audience last night spoilt me rotten. 

SB: As a fellow sceptic I'm interested in your views on the current music 'scene' In your interview in The Mag (2005), you have strong views on the current state of contemporary music and the general malaise in the music industry for rooting out new talent and ideas.
KV: Yep, still feel the same. By the way: always a sceptic, never a cynic, please write that, it's important. 

What can I say, when will the industry wake up and give real artists a chance, I don't quite know. You would have thought that by now they would have gotten the message, but clearly it's falling on deaf ears. Ironic, being the music industry. How many more plastic pop tunes can this world consume? Enough is enough! 

SB: I hope this doesn't sounds like a rude question but In making such a deliberate attempt not to follow the beaten track how would you answer people who might criticise your music for being contrived?
KV: You mean pretentious?

SB: Well more so that in deliberately reacting against the mainstream it's easy for people to say you are in fact creating a parallel 'mainstream' or at least a 'substream'
KV: That's inevitable. When you are "revolting" against any authority, you’re only bound to create/contribute to a movement/wave

That's always the risk with making "idiosyncratic” music. Half the people think you are amazing and the other half that you are a pretentious idiot. It's a risk that I am happy to take. I think my music is interesting, it's fresh. Yes admittedly you’ve got to make a bit of an effort with it sometimes.  

SB: What is your method of writing? Your lyrics seem to have quite a Romantic quality about them – do they form the inspiration for the music or do the words come afterwards?
KV: Usually the music comes first, then the lyrics follow and develop together. The musical idea always precedes though. 

SB: You’ve played piano since the age of 4, you’ve played piano in some of the finest music schools in Europe and you also teach piano; could you imagine a time when you would record an EP which was not piano based?
KV: Absolutely. I think the next CD will be the beginning in that direction. You know what I was thinking the other day? Of writing everything on the piano and then arranging the songs for the guitar eventually - not for this next CD, sometime in the future. That's such a task, because obviously the 2 instruments are completely different, the approach when you teach them/learn is not at all similar. The sound of course and attitude differs but it would certainly be a challenge. Maybe one day 

SB: Well maybe more immediately, what are the plans and hopes for Kat Vipers for the next 6 days, 6 months and 6 years?
KV: I just want to keep on writing more music; I would like to put out a couple more EPs, eventually bring the music to a wider audience.

With regard to the new EP I am recording it in the summer, we are now in pre-production. It's going to be a black CD. Don't want to tell you more about what that means.

I mean literally black. Bluesy, Jazzy. I just don't want to give away too much 

SB: Will you play all the parts yourself?
KV: Not yet....come on, I am only the pianist. Don't shoot me please.

SB: Just wondered if your megalomaniac tendencies had crept that far yet!
KV: No, I think I’ll never pull that off.

I am going to try a Miles on the new CD. There will be a children’s choir, and a gospel choir. And foot stomping. And a very cool brass quintet 

SB: Does the stomping require special boots?
KV: No, just very cool platform heels and a wooden floor

SB: I hope you take photos of the recording session
KV: We will definitely. Of me making an absolute fool of myself! Only kidding. I am so looking forward to it though

Can I tell you something else?

SB: You may of course
KV: Today I said goodbye to a really good friend, we decided that we will not be friends anymore and it's a record about that friend in essence. It's the only thing I could do to say thank you and goodbye and good luck and I am always going to be grateful 

SB: Sounds like another Vipers contradiction - deciding not to be friends sounds quite calculating and mechanical but to write about it is obviously a very emotional thing
KV: It wasn't really a decision, more of a necessity. You know when you slowly start forgetting why you were friends in the first place? Because thing have turned so sour, that every nice memory is lost. Perhaps distance will help us remember. But in the meantime I’ll just make this EP 

SB: Let's end by getting a little frivolous. If you could have any two musicians take part in a celebrity wrestling match who would it be and why?
KV: Arrgggghhhh, that's so hard. Ok let me think…

SB: It could be tag team -more than two if you like, a battle royale?
KV: Marilyn Manson vs Trent Reznor  and Lilly Allen and Amy Winehouse

That was random but I really like them both (i.e. Lily and Amy) 

SB: But it wouldn't hurt for them just to feel a little pain?
KV: Probably not!!

SB 22.04.07


Five O'Clock Heroes

Lewis Carter caught up with the band just before their recent gig at Southampton Joiners and found out their thoughts on pet monkeys.

So how does it feel to be on tour?
Sam: To be honest we don’t remember what its like to be off tour as we have been touring for around 6 months and only had 2 weeks off for Christmas but even then we played a couple of gigs back home in New York.
Nader: It seems that we never get longer than a week off at a time.
Sam: Yeah as we were supporting Albert Hammond jr and jet as well as our own tours and obviously some where better than others. 

Where do you feel is better to play?
Sam: I actually prefer to play in the UK but we have recently had a lot of success around Europe.
Nader: Yeah we had fun and some really good gigs in Germany, Holland and Switzerland. Japan has also been really good for us.
Sam: Recently we have been getting a lot of press via radio and most of our new press whilst touring across Europe. 

What makes your live shows so special?
Sam: It makes it a lot more enjoyable when you can see the crowd standing there in front of you and they know all the words and are screaming your name, which makes it a lot easier to enjoy the music for the fans and us.
Nader: It makes it a lot easier for us as the band enjoy live shows and our music is always made so that it sounds good in live shows, we never make songs that we won’t be able to play live.  

What will be the moment when you know that you have made it big?
Nader: It always changes as it started with wanting to be the main act at a gig, then it became wanting to go on tour after that it became getting a record deal then a tour bus where all ‘big steps’.
Sam: I think there will always be another big step when we feel that we have made it big but there is always another big step straight after.
Nader: our next big step will be different in different places as we want the new record to sell well but it should sell best in Europe, we want it to sell well in the UK and America so that can be our next step. 

How has the album been selling?
Sam: The album has really done well across Europe and extremely well in Japan.
Nader: I think we would like to be able to sell a few more records in England since we have toured now so more people will know of us hopefully. 

Do you feel that the press and public have liked the album?
Nader: The fans seem to have really enjoyed the album and seem really appreciative of it.
Sam: yeah we have had good reviews and lots of good comments, which is always a good sign.
Nader: I think that we have to now try and get more people to buy the record as most people that buy our record have probably seen us live and heard a lot of our music. 

Are you really heroes?
Sam: Ha ha not at all, we definitely not heroes if anything I think we are all a little insane   

Who are your heroes?
Sam: We all have really different types of heroes, as mine are more classic rock like the Rolling Stones but the other members of the band like completely different music.
Nader: There is always music that we all agree on and can listen to together on the tour bus.
Sam: I think we like the same kind of core bands but we all kind of branch off in completely different ways. 

Do you consider your sound to be UK, US or unique?
Sam: Well it is hard to say as some people say we sound very American, some say English but I think we are very unique.
Nader: We are probably a little bit in the middle as we don’t try and be anything other than ourselves.  

Describe the band in 5 words.
Nader: Eccentric
Sam: Hard working
Nader: Dedicated
Sam: Insane
Nader: Fun 

Have you got any festivals planed for this year?
Sam: Well we have quite a few arranged or in the pipeline for Europe and America but nothing for England as of yet but we are hoping for Glastonbury (Sam and Nader start laughing)
Nader: Yeah it would be awesome to be able to play Glastonbury  

If you where able to be proper rock ‘n’ roll divas what would your requests be?
Nader: I would definitely want a masseuse
Sam: Lots of Drugs I guess
Nader: Somebody standing at the side of the stage waiting for me to come off and hand me a freshly rolled joint
Sam: There are probably loads off things that we would as for but at the moment we are happy with a crate of beer and a couple of bottles of whiskey.
Nader: Recently they have been giving we some papers from New York, tomato juice and olives so I guess my next step is to ask for a full bloody mary kit!
Sam: It just feels really good when you ask for something a little different but not overly expensive or hard to get and then you get it.  

If you had a pet monkey what would you train it to do?
Sam: What do you mean if (as he rubs Nader on the head) I would train it to make me laugh
Nader: I would train it to play the bass for me
Sam: Basically Nader would train a monkey to do everything that he didn’t want to and that would probably be everything, as Nader never wants to do anything like putting his shoes on, making his coffee.
Nader: I would teach it how to roll a joint for me 


click on thumbnail for full size image in new window

MewithoutYou interview 14/2/07 

I’ve noticed that in your reprinted lyrics in the later album sleeves, the word ‘God’ is never written. Is that to follow the Hebrew tradition?
That’s definitely a Hebrew tradition, Aaron [vocals] is about 40% Jewish..that’s his Dad..and his Mom is Muslim and so Aaron and his brother [Mike, guitar] are somewhere inbetween, trying to be Christian- so with that clash..I think he just has a reverance for God, no matter what religion. They have a little bit of a spiritual bloodline thing going on- like Aaron doesn’t eat pork out of respect for his mother. They’re just respectful, spiritual people.  

There’s definitely a musical progression through mewithoutYou’s latest cds. What do you think that was mainly due to?
I think it was because we’re all getting a bit older..I’m 26, and I’m the youngest in the band! Back when we started we were all way into punk rock- just heavier stuff, like kind of thrashy music. It’s fun to play, but then when you get older…you just want a change, and I think with songwriting theres only as much heavy stuff as you can write with your metal band, or your hardcore band before you say ‘alright, I just want to pick up an acoustic guitar.’ So I think we’re just trying to be better at songwriting, putting that before completely rocking out. And I mean, if the songs are good, with all your emotion and guts put into it anyway..If you listen to A-B of Life [mwY’s first release] it was really raw, but now we’ve bridged that gap. Right now we’re definitely playing more of what we want, we throw around a lot of ideas trying to use different instruments, strange and funny things. You can only play so much in a certain style before getting bored with it, so why not try and mix every style? It gives you room to grow. 

With A-B of Life, leading up to more recent records like Brother, Sister you seem to have moved from subtle mentions of God and faith to direct references. Do you think that your lyrics are open to interpretation our that you’ve now pushed yourself into a corner that only God-fearing fans feel they can connect to?
Good question. If you ask any dude in the band how they feel on any given day, you’re gonna get a different answer. I think the universal idea of faith and God is that no-one knows whats out there for sure, and the older you get the more you try to figure it out for yourself and the more you this ‘wow, it could all be bullshit, or it could be something amazing’ and every day you wake up feeling something different. I think there’s direct things on A-B Life- “jesus, have mercy on us”- that you can’t really deny Aaron is trying to get a message across. Whereas now, he’s more ‘I don’t know what’s out there, I don’t have the answers but I know how to be a good person and if I can teach and show people how to do that- be it through God or the Koran or anything.’ He’s really into everything, but he seems to identify most with Christianity. At the same time he likes..whats the one book, I always forget the name..the Hari Krishna holy book. He’s just interested in spirituality. I think it’s good for people to get in touch with that because a lot of people just sing about girls, and going to shows and stuff. And there’s so much more to life- you’re alive! And not enough people stop to think, not why we’re here, but that its weird that we’re here- as we get so caught up in the cycle of going to work and paying our bills.  

Does everyone in the band share the same faith?
Not at all. It’s kind of funny, because people in the States especially get freaked out when you say ‘no’, and they’re like ‘what do you mean,?’ It’s pretty wild for any average two people to believe the same thing, let alone five. I think we all know what we’ve learnt in the past and now as adults we don’t ever stop trying to figure things out and be complacent with just living. I mean, Gods always on my mind even if I’m just considering whether or not he exists, or I’m reading or praying- just even reading Nietzche, someone who denies the existence of God completely. I think it’s good just to try and soak it all in. I don’t know..its tough, especially now..You heard it here first, we’re having trouble in the band when it comes to connecting on that level. I know some people in the band- cough Aaron cough- think its really important that we’re all on the same page, because he has this really grand vision. But it’s tough, and it’s kind of pushing and pulling the band in different directions. 

So with regards to that, does everyone in the band agree with what’s being sung?
Actually, Aaron asked us all that question just a few days ago. “Do you guys feel like you can back up what I’m saying?” Everyone just kinda sat there. I think..I totally back Aaron up because I think he’s a very intelligent and creative person, but sometimes I think ‘wheres he coming from?’ Ultimately, if he was just making blanket statements and quoting from the Bible I think I would protest. But he has his own spin on it all, using metaphors and when you hear the whole story in context of the record it’s like ‘okay, now I see what he’s talking about, I believe in what he’s saying.’ But that has been our toughest struggle as a band staying together, this issue.  

After six years and three records, do you think that staying together as a band has become easier or harder?
I think you get more comfortable, you start thinking ‘this is my job, this is my life’ and it’s how I identify myself, just like being an accountant or a doctor only I’m a musician. It’s actually starting to get kind of scary, like what happens when this ends? You have to think about it, because at some point it is going to end..whether it’s tomorrow night when we’re all on the plane ride home and it’s like ‘I hate you!’ ‘No, I hate you!’…No, that won’t happen. But it will end sometime, and you’ve gotta try and prepare for that when it does. It’s like a marriage, you wanna keep it together best you can for as long as possible because it’s a good thing, you’ll always remember the good things about it but no band’s indestructible and it’ll be hard to walk away when the time comes. And there’s always like this promise of you-might-tour-with-this-band or you-might-be-on-Conan-O’Brien..it’s always like that little carrot dangling in front of the horse’s face.

Something I’ve always noticed that’s strange is that in UK magazines, they’ll always mention mewithoutYou as being musical legends, but not saying anything else or writing past that..
Yeah, I don’t know why that is..even in the States a lot of magazines have like a weird reverance for the band but..because, like the kind of people they’re trying to sell their magazines to might not like our band, the younger kids. It’s a tough..we’re more of a band’s band. Like, when we’re touring with another band or they see us play it’s an instant click. I like it when musicians identify, and think that your band is awesome and in the end that’s worth more than a mention in a magazine. And alternately, though it would be nice to make lot’s of money but I’d rather be recognized as a good musician and not just a band that has ‘that killer song’. We like to focus on a whole record, like when we wrote Brother Sister it was like ‘we’re going to fill these spots, we’re going to put the Spider Songs, we’re going to mould it around that’ rather than ‘oh I have a song!’ ‘no, I have a song!’. It started off as more of an idea that we worked around. 

Do you guys have a specific process when writing a record? Like do you all sit in a certain room and work together, or do you all go your separate ways and collaborate towards the end?
What we usually do is get a warehouse for about a month and did 9-5 pretty much every day, and we used to practice at least once a week at home but when you’re on that daily schedule it starts off harder, but then the writing just flows out of you and it becomes almost natural. Like ‘well, this is my job’ and you become excited about having parts written to add on. I hope that’s how we do it next time too. 

Do you have specific goals for the future with the band and personally?
Goals with the band…we try not to have any expectations because then you’ll just get let down. When you’re a young band you’re always promised all this stuff that never happens, but you get excited and stay up nights dreaming about it. Just things like I said before, like going on Conan O’Brien or whatever..you always get these calls like ‘this could happen’, and then you’re just disappointed. I wish I’d never even known that. I think our goals right now are not to kill each other for one..because right now tensions are kinda high- and two, try and love each other, three? Just take this as far as we can. I think our new goal is to make a new record that’s wildly different from our other three records. It’s always one day at a time, it’s a fragile thing. You never know. 

Do you ever get pissed off when the basis of an interview is more about the religious aspect of the band rather than the music?
Me, yes. I know Aaron could talk about the religious aspect for six days straight, like sitting crosslegged on a rug with his shirt off and not eating, just talking about it. But I’m more on the music half. Sometimes you’ll do these interviews where they don’t ever mention the record, or even the band. What about our music? We are a band, ya know. I love making music, and I love talking about it. That’s why I’m here now, chatting with you. I think music is the one thing that transcends gender and race, and should be for everybody- that’s something that religion sometimes doesn’t cover.  

You’ve got some strange musical happenings in mewithoutYou..do you think all the creative progressions in the band have spoiled you as a drummer?
Yeah! I’m so happy with what we’re doing..like I said with A-B Life, theres only so much you can do with that kind of music. I kind of hate to name names, but I kind of have to..bands like Underoath their style never really changes…bands like Hawthorne Heights- sorry if you like them [both parties grimace]  bands like that are a one-trick pony, every song seems to have the same structure. We have a lot of freedom to do whatever we want musically, so we’ll have a song like A Sweater Poorly Knit, or a song like Wolf Am I..one is a straight-up rock song, while the other is a soft folk song. I think that’s the beauty of being in mewithoutYou. I could put an African drumbeat over a song, and it’ll work. I think if Hawthorne Heights tried that then their fans wouldn’t like it so much..We’ve kind of trained our fans by changing what we’re doing and so they’re more accepting. So yeah, I think I have a lot of freedom in my bad. If I was even in another band, it’d have to be something even more trippy and weird. I am spoiled! It’s like a dream come true..I say that kind of joking, but I’m actually serious.

Would you steer your kid toward any particular faith, or let them pick n choose?
I like that idea. I think ultimately a kid can’t really understand the whole concept- no-one can. You eventually learn to question everything. I don’t know how I’m going to raise my future kids spiritually. I think about it all the time. I mean, I was raised Catholic and that seemed kind of harmless but that doesn’t seem to work for everybody. It’s a hard decision, because what if I have a wife who wants to read our kid the Bible every night? I don’t want to deny her that, but how are you supposed to have conversations with a kid whose not old enough to understand that there’s going to be a time when they’ll have to think for themselves, because at that age they’re being told what to think. You can brainwash anybody at any age, not even just religiously but politically too. I’m freaked out by it constantly..like, do you ever play that game Lemmings [or Zoombinis]? If theres one dude telling you what to do, all the little creatures just follow. Just in little ways.

When you’re writing a song, do you focus more of what you’re feeling or on inspiring others?
I’m more of a live-show kinda guy, so that’s where I think it really comes through. I think the attitude that bands should take..its like, I want someone who comes and sees us play, seeing me play drums..just one person to walk away afterwards and think ‘shit, now I want to play drums too!’. We want you to feel what we’re feeling and want to do what we’re doing, cus its awesome!

With all the vocal layering and different instruments on the record, does it ever frustrate you to not be able to recreate that accurately live?
Sometimes I don’t even notice..I heard the recording of Catch For Us The Foxes for the first time in two years the other day and thought ‘whoah? that’s what we sounded like?’ because it’s nothing like the way we play it live. Some guys in the band want to play each song perfectly each night, but you’ve got to remember each show is an individual, different moment in time. What we’re about to play tonight at the Water Rats [Kings Cross pub] should be for those 150 kids in the room, not for everybody else who has come to see us play before that. Imagine being one of those fans who follow bands around the whole tour, how bummed you’d be if it was just the same thing every night. We don’t have a set list..someone will start jamming and everyone will notice the opening and join in. You don’t want it to be a monotonous job, like going to an office and opening your email- that gets old pretty quick. One time one of us actually started playing C-Minor, and the other half of the band thought it was the beginning of Tie Me Up, Untie Me and so they kicked in with that, and the two songs were playing at the same time at one of our biggest shows of the year in LA. I couldn’t tell what was going on, no-one could, but it worked and we all hooked up in the chorus. No one in the crowd even noticed we were playing two songs at once.  

Is having religion such a focus point of the band an advantage or disadvantage, especially in America?
It’s definitely kind of weird, especially with the whole ‘Christian nation’ or whatever that means. Sometimes I feel like we’re the minority! There’s two roads you can take when you’re a band in America with any kid of theology incorporated into your music..Theres a whole scene where you can get paid $30000 dollars per night to play churches with the same kind of bands. But we decided that was too easy- preaching to the choir literally. People usually decide ‘screw that, they’re a religious band’ before even hearing us, but then they see us live and think ‘actually, they’re okay’. Good music is good music. I get kind of bummed out because if you talk to someone and theyre friendly and intelligent, it doesn’t matter what they believe in or what theyre music taste is, they’re still the same nice, smart person. There is definitely this weird, creepy underground Christian rock scene where people will only listen to that kind of music, it represents them. But I think you should always be challenged in what you believe in, because that’s how you form your own opinion of faith, your own belief.

You guys all have interesting varying shades of facial hair..was that planned?
Er..yes, actually. At the beginning of the tour, every single one of us had a beard. We just like the feeling…what can I say, I like the Grateful Dead a lot! But we realized at the beginning how hairy we all were, so Aaron shaved his into this weird thing, Chris gave himself that moustache, Dan’s got those crazy sideburns…I’m the only one with the real deal anymore but I might just fuck with everybody’s heads and shave it all off.  

What takes priority in the recording process, music or lyrics?
It’s tough..you want your music to be totally awesome but you always want good lyrics that people can connect with, otherwise they wont listen, so they’ll be like ‘the lyrics are great!’ and then they’ll hear the music- or vice versa, some people just focus more on the music. For me..it’s a combination of both. As a rhythm section player I want our music to be the best it can possibly be, and I trust Aaron…Because he always has a panic attack at the beginning of recording, freaks out and says he has nothing written. But then the first day of studio you’ll hear all the songs he’s written and its like ‘huh, I thought you said you had nothing!’

Tik Vermooten & Willa Culpepper

 

 


Air Traffic

Just before playing a packed gig at the Nottingham Social, I had a few minutes to chat with Air Traffic's guitarist Tom Pritchard in the downstairs closet parading as the backstage area... 

You've just come from Newcastle, how was your trip?
Really good actually, it’s the first time we've been up there and played a proper venue. It was somewhere called The Cluny which is a really nice place to play 

What kind of things do you have on your rider?
Well when we first did a proper tour we had loads of rubbish and by the end we all felt ill, so this time round we've got plenty of fruit and healthy stuff 

How is the reaction to the single so far, both from fans and the press?
It’s been really good from both, the fans are really taking to the song live and the press seem to be picking up on it nicely too

You probably get asked this a lot but who is 'Charlotte'?
Charlotte is a girl that one of the guys used to have a thing for, she didn't feel the same and it kind of fizzled out like these things do 

Does she know the song's about her?
Oh yeah she knows

I bet she'll be going round telling everyone
*laughs* No doubt

So, how did the band thing start for you guys?
We were all at school together and formed a band there, it didn't really kick off until we did a few gigs in London and people started to take notice though 

Which bands have influenced you most?
We all like bands like Coldplay and Supergrass, but we all have our own favourites too, I love Radiohead and Dave likes his singer/songwriter types like Ed Harcourt 

Who do you reckon you'll get sick of being compared to first, if not already?
Well we get the Coldplay thing quite a lot already, but that’s just because of the piano I think. We don't mind that one so much though, the one that really annoys us is Keane 

What’s the song writing process like?
Usually it’s from someone bringing in a particular riff that they like and then we'll pick things up and develop the song from that 

How did the EMI signing come about?
We did a few gigs early on in London and David Kosten came to us after one of the gigs and said he liked our stuff, he helped us out with money for recording and had some contacts that helped us.  

Since you've been signed to a major do you feel under much pressure to get record sales or are you pretty much left to your own devices?
It’s all come about quite quickly to be honest, so its still new to us. they've not put any pressure on us so far, although i'm guessing that might come later if we don't sell enough records! 

What’s the local music scene like in Bournemouth?
There's a few ok bands but its quite hard as most of the gig venues down there got turned into nightclubs so there's not really anywhere to play. 

Do you know of any famous bands from Bournemouth?
No, I can't think of any at all. Although Alex James from Blur is from Bournemouth 

Best opening song for a mixtape?
That’s a difficult one, I dunno, maybe "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones 

Any bizarre and possibly stalker-ish fans?
We had this random woman in Ireland who told us how much she adored us and how she'd do anything for us, that was a little weird

Are you seeing her again this tour?
*laughs* Who knows!

The single's coming out at the end of march and there's an album in the summer? Is it finished yet?
Yeah, we've finished recording it and apparently its been mastered today 

Does it have a title yet?
No, but we have to decide by the end of tonight I think

Any personal favourites?
*laughs* I can't actually remember, we've got a list of them upstairs, they're mostly song lyrics though 

What was David Kosten like to work with?
It was really good because we felt he "got" us as a band straight away, and he'd suggest things but it wasn't like he was telling you what you should do. It felt more like he knew what you wanted to do but maybe didn't know how to get across 

When you look back in 10/15 years how will you measure your success?
I think maybe other people will go on sales, but personally I think if we got to headline something like Glastonbury that would be pretty amazing 

Ok, one final random question; you have 50p to spend in an old-skool sweet shop, what do you go for?
*laughs* Well we were obsessed with kinder eggs but they're 55p I think, and not really old-skool. What about those pink bon-bons you used to get, can I have them? or maybe those giant gobstoppers, you know the giant tennis ball sized ones?

Jam


Marijne of Cowboy Racer and Salad
by Jen of Stratosphere Fanzine Yahoo Group 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Stratosphere_Fanzine

1. Marijne - you were in a band called Salad for many years and received critical acclaim and had a solid fanbase in the UK, mainly on the strength of your intriguing and engaging vocals (that's what drew me in first at least). How did you become a part of that band?
Paul and I were going out at the time and he was a singing poet, he and his mate Jim Moir (later known as Vic Reeves) used to get up at the Parrot Café at the Goldsmiths Tavern in New Cross (run by the girl that went on to become Telly Tubby Lala of all people) and perform on a weekly basis. I got hooked on the art of performance poetry and eccentricity and basic art student shenanigans back then, yep I was a poetry/comedy show groupie. Incidentally our very first performance together ever was there and afterwards I stood in the toilets doubling as the dressing room and vowed never to go on stage again. So how did it start, well I heard a tape Paul had made with an ex girlfriend singing and I got really jealous, as you do when yr 20, so I said, all huffing and puffing, well I can do that too!  That was the start… we started writing songs and demoing them and we formed a band called The Merry Babes. Did a few gigs, got a hardcore following of mates and recruited Rob and then finally Pete and at that point became Salad in 1993 I think. So yeah Salad was Paul and my baby really. But when Salad truly came off the ground it was a democracy, we all had a say and we all wrote. Paul and I are stil excellent friends we’re both married (to different people, we split before the Babes became Salad but we knew we had to give the band a go so we stayed friends. As far as I can remember we put our relationship behind us and gave the band its all as we knew we had a chance of recognition of sorts, we knew we had something special. That’s a nice feeling, doesn’t happen often.

2. Have you always wanted to be a singer? Have you had any professional vocal training or are you a do-it-yourself kind of person?
No I am ashamed to say that initially at the very start of my life I never thought singing would be the way for me, I was very immature at 21, and my ambitions were all in the wrong place I wanted to be famous…my parents and friends weren’t impressed, but hey I was well ahead of my time if you think about it. I now know better of course, but look at the culture we live in today; what every young person seems to want is fame. I must hasten to add that when I met Paul and started realizing I could write songs and could sing, the lust for fame was taken over by the discovery that I had a talent and could exploit it. I’d been looking for that for a while and Paul brought that out of me, I am forever in his debt for that. After a long break of making music, it makes me feel whole again, I write because it is a way of expressing myself without any constraints. In a world where the media tells you to do and be a certain way, it makes me feel totally like me, untouched. Those are the reasons I now make music and sing and if 1 person, a stranger who doesn’t owe me anything tells me they like what I do, it’s enough of a reward. Going back to your question, did I always want to be a singer…strangely enough at school I was in a band with yet another boyfriend but I got chucked out cos I wasn’t a good enough singer, I got replaced by a girl who went on to have considerable success called Misty Oldland, I haven’t seen her for ages but we live in the same area and I’m having a drink with her next week. Early on I took singing lesson with the famous Tona de Brett, who was famed for giving Johnny Rotten singing lessons or at least she attempted to. Whenever we toured with Salad I was the one not drinking or eating diary before gigs and warming up my voice before a show, really untrendy at the time, no other singers were doing it, I think again it’s a very different story now. I knew it was uncool but at the same time I made it cool to be uncool, I hope. My voice was very unpredictable and didn’t always perform as I expected it to live so I needed to train it to keep control. I still find singing live pretty nerve wrecking cos I don’t know how my voice will react. I went to see Madonna in concert recently and she has always struggled with her live voice but she sung beautifully, it was strong and clear, I take my hat off to her. When it comes to song writing I was very much a do it yourselfer, that way you get more interesting chord changes and strange sequences and I think it’s what gave Salad that edge. Idiosyncratic they used to call us when we started to demo our songs, only cos we were breaking all the rules.

I actually never saw myself as a singer. More a performer who expressed her art through song. It’s a shame people saw me as lime light seeker cos of the whole MTV connection, how wrong they were. While I was in the limelight I realized I wasn’t comfortable in it. But boy am I glad I had the chance to find out…otherwise I’d always be wondering about it, regretting that I’d never got there perhaps. My advice for the day…always let your kids figure it out for themselves, don’t tell them what to do with their lives I say… 


3. At the height of Salad's fame, what were the vibes like? Was it all a dream come true for you?
You know you want something really bad and then you think that when you get there it’s gonna be just like you said, a dream come true. Well certain elements were. The main one being standing on stage in front of thousands of people singing along with your lyrics and being entertained by you. That is something that money can’t buy and that for me was the absolute highlight and where I felt most comfortable, on stage where no one could touch me. There was also a camaraderie with the rest of the band that gave a confidence that I searched for all my life. The only other place that felt as strong was in the tour bus on route. If we had only been able to bottle what we had on those nights shooting along the motorways, laughing our heads off every night, we were a good team, we gelled; I think even more back stage than on stage. Everything else was like, well you don’t know when the height of your success is cos you’re always thinking there’s more to come, more to achieve, and then before it’s too late you’ve already reached that peak and on your way down and you forgot to enjoy it to the full while you were there. Certainly of I could go back with the head I have on my shoulders now I would enjoy it a lot more and I would deal with things differently.

4. Why did Salad break up?
After having our hit with Drink Me, we took quite long time to release Ice Cream our 2nd album with Island and we just thought, oh yeah it’ll do even better, but of course it didn’t and after 2 singles off it we got dropped. We continued to write and tour for another year without a deal but things turned a little sour between us and our management and after a gig at The Falcon in Camden I announced to the rest of the band that I was leaving, that was Oct 1998. That was it really, we’d been worn down. Even though I made the first move I think that the others were in agreement that it was the right thing to do, get on with our lives. It sounds sad but for me personally it was the best thing at that time. We’re all still good mates.

5. You are now an integral part of Cowboy Racer. How did you become involved with this band - with Mike and E-da?
My good friend Debbie Smith, ex Echobelly and Curve (a meeting of minds on a cross channel ferry in the middle of the night cemented our relationship) knew Mike and knew he was looking for a singer to work with, he collaborated a lot with other musicians. He used to be in Swallow, a 4AD band. We met, played each other stuff we’d done in his studio in Camden and started writing. He had loads of bits of music and I just sifted through them, chose the ones I liked and started singing on them at my home studio, and out of that came Hey Cowboy, Forever, More and The Go Between. It was just us for a while we had a drummer called Dave Barb for a bit, ex Adam and the Ants and Republica, but that didn’t work out, mainly cos I took a break from music all together at that point and went and got a proper job. When Mike and I started to work together again this side of the millennium Dave had started writing books and Mike had discovered Japanese artist E-da who is a gem. Mike and I just click musically he sends me stuff in mp3 form and I sift through it just like at the beginning of our working relationship and take a few that I like and start writing vocal melodies and lyrics and shape the tracks into song shape, title them etc. send the writing back to Mike and the eventually we record in his studio for real. We give each other a lot room creatively and let be. We’re very fair, there is a lot of creative freedom and that feels great. It’s even stevens.

6. What are your outside-of-music interests or is Cowboy Racer a full-time project?
If only, I do a lot of other stuff, I make a mean leather handbag. I have a workshop at home I sometimes have a stall at Portobello Market. I screen print my leather first with my designs and then hand make collections now and again. It’s a hobby on the brink of turning into a business. Watch this space. At the time I am more interested in writing our album though so the handbag space may not be filled just yet. 

I’m also married and my lovely husband gets a lot of attention of course, he's my other hobby. 

I also cut the odd TV trailer now and again. Having been to film school I relearnt the skill of editing and now do that on a freelance basis for a bit of pocket money when it suits.


7. How are things working out for your debut album? Are you in the writing stages now?  

In my ramblings I think I may have covered this question, we are writing and recording as we speak.

8. How did the song Yellow Horse end up featured in an episode of the huge TV hit Grey's Anatomy?
An agent in LA who deals specifically with placing music with film and TV hunted us down. He’d read an article in MOJO about where are Salad now and got in touch. He liked our EP and literally the next thing you know Yellow Horse is on the show and gets an airing of 18 million people in Oct last year. Every email he sends me always ends with the hopeful lines…any new songs???  We’re working on it I tell him.

9. I was also wondering about Debbie Smith, and if she would ever be a guest performer on your album - or other people?
Interesting you should mention her….  Yeah, nice idea I think we need to do that…I would love to do something with Terry Hall again. Debbie is in fact a great matchmaker, she also found Salad Charley (girl) our 2nd guitarist who joined us on tour for the last 2 years of our time together. Charley went on to play with Gay Dad and is now an integral part of Spy 51.

Take care Marijne; I hope things are going great for you –

Things really are thanks!



Photo: Matt Anker, Select 1993

Michael McKeegan of Therapy?
by Jen of Stratosphere Fanzine Yahoo Group

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Stratosphere_Fanzine

I've been a fan of Therapy? since the album Nurse came out in the US way back when in the early 1990s - and now their latest, One Cure Fits All, has been released, at least in the UK.  During all this time, the music industry, the press, and the world in general have gone to hell - and not in a good way – yet somehow the band members of Therapy? (Andy Cairns, Michael McKeegan, and kinda newbie Neil Cooper – since 2002) have managed to survive and thrive musically through fickle record labels, dead-eared critics, and departing band members - creating punk-metal-noise rock songs, fuelled by catchy hooks, controlled-chaos rhythms, and memorable lyrics - all with attitude to burn.

Hi Michael - I have this image of you guys living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle 24/7 - not to dispel this, but is it all hard rockin', drunken (or not) debauchery, and good/bad times?   

Michael McKeegan: I suppose there is a certain element of that kind’ve thing though we’ve definitely calmed down over the years. We do like to hang out together and listen to music and chat about all sorts of ludicrous things. It probably sounds bullshit but we all take the musical side of things very seriously but the whole ‘rock’ thing is so ridiculous it’s very important to approach some of it with a sense of humour. 

Where are you based?  Do you all hang out with each other on "non-working" days or do you go your separate ways (ok, I honestly did not mean to sound like a Journey song)? 

MM: Well, I’m in Belfast, Neil is in Derby and Andy is near Cambridge so we don’t really see each other on ‘non-Therapy?’ days. It’s much better that way because it means everyone has their own space and when we meet up we’ve got tons of news and new experiences to share. Having said that we email/phone each other every couple of days…I think it’s very important to have good communication with the other dudes. 

How would you describe your sound to the uninitiated? 

MM: Jesus, that’s a tricky one! Umm...it’s kind’ve noisy with equal punk and metal influences but still melodic and some songs have dance influenced beats. There are also darker sounds with some creepy slower songs and unusual guitar sounds and production approaches…everything that’s good about music we try and accentuate in our records… 

When did you each first realize that you wanted to be in a band? Why did you want to be in a band then?  Is your reason to be in a band the same now as it was then? 

MM: I was always into music and when I was about 11 years old it seemed logical to go from listening to music to making my own. I started off playing guitar in various bands with my brothers and then met Fyfe (original T? drummer) at school. He’d just hooked up with Andy and they needed a bass player so I was in, very simple really. From there we just wrote lots of songs, did 2 demos and released a 7” before we started to tour and get a lot of media attention. 

The reason to being in a band is the same now as it was then…to get excited about the music we create…again very simple! 

Ok, I hope this question doesn't piss you off, but I want to ask about the band name and the question mark at the end.  Why is there a question mark?   Does it relate to your music in the sense that your songs are cathartic releases of pent-up emotions, ideas, and musical tension and possibly a way of dealing with problems and crises – or am I getting too analytical?  LOL  I guess what I'm wondering is if the band name had significance when you decided on it, or if it has grown to mean something after all you've been through, as a band and individually.  (And that has to be the longest, meandering interview question in history...) 

MM: No worries….the question mark comes about because we fucked up the logo on our demo cassette (starting too far to the right) so there was a gap at the end and it looked very amateur. Andy had the idea to add the question mark in tribute to the 50’s style of American diner advertising (Hungry?Thirsty?) and it really stuck from there.  

The name has grown in significance in that being in the band (and hopefully for those who listen to the records or at shows) is a cathartic experience. You know, had a shit day, life getting you down but the moment we start to play it’s like a lovely big release. Some people play sport, some people take drugs, some people fight in the street…we’re lucky we get to play music. 

It seems, at least in the US, that Troublegum was your breakout album.  It has a smoother and richer sound than your previous stripped-down, jagged eps and Nurse album.  Was this change in direction of sound a conscious effort or did it just evolve that way in the studio? 

MM: We knew we wanted to do something different in the way that “Nurse” was a step on from the first two mini-lps. Once we started to rehearse the songs we realised that a much denser type of production would be needed to do the tunes justice. As a result we took our time making sure we had the right sounds etc etc…  

Have you thought about putting out a live album?  As far as I know, you haven't done that yet.  That would really rock! 

MM: We’ve always talked about doing one but there are no immediate plans at the minute. 

I see that you have Tour Diaries up at your official website and that you've done the UK, Europe, and the US.  What do you enjoy about touring and what are the downers?  Any crazy (or good, or bad, or weird) story you'd like to recount here? 

MM: Touring is a great way to see the world, meet people and play our music to people. We’re quite social as a band so we tend to try and check out the cities and the local music/arts scenes. Plus it’s always cool to try different types of food and drinks. I never understand bands who only like to eat McDonalds on tour… 

Talking of food, there was a bizarre incident in Italy about 8 years ago where we found a caged chicken in our dressing room. When we asked the local promoter he said it was requested on our ‘hospitality rider’. We had to explain that it was roast chicken to make sandwiches NOT a live one for some kind’ve bloody sacrifice. 

Pretty much everyday is a crazy surreal day with many odd characters lurking about. Downside of the tour is there’s never enough time to sleep, we’re always moving onto the next town and it can be really hard if you get sick on tour. Cold/flu’s are always bad but the worst I’ve ever had is food poisoning…bare in mind there’s a no shitting rule on tour buses…so that isn’t fun on a 12 hour overnight drive. One has to swallow one’s dignity in those kind of circumstances. 

When I first heard you on college radio in the 90's, Fyfe was the drummer in the band.  I'm just curious as to why you parted ways. 

MM: Fyfe left early 1996 as he didn’t like the touring aspect of being in a band and to our knowledge didn’t want to play rock music anymore. From what we gathered he planned to pursue a more techno type thing but I’ve heard very little about him/the project since. 

How did the compilation album So Much for the Ten Year Plan (2000) come about?  Did you pick out the songs yourselves or did the record company want to put out a "Greatest Hits" package? 

MM: Our old label announced they would be releasing it and we could either participate or not. Either way it was coming out so we got involved, chose the tracks and added a couple of new ones. 

I've been lucky enough to hear some of your covers, like Breakin' The Law (awesome!!) and Teenage Kicks.  Do these covers (or others) appear on any of your albums?   

MM: No, the Priest cover was on the b-side to our “Nowhere” single in the UK and the “Teenage Kicks” track was on a limited 7” (1000 copies) we gave away as a freebie at two shows in Dublin/Belfast in 1992. I think it’s pretty easy to get versions on the internet though. 

I'm a bit behind on your musical catalogue, being that I live in the US and have to buy some of your albums as imports.   I only recently picked up High Anxiety (2003).  To make up for lost time I've been playing it non-stop - it’s a full-on  sonic blast of guitar and drums, wicked lyrics, and emotional range.  I'm lovin' Hey Satan - You Rock, If It Kills Me, Not in Any Name, and Rust.  Speaking of Not in Any Name – Andy sounds like Lemmy of Motorhead on the part when he exclaims "Here we go, don't count me in."  Was that intentional?   

MM: Glad you like “HA”, return to form with Neil ‘super’ Cooper on those bitching drums. Re:”NIAN” Big Motorhead fans are we! 

The US is hopelessly behind (well, the US record industry) in supporting some great bands and releasing their albums, especially from other countries.  Your latest album, One Cure Fits All, is out now in the UK; is it available in the US? 

MM: Unfortunately neither “Never Apologize Never Explain” or the most recent album “One Cure Fits All” have received domestic North American releases. We find this very frustrating as we’ve always had very constant and loyal interest from the US…there were a few things in the pipeline but we got let down at the last minute….bummer. We live in hope though! 

How do you put up with each other through all these years?!  I mean, it's wonderful that you're not at each other's throats...or maybe you are?!  

MM: I think over the years we just got closer and more into what we’re doing. At last with Neil we have a very solid trio of like minded individuals who play for ‘the team’ as opposed to try ‘solo glory’. We do disagree on lots of things but I think it’s that mix of ideas and personalities that makes the band sound the way it does, I feel it’d be a bit dull if we all agreed on everything all the time. It’s nice when we work hard on an idea or concept together and no-one gets bent out of shape if they don’t get it 100% their way. 

How did you decide on playing bass?  Do you play other instruments?  Have you tried or do you want to try your hand at song-writing or singing? 

MM: I fell into bass by default as no one in my first band wanted to play that particular instrument. To make the band work I offered to do the bass and sing (badly). I play regular guitar badly as well and contribute lots of musical stuff to Therapy? as does Neil.

Ok, sorry for this totally personal question, but I was wondering if you are all in relationships (wife, girlfriend, other) and if it's a difficult balance to be in a band and also be in a relationship. 

MM: We’re all attached men and of course it can be very hard to be away from home for long periods. Thankfully we have very cool, supportive wives and girlfriends. 

How can fans of yours or the sonically-curious purchase your albums and related goodies?  Can you please add your official website address here?  Thanks! 

MM:You can get our albums at most good online stockists (Amazon/Hmv/iTunes) or from our label at www.eagle-rock.com. All other info can be culled from www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk which has video/rare tracks/tour dates etc etc etc up there. 

Ok, that's it for my questions!  I apologize for the eye-strain, the head-scratching, and the annoyance - but I really, really love Therapy?!  I need Therapy?!  Hey Therapy? - You Rock! 

MM: Nice one, thanks for your support and the interview.  Mx